Chef/owner Cathal Armstrong likes to keep things fresh, so this tasting room/bistro/lounge is a constantly evolving mash-up of his Dublin upbringing, French technique, and New World sensibility. Toss in mixologist Todd Thrasher, the father of the local craft-cocktail movement, and you’ve got one of the more exciting dining experiences around. The $13 weekday lunch menu at the bar is one of Washington’s best deals.
Every room has a different mood, but all are done with style. The luxe Tasting Room is set with cartoonish throne chairs; in the lounge, retro-modern light fixtures cast a cozy glow. Armstrong has taken the farm-to-table movement a step further with an organic garden out back, the source of herbs and seasonal vegetables on the menu.
What to get: A Pleasantly Bitter Beginning cocktail with grapefruit bitters, citrus vinegar, vodka, and Sauvignon Blanc; crispy tuna roll with pickled watermelon and smoked-olive-oil vinaigrette; pork-belly rillettes with harissa aïoli; Basque seafood stew; perfect creamy risotto (the version changes daily); quenelle of foie gras with house-made fig newtons and butter-poached lobster with hollandaise mousse (Tasting Room); sweet-corn and dark-chocolate pots de crème with smoked panna cotta and rock-salt ice cream. Irish-bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich and papri chaat from the lunchtime bar menu.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive to very expensive.