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Iron Gate, East Dupont Circle - Chef Tony Chittum Heads a Historic Restaurant with a Patio

Dupont Circle West Dupont Italian Greek Inn Patio Neighborhood Restaurant Group

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#1 synaesthesia

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 09:20 PM

If I was a guy and wanted to impress a non-foodie hot girl, I would totally take her here. Because it is probably one of the most romantic restaurants in DC. Period. There are wonderful trees within a courtyard that canopy the outdoor eating area. There's a lovely walkway flanked by tables as a bar area. The interior is reminiscent of the lush lounge at the Tabard.

But the two food items I sampled were some of the worst things I've had in a loong time. A goat cheese torte came out in a slab like pate, was pink and came out with roasted red pepper sauce. Not a nice little tart shape as we were expecting. And let me say again... PINK! It didn't taste of anything. The chicken liver pate with green peppercorns was extremely kicky, but was a scatological dark brown and not the unctuous deliciousness that I've had at other places. I'd maybe stroll over to enjoy the atmosphere after a dinner at the Tabard, but that's about it.


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#2 Pat

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 01:49 PM

John Kelly says in the Post that they are closing as of October 31st.

#3 qwertyy

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 12:37 PM

This is where I had my first job in Washington. Very sad. :(

#4 jiveturk21

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 01:34 PM

About five years ago I went on a first date with a girl that will remain nameless. The first part of that date was drinks at Iron Gate followed by dinner at Tabard Inn. The end of that date included my car getting locked in a parking garage because the attendant decided to leave over an hour early that night, it was an utter debacle. I have never returned to Iron Gate or Tabard Inn since that night, too many bad memories. Unfairly, it looks like I will never be able to return to Iron Gate, I won't make that same mistake with Tabard Inn.

#5 The Hersch

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 03:50 PM

A guy who at the time owned the Iron Gate Inn was my landlord back in the 1980s. My god that guy was an asshole. I think he must have done the world a favor and died. I've eaten at the Iron Gate in the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s, and while the setting is very cool, the food has always been lousy.

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#6 LauraB

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:47 PM

the food has always been lousy.

Have to agree that the food was bad, which is why I haven't been there since the mid-'80s. That patio, however, is really lovely -- one of the best outdoor dining spaces in DC. I really hope the space will be taken over by a good restaurant. DC could really use more good restaurants with nice outdoor spaces.

#7 The Hersch

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 09:46 PM

one of the best outdoor dining spaces in DC.

Or in the Western world, perhaps. A real shame that it's gone to waste for so many decades.

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#8 DanCole42

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:15 PM

"I do not believe in creativity. I'm not a fan of creativity. I'm a fan of slow and steady."

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#9 thetrain

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 10:38 AM

Last night on my way to dine at Iron Gate I read this quote by Roberto Donna in the metro express; "Ambiance, look or service should never come first. If you go out to eat, you should go for the food. If not, eat at home; have a sandwich."

I respectfully disagree.

Due to hectic schedules, my date and I had missed the Oct. 31st dining deadline, but on the way to another restaurant it was discovered Iron Gate is open until Nov. 13th. Our plans were quickly changed. No, the food here is not revelatory. But ordering things that are hard to mess up (i.e. mussels, slow cooked lamb shank with homemade pasta, roasted chicken with mashed potatoes) and a bottle of french red wine procured a good meal. Sitting in a cozy restaurant 3/4s full, we could easily hear each other and the Paul Simon/Cat Stevens mix playing in the background. The ambiance was perfect. My date's Grandmother went here often during the early 1940s (!!) and I'm sure she will be so glad we got a chance to share a meal here.

Last night was a meal I'll always remember.

I am very glad I did not have a sandwich at home.

#10 Go for Gin

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 11:05 AM

I agree with you! While I like well prepared food I also enjoy the whole experience of a restaurant. Places like CityZen seem to fill the bill in all categories, but I've also been to places where the food is good, not great, and have appreciated the service and atmosphere so much that I always keep going back.

#11 DanielK

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 11:41 AM

I think you're twisting Roberto's intent.

You can tolerate a restaurant where the service isn't great. Maybe the room is plain, or ugly. Or the decor is out of style. All of these can be forgivable, to some extent.

But if the food sucks, who cares if the room is pretty, service is spot on, and the look is trendy.

#12 thetrain

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 12:25 PM

I think you're twisting Roberto's intent.

