Washingtonian Top 100 2014
So, it's this year's goal to eat at as many of the top 100 restaurants in the DC-land area as I can. I thought I might as well go through and annotate which ones I go to this year (I can figure out what to do about the changes to the list later, I have 7 months and I wouldn't be surprised if there is less than 15% change). This is really more of a diary list for me but comment on it if you've been to any of these places too! I'm not adding places that I've just been to the bar of (Pearl Dive, Brabo, so on) until I've eaten a full meal there. Also, I'm not adding a lot about specific items ordered because the vast majority of these menus change at least seasonally, so there isn't a lot of value to specifics.
So...in relatively random order (and if there little numbers next to my number, that means it was ranked in the top 25) and my thoughts:
1. The Inn at Little Washington (1). As anyone who lives in the area will tell you, eating at the Inn is a hellava experience. I was brought here on a work trip and it was amazing. If you have an extra $500 and the motivation to make a 1.5 hour drive out of the city, this is a great choice. The meal started out with a black truffle shaved over some popcorn if that gives you an idea of the type of ingredients used. It's a fun meal, which I wouldn't have expected, actually (I would have thought it would be more stodgy TBH).
2. Birch and Barley. I've had several experiences at B and B and the food is always excellent. It has a spectacularly amazing brunch. The beet risotto is honestly one of the best things I've had in the city. I don't understand the allure of the chef's table because I don't like to watch the chefs cook like they are in a zoo but I know some people do.
3. Corduroy (16). AMAZING. I had the tasting menu here with Rachel when she visited and it was absolutely amazing from the first course of a delicious spicy parsnip soup to the amazing desserts. My recommendation--it's hard to find. It's not that the building is hidden, because it isn't, but it barely has any signage. It doesn't really need it--it's intimate, romantic, and was busy but quiet. I wish it had a better view than the convention center.
4. DGS Delicatessen. Probably the best corned beef sandwich I've ever eaten--and I've eaten a LOT of them. If you haven't been, this deli is a hellava a great deal, and you need to eat here. The pickles should get their own post entirely.
5. Graffiato. I didn't want to like Graffiato because I so heartily disliked Mike Isabella on Top Chef but this is an absolutely amazing place. I went to it with Kristin (and she wrote this up much better than I am, so go look at her blog) and the chef's menu is pretty much the entire menu. They brought out about 15 courses and one course was an entire pizza--and each was amazing. Skip the punches, though, they were really disappointing. And when the Washingtonian says it's annoying loud, it's not lying. Be ready.
6. Hank's Oyster Bar. Even though this is close to my house, I had never stopped in. It's terrific! I'm finicky about fish and chips and they had amazing ones. It's clean and sleek inside without being annoyingly modern and I've been there since. Cute, simple, and fresh. Plus they have competent social media which is always a surprise!
7. Kaz Sushi Bistro. Another one I ate at with Kristin. We just walked in without a reservation and got seated without an attitude problem (you know what I'm talking about!). The sushi was fresh and delicious (and I lived in Tokyo, so I'm a whiny baby about bad sushi). Some of the sushi were novel, too, which I really appreciated.
8. Rasika (19). I was loathe to come here because I kept bitching that I didn't see how an Indian restaurant could be so expensive when there are so many amazing cheap ones. Man was I wrong. Every single thing that was ordered was absolutely divine and it was quiet and relaxing inside. Every single thing ordered was amazing and a LOT was ordered.
9. Restaurant Eve (12). So great I almost don't have words. This restaurant represents the most expensive meal I've ever bought for myself (probably not even in the top 10 most expensive but most of the others have either been bought because of work or by family members). I was loathe to get the wine pairing to go with the tasting menu because I don't know a damn thing about wine but...it REALLY complimented the meal. And the cheese--I could write a whole post on the cheese cart alone. If you don't add on the cheese course--which is a great deal at like $15--you are a moron. The ambiance is reason alone to come to this place--quiet, refined, and you have to go down a secret alley to get in the front door.
10. Rus Uz. Uzbek food is pretty specific. I'm glad I ate here because it was rustic and good--and I've eaten at the Russian House a number of times but I've never had specifically Uzbek food before. It was good and filling but not really my cup of tea. I also think it's possible they were getting hit harder than they expected by being put on the list. Still, a worthwhile experience.
11. Vermillion. In my opinion, the most overrated place on the list. When you have a $12 soup on the menu but don't even mention why it would possibly be priced that high (apparently saffron, although it wasn't in the description) and it's between $6 and $7 appetizers, it just seems pretentious. If you want the ambiance of Vermillion, go to the Partisan. It's similar but actually manages to hit all the marks and be amazing. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see this fall off the menu next year. The bartenders are all good and the bar is cute and romantic but the waitstaff is all over the place. During one service they were terrific, during another they accidentally poured maple syrup all over my feet.
12. Zaytinya (24). I can't separate the terrible, terrible service from the food. The food was DELICIOUS. Every single item knocked it out of the park. But we saw our waiter exactly 4 times and had to hunt him down for the check. If he would have occasionally checked up on our table, we would have undoubtedly bought $100 more food--adding considerably more to our check, to the restaurant, and in a tip, but because we could never find him we got the bare minimum, no drinks (in fact, my iced tea came an hour into the meal and never got refilled), and left vaguely unsatisfied. Again, the food was great but it would be hard to go back to knowing the service issues when there are so many other great places to eat in the area.