January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants
White House staffers flock to this bright and pretty dining room.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli
Comments () | Published January 24, 2007
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The Oval Room
Address: 800 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-463-8700
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cuisines: Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 3 PM. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10; Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 10:30.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Farragut West
Price Range: Expensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Parmesan custard; foie gras brûlée over brioche; beet salad with horseradish and passionfruit gelée; cucumber soup; burrata cheese with apple; lobster over curried rice; striped bass with heirloom peppers and littleneck clams; braised short ribs.
Price Details: Lunch appetizers, $7 to $13; entrees, $7 to $22. Dinner appetizers, $8 to $16; entrees, $16 to $32.
Special Features:
Wheelchair Accessible, Valet Parking Available

No. 49: Oval Room

The food often has seemed beside the point at this pretty, serene power roost near the White House, a preferred noontime stop for pundits and politicos—especially this past year, as the kitchen became a revolving door. Not anymore.

Chef Tony Conte—the restaurant’s third chef in 12 months—shares the affinity of his mentor, celebrated New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, for tightly focused flavors and textures punctuated with fruit purées and infused oils. Burrata, the intensely creamy Italian cheese, may be trendier than skinny jeans, but Conte’s version tastes entirely new: He lays the milky rounds in a mosaic of fresh and dried figs and scatters it with fleur de sel and tiny croutons.

Beet salad is a marvelous marriage of roasted bulbs and cubes of passion fruit gelée. A seared filet of striped bass is perfectly light but sings with flavor thanks to fresh Meyer-lemon shavings and a circle of vanilla oil. Even better are pink, tender slices of roasted pork set over caramelized twists of edamame spaetzle with a trickle of Asian-pear vinaigrette.

The kitchen is under control, but service remains a work in progress, ranging from snooty and pushy to sincere but slow.

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Posted at 11:09 AM/ET, 01/24/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews