100 Best Restaurants 2011: 1789

No. 20

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

This 50-year-old restaurant, with its pink-flowered Limoges porcelain plates, bow-tie-clad servers, and jackets-required policy, might seem stuck in the past. But then you open a menu to find a lineup of dishes organized in an unorthodox way: by main ingredient—categories include Virginia beef and Chapel Hill Farm veal—not by appetizer and entrée.

It can be a bit confusing—you’re left to guess portion size based on price—and some plates have shrunk even if prices haven’t. But chef Daniel Giusti is encouraging patrons to think outside the box.

Dinners begin with excellent, freshly baked bread with pots of arugula pesto and flavored butter. Instead of the restaurant’s once-famed rack of lamb, you might find a twirl of house-made egg noodles with an earthy lamb-neck ragu or a leg of lamb crusted in bread crumbs flecked with ham and served over stewed heirloom Indian Woman beans.

Giusti has a terrific partner in fellow-twentysomething pastry chef Travis Olson. The sundaes, bread puddings, and fruit buckles that end meals are some of the best sweets in town.

Also good: Scallops with a buttery froth and shavings of black truffle; roast lobster with perfectly trimmed carrots; tangerine cheesecake; pumpkin bread pudding with marshmallow.

Open daily for dinner. Very expensive.

>> See all of 2011's 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.