Even in Washington’s top-tier restaurants, total packages are hard to find. A place might spend hours seducing you with its food but slack off when it comes to decor. Or cocktails. Or service. Aaron Silverman’s gold-tinged tasting room is different. Every detail—from the flatware you’ll want to search out online to the hand-washing dictum in the bathroom, mixed in with Oscar Wilde and Maya Angelou quotes—has been calibrated to make you marvel with delight. Servers, who include cooks and often Silverman himself, are so witty and warm you’ll actually hope they stick around. Most special, though, is chef Scott Muns’s 12-course menu, which opens with an edible cocktail: an opalescent fennel bonbon served on an absinthe spoon. It then moves along to dishes that both enlighten (who’d have guessed caviar and beef tartare paired so beautifully?) and offer supreme comfort (a croissant-meets-brioche that you slather with foie gras butter, hazelnuts, and cherry preserves—the best PBJ we’ve ever tasted). A recent final savory called DC Steakhouse winks at the perception out-of-towners once had of our city’s restaurant scene. Thanks to creations like this—luscious slices of rib eye are paired with creamed parsley and chanterelle-stuffed popovers—and restaurants such as Pineapple and Pearls, that image feels as dated as a tuxedoed server bearing a leather-bound menu. Another wonder? You’ll walk out feeling as if the $250 price—which includes tax, tip, and drink pairings—is a pretty sweet deal. Very expensive.
Also great: The set menu has no drink choices, but the nonalcoholic beverage pairing, $25 cheaper, is so inspired you’ll hardly miss the booze.