100 Best Restaurants 2009: The Oval Room
Comments () | Published February 19, 2009
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The Oval Room
Address: 800 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-463-8700
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cuisines: Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 3 PM. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10; Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 10:30.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Farragut West
Price Range: Expensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Parmesan custard; foie gras brûlée over brioche; beet salad with horseradish and passionfruit gelée; cucumber soup; burrata cheese with apple; lobster over curried rice; striped bass with heirloom peppers and littleneck clams; braised short ribs.
Price Details: Lunch appetizers, $7 to $13; entrees, $7 to $22. Dinner appetizers, $8 to $16; entrees, $16 to $32.
Special Features:
Wheelchair Accessible, Valet Parking Available

No. 9: The Oval Room

Oval Room chef Tony Conte brings light, bright flavors to the table.

Cuisine: Power diners used to come to the Oval Room for the glad-handing scene. These days the draw is Tony Conte’s cooking. Light, bright flavors come together in surprising ways—who knew that beet, passion fruit, and horseradish work so beautifully together? Conte doesn’t lean on butter and cream; flavor comes instead from, say, tiny pearls of Bing-cherry juice or dabs of smoked balsamic vinegar.

Mood: It doesn’t have the swagger of the Palm, but the lunch crowd in the pretty celadon dining room usually boasts some boldface names. At night the place turns quieter, with couples and foursomes sharing the tasting menu and swirling glasses of wine.

Best for: Impromptu dinners. Despite the inventiveness and relatively low cost—entrées are generally in the low $20s—there’s usually no trouble landing a nighttime reservation.

Best dishes: Beet salad with red, yellow, and candy-stripe beets, shaved horseradish, and cubes of passion-fruit gelée; chilled cucumber soup; olive-oil poached shrimp with grapefruit in ginger broth; composed salad of burrata and figs; tuna tartare; Parmesan custard with a riff on Southern pepper jelly; striped bass with toasted almonds and licorice vinaigrette; butter-poached lobster showered in micro-cilantro and young-coconut broth; Granny Smith–apple vacherin that tastes like a candied apple gone glam; hazelnut dacquoise.

Insider tips: A six-course tasting menu is $85, but you’d better be hungry—portions are big.

Service: ** (two stars).

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants 

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 02/19/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews