January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

No. 64: Indigo Landing

It’s easy to love Indigo Landing in summer. The outdoor deck overlooking the Potomac and the monuments is made for catching breezes. A wintry evening in the bilevel dining room with its halogen lighting and bare wood tables is another matter. With the river but a dark shimmer, the focus shifts indoors—to the food.

Chef Bryan Moscatello’s Lowcountry cuisine can withstand the scrutiny. The time he spent tasting and cooking in Charleston kitchens before the restaurant opened last year are clearly the inspiration for the stellar bread basket with its addictive bacon crackers, sea-salt rolls, and jalapeño corn muffins and for long-simmered bowls like Lowcountry Duck Bog, the creamy shrimp and grits, a smoky butter-bean soup with pork cracklings, and a soupy, rich oyster “pie.” But he interprets liberally, adding and subtracting to lighten and modernize a sometimes hidebound cuisine. Occasionally he fiddles too much, as a disjointed wahoo with a barbecue sauce made from ground-up mussels proves. But enough dishes, including a crisp yet tender pork belly with crunchy pickled watermelon rind, hit the mark.

Service is hit or miss, and desserts seldom are as richly satisfying as they promise, but Moscatello’s cooking has enough heart to keep you coming back.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.