100 Best Restaurants 2008: Poste Moderne Brasserie

No. 33: Poste Moderne Brasserie

Cuisine: Contemporary American bistro cooking by turns traditional (oysters on the half shell), playful (steak tartare mounded on a bun to resemble a burger), and ambitious (crispy striped bass with a red-wine-poached egg over a fluffy brandade).

Mood: This modish, dramatic space breaks from the hotel pack with slanted wall mirrors—ideal for catching glimpses of the young, well-burnished Penn Quarter crowd—and a bustling open kitchen, where rows of newspaper-lined cones await stuffing with truffled French fries. At prime time, it has the excitement of a nightclub—minus the exclusivity.

Best for: Diners looking for good, creative cooking without getting too dressed up or reaching too deep into their wallets, as well as anyone in need of a meal before or after a play, movie, concert, or game.

Best dishes: Steak tartare mounded on a small brioche bun; crispy-skinned bass topped with a red-wine-poached egg; a brined, pan-roasted Amish chicken, one of the best birds in town; olive-oil-poached halibut; delicate, palm-size ravioli stuffed with fresh ricotta and herbs; an ice-cream-cone “sampler”—small scoops of housemade ice cream topping a trio of spiced miniature cones.

Insider tips: Brunch is first-rate, as satisfying for the traditionalist in search of eggs and French toast as for the brunch hater in search of something new, such as duck pastrami on rye and lavender-flecked sugar doughnuts fried to order.

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.