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Cafe Atlantico, Modern Latino Cooking at 8th and D Street in Penn Quarter - Closed


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I was going to post this a week ago, but for some reason couldn't...but here it goes anyway.

How good is Cafe Atlantico's pre-theater prix fixe deal? I'll give you a hint. Really really good. And a steal, at that - $25 per person including entrees that run to slightly less than that on the regular menu.

We started off the meal with the "Magic Mojito" which was pretty amazing - cotton candy in a martini glass, with mojito poured over it. Besides being, well, kinda cool - it was probably the best mojito I've ever had. I had already had Cafe Atlantico's mojitos, but I think I preferred this one because it didn't have ice in it, which kept it from inevitably getting watered down, as the other ones do (though I suck mine down so fast it doesn't get watered down for long). After we finished that, we followed up with a glass of Riesling each.

Followed up with foie gras and melon balls - this was a great combo, and also very fun to eat together over toast. The entree was a really excellent duck confit, with perfect sugary crispy yummy skin. biggrin.gif And as a finale, their molten chocolate cake, which was good, though pretty typical for that dessert.

All in all, a good dinner with considerable savings. I'm definitely itching to go back and try the other options on the menu...especially the guac!!

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We started off the meal with the "Magic Mojito" which was pretty amazing - cotton candy in a martini glass, with mojito poured over it. Besides being, well, kinda cool - it was probably the best mojito I've ever had.

Yeah, that sounds pretty cool. I have to hand it to Chef Jose and his beverage people: they have good 'bar gimmicks' that actually add to the drink, rather than just be for novelty's sake. See also: salt air.

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

Tonight was Café Atlantico, followed by a terrific dessert, followed by a late-night check-in at Rumba Café (perhaps more on the fine Rumba Café in an upcoming post).

The guacamole at Atlantico is the best I've had in Washington, the conch fritters (discussed earlier in this thread) are as good as you could possibly imagine, the scallops in a coconut crispy rice with ginger squid and squid-ink oil were disappointing, the scallops being overcooked and the sauce being too monolithic and dull, the foie gras in Torrontes with brioche is quite good but not special, the marinated quail with mango/anchovy raviolis and balsamic reduction is superb, and an incredible value at nine dollars. All dishes ordered as small plates, and I'm reminded once again what a terrific place this is to catch an early dinner at the bar.

The wine program is one of the best in Washington, but has a fatal flaw. Francisco Astudillo is a talented young sommelier who has assembled the single most interesting list of South American wines I have ever seen. Witness: 37 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons, 16 Argentine Cabernet Sauvignons, 27 Argentine Malbecs, not to mention 30 sparkling wines (most of them Champagne including interesting pulls such as the LaSalle Chigny-Les-Roses Premier Cru for sixty dollars. Then there are the wines by the glass: 18 different varietals offered, almost all of them having at least two selections apiece - even unusual stuff by the glass such as Godello, Tokai-Furmint, Verdehlo, Torrontes, a German Pinot Gris. Nothing by the glass is priced at more than $10.00 - it's a fabulous by-the-glass list accompanying an interesting list in general, and the sommelier is engaging, knowledgable and eager to please, so what's the fatal flaw?

Well, you'll just have to read the next thread, because in this one, I'm not going to say anything but praise about Café Atlantico, so there!

Cheers,

Rocks!, but still....

[p.s. the fatal flaw was that the red wines were served too warm, but that problem is so widespread that it doesn't seem fair to single out Cafe Atlantico. Plus their mojitos are so good that they can cause a genetic mutation.]

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And for those of you who want to do brunch but are tired of standing in line for the privilege of eating two eggs, please consider Latin dim sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico.

It's never crowded. It's innovative. It's a good thing for impressing out of town relatives and friends or dates who are on the innocent side. It's a feast of gastronomic diversity for the same, what, $25? I guarantee that every other dish, when you put it in your mouth, will make you go, hmmm....awwwww....yum! Honorable mention goes to anchovy/mango ravioli and CA's own twist on the French toast.

Honestly, it's good enough to make your insufferable brunch companions not matter. And if it's someone you like, you'll have much more fun spoon-feeding them these beauties (during which you can raise your eyebrows and smile knowingly as your companion grows still...swallows and moans...see, I told you...didn't I tell you....listen to pumpkin) than trade back and forth dripping forks of your eggs over easy.

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When handed my check last night at the bar at Jaleo, there was a booklet tucked in there announcing some events at Atlantico to celebrate its 15th anniversary in June.

Tuesday, June 7 Cata de Vinos, a South American wine tasting. No menu was listed (although I've emailed them to ask.) $120 pp inclusive.

