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May 9, 2012 03:52 PM

Rogue 24 in DC - Report

Chef RJ Cooper hit a home run last night.

Oh sure, a couple of swing-and-a-misses early on, but he doesn't call his 16 course meal a Progression for nothing. It really does evolve, and it was a success.

Rogue 24 took a lot of flack in its early days for starting off with a rather imposing 'contract' to dine there. Ultimately, though, it turns out to have a very casual vibe with all diners no more than a few feet from the centralized kitchen. Anyone who wants to can talk up the chef. Or flag down the cooks/sommelier/servers who are kept in constant motion preparing and modestly presenting their parade of wares.

At the prices they charge, you are going to get a bit of theatre with your dinner, but it is all in keeping with the success of the dishes. Extra props for including some tastes (the bitterness of vegetable ash, the suppleness of tongue) that other high-end chefs would shy away from. Run away from, actually.

I'm not going to go into a description of the dishes. It's a glorious amount of fun to discover for yourself.

Purse string notes: It's $110 for the 16-course Progression, and it's hard to imagine sitting any longer or having the capacity for more food. We were there for about 3 hours. There is the eponymous 24-course option as well.

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  1. Thanks, Steve.

    I understand not wanting to describe ALL the dishes, but can you describe your top one or two? Like, which ones are you still thinking about this morning?

    1 Reply
    1. re: VaPaula

      Thanks for asking. Since there is no choice in the matter, it's not like my advice is going to do you any good, plus it could be that the menu will change quite a bit if you decide to go.

      The courses really hit their stride after the first two or three. There was a string of about seven courses in a row that were very impressive on several levels. Squab, tongue, swordfish, baby carrots, asparagus, egg, and mushroom crostini. The last two desserts were a fitting end to a meal with quite a few exclamation marks.

      The more I think about it, the more $110 seems like a bargain.

    2. I might be in the minority, but I didn't find our meal to be a home run. It was worth trying and enjoyable, but I would describe it more as interesting and sometimes delicious than blow-you-away outstanding.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Doh

        I have no idea if you are in the minority or not. I get the impression that the prices used to be higher (though I am not certain). If so, that could mean the initial reaction was muted. The restaurant was filled last night, though it took a while.

        I have been to quite a few places in DC where I could spend half the amount.... but I would much prefer one meal like last night to two that are not so good. There are too many places in DC where 3 courses are $50+ that I don't care to return to.

        1. re: Steve

          It's interesting that desserts were a highlight for you, because they were not for our visit (last year). I remember one dessert was described as the chef's attempt to capture the flavor of bubble bath. The effort was successful, and somewhat interesting, but honestly I'm not sure why the chef thought it was a good idea to finish the meal with a dessert that tasted like soap.

      2. Purse string notes: It's $110 for the 16-course Progression, and it's hard to imagine sitting any longer or having the capacity for more food. We were there for about 3 hours. There is the eponymous 24-course option as well.
        Just to present a different experience. We ate 24 courses in maybe 2.5 hrs, and we weren't stuffed by any means. I believe 24 courses was $120, not sure what it is now.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Worldwide Diner

          The 24-course seating is 185/person. At least it was in January (when Andres was subbing in for RJ in the kitchen).

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Website says $135. There must've been a special ripoff charge associated with Andres.

            1. re: Worldwide Diner

              Hah! I believe that prices have been lowered to get more people through the door. But that's simply my take on it. It's only this week that prices appear on the website. Before that, you had to inquire.

              FWIW, I asked the Office Manager, and she said that 60% go for the 24-courses. So that seems to be the popular option.

              1. re: Steve


                Have you tried Minibar? If so, how would you compare it to Rogue? I'm inclined to try Rogue again with RJ at the helm given that I'm a big fan of Minibar.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  I was at Minibar in the early days when it was something like $60. What does it cost now? I'm afraid to find out.

                  Minibar was impressive. In my original post, I said it was full of fresh air, sunshine, and forgetfulness.

                  Rogue 24 is more daring in a way, and has the feeling of a 'next step.' I do think the chef has created something new in style and substance, but he still found the deliciousness within.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Last year it was $120/person (27 courses) before wine, tax and tip.

          2. re: Worldwide Diner

            In terms of timing, I guess it is somewhat up to the diner. I suppose we simply lingered over each course more. We had a 7pm reservation. We were among the first to arrive, and we were the first to be seated.

          3. Heading there myself in 6 days. Can't wait. Doing Taro's Omakase, Elisir's Tasting, and Rogue24 on three straight nights.


            5 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                ipse - unless it's channeled creatively, envy can only tear one apart.

                1. re: hill food

                  Ipsedixit doesn't have it so bad himself out there in LA. :-)

                  If the Kings make the finals I'll be looking for last minute recommendations from him soon.


                  1. re: uhockey

                    Aren't the Conference Finals enough? :-)

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      No. This is a 11 year old promise to myself. :-)


            1. I went there last night to celebrate a dear friend's birthday. I wanted to do 16 courses, but 3 courses in, he wanted to upgrade to 24 and they let us.

              I loved the experience. The food is wildly inventive and absolutely gorgeous. Most dishes contained at least one ingredient I was unfamiliar with. There were a lot of hits and several misses as well. I find myself being unable to describe it.

              I can tell you one thing though: I'm hung over this morning. We got the premium beverage pairing, which involved a lot of alcohol - a mixture of cocktails and wine, which was a bit odd and contributed to my hangover. In retrospect, I would have been fine with 16 courses. It felt like overkill after a while - and especially when the alcohol really started kicking in. And by the way, I'm not a lightweight in the booze department, so you "cheap date" types, beware!

              The bill came to just under $1000 for 3 people, including tax and tip. Ouch. Definitely not a place I would frequent, but as a special occasion place, it was spectacular.

              5 Replies
              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                RJ is a great chef. Can't wait to see what they're turning out on Saturday, but will be mindful of the booze as I'm staying with family in Clifton.


                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                  One of the pairings (I didn't get, but I saw) was a mezcal highboy, and the dessert pairing was a high-alcohol madeira, so I can see where it packed quite a wallop.

                  I avoid that sort of thing as I usually prefer just to taste the food.

                  1. re: woodleyparkhound

                    How much does it cost to add the cocktail pairings? And wow, it almost sounds like they pour a full cocktail with every course!

                    1. re: air

                      Sorry, but I don't recall. I do remember that they have regular alcoholic pairings and premium alcoholic pairings. We got the latter, which cost $15 more person than the former, but I can't remember the base price of the pairings.

                      There was a drink served with every 3 courses. (See my post below.)