Food

100 Best Restaurants 2008: Vidalia

No. 8: Vidalia

Cuisine: Surpassingly rich Southern comfort. Its refinement bespeaks a classically minded French kitchen, but its generosity of spirit could come only from below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Mood: The clean-lined dining room mirrors the lightness and simple elegance that chef R.J. Cooper’s food strives for.

Best for: Persnickety diners, traditionalists who turn up their noses at small plates, lovers of cream, butter, and bacon fat.

Best dishes: A plate of molasses-marinated yellowtail hamachi as bracing and fresh as any sushi bar’s; hand-rolled pumpkin cavatelli with crispy sweetbreads and chanterelle mushrooms; definitive shrimp ’n’ grits; saddle of rabbit stuffed with sweetbreads; roasted breast of partridge with applewood bacon, squash agnolotti, and braised onions; lemon chess pie and pecan pie, each so perfectly rendered that you’d swear you were in the deepest South.

Insider tips: The wine list, under the direction of Doug Mohr, might be the most interesting in the city. If you can afford it, get a wine pairing with each course. If not, there are good wines by the glass and even half glass. Regulars swear by Mohr’s happy hours, featuring a changing lineup of wines and free canapés.

Service: •••

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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.