Wednesday, June 15 Almaviva Wine Dinner. with winemaker Tod Victor Mostero. Menu prepared by Jose Andres and Katsuya Fukushima. Regalitos - Mojito soda - Carrot pisco sour, Oysters with pea puree, pea sprouts, snow peas, candied lemon mint, Tomato-Watermelon "Gazpacho", Chicken Caesar salad, "Steak and Eggs", Tres Leches 3 Ways. $125 pp inclusive.

Saturday, June 25 Art Auction and Dim Sum Celebration, featuring works by Latin American artists. Special dim sum brunch and cocktail party follows the auction. No price listed.

Monday, June 27 Dinner with Jose and friends. Guest chefs, Douglas Rodriguez, Ola, Miami and Guillermo Pernot, Pasion, Philadelphia. $150 pp inclusive.

I know I'd want to see more info on these before I would consider shelling out the $.

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I had lunch there last week, and the kitchen was doing an amazing job with seafood dishes under the able leadership of Katsuya Fukushima. Among other things, the scallop in a coconut crispy rice with ginger squid and squid-ink oil was great this time around, and the red snapper Veracruz "con Aguacate" was the best version of this dish I've had in all of Washington.

On another recent visit to the bar, the tres leches reminded me of just how refreshing and invigorating a dessert can be - even if you're feeling like a pudgy ball of sodium after an arduous weekend of scarfing barbeque and nachos in front of the tube, and you think you couldn't possibly enjoy a dessert for at least another month, you should still go to Cafe Atlantico and order the tres leches.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I am going to have to try this place again. The last time I went was during restaurant week and it was not that great. The choices that you were limited to must not have been representative of the rest of the menu.

I have a reservation for the minibar later next month and I can't wait to see how much it has changed in a year.

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When handed my check last night at the bar at Jaleo, there was a booklet tucked in there announcing some events at Atlantico to celebrate its 15th anniversary in June.

Tuesday, June 7  Cata de Vinos, a South American wine tasting.  No menu was listed (although I've emailed them to ask.)  $120 pp inclusive.

FYI, just as a point of restaurant sloppiness, I've not yet received a response to my email requesting more information.
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A phone call will probably be much more effective.

Probably, but they shouldn't offer an email contact if they're not going to use it, and I'd rather get the info emailed to me so I can forward to others without having to transcribe. I guess laziness rules on my end too! ;) But I'm not running a business. :lol:
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Anyone aspiring to the claim of gastronomical expertise, man-about-town-ness, and simply rocking good time - next time you are in the mood for brunch, please abandon steak and eggs. Flip eggs Benedict a well-trained finger. Leave pancakes to lovers of elastic waists.

Instead, head downtown to Latin dim sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico, simply the most sophisticated, refreshing and different gig in town. Not only you will get your Sunday kick-started with great food as opposed to "old, nasty odds and ends" (ref. A. Bourdain, p. xxxx). It will also lend you a reputation of someone "who really know how to live well in Washington."

Share the bites of gorgeous food that comes in sizes just enough for two tastings. Get giddy on fruity cocktails. Is there a worthier calling? I don't think so.

So, this Sunday morning. Cafe Atlantico. Me and a similarly inclined friend. These were the choices:

Duck confit with passion fruit oil. This is a little sister of a dish one gets at dinner. Although three times smaller, it retains the goodness of fatty, fork-tender duck flesh sliding off the bone at the gentlest prod of the said fork.

Tuna ceviche with coconut. The spinkling of toasted corn seeds on top gives a totally unexpected twist.

Spinach with pumpkin seeds and raisins. Simple but never fails. Comes as a side dish to duck confit at dinner.

Mango anchovy raviolis. Hello, food revolution. This is the dish that you may want to use as a platform to showcase the savoir-faire of You Who Knows About Food. Ravioli shells are made of paper-thin mango slices. "What's that white thing inside??", your companion exclaims. "Honestly, darling. That's just anchovy foam. Neat, no??"

Oyster with mango-lime oil. Perfectly shucked. Warning: Mango-lime oil is fabulous, but when you lick the shell trying to get the last drop and lacerate your over-enthusiastic tongue on the rough edge of the shell, the resulting scratch may hamper your enjoyment of acidic drinks. You ARE having drinks, right? RIGHT?

Jicama–arugula rolls, quinoa, corn, pomegranate & cabrales cheese. Very nice.

Conch fritters with a liquid heart. Tastes surprisingly hearty.

Seared baby corn with corn puree.

Pan dulce with cinnamon syrup. Still miss that French toast at your skanky neighborhood brunch place? Get your fill here in a tiny, very cosmopolitan execution.

Oh I could go on and on, especially as lunchtime draws near and I contemplate my choices (SlimFast in vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. All of them, vile beyond belief.) But I always leave Cafe Atlantico with the wistful sense of "I don't come here often enough." Or "I wish I could order four more and have room for it." It's the most delicious, unusual and suave take on this most undemanding meal of the week. The way Cafe Atlantico handles it shows ingenuity, taste and the impossibly languid approach to eating well one doesn't find very often on this side of the Atlantic.

Signed,

The Rude Euro .

Edited by Nadya
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My mother flew in from Iowa yesterday, arriving at National at 11 and needing to be at Dulles by 3 PM. After careful triangulation on the metro system we determined that two--and only two--restaurants would both let us to have a lunch worthy of her exceedingly paltry expense account and allow her to catch the 5A out to Dulles: Cafe Atlantico, off of Navy-Archives, then catching the bus at L'Enfant, or Pho-75 in Virginia, catching the bus at the Rosslyn metro.

Pho-75, however, is a half a mile from the metro. We checked the weather forecast Monday night. Cafe Atlantico, then.

And a fine, fine lunch it was. My mother caught the blue line by accident, so I sipped a mint-limeade at the bar while waiting. The bar was empty save for Jose Andres himself, flipping through a magazine and looking unusually calm. I tried desperately to think of something to say to one of my culinary heros that wouldn't make me sound like a nerd at prom--but, er, I _was_ a nerd at prom, and old shyness dies hard. I silently drank and thought quiet admiring thoughts instead.

My mother finally stumbled in. She's been a fan of Cafe Atlantico since well before I moved here seven years ago, and she's not shy at all. She also, fortunately, didn't recognize Andres, so we just sat at a table under the window and I didn't whisper anything until he'd left. We split the soup, the ceviche, and an order of the day's special, soft-shell crab.

The soup was, as usual, brilliant, sweet potato with crunchy things and a dollop of crema. Whenever the weather decides to cool, I want an Atlantico-Corduroy soup cook-off. Winner gets to shout: No--

well, you know, at the loser.

Ceviche was tuna chunks under a lump of fat, soft avocado, and it was very good, though it was the soup we went dueling over for the last scrape. Soft-shell was also very nice, I think--by the time you split a soft-shell in two, though, hunks of meat have gone squirting in every direction and it's a little hard to find one with just the right crunch left. I wasn't such a fan of its warm tomato, olive, and something else base, which overpowered the faintly sweet crab--but if you pulled it out, the base was tasty when piled onto the surrounding chips.

My mother swore she was too full for dessert and I was leery of falling asleep at my desk, so we passed, though not until I'd detailed the past wonders of Mr. Klc's baba in a futile attempt to change both our minds. Instead, we metro'd down to L'Enfant plaza and bought a pint of plums from the Tuesday farmers' market to eat while waiting for the bus. They were good, but I fell asleep anyway.

Edited by babka
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Because somebody -- I think it was Capital Icebox -- asked about the brunch recently.

Ohhhh, it's good brunch. So good for parents, so good for everyone. Have some avocado-jicama ravioli that aren't really ravioli. Have the vanilla potato thing. Have whatever comes with coconut rice.

Forget what exactly the dishes are called, as I have, but remember that it's just about all delicious.

I have always wanted to get the One Of Everything deal but have never done so. Which means I definitely need to visit again.

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A cautionary note about the Deluxe Tasting Latino Dim Sum:

The food is fabulous, don’t miss the cauliflower quinoa cous cous, potato and vanilla mouse, and sweet potato soup.

However, there is more food than two people can consume comfortably. After trying the Vegetarian Tasting with three people (which was perfect), my mom and I went back to try the Deluxe Tasting. After three hours and twenty seven plates, we were feeling rather sick. The portions were much too large for two, three or four bites each, rather than one or two. We could barely bring ourselves to taste the last five or six dishes, which was a shame because everything is so good.

In short: bring friends!

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Who needs foodtv when you can have a birds eye view of the kitchen at Cafe Atlantico? Not only was the food really good last night but the entertainment was also great! My friend and I were often transfixed by the kitchen activity.

The food:

Mojitos were great. I asked the server which one I should order and he suggested the house Mojito. It was very good but next time I am getting the Magic Mojito, it is just too pretty!

Tableside guac was so fresh and good. I don't know why I can't make it that good at home?

The conch fritters were not what I expected. They were more like stuffed hushpuppies than conch fritters. The "ravioli" were fun though, yummy avocado filling.

