A Shirlington eatery known for consistantly good creative American fare and great service.

From January 2005 100 Very Best Restaurants

This increasingly upscale restaurant has changed its name from Carlyle Grand Cafe to simply Carlyle. The upstairs is beautiful and has soft leather banquettes. Downstairs is attractive but more of a cafe. Prices are moderate for the quality of the ingredients–main courses average about $20. Cooking is good and consistent; service is enthusiastic.

Fine beginnings are the fried blue-crab fritters inside a tangle of phyllo threads with roasted-red-pepper corn salsa; crispy salt-and-pepper calamari on a bed of roasted tomato and garlic butter; and steamed lobster pot stickers with spicy lobster-ginger butter. Good main courses are the superb sauteed jumbo lump crabcakes with a remoulade sauce and slender French-fried potatoes; a chicken paillard with sun-dried tomatoes, sweet onions, and arugula on angel-hair pasta; and hickory smoked and grilled Black Angus rib-eye steak with Parmesan potatoes. The excellent cheeseburger is served upstairs and down, where the crabcake sandwich is also a lunch attraction.

Oven-fresh breads come from the restaurant's Best Buns Bread Company next door. Desserts are good, especially deep-dish apple pie and banana pudding with caramel and chocolate sauces. Special attention has been paid to the wine list, which offers good choices for less than $20.