100 Best Restaurants 2008: Circle Bistro

No. 26: Circle Bistro

Cuisine: Carefully sourced produce, meats, and fishes are the inspiration for chef Brendan Cox’s pared-down Modern American fare, which manages to be both trendy and classic.

Mood: Young and old nibble on bar morsels and sip cocktails such as the Kaiser Wilhelm with Rangpur Tanqueray and lemongrass syrup in the asymmetric lounge, while patrons after more substantial fare head for the wedge of a dining room at this sleek eatery in the One Washington Circle Hotel.

Best for: Diners seeking food and a setting with both style and substance, those headed for a Kennedy Center event.

Best dishes: Organic-pumpkin soup with braised leeks; foie-gras torchon with fig jam and aged balsamico; egg pappardelle with a hearty duck Bolognese; beet-cured salmon with Yukon-potato crisps; hanger steak with an intense Cabernet reduction; russet-potato frites with fines herbes aïoli; pear gingerbread with ice cream and caramel sauce.

Insider tips: A $37 three-course pretheater menu is available until 7.

Service: ••½

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 Petworth.