Two starters comprised my main course: the jicama/arugula salad and the tuna ceviche. The salad was an incredible mixture of tastes and textures. The salad was actually rather deconstructed in that what I would normally consider the base, the arugula, was actually more of a topping and that which I would consider a topping was the base, sweet corn. Not only was it incredibly fresh, I know for a fact that I could not recreate it at home. The tuna ceviche was fabulous.

My friend had the salmon. It was good too.

Overdid the desserts... tres leches AND the chocolate dessert. The chocolate cake was a bit dry but who cares it was still really good!

Can't wait to go back. Will request the same ringside table!

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Can you say more about those intriguing-sounding ravioli?  Are they on the menu or were they a special?

I believe she is referring to the faux-ravioli where the "pasta" is actually thinly shaved jicama with avocado as the filling. It's been on their brunch dim sum menu (only $3.95!) for quite sometime.
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I believe she is referring to the faux-ravioli where the "pasta" is actually thinly shaved jicama with avocado as the filling.  It's been on their brunch dim sum menu (only $3.95!) for quite sometime.

Yes, that is exactly what they are! www.cafeatlantico.com has the full menu listed. Must go back for the arugla salad... yum

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Bumping the thread to remind one and all that Latin Dim Sum brunch rocks.

Try cigala (wee lobster) with vanilla oil. Try red snapper with avocado puree. Try fork-tender duck confit with skin crispy with caramelized passion fruit juice and just enough gorgeous fat. Try conch fritters. Try anything. It's all good.

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I've been to CA's Latin Dim Sum about 3 times, but not in the last year and a half... They used to bring you refills of any of the little dishes upon request. The missus and I would generally eat 3 orders of guac, at least 2 orders of duck confit, and many, many desserts. Anybody know if they still allow this? Every time we ate there we left thinking, "This is the best deal in town!! If everyone eats like we do, they'll be bankrupt in no time!"

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Oops!  Sounds like we'd better rethink the whole evening.  :)

Indique would be a good choice for us but our friends don't care for Indian food.

Have you thought of Cafe Atlantico? They are just a few stops down from Cleveland Park and they usually have something available even though it doesn't show up on OpenTable. That's what we did this evening when we cancelled our reservation at IndeBleu.

BTW, we had an excellent meal (and evening) at Cafe Atlantico this evening! We had a choice from 6-8 apps and 6-8 entrees with no upcharges (unless we wanted the guac and that was $10 but didn't count as one of our three meals. It was totally separate)! I got the red snapper, my wife got the duck confit (which she gave two thumbs up for), our friend got the Salmon and our other friend got the Portabello mushrooms. We were all very impressed. I asked our server if I could have a menu, but forgot to collect it when we left (sorry).

Well, it's off to Galileo on Wednesday...

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Here's their RW menu:

ENTRADAS

Guacamole

A Mexican classic prepared table-side and served with flour tortillas 10

Not included on restaurant week menu.

Soup of the Day

This was a roasted tomato soup drizzled with olive oil and coconut milk. My friend REALLY enjoyed it!!

Sopa de Higado de Pato con Maiz y Hongos

Foie Gras soup with a floating island of corn and chanterelles

Ensalada de Arugula con Maiz, Cabrales y Frambuesa

Jicama and arugula salad with cabrales cheese, corn & raspberry

Callos de Mar con Arroz de Coco Crujiente

Scallops with coconut rice, crispy rice, ginger, squid and squid ink oil

Our other friend got this one and she gave me a bite. The scallops were perfectly seared and sat on a mound of coconut rice. The slight sweetness of the coconut was a great compliment to the other ingredients and the crispy rice added a surprisingly nice texture.

Fritura de Lambi como la hacen en Santo Domingo

Dominican Conch Fritters with a liquid center, jicama-avocado raviolis and mango oil

Salmon Ventresca envuelto en Piña

Seared Salmon belly with pineapple, avocado scallion sauce, frisse and crispy quinoa

Atun en Ceviche al Coco con Aguacate

Tuna and coconut ceviche with avocado

My wife got this one. Although the flavors were right on, I felt that there was a little bit too much avocado that took away from the flavor of the tuna

Camarones con pure de Auyama y aceite de Vainilla

Shrimp with candied pumpkin seeds, pumpkin puree, lime air and vanilla oil

This was the one that I got. Very nice flavors. The shrimp were prepared well and the other ingredients provided a nice contrast. My only complaint is that the ingredients together weren't as appealing as they would've been separately.

PLATOS FUERTES

Hongos con Huitlacoche al Queso Blanco y Remolacha

Roasted Portobello Mushroom with huitlacoche corn mushroom, latin cheese,

roasted beets and beet oil

One of our friends got this one and she seemed to enjoy it. The presentation looked nice, but I can't provide anything else about this dish other than that.

