Catching Up with Washington, D.C. Restaurants—Spring 2015

Washington DC Restaurants

One of our primary missions on any trip is to catch up on restaurants. This trip was no exception. We were able to indulge in four dinners and three lunches. We tried to make the best of them.

Washington DC Dinners

Rose’s Luxury

2015: Given the ultra-long line at this place, we never imagined that we would get in. We had to make a major compromise (sitting outside in 90-degree heat and 100 percent humidity), but we got in. The Vietnamese pate with peanuts and herbs; and the crispy soft shell crab with white asparagus and white balsamic vinaigrette were extraordinary. The grilled avocado with tomatillo, poblano, cotija cheese, and cilantro stems was very good. The grilled asparagus with pineapple, jalapeño, and chives was okay, but nothing to write home about. We had it all with a bottle of Albariño. Overall, it was a very good experience–even if we had to bear the temperature and humidity.

Le Diplomate

2015: At this very busy classic French Bistro, four of us shared frog legs provincial and duck liver pate appetizers and each had our own entrees. Tom had the veal scallop with morels, spring onions and mushroom cream sauce, and Joyce had moules frites. Our friends had steak frites and Moroccan braised lamb. Our wine began with a white Croze Hermitage Rhone blend, followed by a red, Cote de Nuits Burgundy. While the conversation was challenging in the packed, noisy restaurant, we all enjoyed the food. While it was nothing extraordinary, it was well-prepared standard bistro fare with good service.

Red Hen. This is another very popular restaurant. Along with our friends, we shared five small plates, and each of us had an entree. The appetizers were all excellent. The best were the grilled octopus with a pea hummus, chickpea salad, fennel, and tonnato sauce; and the burrito with grilled asparagus salad, salami, toasted sesame, and oregano vinaigrette. Almost as good were the Tuscan chicken liver mousse with fig conserve, thyme, and grilled rustic bread; and the baby tomato and cucumber salad with fried pita, onions, feta, and lemon vinaigrette. We also all enjoyed an additional dish brought by our server–an al dente picci pasta which added some of the pasta’s water, butter, and pepper. While it was simple, it was very good. One of the two entrees also stood out: the sea scallops with English peas, bacon, greens, and soft polenta. Another entree (roasted halibut with fregola, chickpeas, carrot cream, falafel spices, and green Harissa) was okay, although the Atlantic halibut lacked the taste and texture of Alaskan halibut and the dish was somewhat over spiced, at least for our taste. We had the meal with a Slovenian Sauvignon Blanc (Movia 2011) and a couple of glasses of one of the house specialties–an “orange wine”, which is a white wine grape fermented with the skins and seeds to produce more pronounced tastes and tannins. The one we tried, the 2013 Biggio Hamina Willamette Valley Pinot Grigio was a bit harsh but settled down a bit as it warmed. Apparently it is an acquired taste.

Doi Moi. This is another insanely popular restaurant. We had four dishes. The first, steamed chive and mushroom dumplings, were so garlicky that we, who normally like garlic, were unable to eat it. Our coconut curry chicken skewers with peanut sauce was pretty good, although a bit spicy for Joyce. The soft shell crab salad with grapefruit coconut, peanut, fried shallots, and chili relish dressing was quite good. The best dish of the evening was Chiang Mai chicken and noodles with coconut curry, egg noodles, mustard greens, chili oil, and crispy noodles. We had these with an Austrian Gruner veltliner. While the food was generally good, we were perturbed by the server who didn’t take a returned dish off the bill–even after he recognized his error and said he would rectify it.

Washington DC Lunches

Estadio. We would have preferred dinner or lunch at this Spanish tapas restaurant. However, we were there for a brunch, which had an abbreviated menu. Still, we found some interesting dishes that we enjoyed. Our dishes were toasted country bread with jambon, manchego, and tomato; smoked salmon with yogurt and honey on toasted bread; scallops and roasted cauliflower on roasted honey purée; and roasted wild mushrooms with garlic. All were very good.

Fiola Mare. We split a Fiola Mar Raw Bar which included half a chilled Maine lobster, a large King crab claw, six raw mid-neck clams, six assorted oysters, six mussels, and small but very adequate-sized dishes of salmon tartare, calamari salad, wakame salad, and sea urchin. Our feast was complemented by a table overlooking the Potomac, the Kennedy Center, and the Watergate complex. The only negative was the two server assistants who could not manage to bring anything until it was requested two or three times.

Willie T’s Lobster Shack. (now closed). We needed a quick bite between stops. We came across a lobster roll bar and couldn’t think of a better instant lunch. Big chunks of fresh meat, a modest amount of mayo, a dash of tarragon–it worked for us.

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