CityZen (Mandarin Oriental Hotel)
1330 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20024
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, Southwest/Waterfront
Cuisines: Modern, American
Open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 6 to 9:30 PM; Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 PM.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Smithsonian, L'Enfant Plaza
Price Range: Very expensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Hits from a recent tasting menu included toro with Meyer-lemon chimichurri; merlu (also known as hake) with piquillo-pepper marmalade; and a pear Linzer torte.
Three-course menu, $75. Five-course tasting menu, $110; vegetarian tasting menu, $90. Three-course bar menu, $50.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Valet Parking Available, Party Space, Good for Groups
It’s not the palatial setting, the impressively informed service, or even the virtuosic range of this restaurant’s contemporary American menu that lingers long after the meal is over. It’s the exuberance of Eric Ziebold’s cooking, which gives soulful ballast to an evening of over-the-top elegance.
Many chefs build their menus around what’s fresh in the market, but few have access to the goods that Ziebold—backed by the Mandarin Oriental and in partnership with the region’s finest purveyors—has. Fewer still possess his mastery to make such experimentation rewarding.
Few chefs are as conversant across so many cultures. A recent dish of calf’s-liver sashimi illustrates Ziebold’s quest to challenge himself and his diners. Butchered hours earlier, the liver had a faint sweetness, which was accentuated with a sauce of soy and lemon. Piled atop slices of toasted brioche with grilled lettuce, the purple-hued medallions helped form cross-cultural crostini that turned the earthy into the ethereal. Don’t miss: The menu changes often, but you can count on excellent preparations of short rib, shoat (baby pig) belly, and poached lobster. Two recent desserts—a Mexican chocolate tart and a Valrhona-chocolate brioche—were sublime.
Open: Tuesday through Saturday for dinner.