Salmon con Quinoa y Cous-Cous de Coliflor

Seared Salmon, cauliflower-quinoa “cous-cous,” buttery papaya,

avocado mash and papaya-vanilla oil

Our other friend got this one and she seemed to be in ecstasy with every bite.

Veracruz con Aguacate

Daily special with a sauce of tomatoes, olives, onions, capers, and fresh lime with avocado

I got this one. The daily special was red snapper. The fish was done perfectly. The skin was slightly crisp and the flesh was nice and tender. I did, however, feel that the other flavors of the dish were slighly over powering in contrast to the snapper. Also, I think the avocado was more of a garnish as it added nothing to flavor of the dish. The meal was extremely flavorful and I would absolutely order it again!

Pato con Espinacas y Pepitas de Calabaza

Duck Confit with sautéed baby spinach, pumpkin seeds, raisins and passion fruit oil

My wife got this one and she RAVED over it!

Chicken Ceasar Salad

Cornish Hen, grilled breast and confit leg with our organized “Ceasar Salad”

Faisán con Mole y Sandía

Baby Pheasant wrapped in bacon, served with deconstructed mole and seared watermelon

Churrasco de Res con Pure de Platano, Hongos y Salsa de Cabrales

Flank steak with a plantain puree, plantain chips, mushrooms and cabrales cheese demi-glace

Feijao Tropeiro

Grilled Chicken breast with black beans and pork, white rice, farofa,

oranges and sautéed collard greens with garlic

We also had a selection of two desserts:

Coconut Sorbet (which my wife got)

Chocolate Souffle - This was prepared on top of a chocolate sauce (with the consistency of a pudding) and a side of bannana salad (which was tossed in a simple syrup and lime juice) along with some thick whipped cream.

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Chef will be interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi Show today at 1:30pm on WAMU 88.5FM.

DC Restaurateur Jose Andres

He's credited with introducing Washington DC to the Spanish appetizers known as Tapas. Now Jaleo's Executive Chef Jose Andres is introducing them to the rest of the world, with his new cookbook. He joins Kojo to discuss his passion for food and friendship.

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My step-brother was in town Sat, and we were catching a show at the Improv later, so we decided to take advantage of Cafe Atlantico's pre-theater menu. This a pretty good deal at $25 for three courses (due to the flash, I can't provide a direct link, but the menu is on their website), which includes some not-inexpensive ingredients (foie gras, lobster). The shrimp I had to start was a minibar-ish presentation, including lime foam and candied pumpkin seeds. Interesting, but I was wishing I got the foie gras terrine. The lobster veracruz that my step-bro and I had was half of a quite small lobster, but was cooked well, with the head portion being replaced by a stuffing that included more lobster meat. I thought the salmon with quinoa-cauliflower 'cous-cous' and papaya that my girlfriend had was probably the best dish, though. Salmon with a fruit salsa of some sort is something of a cliche on these 'deal' menus, but this was really good. The dessert choices seemed uninspired (molten choc cake or coconut sorbet), but the cake went well with its accompaniments (banana 'espuma', bananas in lime syrup and a bit of chocolate flan). Great service too.

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We were at Cafe Atlantico twice this weekend...once on Friday for the minibar (where we took notes and pictures and will be posting that later), and then once on Sunday for the dim sum.

I had been to the dim sum brunch once before, and there were tables open the entire time, so I just assumed reservations wouldn't be needed. Granted, the last time it was just two of us, this time it was 3.5 (three adults and one 3 year old). When we got there, the hostess told us she could seat us, but would need the table back in an hour and fifteen minutes. We decided to go ahead and take it anyway. Frankly, I was glad to hear that they were pretty much booked with reservations, this is something that I definitely want to stay around.

Now, you can order any of the plates ranging from $2 or so up to $9. Or you can do the deluxe tasting menu (which is all you can eat) for $35/pp. Personally, I think this may be the best deal in town. For a 30-odd course tasting menu, the portions are very large...if two people order it, you'll probably not want to finish each plate, otherwise you end up halfway through the meal counting the number of courses left and wondering how you're going to manage to taste everything. This time, we ordered it for three. I expected three people to be able to finish off what they would bring out. What I didn't expect is our waiter to bring out double orders of dishes he thought we would enjoy - and by that, I mean double orders of the most expensive items (duck confit, seared cigala). As he was doing this, he reminded us that we were more than welcome to request additional orders of anything we liked (we didn't, we weren't even able to finish off everything they did bring out, and didn't eat anything the rest of the day!).

