100 Best Restaurants 2009: Equinox

No. 72: Equinox

Cuisine: Long before sourcing was in vogue, Todd Gray was combing the Shenandoah Valley for choice meats and produce and procuring such delicacies as shad roe and spot from the Chesapeake. His technical facility in Italian and French cookery is subordinated to faithful, sometimes loving showcases of the region’s bounty. His dishes are unfailingly elegant if sometimes too low-key.

Mood: This upscale mom-and-pop (Gray’s wife, Ellen Kassoff, manages the restaurant) is for many a tasteful, subdued dining room where it’s possible to engage in serious conversation, or—with the White House only blocks away—negotiation. For others the starchiness crosses the line into stuffiness.

Best for: Client lunches and dinners.

Best dishes: The menu changes regularly, but we’ve liked a twist on surf and turf, with roast Chatham cod and braised veal short ribs subbing for steak and lobster; veal loin with crispy veal sweetbreads; pastas such as a recent dish of fresh egg tagliatelle with scallop; and gingerbread with apples.

Insider tips: Gray’s seasonal preparations of such regional delicacies as soft-shell crab and shad roe are masterful—and well worth a visit.

Service: •••

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

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurant 

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.