You can tolerate a restaurant where the service isn't great. Maybe the room is plain, or ugly. Or the decor is out of style. All of these can be forgivable, to some extent.

But if the food sucks, who cares if the room is pretty, service is spot on, and the look is trendy.

My point was if you put me in front of a fireplace in a cozy old riding house in the middle of the city with a gracious host and play some of my favorite music, you could serve me something slightly more edible than dog food and I'd be happy. Maybe that's just me.

(I am in no way insinuating Iron Gate's food is like dog food.)

#13 DanielK

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 02:39 PM

My point was if you put me in front of a fireplace in a cozy old riding house in the middle of the city with a gracious host and play some of my favorite music, you could serve me something slightly more edible than dog food and I'd be happy. Maybe that's just me.

And I would agree with Roberto that, given this scenario, I'd rather do that at home - my music, my fireplace, and my (better) food.

#14 thetrain

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 03:07 PM

And I would agree with Roberto that, given this scenario, I'd rather do that at home - my music, my fireplace, and my (better) food.

My humble abode does not resemble an old stable house, much less have a fireplace, so I guess we just have to agree to disagree.

#15 Tujague

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 01:04 PM

Making a comeback, thanks to Anthony Chittum. Sorry for Vermillion's loss, but fantastic that this space will get a chance to be the restaurant it always deserved to be.

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#16 goldenticket

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 03:37 PM

Making a comeback, thanks to Anthony Chittum. Sorry for Vermillion's loss, but fantastic that this space will get a chance to be the restaurant it always deserved to be.


Well, damn! I hate to lose having Chef Chittum's wonderful cooking available a few blocks from home, but this sounds like very exciting project. I'll be looking forward to dining there, since I never made it to the previous incarnation.

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#17 CajunJason

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 09:54 AM

I can't remember the last time I was this excited for a restaurant announcement.

Anthony Chittum of 3-Star Vermillion in Old Town, formerly of the 3-Star Notti Bianche (back when it was the real Notti Bianche), is planning to re-open the Iron Gate Inn at 17th & N Streets according to The Washington Post.

Chef Chittum with be partnering with former employers at the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Vermillion, Churchkey, Rustico etc) and will keep the name of the Iron Gate Inn, but will feature Italian & Greek cuisine.

Tony's grilled fresh seafood is among the best I've ever had, I can't wait to see what he does in Dupont. Congrats Chef!
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#18 DonRocks

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 12:50 AM

John Kelly says in the Post that they are closing as of October 31st.


To answer John Kelly's question about the "second oldest" continually operating restaurant in Washington, DC (without a location change, without any closures, and within the city's borders) it was Billy Martin's Tavern.

For such a historic city as Washington, DC, 1933 isn't all that old for "Oldest Restaurant."

I don't mean to be dim, but how long has Steak & Egg been Osman & Joe's?

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#19 adjen

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 10:49 PM

Any intel re when Iron Gate is reopening?

#20 cheezepowder

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 08:53 PM

Iron Gate hasn't reopened yet, but they've been posting on Facebook.  They posted this photo of an old menu from the Iron Gate - lots of fun to see the items and the prices.  Fruit cup supreme and V-8 cocktail for appetizers?  :P



#21 JBag57

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 01:14 AM

I have heard they are opening on November 4th, but I have no details other than that.



#22 cheezepowder

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:23 PM

The Washington Post reports that Iron Gate is opening on Nov. 19.



#23 Lori Gardner

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 12:29 PM

I dined at Iron Gate last week and enjoyed a wonderful meal and experience.  Considering the restaurant is so "new" at least in this iteration, everything was smooth and efficient.  We enjoyed a four course tasting menu for $50, which I consider a great value for what it includes- an assortment of sharing plates, a dish from the garden, a choice of an entree from the water or pasture and finally dessert or cheese.  Autumn squash tortelloni with crispy sage, pumpkin seed oil, and amaretti cookies is the kind of dish that you remember days (weeks) later- simply exquisite.The trio of lamb preparations is a standout, featuring a lamb chop encrusted with a Dijon coating, spicy lamb sausage, and a ragout with lamb. The shell beans and braised colllards are flavorful accompaniments. Congrats to Chef Anthony Chittum and the entire team.   My full report is here: http://beenthereeate.../iron-gate-inn/


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#24 SVT

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 09:45 AM

I brought my wife here for dinner on Friday evening, and we had a great meal and a very relaxing, pleasant night. Our initial server has been all over the place in DC; we've seen her at 2 Amys, Dino, Bluejacket, and now at Iron Gate, and she has never been anything less than professional, gracious, etc.

