Cuisine: Jeff Black has perfected the upscale/downscale model at his flagship restaurant, one of four. The kitchen turns out trendy comfort food that aims high, but not so high as to scare off customers. That translates to a menu heavy on sure-fires such as roasted-beet salad, wood-grilled meats and fishes, and fried chicken with mashed potatoes—though many of the better dishes have Northern California twists or nod to Europe.
Mood: The clean-lined dining room could make you think you’ve wandered into a high-gloss sushi bar. The warm, attentive service acts as a counterweight against the starkness.
Best for: Diners looking for downtown-DC style without having to go there.
Best dishes: Boneless fried chicken; house-made pappardelle with wild mushrooms, sweet dates, and cured pork cheek; fragrant Thai-red-curry-inspired stew with lobster, mussels, and fish-of-the-day chunks; seasonal crème brûlée.
Insider tips: Salads are a weak spot—an abundance of greens and not much accompaniment. A pretheater menu—three courses for $35—is a great deal even if it’s offered only from 5:30 to 6:30.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner. Expensive.