100 Best Restaurants 2012: The Oval Room

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


Dishes at Ashok Bajaj’s pretty dining room are always elegant, but there’s also a playful side to chef Tony Conte’s food. Take the butternut-squash soup with . . . olives and banana? In Conte’s hands, it works.

On any given night, you might encounter a Secret Service detail hanging around the front door. Patrons who don’t need bodyguards still skew toward the category of power player. A private room is available on one side of the restaurant, while a smaller dining area sits behind a striped curtain.

What to get: A tiny tower of sweetbreads; pastrami-cured kampachi; Peekytoe-crab salad; fig salad with basil and ricotta; tagliatelle with mushrooms and pine shoots; crisp-skinned rockfish; scallops with crab chowder; coconut custard with lemon-lime sherbet; a hazelnut “Twix” bar.

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

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.