Charlie Palmer Steak
A slickly designed steakhouse that draws plenty of big names.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli
Comments () | Published October 12, 2006
100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Charlie Palmer Steak
Address: 101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-547-8100
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Cuisines: Steaks, Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open Monday through Friday 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM and 5:30 to 10 PM, and Saturday 5 to 10:30 PM. Closed Sunday.
Nearby Metro Stops: Union Station, Archives-Navy Memorial
Price Range: Very expensive
Dress: Business Attire
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Foie gras; Kona kampachi; head-on prawns; rack of lamb; porterhouse for two; Alaskan halibut with crab-and-asparagus risotto; side dishes of Parmesan gnocchi and potato purée; a tasting of six sorbets and frozen custards; a trio of crèmes brûlées.
Price Details: Lunch appetizers, $11 to $21; entrees, $13 to $41. Dinner appetizers, $8 to $58; entrees, $23 to $68.

From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants

THE SCENE. Despite the swirl of cigar smoke at the bar and the clubbiness among its well-connected patrons, celebrity chef/owner Charlie Palmer's restaurant is far removed from the steakhouse its name implies, from the design (whose soft blue and muted orange is more suited to a '70s-style cocktail lounge) to the ambitious wine program to the menu (full of gelées, reductions, and sometimes intricate, cheffy creations).

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. If the glimpse of the Capitol through the plate glass windows doesn't stir your patriotism, the all-American wine list might. (Note to techno-geeks and oenophiles: Ask for the restaurant's hand-held computer notebook before consulting sommelier Nadine Brown.) And there's something quintessentially American in the swaggering, bold flavors of chef Bryan Voltaggio's cooking, whether he's doing up a proper chop or prime rib or turning something as ostensibly delicate and Asian as an appetizer of tuna tartare into a dish with all the grandeur and savor of his bone-in New York strip.

WHAT YOU WON'T. Steak prices are high--$64 for a Wagyu sirloin--and the wine list is studded with extravagant markups. The steep tabs ensure that for many the restaurant is elevated into the special-occasion category. Problem is, the staff isn't geared to treat the diner with the kind of extra care and consideration that makes for not just a great meal but a memorable one.

BEST DISHES. Foie gras with an apple tarte Tatin, the best foie gras dish in the city and easily the biggest; a soy-soaked tuna tartare topped with a quail egg; a succulent butter-poached lobster; trio of crèmes brûlées.

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Posted at 04:42 PM/ET, 10/12/2006 RSS | Print | Permalink | Restaurant Reviews