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DGDB (website) is currently open for dinner, rolling out brunch and lunch in the next few weeks. Boulud said this restaurant was going to be the most American of his French restaurants. Also it is noted because it will be serving the "Crabbie" with a nod to SpongeBob. But all that makes it sound so much less of what the opening showed it is likely to be. The bar, with marble and mirrored walls with etched quotes about libations was playful. I liked the height of the space and it made it feel a little less loud while quite packed on opening night. Wine, beer, cocktails were served, we tasted two of the cocktails which I have to say even on a packed night they were shaking up quickly and consistently, so kudos on that. The upstairs private dining was much more normal corporate feel with carpeted floors and blue walls, it wasn't as colorful, but still had fun views with big windows on each side. The upstairs was very loud, but there were also a lot of people up there because of the raw bar. I hope the guys shucking oysters aren't there normal crew because one guy was kind of butchering all of his. On the main floor going back towards the dining room from the bar there were shelves with plates painted by other chefs, cookbooks and other items. The plates were really the coolest part. Some chefs (cough cough Cathral Armstrong) were phoning it in, and some are really cool. A few are so well done I wonder if they had someone do theirs for them. But they were fun to see and some of the chefs I didn't know I was looking up to see what restaurants they were from. It gave it a very casual feel, while not being super casual, reminiscent of a less Southern Empire State South. The back wall can open up completely to the inner courtyard there of City Center which was a really nice feature, it really made the space feel open and kept that section a little less noisy even when really full. I assume they are going to have some patio space, which would be nice given the large courtyard. As to the food, there were a lot of excellent bites at the opening that represented dishes off the main menu. I think the food will be casual, but thoughtful enough to pull off casual well. There was an anchovy dip that wasn't bagna cauda that was really unusual, but so good, I hope this shows up somewhere on the main menu. There were some nice surprise tastes in what might be a very seen it dish, such as their tuna with harissa, and amazing roasted eggplant with very melt in your mouth soft flavorful lamb and an escargot dish that was more than just butter and garlic, in a good way. I thought the sausages in the chorizo ish hot dogs were well made and really flavorful. You could tell from the menu this is a place that will be able to serve all day, which I think in this area of town is a good thing. A huge advantage they have for them is the the bread will be from Mark Furstenberg. A French restaurant with decidedly excellent bread can never be a bad thing. This shouldn't be a surprise, but especially in DC it sometimes is, if the desserts on the menu are as excellent as the opening this is going to be a really strong portion of the menu, which is something I think is exciting. The desserts are the items that really stayed in my head and would make me want to go back. Overall based on the opening, I am excited to see the menu and try some dishes. I think it will represent as another solid option in that area. So we will see. But the opening was a lot of fun. If nothing else the man can throw a great party and be the star of it very well.
I have been to this Boulud outpost maybe 4 or 5 times dating back to I think 2003 or so. It was quite nice back then. Then, I went there for lunch a couple of times with a vendor for the overly wrought burger for fun. It was all good. Then, last fall, went again pre-theater of all things and WOW. They'd updated the dining room a bit it seemed, and the menu was great. Really great. Good wine list if a bit overpriced. GREAT service/staff. My only regret was not taking proper tme to give the place a lingering meal for justice. Next time. I've been luck enough to go to db, Cafe Boulud, Bar Boulud, Danie; and I think another instance, this db experience was near the top of the heap. Honestly, Daniel was kind of a let down (aside from the over the top service, which was a hoot). My wife and I were walking quite a few blocks after the meal as we are wont to do, and we both came to the realization 'Palena is better.' (sad in retrospect now, but true!). And Daniel itself was no slouch by any means whatsoever. It was quite fine.
We were a large party that needed some place to eat lunch on a Sunday and I wanted a seafood platter. I recalled that DBGB had a pretty stellar plateau de fruits de mer from my previous visit, so we went back. This time, I ordered the "royal" platter for $99. It had a lot more oysters than the $37 "petit" platter but not more variety of seafood, which was disappointing. There was one small lobster tail, 3 whelks, lots of oysters, claims and mussels, tuna tartare, some white fish, and some shrimp. I also had a $9 DBGB dog - which looks pretty but wasn't really better than a Hebrew Nat'l 1/4 lb beef frank. Others had burgers and various sausages. I also had a side of crawfish and okra gumbo that was pretty good. Go for the large and varied menu, not outrageous prices (for NYC and a celebrity chef joint), and the fun LES vibes.