100 Very Best Restaurant 2016: The Red Hen

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Photo by Scott Suchman

There’s a wonderful story about Rodin—that when his apprentices praised the hands on one of his sculptures, Rodin proceeded to hack them off. The piece was thus left handless, and declared finished. The moral? No single element should predominate. So it goes here, where the only thing that stands out is the seamlessness with which food, service, and ambience are integrated into a thriving whole. Yes, the pastas are both imaginative and fulfilling, but get a load of the wooden tables and chairs, the most handsome pieces of restaurant furniture in the area. And although the wine list is full of fascinating finds, the dark, laughter-filled room is its own narcotic. Some inconsistencies have cropped up of late, probably a function of the owners’ split attention as they debut another restaurant. We don’t foresee a long-term problem—the place has been too consistent for too long.

Don’t miss: Chicken-liver mousse; trout rillettes;fried Brussels sprouts; saffron paccheri; rigatoni with sausage; cavatelli with sauerkraut; porchetta; grilled short rib; sugar cream tart.

See what other restaurants made our 100 Very Best Restaurants list. This article appears in our February 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.