100 Best Restaurants 2009: 2941

No. 14: 2941

Cuisine: Chef Bertrand Chemel’s variations on modern French and American cooking—with their long-coaxed flavors and striking textures—mark him as an alum of New York’s Café Boulud, the celebrated bistro of chef Daniel Boulud. Though the fine print says you can order à la carte, the menu reads as a choice between a three-course $70 meal with options and a tasting menu: four courses for $95, six for $120.

Mood: Playful glass “jellyfish” swinging from the ceilings and tall windows overlooking a wooded lake make this one of the area’s most striking rooms.

Best for: A romantic meal; family celebrations; nibbles and cocktails at the elliptical bar overlooking the koi pond.

Best dishes: Salad of endive, Fourme d’Ambert cheese (a creamy French bleu), walnuts, and fig confit; butternut-squash soup with lemongrass-and-cilantro cream; octopus carpaccio with grapefruit; steamed sea bass in beurre blanc; beef duo, a rib eye wrapped around a bundle of tender short rib and roasted, served with rosemary potatoes and Rossini “red wine” sauce (worth the $12 supplement); cheese board with six varieties ($10 supplement); miniature chestnut soufflé with eggnog ice cream; frozen truffle with Earl Grey–infused crème fraîche.

Insider tips: Tables along the bank of windows are prime. The kitchen is generous with gifts: shots of mushroom bisque as an amuse-bouche on a cold evening, a plate of warm doughnuts and house-made sweets as a postdessert treat, and sometimes, if you tour the kitchen, fresh-made baguettes to take home.

Service: **** (four stars).

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for dinner.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants.

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.