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Butterfield 9 - Nein.


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#1 JLK

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:25 AM

I never hear much about Butterfield 9 around these parts.

Is it because it's been around for awhile, or because it's not that good?

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#2 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:31 AM

I went to Butterfield 9 regularly when they first opened and never had a bad meal there. I t's been a couple of years though.
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#3 CrescentFresh

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 10:34 AM

I never hear much about Butterfield 9 around these parts.

Is it because it's been around for awhile, or because it's not that good?

I haven't been there, but my wife has a few times. Probably not since last winter, though. She's always enjoyed it.
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#4 Nadya

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 01:11 PM

I ate there last year during summer Res Week, and had lots of fun and good food. Mexican chocolate cake - yeah baby.

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#5 Tweaked

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Posted 17 June 2005 - 01:18 PM

Their regular dinner menu looks pretty damn pricy, but pre/post theater looks pretty decent for $35.

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#6 simdelish

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Posted 19 June 2005 - 11:24 PM

Harr is brand new, so the food should be different. The former very short-lived chef, Brian Wolken, left in April to open another restaurant with his fiance -- Bob Kinkeads ex sous-chef Tracy O'Grady. According to the website which is under "re-construction", only the menu is available... but it looks to be the old one, IIRC.

#7 Pool Boy

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 09:45 PM

Been here a couple of times with my local winos, the DC Crü, but haven't been for, what maybe 18 months. Anything new going on here?

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#8 cjsadler

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 10:35 AM

Very postive review by Eve Zibart today in the Post.

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#9 Heather

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Posted 15 September 2006 - 10:46 AM

Very postive review by Eve Zibart today in the Post.

Very positive, and one of her better reviews, although I'm not I comprehend this sentence:

Harr's kitchen has mastered the high and unhappily rare culinary alchemy of blending just the exact amount of salt into a dish so you cannot taste it as a separate ingredient.

And not to be pedantic, but kidneys more often have issues with ammonia. They are usually soaked in acidulated water to improve the flavor.

#10 DanielK

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 10:23 PM

Had an excellent RW dinner here tonight.

Started at the bar with a B9 Martini (stoli peach, peach schnapps and champagne). A touch sweet, but well made. Once Ms. DanielK arrived, we were immediately seated upstairs. This really is a very large restaurant - several rooms downstairs, and an open balcony upstairs. Well insulated, though, as we never noticed a noise problem, and it was quite full when we left.

As our server delivered the menus, he noted that while the RW menu was only a subset of the regular menu, it featured many of the most popular dishes, and they were full-size portions. That is definitely one of the RW risks, so it was nice to hear them acknowledge and disdain the short-portion practice.

Ms. DanielK started with the Butternut Squash Soup (Pumpkin seed, pumpkin seed oil). I got only a single taste before it vanished, but it was a fine, fine soup. It actually tasted like squash, not cream, though they should have done a better job husking the pumpkin seeds! I got the Grapefruit and Endive Salad (arugula, dates, pine nuts, colonial wheat crostini) which was amazing. I've always loved the citrus-and-bitter-greens combination (the endive/goat cheese/orange tapas is one of my favorites at Jaleo), and this was no slouch. I think I even caught a hint of vanilla in the dressing.

She then went with the Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs (soft cheese grits, butternut squash, truffle essence ). I refuse to admit that braised short ribs can ever be trite, and these were fabulous. The truffle essence really came through as earthiness in the dish. Having had short ribs at lunch at The Oval Room, I elected for the Roasted Pork Tenderloin (creamed barley, braised mustard greens, pork jus). The tenderloin was fabulous, but I could have eaten plates of the creamed barley. I washed the pork down with a glass of Malbec Alamos 2005.

For dessert, she got the Tahitian Vanilla Crème Brulee (burnt sugar crust), and I went with the Chocolate Cheesecake with Toffee and Caramel (slightly different than the preparation listed on the website). My wife proclaimed the creme brulee as one of the best she's had, because they took the time to make the crust nice and thick. I thought the flavor was excellent, but the plate was too deep, so the ratio of crust to cream was off for me. The cheesecake was perfect, however. A chocolate laced cheesecake that wasn't cloyingly sweet, but definitely an equal marriage of chocolate and cheesecake. There were toffee crumbles on the plate, and a dollop of house-made caramel with almond slices. Had the dining room not have been so full, I would have licked the plate. Washed down with a couple of cups of Illy coffee, it was a fine, fine meal. I will return.

They are extending RW through next week, and there are plenty of tables available next week.

#11 treznor

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 12:44 PM

I've been to Butterfield 9 twice now for lunch and both times wondered why it wasn't talked about more. My group at work always goes out for lunch on Friday for Restaurant Week and it usually falls to me to find a reservation. Getting a reservation for 8 to 16 on the Friday of Restaurant Week only a week or two in advance (because we tend to never plan properly) can be a bit tough. As DanielK noted, the Butterfield 9 dining room is quite roomy and thus they were able to accomodate us on fairly short notice (only a couple days) twice. We haven't been back in two years or so as we try and go to somewhere different each time.

I don't remember the rest of the menu that we had either time we went, other than it was all very good, but the butternut squash soup I do remember, even two years later. It was lusciously creamy and yet still tasted very much of squash as opposed to the cream. I believe at that time there was a dollop of cream fraiche on the soup and underneath a few chips of applewood smoked bacon. Everyone at the table that got it loved it.

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#12 bennybig1

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 01:02 PM

one of my foodie friends loved it when it first opened but said after that chef left the quality went waaaay down.

but given Zibart's recent good review, it appears they've worked out the kinds following the chef changeover.

#13 DanielK

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Posted 17 February 2007 - 12:48 AM

"Balancing the Bar?"
Bar Tasting Menu - 5:30 - 7:00 pm - Monday thru Friday

Experience the balance between food and wine as Chef Michael Harr
offers tasting portions from his menu creations paired with wines

14 different dishes paired with 6 different wines. Food $4-$6/plate, wines about the same for a 3oz. pour.

Definitely seems like a place for happy hour in the near future...

#14 DonRocks

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Posted 07 September 2007 - 09:44 AM

Elizabeth Taylor won the Academy Award for Best Actress in the 1960 film, BUtterfield 8, but there are no awards for Butterfield 9, sometimes known as B9, or in my experience, benign.

First of all, let's cut the crap with the $15 glasses of Gruner Veltliner. If it wasn't for Jeremy, one of the best bartenders in town, drinking here would be awful; with him manning the helm, especially with his generous pours on an empty evening, it's a pleasure to come here for drinks and bar snacks.

And the bar food wants to be good. Ricotta & Wheat Gnocchi ($11) is a little bowl of pasty gnocchi, topped with a little duck confit, peas, and a couple pea-shoot tendrils. It's pleasant if not moving, but the Fricassée of Veal Sweet Breads ($10) is a flat-out dud. Served with trumpet mushrooms over Madeira jus, it's a plate of three moribund sweetbreads that are neither crispy nor gooey - and sweetbreads need to be either one or the other, preferably both. The best dish of the night was also fatally flawed: Braised Beef Short Rib ($10) is a fine little plate of food, with excellent creamy truffle grits, beautifully cut baby carrots, all atop a little pool of braising jus. I would absolutely get this again, and the next time I'd hope that the center of the short ribs doesn't come out at refrigerator temperature.

Long-cooked short ribs are often not rushed over to your plate from the original heat source; in fact, they may not even be served to you the same day that they were cooked. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing (certain foods keep well, and even improve, with some downtime in the fridge), but why do you think every restaurant in town serves them, and why do you think they're often the cheapest meat on the menu?