 

We did the 6-course tasting menu, without wine pairings, as my wife is expecting. It was a lot of food; each course was somewhere between a tasting portion and a full course, perfect for me but a bit too much for my wife, which meant I also had a chance to finish several of the later courses for my wife (a bonus!)

 

The shared small plates were really wonderful; the arancini were small perfect rice balls, very nicely fried. The pickled vegetables (carrots/leek/radish) were tart and a bit strong for my hypersensing wife, but really good for me. The other standout here was roasted broccoli and ricotta, but it was all very worthwhile. I could eat plate after plate of those small plates and would be very happy. Neighborhood restaurant group should consider opening up one of those conveyor belt sushi-type places, but serving these small plates.

 

The next several courses were equally worthwhile; the crusted rockfish over celery was a nicely composed dish, as was the lamb. My veal sweetbreads were exactly what I wanted; a simple sweetbread preparation that let the flavor of the sweetbread through perfectly.

 

I recognize that this new incarnation of Iron Gate is young, but here was our ultimtate takeaway: it feels like the kind of place where an incredible amount of hectic work is going on behind the kitchen door so that everything in the dining room feels smooth and relaxed. This is a charming space, with great food. If you can, I'd highly recommend it, and we look forward to going back.


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#25 Mark Dedrick

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 01:01 PM

I was going to do a much longer post on this, but my time has been getting away from me recently. We went about two weeks ago on a Saturday with another couple and we all absolutely loved it. The space is incredible. Warm, cozy and inviting, but not at all cramped. Just a beautiful dining room. Easy to have a conversation. Service was knowledgeable and wonderful almost without exception. At times the pacing crept a bit more towards the slower side than I would like, although I prefer this to the alternative. And often there was a rush to get our wine pairings to the table because the food beat it there. These are very small things, I want to emphasize, and the overall experience was wonderful.

 

The food was great. We did the four course tasting menus with beverage pairings. I don't have my notes in front of me, but everything we had was great, and the wine pairings worked very well with what we ordered, and were also different and interesting, which is often a problem with other tasting menus I've had (wines I have in my own basement appearing as beverage pairings). The small shared plates to start were plentiful, and a great way to start the meal. Dessert was great. 

 

I wish I could say more, but I wanted to get my positive experience out here now, before I forgot, and before I just decided not to bother. This is a really good restaurant, and it deserves the praise it's receiving.  


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#26 Waitman

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 06:56 PM

I found the Iron Gate Inn both delightful and disappointing.  it is an extraordinary setting and the service very gracious, if over-informative. I thought, however, that food was only pretty good -- enjoyable, but sort of a weak link in an otherwise very strong chain.

 

Because of the unseasonably warm night, we were led through the elongated, elegant bar area to the patio, rather than directly to the dining room, where our first course was served.  The grape/wisteria arbor isn't much in December, but I like fire escapes and old brick almost as much, and the wood fires scattered about for warmth and effect made it a quite charming location for a spread of antipasti and a good deal of (gratis) prosecco.  Of the antipasti: there were a lot of them, most of them were pretty tasty, but none of them left much of an impression -- pickled vegetables, bulgar and cherries, wild mushrooms and so on.

 

After a refill of the Prosecco, we were led to a lovely table in a lovely room in front of a lovely fireplace.  I think it would be almost impossible for me to have a bad time in so comfortable a room.  I'm sure they touched it up, maybe even dramatically, but it felt old and impossibly apart -- in the best possible way -- from the city around it.  Having noshed at Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency before heading over, and having plowed through eight or ten antipasti, we opted for the four-course with wine pairing.

 

We started dinner with a small aperitif that tasted (and may have been) a slightly sweet amarro that tasted distinctly and in a good way of Coca-Cola, a swell little grace note. The seafood -- squid "with crispy tentacles," as the server made sure to point out and a single immense scallop served atop wheat gnocchi with a smattering of sea urchin -- was quite tasty.  The lamb three ways was also quite good -- rich, if not particularly exciting -- while the sweetbreads with carrots were disappointing, bland and the battery gone limp.  I see the menu describes them as "sweet and sour" and if you think in terms of a sweet and sour at a decent Chinese carryout you can form a general impression.