I'm used to places doing all you can eat brunches. I'm not used to paying $35 for all you can eat dishes like foie gras, scallops, duck, cigala, and a host of other expensive ingredients all excellently prepared. I think we very nearly spent more on the cocktails than we did on the meal itself (I'm doing my best to work my way through their cocktail menu - I had the tres mango daiquiri and dirty secret, which was rose champagne with lavendar and vanilla this time).

Standouts of the brunch have to be the duck confit with passionfruit oil (I love passionfruit, and the skin on the duck is one of the best things I've had), the hot and cold foie gras soup (although I enjoyed it much more at the minibar than I did at the dim sum), the pan dulce, the seared cigala, the crispy rice/coconut rice/squid dish, oysters with mango lime oil, conch fritters, caviar with potato mousse and vanilla, red snapper, salmon-pineapple ravioli with crispy quinoa (again, though, the minibar version was superior), and the guacamole. Don't ignore some of their vegetable/fruit dishes either, the shaved pineapple with plantain powder is surprisingly good, the spinach with pumpkin and raisins is quite tasty (and I really don't like spinach), the asparagus with oranges is a classic, and I love the seared watermelon (now with a citrus vinaigrette, though it was better with the balsamic syrup they used to use). Even the traditional dishes, like the egg with black beans and pork stand up well to the surrounding creativity (I couldn't stop eating the black beans, even though I knew I should be saving room). I was quite surprised by the turnip soup with apple puree, I expected to hate it (I don't like turnips), but I finished it and considered asking for another one - the match of the creaminess of the turnip soup with the sweetness of the apple puree, and the differences in temperatures (yes, this is another hot and cold presentation) was so good.

There were some dishes I didn't particularly care for (what's with all the beets lately?), and some that just aren't very memorable (seared corn, both jimica raviolis, the fried egg with veracruz sauce), but I can't imagine not having that experience on a menu of this size.

Also of note, our server (Alex) was great. We told him about the need to turn the table over, and he made sure things came out very quickly. About 20 minutes after we were seated, the hostess came back and told us there was a cancellation, so we could keep the table as long as we liked. We let Alex know, and told him we'd prefer a little bit more of a leisurely pace, and he slowed the dishes down accordingly. We ended up spending close to 3 hours there, and he was happy to accomodate whatever time frame we wanted.

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I have always done random tastings at Cafe Atlantico for some article or another - like having a drink at the bar or ordering one dish to write about it. Well, I finally managed to have lunch there yesterday. It was worth the wait and every bite reminded me of why Chef Kats is such a genius. Bravo! The scallops with squid ink and the salmon alone were dynamite. I am so glad I ws able to go and I hope that I can do it again -- this time at minibar which I have not had the pleasure of eating at yet.

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Ten assorted Rockweilers or SFDRUNKASSES had Latin dim sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico yesterday. It was pretty much a mixed bag, and frankly, I was underwhelmed. We started the table with 5 orders each of the duck confit, the fried egg with mashed black beans and pork and the red snapper with avocado puree. As reported above, the duck confit was great. However, the pork was MIA on the fried egg with mashed black beans and pork. If there was any pork there, it was not discernible. After that first round, we went with 5 orders each of the conch fritters with liquid heart, mango anchovy ravioli, and quail 2 ways with Latin spices. The fritters did not wow me; while they clearly are fritters, all they tasted like were hush puppies to me. There was a cold liquid custard in the middle which I was unable to identify other than to "yes, there were a liquid heart in there." The quail porition was very meager and I was unable to identify the sauce that accompanied them as being "Latin." The ravioli didn't do it for me, I just did not care for the blend of mango with anchovies.

After that, everyone was pretty much on their own. I had the carne asada which was good and I shared some of the pan dulce with cinnamon syurp. The pan dulce was great, sort of a Latin french toast with some machengo cheese in the middle. Other people had other things and I will let them chime in . Here are some pictures:

The duck confit and the red snapper with avocado puree: post-43-1145888164_thumb.jpg

The fried egg with mashed black beans and "pork" post-43-1145888231_thumb.jpg

The conch fritters with liquid heart: post-43-1145888314_thumb.jpg

Oh yeah, former VA Governor and presidential aspirant Mark Warner was having brunch with his family at the next table.

PS: The online menu is slightly out of date.

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I pretty much agree with JG's review except that I really, really liked the mango/anchovy ravioli and would go back for that and the duck confit anytime. I also liked the conch fritters more than he did, but won't be having any dreams about them.

The one item we ordered that should be avoided is the "Tomato and Watermelon Skewers." For around $3 or so, we got three tiny (less than an inch) cubes of tasteless watermelon with half a grape tomato stuck on with a skewer. The vinaigrette with cilantro just didn't work at all.

