The Source, Wolfgang Puck’s first DC restaurant, has been open just a few weeks, so it’s too early to weigh in with any formal judgments. But it seems as if everywhere we go, people are buzzing about this place. Last night, we stopped by the sleek downstairs lounge to check the place out.
The upstairs fine-dining room and more casual lower level have separate menus and kitchens, but you can sample upstairs dishes from a perch in the downstairs lounge (our young server wasn’t sure but confirmed that with the general manager). The serene upstairs room was only about a third full, but for a Monday night, a decent-size crowd hung out downstairs, sipping ginger mojitos and classic negronis from the bar and munching on Kobe-beef sliders and designer pizzas.
The lounge menu is snacky and fun. Even the “small plates”—such as crispy chicken spring rolls, tamarind-glazed ribs, and General Tso-style chicken wings—offer portions generous enough to share. Four “bigger plates,” seven pizzas, and a handful of extras, including artisan cheeses and tempura onion rings, round out the roster. Of the bigger plates, the “sausage & pretzels” sounded most intriguing—soft, buttery pretzels paired with two fat links of sausage and house-made mustard for dipping. The mustard was so delicious I was tempted to ask for a bottle to take home.
It was obvious which dishes came from upstairs the second they arrived at our dark-wood-and-metal lounge table. Blue-crab-and-shrimp dumplings are beautifully plated over a pool of a curried emulsion of lobster and sea urchin, then topped with a delicate Asian slaw. Roasted suckling pig brings three neat rectangles of meat, each topped with a piece of crispy skin and a tiny pickled cippolini onion. The plate is painted with stripes of delicious plum-fig chutney. Though presentations are elegant, portions of these appetizers are by no means dainty.
One dessert menu with four choices is available in both dining areas. The Cherry Blossom, a tribute to the Japanese trees that bloom each spring in Washington, incorporates flavors from Asia as well as Austria (Puck’s birthplace). The centerpiece of a large bowl strewn with macerated cherries is an Austrian cheese-filled dumpling crusted with thin wonton strips that look like twigs. It’s topped with a dollop of ginger ice cream, and a server pours a cherry port-wine reduction over the whole thing tableside. This multilayered dessert took our server several minutes to describe—but was well worth the wait.
Scroll down for the lounge, dining room, and cocktail menus. The Source by Wolfgang Puck, 575 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-637-6100.
Small plates Maryland Crab Cakes 14 Basil Aioli, Marinated Tomatoes Kobe Beef Sliders 16 Smoked Onion Marmalade, Cheddar Crispy Spring Rolls 10 Chicken, Honey-10 Spice Prime Steak Tartare 16 Herb Aioli, Croutons Arrancinni 8 Tomato, Basil, Parmesan
General Tso’s 12 Chicken Wings
Tamarind Glazed Ribs 14 Black Bean Powder
Sausage & Pretzels 16 House Made Mustards
Ricotta & Spinach Gnocchi 16 Bolognese Sauce or T.B.G.
Grilled Ham & Cheese 12 Brioche, Fontina, Smoked Ham