100 Very Best Restaurants: #1 – The Dabney

A tasting of roast duck. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Many tasting rooms are transportive. Why do we love chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s ode to the Mid-Atlantic the most? For one, it’s soulfully rooted in this region and its history. Cross the turn-of-the-century structure’s threshold and you’ll see the wood-burning hearth that creates much of the menu. And it hasn’t slacked after seven years of considerable accolades and popularity. In September, Langhorne refashioned the bustling Shaw dining room to make way for a new, more elegant chapter. He swapped out the à la carte menu for a six-course, $170-a-­person tasting, downsized to 40 seats, and cozied up the space—now quieter—with banquettes. The result: thoughtful luxury. Seasonal delicacies, such as caviar and crispy sweet potato or apple stack cake crowned with fois gras, start things off. The courses that follow delight and surprise. Who knew bok choy could wow with a hearth char, Virginia peanuts, and duck hearts? Dinner culminates in a feast such as dry-aged duck roasted over embers and portioned into its own miniature tasting, with cider-glazed breast, persimmon-accented wings, confit-leg waffles, and more. The Dabney is now firmly a special-occasion reservation, but if you miss dropping in for a low-key dinner—and those famous catfish sliders—you can always eschew the set menu and eat at the bar. Very expensive.