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I pretty much agree with JG's review except that I really, really liked the mango/anchovy ravioli and would go back for that and the duck confit anytime.  I also liked the conch fritters more than he did, but won't be having any dreams about them.

The one item we ordered that should be avoided is the "Tomato and Watermelon Skewers."  For around $3 or so, we got three tiny (less than an inch) cubes of tasteless watermelon with half a grape tomato stuck on with a skewer.  The vinaigrette with cilantro just didn't work at all.

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I also will add that, while I didn't have any, I heard that the squid was difficult if not impossible to locate in the coconut rice, crispy rice and "squid." Another item with a listed ingredient MIA?

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My mojito was really good. Well-muddled . . . like the service. There were 15 different dishes shared around the table. I enjoyed the delicate mango ravioli with anchovy, and the sweet carne asada, and would go back for the wonderful duck confit and warm pan dulce. The quinoa "cous-cous" with cauliflower was tasty but not worthy as a stand-alone dish. It would have been good as a bed underneath the otherwise unexciting quail. The coconut rice, crispy rice and squid had no squid that I could find or taste. It was a good piping hot coconut risotto.

The one item we ordered that should be avoided is the "Tomato and Watermelon Skewers."  For around $3 or so, we got three tiny (less than an inch) cubes of tasteless watermelon with half a grape tomato stuck on with a skewer.

The price of those three wan cubes of watermelon was $4.50.

It's springtime - the dim sum menu needs some serious weeding and re-seeding.

ETA: damn. I don't wanna be a hammerhead. :)

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Well, funny enough, I ended up at Cafe Atlantico at dinner on Saturday night (Jaleo was too crowded) and had a bloody fantastic meal. Duck confit was everything I wanted, just enough fat, crispy sweet skin, and succulent flesh. In addition, it was juicy enough to cover the spinach and turn a boring, "this is good for you" side into a "let me indulge in another forkful" companion to duck.

Had conch fritters and jicama-avocado raviolis for starters and loved them as always. I wonder if what they gave you guys at brunch was dinner leftovers they didn't bother to warm up?

Desserts at CA never inspired me as much as savories but I did have a very serviceable warm chocolate cake/souffle thing with whipped banana pudding.

My friend had tomato soup with a dollop of creme fraiche and micro cilantro that I really enjoyed for its delicate but tangible smoky flavor of roasted tomato.

Pacing was rather efficient and a bit on the fast side. I think our apps came out before the answers to "how was your week" ran out of steam. So to ward off the PEA , Premature Entree Arrival, I had to deliberately leave one fritter on my plate and shoot dirty looks to overenthusiastic busboys..."no I'm NOT done...go refill someone else's glass..."

And the drinks were great! great! And sitting in a beautiful restaurant, all dressed up and warm and indulgent, with a great view of torrential downpour turning unfortunate pedestrians into wet rags in matter of seconds, well, that was priceless.

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Has any one had this cocktail? It sounds a little crazy, but it could be good...

Dirty Secret

Rosé Champagne blended with fresh lavender and vanilla

$8.50

A new dish of note is called Andrés' Cold: Duck!

This is where chef stands in front of you and sneezes.

(Suggested wine pairing - Paul Masson's Crackling José)

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Katy McLaughlin has an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that notes the internet's assistance in allowing chefs to find farflung restaurants or former stagieres (unpaid interns) that have flattered them with imitation. Other "victim" restaurants mentioned in the article include Craft and WD-50.

I understand, given the large investment ($100K/yr in his test kitchen) Chef Andres makes in his intellectual property, that chefs need to protect themselves -- but I still shake my head when I remember DCFoodie's experience at Buck's...

'That Melon Tenderloin Looks Awfully Familiar...'

At minibar in Washington, chef Jose Andrés is known for his avant-garde tapas menu, including foie-gras cotton candy, lobster served with a lobster broth injection and melon tenderloin. So when he came across an online review and blog about a former protege's new restaurant in Tokyo's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, he was more than a little interested to read that the menu included ... foie-gras cotton candy, lobster served with a lobster broth injection and melon tenderloin.

That's when Mr. Andrés got in touch with his lawyer. Claiming that these and other dishes being served at the hotel's Tapas Molecular Bar were his inventions, he wants the Mandarin Oriental to pay him a license fee -- or change its menu. The Mandarin Oriental's lawyers are attempting to resolve the issue "amicably" but believe "the case is groundless," says Jill Kluge, group director of communications. Tapas Molecular Bar chef Jeff Ramsey did not respond to requests for comment.