Butterfield 9 has recently begun touting their new pastry chef, Manabu Inoue, even advertising an upcoming media tasting of the new dessert menu. Inoue spent time working with the Morimoto chain, and apparently likes incorporating chocolate and fruits into his desserts (not necessarily together). A Salty Caramel Chocolate Tart ($10) with chocolate sorbet and a dark-chocolate straw was good, but just not as good as it sounded. Right now, only four of Inoue's desserts are on the menu, and he'll probably need more time to settle in, but there may be something here.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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#15 The Doctor

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 04:20 PM

Came across this little number in the Washingtonian: :blink:

Last month, local online foodie (and former Washingtonian wine columnist) Don Rockwell ate at downtown DC's Butterfield 9 and wasn't a fan. Sure, everyone's entitled to an opinion. But once Rockwell called the restaurant's Braised Beef Short Rib "fatally flawed" in a post on his eponymous food forum, Butterfield's riled-up chef, Michael Harr, sprung into action. Hence, the Butterfield 9 Beef Shortrib Challenge.

That means that tomorrow between 6 and 7 PM, anyone can stroll in for a free taste of Harr's shortribs paired with a scoop of truffle grits, the $10 dish's usual side. Though Rockwell did faintly praise the entrée, calling it "the best of the night," he came down hard on the meat's "refrigerator temperature" in the same breath. Harr is out to prove his promise that the ribs are "fall-apart, mama's recipe and comfort-food good."

Butterfield 9's Michael Harr stands behind his meat.

To prepare for Thursday's onset of feisty rib-eaters, Harr special-ordered 100 pounds of beef, which will come out to 400 tasting portions. Butterfield 9 publicist Dusty Lockhart has even started a grassroots movement, visiting nearby office buildings to plug the giveaway. "I've found that receptionists and guards are much more accommodating when you have cupcakes," she says.

So will the shortribs be fridge-caliber cold like Rockwell claimed? Or just like mama's as Harr will testify? It's on like Donkey Kong. Get down there Thursday, and come back to the Best Bites Blog to let us know your thoughts.

Note: this is tomorrow, Thursday October 18th.

#16 DonRocks

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 04:50 PM

Came across this little number in the Washingtonian: :blink:

Ha-fucking-rumph. I loved those shortribs, other than the fact that they were cold in the middle. Here is what I said:

"The best dish of the night was also fatally flawed: Braised Beef Short Rib ($10) is a fine little plate of food, with excellent creamy truffle grits, beautifully cut baby carrots, all atop a little pool of braising jus. I would absolutely get this again, and the next time I'd hope that the center of the short ribs doesn't come out at refrigerator temperature."

I have NO DOUBT that these things will be fantastic, and the chances of them being cold tomorrow must surely approach zero. But the real challenge for an event like this won't be the short ribs themselves; it will be duplicating that superior cutting-job on the carrots when producing the dish in bulk.

Cheers, and best of luck to Butterfield 9 with this savvy, savory event.
Rocks.

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#17 cheezepowder

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:43 PM

Here's the post from the Events forum with Michael Harr's challenge.

#18 beezy

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 11:32 PM

I heard a rumor from a person in the know that Butterfield 9 is for sale - having problems with staff, and want to concentrate on New Heights, their other property.

I had a business lunch last week, and it was just a train wreck. Wrong temperature, cooked wrong, tasted weird.

Maybe DC is just trying to tell me to stay on my side of the river.... :blink:
Hmph.

#19 Camille-Beau

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 12:21 AM

I heard a rumor from a person in the know that Butterfield 9 is for sale - having problems with staff, and want to concentrate on New Heights, their other property.
I had a business lunch last week, and it was just a train wreck. Wrong temperature, cooked wrong, tasted weird.
Maybe DC is just trying to tell me to stay on my side of the river.... :blink:

B9 was sold a few months ago by Umbi Singh who is now focusing solely on New Heights, his other restaurant.
"If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?" -- John Cleese

"And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ..."

#20 Apples & Bananas

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 01:30 AM

Did anyone go to the free ribs gimmick last night at BF9? If so, how was it?
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#21 DPop

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 11:25 AM

Did anyone go to the free ribs gimmick last night at BF9? If so, how was it?

I thought it was pretty cool. I got there briefly after 6 and there was already a line to the door at the bar of people waiting. It was pretty cool to see such a response to Harr's invitation (which I will caveat was very generous and creative), even if it was a little annoying to wait in a long line in front of small bar with servers bumping their way past you every few seconds.

When we finally got to the front of the line, Harr said hi and asked where we had heard about the event. I told him DR.com and with a chuckle, he asked "What did you think of what he said?" I didn't know how to take this, it was hard to tell whether he was bitter or just laughing it off, but it took me by surprise and I came out with "Well, he said they were good, so we'll see....." I didn't think it was worth discussing with him as there was a long line behind me and he might have been sore about it, so I took my ribs and strolled to an open spot on the floor.

The verdict: Good. Not the best I've had, but still a worthwhile dish (and a great free one :blink: ). I thought that the ribs were tender and easy to pull apart, but I thought the accompanying gravy was a little overpowering, not letting me get much of a taste for the actual meat. The grits were a little creamier than I typically prefer, but that is just me and I thought the flavor was very nice. The carrot was actually my favorite part of the dish, with a slight butter taste and cooked to a perfect soft crunch.

I don't think I would go back for the short ribs specifically, but I think I will be back to give the place a try to see what else Harr has to offer.

#22 DonRocks

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 11:53 AM

A couple things I want to say here: First of all, I really admire Michael Harr for doing this. Not because he jiu-jitsued what I wrote into a clever promotion, but because he unabashedly stood up for his craft in what he (mis)interpreted as a slam. I respect him for that, and I wish more people would do it. Truly, I hope the short ribs at Butterfield 9 get woven into the psyche of the general public after this event. When I go back, I very much look forward to ordering them again.

And perhaps more importantly, I wish to emphasize that they're not "reviews" ... they're Mini Bites! :blink:

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#23 michaelharr

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 10:06 PM

Hello all,

Now that it finally feels like Fall, I will be launching the Game Tasting Menu at B9. The menu will launch on November 1st (running through March 1st) and includes five course for $65. Here are the details:



B9 Game Tasting Menu
65 per person. 25 wine pairing


seared venison loin, persimmon, Madagascar vanilla
roasted rabbit, walnut, white fig compote
pan-seared squab, green chili grits, bison jerky sauce
braised elk, caramelized rutabaga, wilted brussels, ceylon cinnamon sauce
cheese course


I get the Elk from a great farm in North Dakota, and the product has been amazing this year.

Hope to see some of you at the restaurant!

Michael Harr
Michael Harr
Chef & Managing Partner, Butterfield 9

#24 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 12:29 AM

Let me get the weaker points out the way first. The cream sauce didn't want to cling to the sautéed spinach that well. The carnaroli in the risotto could have been creamier. There. Did I miss anything? I suppose the timing could have been tightened up just a smidge, but I really don't mind waiting a little for a kitchen that insists on putting dishes out right instead of rushed.

Like treznor, I don't know why B9 isn't talked about more, because our party of four had an excellent meal there tonight. Let's begin with a look at the preliminaries. The descriptions read well, with intriguing-sounding combinations that fit into a dozen words or less. Chef Harr has a serious bent towards sourcing locally when possible - the menu is unequivocal that the crabmeat is local Eastern Shore produce. The room itself is tall and smart, and tastefully decorated with large Cartier-Bresson-esque B/W prints (I didn't ask nor look closely to confirm).

But Ol'I, you ask, how was the food?

I can't speak for everything on the menu, but I can speak for everything that I tasted, and it was good. Very good, for the most part. The lobe of foie gras is scored and perfectly seared to develop a crunchy caramelized layer, and paired with an almost savory salted ice cream with brioche pieces that pushes whatever button of mine that Andelman's salted caramels do. You want a bit of the ice cream with every bite of the foie gras to balance out the richness(!), no shit. Eastern Shore crab on a gouda fondue treats the latter like a plated sauce; I was a bit apprehensive about a dish that might smother sweet crabmeat with cheeeeeeeeese, but my fears were misplaced, as the gouda mainly lent a nice creaminess to the whole. But besting both of these was the lamb ravioli, also served with a (smaller) nice piece of seared foie gras, on a unctuous little puddle of concentrated jus.

For mains, I had the roasted elk (med-rare, cool red center with a pink fringe) and loved it, as I've always found elk to be delicious. Very tender, and only mildly gamey...presumably farm-raised. The caramelized rutabaga comes as a sweep of pureed starch beneath the elk and would have been a perfectly satisfying veg accompaniment (also not mentioned on the menu is the scattering of blackcurrants?) if we hadn't also ordered a side of the green chili (as in pepper) grits, which were frankly terrific. You need to order the grits; I suspect they'd go great with any of the mains, and in any case I'd eat them all by themselves. Actually, we ended up ordering a spread of the four side dishes, and I'd rate the grits tops, the mushrooms a solid second, the truffled whipped potatoes third (good flavor, but is it achieved with truffle oil?), and the spinach a rather more distant fourth (sauce didn't break, but simply would not cling to the greens).

A few of our party had the risotto, and while I thought the overall dish showed great promise, I was a little disappointed with the carnaroli rice itself, which didn't meet the creaminess of the squash, nor did it seem to absorb and concentrate the otherwise excellent flavors. I guess applying more stock would make it harder to spin as a vegetarian option though.

After all that, I found our desserts (clafouti, and the "ivory flan") to be merely good. Attractive, but nothing spectacular. Will have to try some of the others on our next visit to see if there's something worthy to close with.

Despite the fascination with game, the menu offers several good options that can easily be adjusted to please the vegetarians among us - our token veg seemed quite pleased with her meal. With prices firmly on the friendly side of the expensive category, we were pleasantly surprised with the consistently high quality. Care had been taken in the platings (sauces seemed to figure prominently in many of the dishes) and service was unpretentious. In my book, B9 under Chef Harr is underrated right now.

Dave Hsu
--------"Cuisine represents a knife edge that separates attractive stimulation from death."--- Art Ayers


#25 agm

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 12:23 PM

Despite the fascination with game, the menu offers several good options that can easily be adjusted to please the vegetarians among us - our token veg seemed quite pleased with her meal.

I'm looking for a decent option to have dinner with a vegetarian friend, so after reading this I pulled up the Butterfield 9 website to see what's available. There's a vegetarian tasting menu that looks quite good. I'd happily order it myself, despite being a devout carnivore. But there was one item that caught my eye: Ricotta Wheat Gnocchi, which apparently comes with duck confit, truffle, pea shoot tendrils, Reggiano. I guess when the regular tasting menu includes such things as ostrich, goat and elk, a little duck confit might seem mild enough not to offend, but I don't think it works that way.

agm - it's my name, not my job.


#26 Pat

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 01:34 PM

But there was one item that caught my eye: Ricotta Wheat Gnocchi, which apparently comes with duck confit, truffle, pea shoot tendrils, Reggiano. I guess when the regular tasting menu includes such things as ostrich, goat and elk, a little duck confit might seem mild enough not to offend, but I don't think it works that way.

That sounds like it might be a mistake on the web site. If it's not, then something is amiss.

#27 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 01:39 PM

That sounds like it might be a mistake on the web site. If it's not, then something is amiss.

Pretty sure it's an oversight. We inquired about a variety of the other dishes, and in most cases the meat accompaniment could be easily omitted or plated on the side.

Dave Hsu
--------"Cuisine represents a knife edge that separates attractive stimulation from death."--- Art Ayers


#28 agm

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Posted 09 November 2007 - 02:51 PM

That sounds like it might be a mistake on the web site. If it's not, then something is amiss.

I'm sure it is - probably just a cut-and-paste of the description from a non-vegetarian version, and insufficient proof reading. I just thought it was funny.

agm - it's my name, not my job.


#29 susanmab

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 08:35 AM

An impromptu dinner for two on Friday. Every time I'm there, I remember that I think this place doesn't get as talked about as much it should.

I had the escolar with black rice, and my date had the lamb ravioli.

