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Thoughts on Obelisk? Others for DC visit?

uhockey Apr 17, 2010 11:18 AM

Will be visiting the DC area in May and already have reserves at many of the "Top Tables" including Komi, minibar, Inn at Little Washington, CityZen, and Citronelle. Have two more dinner slots to fill and was thinking Italian for one - is Obelisk the best bet? For the other - debating Volt (Table 21 is full,) Eve, Vidalia, or perhaps Marcel's - any thoughts there?

Cheers and Thanks!

-----
CityZen Restaurant
1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

Citronelle
3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Komi
1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

Vidalia
1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

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  1. r
    reiflame Apr 17, 2010 01:48 PM

    Obelisk is brilliant. It's tiny, so call early for reservations.

    Eve would fill out your list nicely.

    1. n
      nwdchound Apr 17, 2010 02:48 PM

      Absolutely Eve from your list. Volt would be the 2nd best option but a bit of a trek from DC and maybe a bit over hyped since the chef and his brother were on Top Chef. Vidalia and Marcels are both good/very good--not great. Eve is inspired; I'd rate it better than CityZen and Citronelle though all of the ones you've booked are among the best here.

      -----
      CityZen Restaurant
      1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

      Citronelle
      3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

      Vidalia
      1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

      1. woodleyparkhound Apr 18, 2010 09:54 AM

        uhockey, I have greatly admired your posts from other boards (thanks to you, I had a BRILLIANT meal at Raku in Las Vegas in Jan.). I am really looking forward to reading your reactions to the places you visit in DC.

        Of the places you have already booked, I have personally only been to Komi, which provided me with the best meal I've had in DC. Your other places are consistently highly rated and get great press on CH - you've made great selections.

        I had a wonderful meal at Obelisk a couple of years ago and would highly recommend it. The "Lickety-Split Lunch" I had at Eve was stupendously fantastic - dinner there must be ethereal. From my reading of the board and other sources, I would vote for these two places over the others you have mentioned.

        I hope you have a great trip DC - I would so love to have your travel schedule and food budget!

        -----
        Komi
        1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

        2 Replies
        1. re: woodleyparkhound
          uhockey Apr 18, 2010 03:38 PM

          I get off 3 weeks a year - I use them the best I can. Thanks for the compliment.

          Still working (daily) on minibar reservations - more difficult than Ko, TFL, Alinea, or Per Se so far. Komi, Citronelle, Inn at Little Washington, CityZen, Obelisk are booked.

          Trying to decide on lunches/brunches now. Atlantico's Dim Sum brunch, Central, Rasika, and 2 Amys are definitely on the list. Thinking about others.

          -----
          CityZen Restaurant
          1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

          Rasika Restaurant
          633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

          Citronelle
          3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

          Komi
          1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

          1. re: uhockey
            d
            Doh Apr 18, 2010 06:01 PM

            Best of luck with minibar, but to be honest having never been successful with reservations there myself I am glad to hear it's difficult for others too.

            Personally I'd take Volt over Eve or Vidalia, if the distance is no obstacle (I think the latter two are overrated but Eve in particular has a lot of fans). Obelisk is a good idea.

            -----
            Vidalia
            1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

        2. woodleyparkhound Apr 18, 2010 04:11 PM

          You've done really good research in preparation for your trip. I would strongly encourage you to not miss Rasika; I think it's very inventive and distinctive - don't miss ordering the palaak chaat. Central and the dim sum brunch are high on my list - both have great reputations. Two Amys gets a ton of love on this board. There are other pizza places I like more, but I'm in the minority here. In a "best pizza in DC" contest, I think Two Amys would get the most votes. Will you have a car? Your other lunch picks are easily accessible by Metro, but Two Amys requires a car or a taxi.

          -----
          Two Amys
          3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

          Rasika Restaurant
          633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

          8 Replies
          1. re: woodleyparkhound
            uhockey Apr 18, 2010 05:12 PM

            We shall indeed have a car.

            1. re: uhockey
              Joe H Apr 18, 2010 06:47 PM

              Respectfully, but Two Amy's is a shadow of Pizzaria Mozza in L. A. Rasika is a distant shadow of Akbar's in Manchester and if I introduce the two Michelin starred Vineet Bhatia in London into this Rasika would be a level (or three) below. I am also not a fan of the Inn at Little Washington. After three attempts over the past thirty years at a memorable meal we gave up four or five years ago. Fortieth birthday, fiftieth birthday and finally a sixtieth birthday were all enough to convince me that enough is enough. There is no margin for error at $600+ for a Saturday night.

