100 Best Restaurants 2011: Proof

No. 31

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

At first glance, the impressive charcuterie and cheese selections might make you think this Penn Quarter wine bar is best for a grazing dinner, where food plays second fiddle to wine. Chef Haidar Karoum shows it’s much more than that.

Karoum came up at the late DC restaurant Asia Nora, and he demonstrates his knack for Asian flavors in such dishes as duck confit with soy glaze, duck terrine spiced like a bowl of Vietnamese pho, and tuna tartare with nori. But his well-crafted gnocchi and lamb meatballs prove he’s equally adept at Mediterranean stylings.

The wine list, overseen by sommelier Sebastian Zutant, also is eclectic, with a 1947 Château Cheval Blanc ($10,500) on the high end and plenty of well-priced Sancerres, Rieslings, and Syrahs below. Adam Bernbach’s quirky lineup of potent cocktails includes the W. Axl Rose, a turbocharged blend of Lillet Blanc and tequila, and a spicy mix of rum, ginger beer, lime, and bitters.

Also good: Lunchtime shrimp burger; pan-roasted sweetbreads; miso-glazed sablefish; honey-coated duck breast; cauliflower with lemon and tahini.

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