100 Best Restaurants 2011: Grapeseed

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

Not many suburban restaurants have a downtown vibe, but this sleek wine bar feels urban while maintaining a friendly neighborhood atmosphere.

The scene is set with a wall of windows facing the street, an open kitchen, and canvases splashed with gold and cobalt. Service also sets this place apart: Staffers offer helpful wine tips and sample sips along with advice about the menu.

Chef/owner Jeff Heineman honed his chops at Kinkead’s, so seafood dishes are a good bet, including a rice-based dish of scallops and mussels with a coconut-spiked sauce that tastes like a Caribbean gumbo. Supersized appetizers and boozy desserts round out a menu that dabbles in global influences but is American at heart. The extensive wine list, with such playful headings as Defiantly Dry and Deliciously Sweet, comprises nearly 500 varieties from around the world.

Also good: Gnocchi with goat cheese and mustard greens; fricassee of wild mushrooms and truffled polenta; fried chicken livers with pepper jelly; smoky grilled chicken with a roast-pork pupusa; salmon with root vegetables; ultra-light butterscotch pudding; mint-chocolate-chip ice-cream sandwich; vanilla-wafer panna cotta with brûléed banana.

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