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Lost Society, U Street Corridor - Chef Joseph Evans' Boisterous Steakhouse on 14th and U Street


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Set to open July 1st at 14th and U NW. The chef (who, in full disclosure, is shacked up with a good friend of mine) was most recently exec chef at Smith and Wollensky here in DC. I haven't had much of his food, but I can tell you he makes a hell of a cake (made a banana puree filled chocolate thing at our baby shower that was dynamite.)

Whether the food is good or not (and here's hoping it is) the deck alone is worth a look. Just looks like a great place to hang...

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Rib eye....with...morels? Oh, yum.

Just a quick one to their webperson, check the part about creamed corn in the steak section.

I hope they get a good editor to look at the whole menu before it goes to print...there are a lot of mistakes throughout the entire thing. My wife is an editor and does freelance work! Just sayin'.

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Some friends took me here for a recent birthday.

In a word? Promising. The food was pretty darned on. We were all pleased with what we ordered, no bombs (which I can sometimes excuse in the first few weeks). The chef sent out a side of sweet corn that we didn't order - and darn, it was good. My rockfish with demiglace was really tasty.

The downside? Just the normal new-place adjustments I think. Nothing egregious.

I did try to order a "champagne cocktail", and to the server's credit he didn't stare at me blankly or say "we don't have that" (I've gotten both) when he figured out that yes, I said "champagne cocktail", and no, he clearly didn't know what that was. Instead, he asked his bartender for one - exactly what I hope someone would do when confused in this manner. The bartender, on the other hand, I would have expected to know what to do (or to look it up), but alas no. I got a kir royale with a twist. Drinkable, certainly, and an B+ for effort, I guess. I would have preferred to either get a proper champagne cocktail or get word back "sorry, no bitters or sugar cubes behind the bar just yet, would you like a kir royale", but in the grand scheme of things still a nice festive fizzy cocktail with which to toast.

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In yet another instance of web sites being out of date...Lost Society's web site menu listed a flank steak with béarnaise. I love flank steak. I love béarnaise. I thought about the promse of flank steak all day Friday, as I endured airport security, rush hour traffic, the heat...and arrived to Lost Society to find that flank steak is not on the menu. Sad face. Instead I ordered a bone-in ribeye with morel sauce, which was slightly over charred, slightly overcooked and lacking in any morel flavor. Actually, the steak itself wasn't delicious. It needed salt, and I rarely feel the need to salt food in restaurants. There WAs a sauce on top. It was visible. It just had no flavor. The steak was huge, way too much food for me. I took most of it home, where I sliced it and warmed it with sofrito for sandwiches. At $32, the price was not outrageous, but there are so many competitors for steak and this was not a winner. +1 had the filet, which did not sport any of the promised compound butter. She felt hers was slightly undercooked.

The zucchini ribbons were not described as fried. Our bad for not asking, as I was envisioning sautéed strips of zucchini. The ribbon portion was also huge, but the vegetable suffered from a dull coating and oil that might have been too cool. The ribbons were undercooked in places.

On the plus side, the staff couldn't have been more eager. Our shared salad was artfully presented on two plates, which was nice as some places don't bother and force you to try to do the sharing at the table without making a mess. servers checked on us frequently, water glasses were filled, dessert was offered in a timely fashion, the check was offered right when we were about to request it...the entire staff seemed to really care. The space is lovely. Kudos to the decorator and designer who left those beautiful soaring windows uncovered. The light in the room is great (at leat at 7 p.m. on. summer evening). The bar areas are huge and inviting. The crowd was diverse with a positive energy that I enjoyed. I was not responsible for increasing the average age in the room, nor did I feel that the place was too hip. It's just a great, welcoming space where I would eagerly return for a drink or several. The outdoor space on the third floor is awesome. Good luck finding a place to sit if you arrive at prime time. It was packed with lucky people who were enjoying the views of the bustle of the 14th and U intersection while imbibing.

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HEADLINE

Impossibly hipster. Way cool. Pretty noisy (but not as much as Co Co Sala, another shockingly cool spot). Pretty good food. Very funny (but maybe just to me). Excellent service. Fairly priced. Sure glad dr.com has that emoticon with shades; perfect here: :mellow::P:unsure::blink:

VENUE

This is the hipster part. Necessary context: we were seated right near the entrance and didn't use the bathrooms so didn't really see most of the place. With that now shared, can offer the following about the venue:

Counterintuitive (in a hipster way) entry for a first timer with the large "Lost Society" sign on 14th but the actual entrance unsigned a hundred or so feet east of the intersection on U. With a bouncer/carder guy, dressed all in black, outside. Just like one of those cool clubs that you have to know about to find and then have to know someone (or be someone) to get in. When we asked the stern faced ID checker what was up--since we'd naively just booked a place to eat on OpenTable after all--we were told we were carded because "...there's a lounge on the top floor; restaurant on the first floor." Right-o. But of course!

So informed, we easily breezed through the carding (not a good thing) and even got smiles from the burly guy (I guess a good thing). The bar dominates the entry area. Flat screens showing pre-season football very apparent. Michael Vick having a bad time with the Steelers. Mix of booths overlooking U street and tables in the interior. Young crowd. One table of four twenty somethings toasting and smiling repeatedly for a pro--no iphone or flip amateur hour here--video that I'd guess will hit the website soon.

Have to put in a word here about the website, which I only checked after eating here but which does seem to mirror the venue in many ways. Way too much multimedia, flash and cuteness but, again, maybe an excellent example of something I'd LOVE were I 22 with a Scandanavian nose ring and thus cool enough to 'get it.' So discredited, I confess it goes into my small but growing bucket of The Most Ridiculous (as in 'clearly-cost-a-ton-to-design-and-build' ridiculous) DC restaurant websites with Co Co Sala. Click on "about us" and you get a video of a recent "media party". Website nav tabs are at bottom right in small type and allow you to choose between helpful options like "taste," "feel," "celebrate," "listen" and "discover." Uh, okay, so where can I see the FOOD menus? The obligatory but useful google map? A chef bio rather than a designer bio? Curious as to what I'd find, I click on "feel" and get a bunch of text under four clearly expensive photos of even more expensive retro (as in Victorian retro) furniture and decor. I found the text under the photos on this page to be downright comical...but know that wasn't the intent. BTW, I can't put a link here to that page because the web design gurus who designed this site coded it to prevent page specific urls from being easily copied. Again reminded, I'm clearly not the target for this. Way too cool for me.

Enough on venue. Clearly the planners and designers didn't have us in mind when putting LS together. But, that's OK. We were there...as anywhere...for the food.

FOOD

Pretty good. I'd go as far as saying better than I expected since I'd normally expect inverse correlation between hipster factor (here high) and food quality. More specifically, we had:

- Tuna Tartare ($12): Very good. Not the best in DC but definitely a top 10 candidate for us. Good sized portion. Fresh, deeply colored, unctuous fish served at the proper temp (cool and not cold or room temp). Interesting enough with some micro cilantro (bummer my SO can't eat the stuff but I liked it) and slightly pickled watermelon rind which actually worked well. Go figure. Served with some silly, over-complicated, paper-thin, pinwheel chips which didn't quite realize their potential...or aspiration...not sure. Good value tasty starter.

- Bone-In Ribeye w/ Morels ($29): First off, as I recently and appreciatively learned right here on DR.com, this was actually a ribeye steak but this restaurant, as with much of the world, didn't call it that. It was just good. We were excited to try after learning their beef was all locally sourced, pastured and finished just briefly on grain. Some of the best ribeye steaks we've found in the area follow that formula. Relative to the best ribeyes here in the mid-Atlantic area that we know, this one was just okay. A bit thinner than ideal at maybe an inch or inch and a quarter. Flavor milder than hoped. Cooked properly. I'd call this fully priced; fair even but not great value given the specifics.

