Cuisine: Ambitious, creative American cooking that is by turns witty, intricately embroidered, and—increasingly—delicious.
Mood: The monotone palette, the clean, soaring lines, and the serious expressions on the waiters’ faces tell you you’re in for a high-minded night. It’s directed by chef/owner Peter Smith, who takes risks, aims to impress, and never lets you forget that you’re here to have An Experience.
Best for: Grazing at the bar before or after the game or theater, given its proximity to the Verizon Center and Shakespeare Theatre; the long list of small plates that convey big flavors; and a good wines-by-the-glass program that includes reasonably priced half pours.
Best dishes: A trio of miniature hot dogs, each in a butter-painted bun; red-wine-braised short ribs with horseradish-potato mousseline; tuna sliders, the house-made Parker House rolls framing a hand-chopped tartare of fish; an elegant cauliflower soup; braised veal breast with expertly roasted sweetbreads; King salmon seared and sauced with a fascinating blackberry and Vouvray reduction; chocolate-praline bombe with wattleseed ice cream; lemon frozen yogurt with an ouzo-almond cake.
Insider tips: Smith stages a dazzling first act—including the house-baked breads and such starters as the trio of hot dogs with lacy fries—and a crowd-pleasing final act of gorgeous desserts. In between, things are more uncertain—highs alternating with lows.