Out of the Fire
Reviewed By Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published August 1, 2010
100 Best Restaurants 2012 100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Equinox
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.

Equinox, the seasonal American restaurant near the White House, has been a mainstay since chef Todd Gray and wife Ellen opened it 11 years ago. So when a December kitchen fire shuttered it for six months, foodies knew it could weather the storm and perhaps come back stronger. So far, that’s been the case. Todd Gray often can be seen showing patrons around the dining room, freshened with a textured granite wall and new marble bar. And while his frequent absence from the kitchen may account for pacing issues, the cooking seems to be as invigorated as the new space.

Excellent starters include barbecue shrimp over creamy grits; a velouté of sweet corn speckled with lump crab; and crispy crab spring rolls. A few selections from the new “for the table” section of smaller snacks didn’t turn out as well: Truffled risotto fritters lacked any truffle oomph, and blue-cheese “potato tots” were mostly devoid of the cheese’s flavor.

Among main courses, especially good was gnocchi with trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, and Boucheron cheese. Also successful were seared scallops with caramelized artichokes and a perfectly crisp-skinned Arctic char. Desserts tend toward the fussy (raspberry white-chocolate mousse with meringues, whipped cream, sorbet, jam, and a few other extraneous elements), and the results don’t always make them tastier. Fortunately, some indulgences from the old Equinox remain, such as the truffled mac and cheese—as good as ever.

-August 2010 

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 08/01/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews