Best of Washington Party: Best Dishes

Bourbon Steak's compressed watermelon with feta and lardo was one of our favorite dishes of the night. Photograph by Scott Suchman

At our Best of Washington party last night, restaurants pulled out all the stops, serving everything from octopus carpaccio (2941) to lobster salad (the Palm) to an Indian spin on Scotch eggs (Rasika). While we were very impressed with the entire spread, some dishes really shined. Here’s a roundup of our favorites from the night.

>>For a slideshow of more dishes from the night, click here.

Best version of a low-brow dish by a high-brow restaurant: Citronelle’s fried chicken rounds with a Dijon dressing were a far cry from Mickey D’s nuggets with honey-mustard sauce.

Best use of summer corn: Chilled Silver Queen-corn soup with crab, tarragon oil, and crispy tarragon leaves from Charlie Palmer Steak.

Best way to beat the heat: Masa 14’s mixture of St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon/basil simple syrup, ginger liqueur, and Dos Equis beer.

Best taste of the south: Just-out-of-the-fryer hush puppies with a dollop of honey butter from Sou’Wester.

Refreshing twist on the ubiquitous gazpacho: Chef Tony Chittum of Vermilion used kalamata-olive tapenade, feta, and opal basil to jazz up his version of the popular cold-tomato soup.

Watermelon how many ways? We liked PS 7’s spoonful of raw halibut mixed with diced canteloupe and topped with strawberry foam. A little better still was Bourbon Steak’s compressed-watermelon cubes with feta and a thin shaving of lardo. Our favorite, though, was J&G Steakhouse’s watermelon with goat cheese—and it didn’t hurt that the restaurant also served cool tuna tartare with avocado and a knockout ginger dressing.

Best take on a familiar dish: We’ve always love the faux gras—chicken-liver mousse made to look like foie gras—at Central, Michel Richard’s casual bistro. His version for the party, though, capitalized on summer produce with a pickled-peach relish and crumbled pistachios.

Best surf-and-turf on a stick: BLT Steak’s skewer of grilled octopus with pork belly.

Best reason to eat a warm dish on a sticky night: A slightly spicy she-crab soup from the Majestic that was creamy but not overly rich.

Best summer dessert: Okay, so we didn’t sample every single sweet dish, but we’ll still go ahead and say that the peaches-and-cream pie from Baked & Wired was the best dessert we’ve tasted in a long, long time.

>>For a video of last night's party, click here.

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