100 Best Restaurants 2011: DC Coast

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

When chef Brendan Cox moved from Circle Bistro to this seafood restaurant two years ago, we had mixed emotions. Would the up-and-coming talent get lost behind executive chef Jeff Tunks? Would the largely corporate crowd curb Cox’s creativity? Until recently, the answer seemed to be yes. But he has settled in, deftly integrating his handmade pastas and seasonally minded seafood with DC Coast menu standbys such as goat-cheese-stuffed chiles rellenos and Chinese-style lobster.

Cox’s cooking can be deceptively simple, but such dishes as a lightly creamy tarragon-scented mussel soup and lemony salmon over celery-root purée offer intricate layers of flavor. Now that the kitchen has been updated, the dining room could use sprucing up. Towering mirrors lend a lively, brasserie-like energy, but cheesy candle holders etched with the images of the Capitol and Washington Monument might make locals wonder if a tour bus is waiting outside.

Also good: Fried oysters with apple slaw; tuna tartare with coconut and lime; goat-cheese gnocchi with roasted squash and meaty mushrooms; s’mores-inspired chocolate semifreddo.

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