From January 2006 100 Very Best RestaurantsTHE SCENE. One of the few spots in the city where people are inclined to let their hair down is in this tucked-away townhouse that boasts a fireplace, a museum's worth of bric-a-brac, and a cozy but spirited dining room equally accommodating to couples out for a romantic dinner or groups of coworkers letting off a little steam after hours. Official Washington seems far, far away.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. The kitchen, a proving ground for many bright culinary lights in its 88 years--Pedro Matamoros is the latest--goes out of its way to sweat the details, from developing a relationship with a local oyster purveyor to embroidering a simple steak dinner with a creamy marrow flan to rolling its own pastas. Few brunches are more worth setting aside time for--don't miss the house-made doughnuts.
WHAT YOU WON'T. The vaunted coziness can become cloying as you find yourself in the midst of conversations on either side of you; service that aims to be unobtrusive can turn neglectful, particularly at peak hours; and the prices push dining here beyond every-so-often into the realm of the special occasion, which is more than it can reliably deliver.