              Seriously consider: Table 21, Komi, Minibar (an extraordinary experience worth the persistent effort to score seats), Citronelle Chef's Table (yes, the Chef's Table which is nightmarishly expensive a nd never discussed on here), CityZen and then Vidalia's Chef's Table which I have not been to...yet. It's possible that this is the best of all. Obelisk is very good: intimate, casual a very good restaurant that you will be happy to stumble on in, say Tuscany. It is not great nor exceptional. I'm not so sure that it is any better, if at all, than the best you can find in Columbus although it is very personal and intimate. We've been to it for several anniversaries but what is important here are your expectations: this is not Maestro nor Roberto's Laboratorio. Nor Enzo's Chef's Table which is sorely missed. Marcel's, Kinkead's, Proof and several others are worth considering also.

              By the way, Galileo III reopens the second week or May. This should be a primary destination. I would also seriously consider investing some calories in El Pollo Rico in Arlington (phenominal Pervuvian chicken-best in the U. S.) and Ravi Kabob on Glebe road in Arlington which has D. C.'s best kabobs. Both are dumps. Dumps!!! But after several of the other meals they'll present a very real balance.

              -----
              CityZen Restaurant
              1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

              Two Amys
              3715 Macomb St NW, Washington, DC 20016

              Rasika Restaurant
              633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

              Citronelle
              3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

              Komi
              1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

              Vidalia
              1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

              1. re: Joe H
                uhockey Apr 19, 2010 04:01 AM

                Well - considering past experiences with Indian ranged from ugh to "how do people eat this" I'm curious on Rasika - I'm not planning on London anytime soon. As for The Inn - it is a destination I feel I should experience once, so I shall go.

                Komi is booked for 2 on a Saturday, I hate the no pictures policy, but I hear the meal is worth it. Table 21 is booked solid for that week. Citronelle I'll be dining solo, so I don't think I can do the Chef's table, though I'd love to.

                Interesting notes on Obelisk - is there something better for Italian? (I'm guessing you think Galileo, but reservations do not appear yet available.)

                Thanks for the advice!

                -----
                Rasika Restaurant
                633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                Citronelle
                3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                Komi
                1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                1. re: uhockey
                  n
                  nwdchound Apr 19, 2010 09:02 AM

                  Rasika is very good/great but more a modern western interpretation on Indian. Delicious though. Sablefish is a standout to get there.

                  IMHO, Obelisk is the best Italian here now. Galileo was better and may well be again when the latest incarnation opens but that remains to be same. Some might say Tosca rates similar praise to Obelisk but I wouldn't be one of them. More high end, expensive, run-of-the-mill business dinner kind of spot.

                  I'll put in a last plug for you to include Eve on your itinerary. I think it'd be an absolute crime for you to not try it given the other spots you've targeted. The lickety split lunch is the most amazing price to quality ratio you'll get anywhere. Dinner is more formal but equally outstanding. Sorry to disagree with the poser who preferred Volt to Eve. Have been to Volt twice and enjoyed it but Eve is a different level.

                  -----
                  Rasika Restaurant
                  633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                  1. re: uhockey
                    Joe H Apr 19, 2010 10:56 AM

                    http://www.corystyle.com/blog/2010/03... is the link to a blog which has outstanding photos of Vidalia's 24 course/taste menu. It's only Friday and Saturday night and has not received the publicity that it deserves. If you are going solo this would be my first choice over any other, in part for the experience of interacting with Beard winning chef RJ Cooper. I would also pair this with Komi for a Friday/Saturday night type of thing if the seat/seats are available there. It would be interesting to experience both within 24 hours.
                    Regardless, whether solo or shared I believe it would be an exceptional experience and memory.

                    Roberto is scheduled to reopen Galileo III the second week of May. That would be my first choice for Italian.

                    Totally understand and agree with your comment about having to experience The Inn.

                    It is ONLY Volt's Table 21 that I am noting; I have been twice but have only experienced that. Note that Palena and Vidalia shared the regional Beard award several years ago, Eve is nominated this year. All three are excellent. Volt's Table 21 is an experience which puts it over the top. Volt is similarly nominated for the regional Beard award this year. My expectation is that Vidalia's blow out communal chef's table will be a similar experience-I just haven't been to it yet. But the link above really seems to lend some priority to my going!

