Todd Gray's seasonal American dining room near the White House.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli
Comments () | Published October 13, 2006
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Address: 818 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-331-8118
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cuisines: Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 10:30, and Sunday 5:30 to 9.
Nearby Metro Stops: Farragut North, Farragut West
Price Range: Very expensive
Dress: Business Attire
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Sweet-corn veloute; soft-shell crab in any preparation; crab springrolls; shrimp and grits; gnocchi with trumpet mushrooms; Arctic char; scallops with artichokes; macaroni and cheese.
Price Details: Starters $12 to $15, entrées $28 to $34.

From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants

THE SCENE. Proximity to the White House ensures the restaurant's status as a favorite of Bush-administration staffers, lobbyists, and downtown lawyers, but the quietly plush dining room and glassed-in atrium feel refreshingly ego-free.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Chef Todd Gray stays faithful to the seasons and local farms, dispensing with gimmickry and experimentation in favor of simple explorations of historic Maryland and Virginia cookery. A long-forgotten Chesapeake fish dish will turn up on the menu, and the bread pudding derives from a recipe from Thomas Jefferson. Wife Ellen, an effervescent hippie in a suit, oversees an earnest, eager-to-please staff.

WHAT YOU WON'T. When it works, the simplicity undergirding Gray's approach--the goal of dishes uncluttered by too many competing effects--can feel liberating and confident. When it doesn't, you may be left feeling as though something is missing, including, perhaps, inspiration.

BEST DISHES. Cream-of-chestnut soup; pistachio-crusted fresh-mozzarella salad with sour cherries; duo of chicken, a flavorful stewed leg and grilled breast scattered with roasted pearl onions; Armagnac bread pudding.

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