100 Best Restaurants 2009: Bourbon Steak

No. 16: Bourbon Steak

Cuisine: Michael Mina, Washington’s latest celebrity chef, turns the old-style steakhouse on its ear at the Four Seasons—most memorably with his signature butter-poached slabs of charred beef. His love of culinary arcana—aloe in a hamachi-sashimi appetizer, a swipe of evaporated carrot juice on a plate of steak—pumps life into familiar combinations and arrangements.

Mood: The wood-heavy decor is out of sync with the creativity of the kitchen. But the service is gracious, and some of DC’s most recognizable faces already have made the place their roost.

Best for: A splurge. The price tag is steep, but the wines—some produced solely for Mina—and the playful desserts will take the edge off.

Best dishes: Hamachi sashimi with white soy, coconut, and aloe; pork loin, cheek, and belly with parsnip purée and matchsticks of caramelized pear; 14-ounce New York strip; roasted “magical” mushrooms; deconstruction of Brussels sprouts with apple and bacon; Comice-pear tart with cinnamon ice cream; coconut candy bar with salted-caramel ice cream.

Insider tips: If you’re watching your wallet, the complimentary truffle rolls and trio of fries and sauces that inaugurate each meal can serve in lieu of appetizers. Leave room for dessert.

Service: *** (three stars). 

Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, 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.