                    By the way I wouldn't overlook The Source either...

                    -----
                    Palena
                    3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                    Vidalia
                    1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                    1. re: Joe H
                      uhockey Apr 19, 2010 03:58 PM

                      Excellent points - I happily secured a cancelled seat at Table 21!

                      Now, with 2 reservations remaining I am torn - Palena sounds interesting but there is no menu (the site is under construction.) Vidalia sounds intriguing, but I'd have to bump Komi to do the 24 course menu and that doesn't seem like a good call.

                      I was considering The Source for a lunch.

                      I'm traveling with 3 others on this trip, will be dining with various people on various nights.

                      Locked in so far are:
                      Inn At Little Washington,
                      Citronelle,
                      Table 21 at Volt,
                      Restaurant Eve Tasting Room
                      Komi

                      I'm still trying for minibar

                      If no minibar I have 2 open slots - I was thinking one for CityZen and the other for Obelisk, but perhaps Palena would work for my dining companion who desires Italian?

                      -----
                      Restaurant Eve
                      110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                      CityZen Restaurant
                      1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                      Palena
                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                      Citronelle
                      3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                      Komi
                      1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                      Vidalia
                      1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                      Tasting Room
                      101 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701

                      1. re: uhockey
                        Joe H Apr 19, 2010 08:02 PM

                        uhockey, please consider that the equivalent of several of the dinners you are considering would be four or five nights in a row at a two or three Michelin starred restaurant with dinners at 3+ hours for each. This can be a lot of food!

                        I would suggest choosing two from among Table 21 (first choice), Komi, the 24 course Chef's Table at Vidalia, Eve's Tasting Room and Minibar. Maybe three but not on successive nights. CityZen, Citronelle, Palena and the Inn at Little Washington will all be more "traditional" amounts of food. Obelisk is 9 courses/tastes but five of these are one or two bites each and more similar in volume to the latter group. The Source actually has smaller courses but is superb, one of Puck's best restaurants. There is also a lot to be said for it's location in the rear of the Newseum, half of a block off of one of the great streets in the world.

                        If you have got into Table 21: Go! It's a one hour or so drive from downtown D. C. but the experience is truly unique. Komi, too.

                        Enjoy!

                        -----
                        CityZen Restaurant
                        1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                        Palena
                        3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                        Citronelle
                        3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                        Komi
                        1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                        Vidalia
                        1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                        Tasting Room
                        101 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701

                    2. re: a1234
                      uhockey Apr 30, 2010 03:37 PM

                      I'm a visitor and I completely disagree with you on every aspect aside from the fact that I'll probably enjoy The Inn - I quite like the small plates and long tasting menu concept and have done 29 courses at Per Se, 25 at The Laundry, and 23 and 29 at Alinea - I imagine I'll probably enjoy Komi, Vidalia 24, Volt, and Minibar if I get in.

                      -----
                      Komi
                      1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                      Vidalia
                      1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

              2. Pool Boy Apr 19, 2010 09:37 AM

                Palena should make your list. Seriously.

                -----
                Palena
                3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                5 Replies
                1. re: Pool Boy
                  n
                  nwdchound Apr 19, 2010 10:14 AM

                  Strong agreement with Pool Boy. Palena is one of the city's very best spots though a bit less heralded than Citronelle or City Zen because Frank Ruta is not limelight-seeking. He just does what he does exceptionally well. Palena, like Eve, has an informal, value priced section called "Palena Cafe" and then a formal dining room in back. It's in Cleveland Park across from the metro. Everything is done with great care to ingredients and preparation, however seemingly pedestrian the item. Specific things to get there include:

                  - anything seafood
                  - the roast chicken, I challenge anyone to suggest any other spot, anywhere in the US, that does roast chicken like this
                  - gnocchi; at least best in the mid atlantic region
                  - caesar salad - best in DC
                  - burger - one of the top 3 in the area whatever your burger preferences. good example of their attention to detail. They bake their own buns and small pickles.

                  Really a DC standout. I won't say better than City Zen or Citronelle but I think more interesting and absolutely delicious.