 

I very much liked the servers but it's one of those places where you can spend almost as much time talking to the servers as talking to your date.  Part of this, I suspect, the excitement of opening a cool new restaurant with a good story behind it, and who doesn't love a little history?  But it does get old eventually.  On a related note, I quite enjoyed the wines and was very pleased to see a lot of Greek wine on the list -- I think they're interesting, a good value and neglected.  But, really, if I need to know a lot of details about which part of the Peloponnese the grape was grown in, or whether the acidity in the finish sets of the carrot puree, I ask.  Just remind me the of the name and I'll figure out if I like it. 

 

My favorite course was the Gianduja terrine, a very tasty chocolate concoctions, served with a spot of muscat from Samos on the side.  Rich and crunchy.

 

I don't know if it's the nature of Greek cooking, which tends to be more heartwarming than elegant, or the restrictions seasonal menus face this time of year, but the food, while tasty and well prepared, lacked a wow factor and that the rest of the experience delivered. 

 

Not that I won't be going back, I will.  It really is a wonderful place.
 


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#27 bettyjoan

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 09:24 AM

Jason and I enjoyed some food and drink at the bar last night - we love Jeff and wanted to see him and check out the bar area.  It is a really gorgeous space - you can feel the history, but it's not run-down or old in the cheesy, antique sense.  The team did a wonderful job with the renovations.  The only downside is that the bar room/area is very narrow, so when the seats are full and people are waiting, it is quite cramped.  When the weather warms up, the patio will solve that problem - and I think their outdoor seating will be a tremendous draw.

 

Cocktails were, as expected, lovely - Jason had an off-the-menu creation, but I had the Hearts Alive, with gin, grapefruit, cointreau, cappelletti, and chocolate bitters.  It was beautifully balanced, and the chocolate bitters at the back end were just the perfect touch.  The beer selection is quite varied, and I enjoyed both the brut rose and the dry Italian white (sorry, can't remember the specifics) that I had by the glass.

 

We started with the salami fritters, which were delicious (Jason compared them to a high-end Hot Pocket, which is pretty apt even though it sounds awful), and the three dips - I liked the kohlrabi tzatziki the best, and Jason preferred the feta.  Then we tried the gemelli with rabbit, mustard, and olives, and the cannelloni with chicken and fennel sausage.  The gemelli was outstanding - perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, full of great flavor and texture.  The cannelloni was quite good, but it paled in comparison to the gemelli.

 

As the menu changes, I will be excited to go back and try more dishes.  I think the menu is the perfect size - plenty to choose from, but not so big that you worry about execution.  Congratulations to the whole team!


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#28 marketfan

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 04:04 PM

Lunch at the bar today.  Delicious.  The Avgolemno inspired chicken veloute, the light as a cloud pasta of the cannelloni, parmesan salami fritters  ( a cross between a gougere and a biscuit with a cherry tomato marmelade )and the walnut cake were all a treat.  What was completely unexpected was the superb quality of the cortado Andy made.  We never order coffee in restaurants because so few restaurants pull a good espresso, so I am not sure why we took a chance.     So glad we did.

Bravo.



#29 Waitman

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 10:04 AM

Dropped by the terrace Friday night and again came away thinking that it's ore form than substance -- though the form itself is somewhat marred by metal lattice that, since the wisteria has not yet grown over it, makes the place feel vaguely industrial.  The steak was OK, but hardly overwhelming for $58 -- smaller than expected and not distinctively wood-grilled tasting.  (Also, i think I'm against grass-fed beef.  I've tried to like it -- but I'm craving grain finished for my next carnivorous adventure). Sesame crusted feta, polenta and ramp pesto, asparagus and mustard vinaigrette were all fine, if not unforgettable.  The proscuitto cotto had an unfortunate resemblance to  second-tier deli sandwich ham.  Also, our server disappeared at key moments (like when the first steak arrived overcooked) though the many besuited gents watching over the space like culinary secret service agents stepped in as needed (whisking away the steak and returning with a nosh to fill the down time as the new steak was cooked) and the server did appear with free wine in in the interregnum, so I'm thinking maybe it was a random glitch.

 

Upthread, Synesthesia writes of the previous iteration of the Iron Gate "If I was a guy and wanted to impress a non-foodie hot girl, I would totally take her here."  There seems to be a little of that still going on.