We left there very happy campers. Service was fine, our server was skilled and pleasant.

Our only gripe was when the a/c came on right as our main course was served. Not only did we freeze through the rest of our dinner and dessert, but the food got quite cold quite fast. It was blowing directly down on our table, so I'm not sure if all the diners were uncomfortable. We thawed when we left - and wasn't so very warm Friday night, if that tells you anything.

#30 Anna Blume

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 09:00 AM

Executive Chef Michael Harr promoted Butterfield 9 at the Penn Quarter market yesterday which seems to be the place for culinary professionals and their families to catch up w one another. Offered an intricate dish of tortellini filled w seafood and ricotta in a blue crab broth w fennel fronds, heirloom tomatoes and bright green, barely cooked, tender fava beans. Incredibly nice and gracious, if ribbings do not seem to fade in memory.

#31 Sthitch

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 12:07 PM

The soft-shelled crab special that was offered today at lunch was positively amazing. It is a simple yet elegant preparation of two sautéed softies (one if you want it as an appetizer) served with hazelnuts, braised French breakfast radishes, and braised turnips with an herbed nage. There really was nothing fancy about this dish, each ingredient did its job of highlighting something different about the softie for example the braised radish further enhanced the sweetness of the crab while the turnip brought forth the tang of the innards.

#32 DonRocks

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 10:52 PM

Trying to get a table for Butterfield 9, the message says they're currently "closed for the holiday weekend."

A little birdie told me to call, doubtful that I'd be able to get a table, now or ever. OpenTable has nothing, not even 30 days from now. Anyone?

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#33 Sthitch

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 11:00 PM

I hope it is a false alarm, I have had many great meals at B9. But on my last visit at lunch time the restaurant was almost empty.

#34 SrtaJRosa

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Posted 28 June 2008 - 03:07 PM

OpenTable has nothing, not even 30 days from now. Anyone?

I tried just now to get a reso through OT, looks like they are open on July 1st-3rd, then the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, etc.
"Oh no she didn't!"

#35 B.A.R.

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:38 PM

Not sure if this is true of Butterfield 9 or not, but I have a feeling that this is going to be a very difficult year for the dining industry (read: Fine Dining) in DC.

A glut of high end restaurants as regular folks cut back on their spending and businesses curtail luxury spending. Sky high food prices. Very expensive leases. It could be ugly.

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#36 deangold

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 01:21 PM

I tried just now to get a reso through OT, looks like they are open on July 1st-3rd, then the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, etc.

One thing very odd about the OT availability: tomorrow all OT shows as open is 5:30 for 2 or 4, and then 7:15 for 2 or 4 Tuesday thru Saturday. Nothing else. They are closed to day so a call is not possible.

#37 DonRocks

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 09:49 PM

They are closed to day so a call is not possible.

They'll be closed tomorrow too - B9 is closed.

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#38 Pool Boy

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 07:13 AM

They'll be closed tomorrow too - B9 is closed.

Forever?! Wow. I remember a few good meals there with my wine-o buddies.

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#39 susanmab

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 08:44 AM

Oh, I am sad!

I had a few really nice evenings there.

#40 danfishe

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 09:24 AM

Oh, I am sad!

I had a few really nice evenings there.

Between B9 and the former Mexican place across the street, that little corner of downtown is hurting for dining destinations.

#41 Apples & Bananas

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 09:37 AM

Between B9 and the former Mexican place across the street, that little corner of downtown is hurting for dining destinations.

Also the corpse of Red Sage that still sits there (or at least did last time I walked by).
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#42 DonRocks

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 11:40 AM

Cooks at Butterfield 9: take note.

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#43 danfishe

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 12:18 PM

Also the corpse of Red Sage that still sits there (or at least did last time I walked by).

I heard a bank was going in there, but that is some prime real estate to be sitting like that. It is a huge space.

#44 ScotteeM

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 09:57 PM

Also the corpse of Red Sage that still sits there (or at least did last time I walked by).

It was still the corpse of Red Sage when we drove by Saturday evening (on our way to Komi).

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