                  -----
                  Palena
                  3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                  Citronelle
                  3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                  1. re: Pool Boy
                    m
                    masonuc Apr 19, 2010 12:36 PM

                    I'm a big Palena fan, so yes I'd include it any top 10/20 list. Also check out Bourbon Steak and Proof. And Makato. And maybe just go to Komi twice.

                    Galileo III will likely suck as much as I & II (the latter was a failure). If there was ever a more overrated restaurant and chef, I'd like to meet him. The only good they ever served was the Friday lunch and even that was overrated.

                    I'm not a huge Vidalia fan -- good but not special. Rasika is not a total home run, but might be worth a trip just for the spinach, and a few other treats on the menu. Also check out desert at Co Co Sala.

                    1. re: masonuc
                      a
                      a1234 Apr 30, 2010 10:58 AM

                      I don't agree re Palena. Good not great. Besides, a burger is a burger, you have had one Caesar salad you've had them all, you can only do so much with roast chicken, and the gnocchi is too heavy IMO.

                      -----
                      Palena
                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                      1. re: a1234
                        ktmoomau Apr 30, 2010 11:10 AM

                        Have you ever eaten in the back room? By your critique of it, sounds like you have only eaten in the cafe. I think the back room is very sophisticated, and some of the best food in DC. It is probably the closest thing DC has to the French Laundry in terms of fresh ingredients and perfecting a dish before it goes on a menu. I feel it is very balanced and not overwhelming, but very well thought out.

                        1. re: ktmoomau
                          Pool Boy May 3, 2010 06:46 AM

                          I *completely* agree with you ktmoomau. Palena's back room is transcendent.

                          -----
                          Palena
                          3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                  2. m
                    masonuc Apr 19, 2010 02:40 PM

                    Sushi Taro is a huge disappointment post-renovations. The food doubled in price -- which I can live with -- but it also got much worse, which I can't.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: masonuc
                      n
                      nwdchound Apr 19, 2010 07:00 PM

                      Agree sushi taro is mies from best Japanese on offer in DC. Makoto is the only place of the caliber you're planning if you do Japanese. It's unique from other cities--traditional environment, small number of tables, must book in advance, sit on boxes into which purses and jackets can go, change to slippers on entry, flawless quality. 9 or 11 courses, a few of which are sushi/sashmi but can order extra. I wouldn't slot Palena in instead of Obelisk. I'd slot it in over City Zen.

                      Excellent you have Eve and Komi locked. Haven't done Table 21 at Volt (just regular Volt) so will be interested to hear the review from there.

                      Happy travelling. Off to Europe tomorrow if the ash clears--for some good restaurants there.

                      CityZen is a very fine restaurant that gets more credit than it should because Eric Ziebold was Thomas Keller's sous chef at French Laundry. My issue with it is lack of creatively and uniqueness. CityZen exists in one form or other in the country's 7 largest cities. You'll leave thinking is was very expensive, very good in all respects and fairly forgettable.

                      Masonuc has it right on Vidalia and Rasika with "good but not special" and "not a total home run" respectively.

                      -----
                      CityZen Restaurant
                      1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                      Palena
                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                      Rasika Restaurant
                      633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                      Komi
                      1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                      Vidalia
                      1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                    2. s
                      Steve Apr 20, 2010 07:35 AM

                      The Latina Dim Sum Brunch (Sundays only) at Cafe Atlantico: almost all the items have been on the Minibar menu at some point. You should reserve for the full meal (14 courses, $35) - or just do a la carte - I have not needed a reservation. Seared cigala, pork belly, ceviche wrapped in coconut, foamy soup in an expresso cup, malaga chips, it's all here. Attention to detail is phenomenal..... but you don't get the show. Or pay for it.

                      Palena is not specifically an Italian restaurant, is it? Not as far as I can tell after eating there. Anyway, call first about a typical menu. Your dinner companion may be expecting something entirely different.

                      -----
                      Cafe Atlantico
                      405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                      Palena
                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                      1. m
                        mjhals Apr 20, 2010 09:42 AM

                        Are you looking on the other end of the spectrum? Like regional vietnamese, ethiopian? DC has some of the best there is to offer in regards to small, family-owned places. I'd think a trip to the Eden Center for a banh mi might be a welcome rest from the current itinerary (which sounds AMAZING btw, I look forward to reading your reviews to help pick our anniversary restaurant). And if you want to stay in the metro area, I'd highly recommend Minh's. Love the escargot and the grilled shrimp paste bunh. Just a thought.