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A group of 6 did Latino Dim Sum this morning, and like others upthread, we found it underwhelming. Service was off- took quite a while to take our orders, waters not refilled, and orders missed entirely (and without apology once the oversight was pointed out). There were a few items that were decent (red snapper, duck, the french toast), but most were misses: the oysters were pronounced "not fresh;" the chips that accompanied the guac tasted stale; the tuna tartare was flavorless; and many of the dishes were extremely salty (the spinach and the coconut rice spring to mind). Overall, our impression was that the kitchen was on autopilot, and there was no "spark" in any of the dishes (or the service). (Both my husband and I formed similar impressions after eating, separately, at Zaytinya last week...unchanging menu, indifferent service, soul-less food.)

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Starting Monday, August 21st, Cafe Atlantico will be featuring the hand crafted, fine and dark chocolate truffles of local chocolatier Sandra Escobar (The Cacao Tree) on the dessert menu. While I'm biased (Sandra is my sweetie), everyone seems to melt with joy when they eat her creations. I encourage you to check them out next time you are at Atlantico. More info on her website, www.thecacaotree.com

Thanks!

Michael.

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Thank you to everyone who went this week, the first week of the deal. Cafe Atlantico sold out of the truffles and is getting wonderful, positive feedback, and placed an order for more! We're very excited and and we appreciate your good taste and support!

Starting Monday, August 21st, Cafe Atlantico will be featuring the hand crafted, fine and dark chocolate truffles of local chocolatier Sandra Escobar (The Cacao Tree) on the dessert menu. While I'm biased (Sandra is my sweetie), everyone seems to melt with joy when they eat her creations. I encourage you to check them out next time you are at Atlantico. More info on her website, www.thecacaotree.com

Thanks!

Michael.

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My wife and I recently had our first dining experience at Cafe Atlantico in DC. What a great evening. The specialty drinks were terrific, especially when poured over spun sugar which melted into the glass.

We especially enjoyed the fish dishes, the snapper and the scallops were fresh and delicious. But I must say that the highlight of the meal were the dessert truffles provided by local chocolate artisan, Sandra Escobar of The Cacao Tree. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.

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Made our first ever trip to Cafe Atlantico today before TITUS ANDRONICUS at the Shakespeare Theatre.

We went for the pre-theater meal. It's now $30 for 3 courses, rather than the $25 mentioned uptopic, but still a considerable savings over menu price (which I calculate to $40-$50 for the 3 courses, depending on your choices).

We started at the bar with cocktails and guacamole. Screw you, Rosa Mexicano. Come take lessons. I had “Caribbean Affair by Ernest Hemmingway” (Rum, Fresh Grapefruit and Lime Juice, vanilla sugar). I watched the bartender squeeze the grapefruit. Great cocktail.

For dinner, we had:

Terrina de hígado de pato con piña y platano crujiente (Foie-gras terrine with pineapple, plantain dust and tamarind oil)

Soup of the Day (Garlic soup)

Res a la Parilla con Puré de Malanga (Grilled Flank Steak with a malanga puree, malanga chips and demi-glace)

Pato con frisée y pepitas de calabaza (Duck confit with frisée, pumpkin seed, pine nuts, raisins and passion fruit oil)

Sorbete del Dia (Passionfruit)

Bizcocho templado de chocolate con banana (Warm chocolate cake with Venezuelan chocolate flan, banana-lime salad and ‘espuma’ of banana)

The foie gras was wonderful, but that soup was absolutely fantastic. I usually say that Tom Power is unrivaled in this town when it comes to soups, but this gives him a run for the money.

I loved the flank steak, cooked perfectly to medium rare, but the duck was near orgasmic. I've never had a better confit, and I could eat a plateful of just the skin.

I really enjoyed the chocolate cake, but was so-so on the sorbet. My wife however, who thinks that there is no more perfect food on this planet than passionfruit, thought it wonderful, so I defer to her taste.

I don't know how we've avoided coming here in the past, but that will change. I look forward to exploring this menu more. And I think I had the best seat in the house - we were on the second floor, in a 2-top on the railing. I glance to the right, and look down into the completely open kitchen. And a glance to the left gives me a perfect view of Minibar and the flat-screen TV. My wife remarked that between the show to the left, the show to the right, and talking with her, that I completely missed out on ogling the hotties at the table next to us. Sacrifices in the name of food...

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Are you freakin kidding me!? Going from 6 to 36 seats is one thing, one thing that I don't particularly like, but selling the name of his restaurant to a corporate sponsor is another thing altogether. He owns 3 Jaleos, Oyamel, Zaytinya, Cafe Atlantico and MiniBar. I am under the impression that he is still planning on opening Bar Jose along with a hotel in LA and will now have his own TV show. Does he really need to sell the naming rights?

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