- Pan-Roasted Pork Chop ($18): Big success on the flavor and value fronts. Good thickness. Perfect temp. Nice seasoning. On a bed of swiss chard that itself was a highlight. I'm not sure what exactly had been done with it but clearly of the skillet and with garlic but also something else I couldn't identify. Enjoyed this and my SO (who'd ordered the ribeye) remarked a few times that mine was better than hers. So, of course, I only had about 2/3 of my chop but, hey, that's what relationships are all about, right?

- Mac & Cheese ($6): Also big thumbs up. Ordered this as a side since, I'm a sucker for mac and cheese at any decent new place. Maybe a 7" diameter, 1-2" deep circular dish so generous portion. Freshly made, actual al dente elbow pasta (big points there) and, whatever the combination of cheeses was they used, it tasted of different and complementary cheeses (as opposed to those 4 or 5 cheese variants that taste just like a single mild cheddar-end of story). At $6, this is one of the better mac & cheese values in DC IMHO.

- Creamed Corn (Free!): Something a bit gimmicky here but no complaints. Our waiter brought this to the table with the mains and enthusiastically told us "this is on the house...just something we want you to try...really good...you have to try this...perfect with the steak and chop." Intrigued, we looked behind us and left and quickly realized all tables got this. No worries. We dug in. Good but not great. Hey, it was "free" so can't really complain. The corn was fresh but not as flavorful as great summer corn. The sauce was very thin, almost watery. Nevertheless, good enough to have about 1/5th of the large bowl. Did I/he mention it was "free?" :P

- Glass of Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir ($10): I know the Willamette a bit and had never heard of this label. I thought it had to be a typo on the menu and asked the waiter what vineyard it was since the Willamette is a region. He kindly brought the bottle and, sure enough, that's the name of the vineyard. Checking later online, seems to be a group of vineyards bottled under one label. Wine was fine; nothing game changing. Clearly a very nice profit center for the restaurant given bottles of this can be had at retail for $18 but so be it.

- Upside Down Cake w/ Fresh Fruits ($6): This was the dessert on our menu not on the menu on their website so we ordered it after the obligatory questions. Is there a pastry chef or does the same chef do savory and pastry? Same. Okay--that often--but not always--means lesser emphasis and wow on desserts (to wit: Palena pre and post Aggie Chin) but, since we were also told it was peach (rather than pineapple), we gave it a try. Just okay. Much too high a cake-to-fruit ratio. Peaches are wonderful now. This marginalized rather than celebrated them. The cake itself was a bit too buttery and rich. Not overly sweet to its credit.

SERVICE

I could see this being all over the map for different folks on different nights but for us it was great. Our server, Lachazar, was super attentive (but not too much), friendly and answered our many questions with grace and humor. Ask for Lachazar and I'm sure you'll have the same experience. Just a good guy who knows what he's doing.

BOTTOM LINE/VALUE

Lost Society is a funny name. Read online somewhere it's called that because people should have a place to talk and socialize more but lost the plot somewhere that connects the name and the noise level to that aspiration. But, much more than my SO, I found the place and everything about it pretty damn amusing.

Beyond all the funny stuff, the food was easily good enough for me to go back (but not the SO, who was too annoyed by all the hipster stuff and even a bit pissed my pork chop beat out her ribeye for "best entree at the table" honors) and hats off to Lachazar as explained above. At $93 for two after tax but before tip, have to call it fairly priced and maybe even a good value. If I go back, I'm wearing all black, including a beret. Then maybe I can be in the next video that jams up my broadband pipe at home when I click on the website url. Wink wink (fingers snapping). ;):o

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- Bone-In Ribeye w/ Morels ($29): ... We were excited to try after learning their beef was all locally sourced, pastured and finished on grain. Some of the best ribeye steaks we've found in the area follow that formula. Relative to the best ribeyes here in the mid-Atlantic area that we know, this one was just okay. A bit thinner than ideal at maybe an inch or inch and a quarter. Flavor milder than hoped. Cooked properly. I'd call this fully priced; fair even but not great value given the specifics.

There is nothing exciting about generic, grain finished beef. Every commercial steer at some point in their life has eaten some form of grass and what matters most (flavor, nutrition, environment, consciousness) is the manner in which it was finished during the months prior to slaughter. The industry feed-lot standard is to artificially fatten up cattle on grain which quickens the finishing process making the meat tender faster, thereupon cheaper to bring to market while lowering the nutritional content and mutating a luxury splurge into a cheap commodity. Ruminants are not designed to eat corn or other grains. Fully pastured (grass finished), humanely slaughtered beef is worth whatever excitement and premium copious amounts of meat can elicit.

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There is nothing exciting about generic, grain finished beef. Every commercial steer at some point in their life has eaten some form of grass and what matters most (flavor, nutrition, environment, consciousness) is the manner in which it was finished during the months prior to slaughter. The industry feed-lot standard is to artificially fatten up cattle on grain which quickens the finishing process making the meat tender faster, thereupon cheaper to bring to market while lowering the nutritional content and mutating a luxury splurge into a cheap commodity. Ruminants are not designed to eat corn or other grains. Fully pastured (grass finished), humanely slaughtered beef is worth whatever excitement and premium copious amounts of meat can elicit.

Uh, sure. I'd agree with everything you've written. Purposely didn't go into detail on Lost Society's beef sourcing because there was much I didn't (and don't) know about what they're doing and my main purpose was to share the overall experience we had there across several dishes, venue and service. But thanks for the post.

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Does anyone have any recent experiences to report here? Thank you in advance for your replies.

Having received no replies to my initial inquiry, I'll answer my own post!

Lost Society is not your grandfather's steakhouse. It's not even your father's.

The dining room in this second floor walkup is laid out around a circle bar, filled on Saturday night with beautiful young people, throbbing music. As one might expect, good cocktails on order.

The ambience was very pleasant, but keep in mind it is loud and active. Service was attentive and helpful, without being overbearing. Neither my water nor my cocktail/wine glass stayed empty for long before they offered to refill it!

Steaks are obviously the central feature on the menu, which has three levels of food: very small plates, medium plates, and regular plates (including several cuts of beef and fish entrees).

Highlights were to me the bone marrow appetizer (worth going back for on its own), a blackened bone-in ribeye, and truffle-infused home made potato chips.

Using the savored.com 30% discount made it a very good value. (Dinner for 4 with tip all in ran about $200 with cocktails, wine, and dessert.)

I would return, definitely.

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I am a bit surprised that more is not being written about Lost Society here. Four of us went on Saturday night and we had one of the better times that we have had in 2012. Much of that has to do with the company and getting away from our four month old for four hours, but the restaurant sure had a lot to do with it as well.

We went early on Saturday, 6:00 PM, so even if the tables were full, the bar was mostly empty, so our conversations could be had at a reasonable level. I could see it getting loud in there, very loud in fact, but it was perfect for us that night. Setting was great, fun layout, conducive to sitting at a table with your friends or hanging out at the bar. The table size was a bit small for a four top and the chair hurt my butt after a few hours, but those are minor nuisances.

Our sever was very nice and perky, but she was mostly clueless. No mistakes, which is good, but she needs more seasoning. It did not bother us on Saturday night, but could have been an issue on another night.

The food was pretty much perfect. We didn't order any steaks, so the value was incredible (everything was under $20), surprising for the location. Big winners include the pork belly ($8) and bone marrow ($8) appetizers, and the pork chops ($18). The grouper was merely above average, but well worth the $15 price tag. The desserts, however, were simply an absolute steal. At $6 each, we ordered four out of the five on the menu and loved them all. Cocktails were solid, and maybe a dollar or two less than similar restaurants, and the wine list was varied for its small size. I don't remember the exact pre-Savored bill (more on Savored in its own thread), but I do know that I ended up paying $110 for our half of four cocktails, one bottle of wine, four appetizers, four entrees and four desserts.

Overall, this is a place that more people should be going to. It is fun, the food is good and the value is excellent.

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