100 Best Restaurants 2009: CityZen
Comments () | Published February 19, 2009
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CityZen (Mandarin Oriental Hotel)
Address: 1330 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20024
Phone: 202-787-6006
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, Southwest/Waterfront
Cuisines: Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 6 to 9:30 PM; Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 PM. Bar is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 11:30 PM (bar menu available after 5:30).
Nearby Metro Stops: Smithsonian, L'Enfant Plaza
Price Range: Very expensive
Dress: Business Attire
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Required
Best Dishes Pilsner popovers; grasshopper pie; stuffed ham; anything with pasta; preparations of beef or shoat; dessert souffl├ęs; cheeses from the cart.
Price Details: Three-course menu, $75. Five-course tasting menu, $110; vegetarian tasting menu, $90. Three-course bar menu, $50.

No. 4: CityZen

CityZen's modern dining room. Photograph by Kathryn Norwood.

Cuisine: Jaded foodies meet their match at this forward-thinking hotel restaurant, where astonishing discoveries (a slice of monkfish liver impersonating foie gras) and beguiling takes on regional American (an haute version of beef on weck) and classical French cooking are dreamed up daily by chef Eric Ziebold and executed by his well-drilled battalion of cooks.

Mood: The dining room, in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, looks like someone opened an opulent restaurant in the hallway of a palace. Soft lighting creates a sense of intimacy, and the servers—given to long disquisitions on cheese and elaborate explanations of appetizers—are adept at reading diners’ needs.

Best for: Palates looking for the excitement—and shock—of the new.

Best dishes: The menu changes frequently (too frequently—stellar dishes are typically retired and never brought back), but Ziebold, raised in Iowa and trained at the French Laundry in California, excels with preparations of beef, game, and pork. Soups are superb, as are his signature miniature Parker House rolls presented in a hand-stained wooden box. Desserts are precise and light, and the well-kept cheeses make a fine finish, too.

Insider tips: Eating a two-hour dinner while you're perched on a stool might not sound like a great night out, but Ziebold’s $50 three-course tasting menu at the bar is a steal.

Service: ***½ (three and a half stars).

Open Tuesday through Saturday 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