Food

100 Best Restaurants 2008: CityZen

No. 2: CityZen

★★★★

Cuisine: A dazzling mix of French, Asian, and American regional influences that, for all its finesse, never seems pretentious. Chef Eric Ziebold, a Thomas Keller disciple, is equally adept at raising the eyebrows of the palate-fatigued—with, say, chili consommé with chili-powder mousse—as he is at coaxing sighs from the unsuspecting with his butter-sheened Parker House rolls.

Mood: High ceilings, stone pillars, oversize swag lamps, and a serious waitstaff make it hard to forget you’re in a temple of exalted cuisine. But when the dining room is full, as it is most of the time, there’s a communal hum of satisfaction.

Best for: Impressing pals or clients from New York or toasting a milestone.

Best dishes: Plumjack cocktail made with plum extract and Jack Daniel’s on the rocks; a signature amuse-bouche of olive-oil custard with red-chili sauce on top; chili consommé with an oval of chili-powder mousse to cool the liquid fire; grilled sirloin of Kagoshima Wagyu beef, worth every penny of the $30 surcharge; succulent roast shoulder of shoat with caramelized salsify; rib eye with caramelized short ribs and chestnuts; cheeses from the trolley; “s’mores” crepe with marshmallow soufflé and smoky milk-chocolate sauce; Valrhona-chocolate croquettes with pears.

Insider tips: Ask for a second round of those gemlike Parker House rolls and the server will “have to check,” but there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get another box. If you have a child in tow, don’t hesitate to inquire about an alternative to the fixed-price three-course menu ($75) or six-course tasting menu ($105). The result might be fresh fettuccine you’ll want yourself. A three-course, $50 menu at the bar is a good option if you’re dining alone.

Service: ••••

Get Our “Brunches This Weekend” Newsletter

The best breakfasts and brunches to try every weekend, plus our most popular food stories of the week.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
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.