100 Best Restaurants 2008: Willow

No. 54: Willow

Cuisine: Contemporary American cooking with classical French and Italian detours and a less-is-more philosophy that lets the quality of ingredients shine through.

Mood: Shades of burgundy, plum, and gold and textiles in the Vienna Workshop style impart the feel of a 1920s European supper club. Tables in the spacious main dining room are well spaced; the snug bar usually hosts a lively neighorhood crowd.

Best for: Couples and parents on “date” night in the dining room, a quick pre- or postmovie repast in the bar.

Best dishes: A napoleon of golden beets with Vermont Bijou cheese, candied walnuts, and arugula; an offbeat fritto misto platter with prosciutto fritters, fried chorizo-stuffed olives, and bleu-cheese-filled dates; flatbreads, especially the Willow with wild mushrooms, lemon, thyme, fontina, and white-truffle oil; mini-rack of pork with flavorful ham-hock jus, served with creamed salsify; pepper-crusted rib eye with potato-and-smoked-Gouda tart; cookie-and-ice-cream plate; apple-Florentine torte.

Insider tips: Ask for a table in the main dining room—the back room is Siberia. There’s live jazz Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30. Park in the building lot—Willow validates the ticket for free.


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.