Beck’s (1101 K St., NW). Having wooed the KenCen crowd with Beemer rides to the opera, a menu of luxe, Old World favorites, and sumptuous service at Marcel’s, chef Robert Wiedmaier attempts to attract young urbanites to a still-developing neighborhood just beyond Penn Quarter with his mussels-and-beer brasserie. Can he dial down the prices without siphoning off the depth and richness of the classically rooted Belgian/French cooking?
Proof (701 Eighth St., NW). With its emphasis on crudo and an Enomatic wine-serving system—a high-tech gizmo that fills taster- and full-size glasses with more than 16 whites and 16 reds — this newbie (with former Asia Nora chef Haidar Karoum in the kitchen) is straight out of SoHo. The decor, at least, is decidedly DC: The owners have borrowed artwork from the National Portrait Gallery.
Il Mulino (1110 Vermont Ave., NW). Now that Roberto Donna has decamped to Crystal City with his Galileo-on-the-cheap, the door is open for this serious-minded New York import to establish itself as the kind of bustling downtown Italian restaurant that has always been in too-short supply here. But can an outlet of a chain serve up enough big-hearted coziness to go along with the brimming bowls of pasta?
Rain (10418 Main St., Fairfax). As DC grows, the onetime suburbia of Fairfax is now a destination for nightlife. The latest to bow is this lounge and “scene” spot—with a kitchen helmed by Nathan E. Bearfield, most recently at Smith Point and Le Paradou. But will urbanites make the trek out from the city for dancing and dinner?
Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm (42920 Broadlands Blvd., Broadlands, Va.). Unlike recent knockoffs in Penn Quarter and Friendship Heights, this newest link in the chain near Dulles Airport—the Clyde’s Restaurant Group’s 15th—can lay claim to a kind of authenticity the others simply invoke. This Clyde’s is actually old—housed in four 18th- and 19th-century buildings and decorated with Audubon prints and restored carriages. Speaking of knockoffs: That lemon roasted chicken and bowl of chili will be virtually the same as what you’ve eaten at versions 1 through 14.
Central Michel Richard (1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW). The new iteration of Michel Richard—pronounced Centrahl, by the way—is a roll-up-your-sleeves bistro, as opposed to the reservations-months-in-advance Citronelle. But don’t think bistro necessarily means cheap. Most cocktails ring in at a steep $11, and the tab for two usually creeps past $100.
Mio (1110 Vermont Ave., NW). This seasonal American restaurant is slated to open mid-April in the same off-the-beaten-track neighborhood—nay, the same building—as Il Mulino. Owner JohnPaul Damato (ex-Jaleo) hopes to make up for lost foot traffic with a piano bar, a “chef’s bar” proffering nibbles while you wait, even locally made serrano ham.