100 Best Restaurants 2011: Tabard Inn

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

Although the restaurant is nearly 60 years old, chef Paul Pelt’s kitchen keeps pace with its younger counterparts. His dishes aren’t big on visual flair, but the cooking is contemporary without being trendy.

Charcuterie is especially good. Look for nutmeg-spiked pork pâté and fig-studded chicken-liver mousse with coarse-grained mustard. Gnocchi—so fluffy and light that it’s hard to believe the two main ingredients are flour and potatoes—come in a goat-cheek ragu, its earthiness set off by blue-cheese crumbles.

The low-ceilinged dining room could stand to be updated; a good antidote is an after-dinner drink in the fireplace-enhanced lounge. That’s where talented bartender Chantal Tseng mixes up such cocktails as the light Prosecco-based Aperitivo Italo-Franco. In warmer months, try the patio. It’s especially popular during weekend brunch, when the kitchen turns out delicious warm doughnuts.

Also good: Sweet ricotta-stuffed dates with endive; a lamb-chop appetizer with a raisin-stuffed samosa; broiled sea bass with cauliflower flan and bok choy; apple tart with gingersnap ice cream.

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