100 Best Restaurants 2008: Charlie Palmer Steak

No. 11: Charlie Palmer Steak

Cuisine: Seeing the $14 truffled baked potatoes, a $72 seafood platter for two, and a $100 Japanese Miyazaki Kobe strip steak, you might ask: Is anybody here not using a corporate card? But there are just as many less-showoffy treats—lovely salads, terrific roasts—on executive chef Bryan Voltaggio’s forward-thinking American menu.

Mood: Washington had long been a steakhouse town when New York–based chef Charlie Palmer set up shop here nearly five years ago. But with clean lines, brushed steel, and mocha leather, the urbane power-dining room and lounge seems a class apart from the traditional brass-and-bourbon boys’ clubs. Still, it feels wholly DC thanks to its postcard view of the Capitol, C-Span–tuned flat-screens, and—hey, is that Nancy Pelosi? Probably.

Best for: Impressing a client, power players, out-of-towners hoping to catch a glimpse of an ’08 candidate.

Best dishes: Yellowfin-tuna tartare with soy and lime; roasted foie gras with blood orange and ginger; oysters on the half shell with crisp crackers, spicy cocktail sauce, and horseradish cream; a tart red-endive salad sweetened with dates and honey-poached pears; meltingly delicious Miyazaki Kobe beef; roasted duck with a foie-gras-topped nectarine tarte Tatin; goat-cheese tortelloni with buttered wild mushrooms; roasted hen-of-the-woods mushrooms; hazelnut pyramid, a theatrical chocoholic fantasy that’s one of Palmer’s signatures; a trio of perfectly burnished crèmes brûlées.

Insider tips: The designer beef, whether American Angus or Wagyu, is expertly aged and prepared, but all the à la carte sides and sauces can get expensive.

Service: ••

Get Our Weekend Newsletter

The best DC news, delivered straight to your inbox.
Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.