                        -----
                        Eden Center
                        Falls Church, VA, USA, Falls Church, VA

                        Minh's
                        2500 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mjhals
                          uhockey Apr 20, 2010 04:12 PM

                          My co-diners are just about the least adventurous diners I know, save for one - the trip is a special one celebrating a number of things and various people will be at various meals - though three of them will be solo affairs.

                          I'm not sure what "rest" is - foreign term to my vacations. ;-)

                        2. n
                          Nancee Swartz Apr 20, 2010 04:25 PM

                          I still agree that Obelisk is the best bet. Good luck.

                          Nancee Swartz
                          Brookline Ma.

                          1. uhockey Apr 20, 2010 05:09 PM

                            So - in terms of "experience" meal - great food, setting, service, etc - which is better (realizing there is a difference in styles) - CityZen or Obelisk - in terms of that "extra" something that truly makes a memorable meal?

                            -----
                            CityZen Restaurant
                            1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: uhockey
                              Joe H Apr 20, 2010 06:44 PM

                              One thing you must remember about this board: everyone is going to have a restaurant that they champion. There are also going to be a great many restaurants which are certainly as good as any which are mentioned but receive little or no attention. You asked about Obelisk and CityZen: are you aware that the founding chef at CityZen was the chef de cusine at the French Laundry for years? Before that Vidalia. That Roberto Donna (Galileo III) was the second D. C, chef to win a Beard award after Jean Louis? That Bob Kinkead who receives virtually no recognition on here has a superb restaurant, Kinkead's and was the third D. C. chef to win a Beard? In the early '90's. There are also a great many who absolutely love Marcel's, Black Salt, Taberna and a slew of others that are not mentioned in this discussion. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4505... The Source is a classic example of this. Over the years all of these restaurants and the earlier ones you mentioned have been discussed at length on here. I've even organized dinners at a number of them. I think what is important isthat this is a great restaurant city. If you miss one that you might have otherwised loved, not a problem. The ones you went to wil have represented Washington well.

                              -----
                              CityZen Restaurant
                              1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                              Vidalia
                              1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC

                              Kinkead's Restaurant
                              2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

                              1. re: Joe H
                                uhockey Apr 20, 2010 06:50 PM

                                Well played - I tend to overthink and overplan - and yes I was aware of Chef Ziebold's pedigree (my meal at the Laundry is/was my second favorite ever, though it was Lee there at that time) as well as Marcel's fame. :-)

                                I shall go with CityZen as I've been largely unimpressed by "fine" Italian in recent experiences.

                                Per usual I shall report back - I quite like my final lineup and it is a true testiment to the quality of the city's dining scene that I easily slotted 14 places that sounded amazing and there are still 20+ I'd like to experience at a future date.

                                -----
                                CityZen Restaurant
                                1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                            2. d
                              drewallen42 Apr 20, 2010 08:26 PM

                              Minibar is fantastic

                               
                              1. j
                                jmoule Apr 26, 2010 06:06 PM

                                Just returned from DC today. A few thoughts from a Californian's perspective. (I live in the SF Bay area and in Southern California before that.) If you do not have a reservation at Komi yet, get on the list for a cancellation and pray. Our three hour, no holds barred, dinner there was in the same class as the best meals we have had anywhere in the US. Obelisk is as good or better than ever. Not to be missed if you can get in. (We have eaten there five times over 11 years.) I notice some people have recommended dim sum. Forget it. Coming from Southern California you would be disappointed. Citronelle is very good but not very different than what you can find in California. Good luck!

                                -----
                                Citronelle
                                3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                Komi
                                1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: jmoule
                                  uhockey Apr 26, 2010 06:12 PM

                                  I'm not from SoCal, or Cal - but thanks. :-) Already have reserves at Komi and opted to skip on Obelisk because I got in for Volt Table 21.

                                  -----
                                  Komi
                                  1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                  1. re: jmoule
                                    s
                                    Steve Apr 26, 2010 07:43 PM

                                    The recommendations above are for the Latina Dim Sum Brunch at Cafe Atlantico, not Chinese dim sum.

                                    -----
                                    Cafe Atlantico
                                    405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                    1. re: Steve
                                      uhockey Apr 27, 2010 03:37 AM

                                      Which we'll be attending. :-)

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