100 Best Restaurants 2009: Proof

No. 59: Proof

Cuisine: In most of the area’s new wine bars, vino comes first. Proof says that food is job one. In addition to a lengthy charcuterie board and what can only be called an exhibition cheese bar, it offers a broad assortment of Asian-inflected fish and meats confidently paired with root vegetables, mushrooms or nuts, and citrus. The wine list, primarily from co-owner Mark Kuller’s own collection, is large, but management is helpful.

Mood: The restaurant is elegantly spare, with expanses of wood and brick, dark leather, wine racks as walls, and rotating slides from the nearby Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery on screens.

Best for: Pretheater or postevent dining; after-office cocktails; relatively affordable entertaining. The late-night menu leans toward deli sandwiches and snacks.

Best dishes: Recent winners on the often-changing menu have been seared swordfish toro tataki brushed with jalapeños; spicy meatballs with goat-cheese agnolotti; gnocchi with wild mushrooms and corn; pan-seared salmon with sunchokes, turnips, and savoy cabbage in Madeira; grilled swordfish with leeks and lentils and horseradish cream; seared duck breast with five-spice powder, roasted hazelnuts, pomegranate reduction, and charred scallions.

Insider tips: If you’re leery of sweetbreads, the “Buffalo” version—bleu cheese and all—may surprise you. If you’re a sports fan, sit near the front windows and you’ll have a view of the Verizon Center’s big outdoor screen. Like Champagne? Ask to see the rolling tray.

Service: •••

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