100 Best Restaurants 2008: Charlie Palmer Steak

No. 11: Charlie Palmer Steak

Cuisine: Seeing the $14 truffled baked potatoes, a $72 seafood platter for two, and a $100 Japanese Miyazaki Kobe strip steak, you might ask: Is anybody here not using a corporate card? But there are just as many less-showoffy treats—lovely salads, terrific roasts—on executive chef Bryan Voltaggio’s forward-thinking American menu.

Mood: Washington had long been a steakhouse town when New York–based chef Charlie Palmer set up shop here nearly five years ago. But with clean lines, brushed steel, and mocha leather, the urbane power-dining room and lounge seems a class apart from the traditional brass-and-bourbon boys’ clubs. Still, it feels wholly DC thanks to its postcard view of the Capitol, C-Span–tuned flat-screens, and—hey, is that Nancy Pelosi? Probably.

Best for: Impressing a client, power players, out-of-towners hoping to catch a glimpse of an ’08 candidate.

Best dishes: Yellowfin-tuna tartare with soy and lime; roasted foie gras with blood orange and ginger; oysters on the half shell with crisp crackers, spicy cocktail sauce, and horseradish cream; a tart red-endive salad sweetened with dates and honey-poached pears; meltingly delicious Miyazaki Kobe beef; roasted duck with a foie-gras-topped nectarine tarte Tatin; goat-cheese tortelloni with buttered wild mushrooms; roasted hen-of-the-woods mushrooms; hazelnut pyramid, a theatrical chocoholic fantasy that’s one of Palmer’s signatures; a trio of perfectly burnished crèmes brûlées.

Insider tips: The designer beef, whether American Angus or Wagyu, is expertly aged and prepared, but all the à la carte sides and sauces can get expensive.

Service: ••

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