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#30 ozgirl

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 03:25 PM

Had dinner at the Iron Gate last week.  I love the new enclosed space/bar area.  We arrived early and enjoyed some tasty cocktails at the bar.  We found the hostess, bartender, and the waitstaff to be gracious, helpful, informative, and accommodating.  We had written in ahead asking for vegetarian fare only.  The restaurant was happy to accommodate us there was well.  We planned on doing the 4 course tasting menu, thinking that any more than that would be too much food and given our relatively late start to dinner - too much food too late in the evening.  

 

We very much enjoyed the "taste" course - pickled beets, celeriac? with apples, pickles, grilled radicchio, and other items.  it was a lovely course to start the meal.  Then things got a little salty. We had the gnocchi and subbed in a risotto for the second course.  The gnocchi were the clear winner. Nice bite and good flavour.  The risotto was too salty for me and Mr. Ozgirl graciously switched dishes with me and he ate the risotto.  We followed up with the tuna.  The tuna, without the added sprinkling of sea salt and olives was delicious.   I think on its own, this dish (in its entirety) is a success, but after pickled items, a salty risotto, this third salty dish was just too much.  We finished with the cheesecake and a (blue) cheese plate.  Both desserts were good.

 

While the food was 50/50 (2 good courses, 2 ok courses), we enjoyed the service and appreciated the effort the Iron Gate made to accommodate our vegetarian/pescatarian restrictions.

 

One quirk about the new space though... The WC seems to be in an area that isn't insulated.  We happened to be there on a cold and wet night and I remember thinking how terrible it must have been during the polar vortex to use the toilet.  It was cold in there!  could use a space heater (or air conditioner in the summer months i imagine). just sayin'.



#31 Tujague

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 11:39 AM

Was last night the breaking point for me? I don't know for sure, but I think I'm over tasting menus.

 

Don't get me wrong; Anthony Chittum and crew provided me with a lovely birthday meal. It was a pleasure to reacquaint myself with Jeff Faile's expert cocktails (mine the Negroni Bianco, Bob's the Boulevardier), and as ozgirl notes above, the tasting places were mostly a success (our mutual favorite was the burrata with lemon marmalade; only the frittata fell flat for both of us). I was more enthusiastic about Bob's luscious tuna crudo than with my second course of ricotta gnocchi, which were fine, but not the most pillowy I've had. Bob liked his Pekin duck with polenta croutons and morel sauce, and my single scallop with a pair each of hen-of-the-wood mushrooms and melted-cabbage tortellini was good (my reaction when it was set in front of me: "And here comes the foam!"). Desserts--Gianduja and goat-cheese cheesecake with rhubarb--were excellent as well. Top if off with a light and flavorful bottle of 2011 Tuscante Ghiaia Nera, Nerello Mascalese ($48) and friendly (if somewhat slow) service, what's not to love?

 

That's what I'm trying to figure out: I came out of the meal with more respect than love for what Iron Gate is doing in its tasting menu (in the dark, rather wintery-feeling main building). Part of me really wished we'd had a more substantive meal a la carte meal in the sparkly courtyard on a warm spring evening. I wanted to do more than simply admire what was being set in front of me; I wanted something to tear into and savor over more than a few bites. The tasting menu doesn't allow you to do much of that, and I am finding that is increasingly the case in other such offerings around the city. Perhaps the G Spot's menu is a bit more substantive; I'd like to try it, but overall, this feels like we're nearing the end of our trying out tasting menus.

 

(And note, while IG this week started offering some early reservations in the courtyard for dinner, we didn't want to take our chances on a special-occasion meal of not getting a table or waiting a long time; otherwise we might have done that. But given how relatively empty the tasting room was for most of the evening, I hope that IG will rethink its concept a bit to allow diners more flexibility in how they choose to dine; they have so much going for them in the spaces, kitchen, and bar.)


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#32 Pool Boy

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 01:44 PM

Was last night the breaking point for me? I don't know for sure, but I think I'm over tasting menus.

 

 

I am over tasting menus as well. They are only done truly well by a few - and it is hard to know if a new to you place knows what they are really doing. These days, I far, far prefer picking what I want and how much I want than leaving what I get to the chef or through a limited choice. I still CRAVE the days when Frank Ruta's Palena had a folded over menu where you could mix and match almost anything to a 3, 4 or 5 course menu of your choosing. A recent example of a really nice meal where I shunned the tasting menu idea was at Cityzen - wow it was tremendous. 

That said, I'm going to be here tonight to check things out with my wife and some friends. Looks like I will probably have options and a good time.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Dupont Circle, West Dupont, Italian, Greek, Inn, Patio, Neighborhood Restaurant Group

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