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New Heights, Woodley Park Metro - Chef Takeshi Nishikawa Departs for Lincoln (the Restaurant)


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bookluvingbabe said:

Anyone been to New Heights lately???


I had dinner at New Heights back in April, which may not qualify as "lately," unless no one else can remember a more timely meal there! If you've not been there, ask for a table overlooking the street (and therefore the Rock Creek Parkway, too). The interior is classy, though I can't quite place what the atmosphere is meant to feel like; on one hand, it's not as formal or intentionally posh as, say, Palette or Vidalia, but it's also not meant to be urban and hip, e.g., Tabaq Bistro or Viridian. It's like a neighborhood restaurant gone upscale. Anyway, we had the black bean "pate" as an appetizer, and I found it less than thrilling. It was unpleasantly thick, and was somewhat bland. The entree, however, was possibly the best entree I had last year. It was grilled salmon wrapped in phyllo dough surrounded by roasted fingerling potatoes and roasted carrots. The latter accompaniments were perfect in terms of texture and flavor, but the salmon was out of this world. It fell apart under my knife, and the phyllo surrounding it was appropriately flaky, warm, and not too sweet. I have no idea whether that dish is on New Heights' current menu (or, even if it is, whether it would be on the RW menu), but I think the inventiveness of the dish speaks well for the restaurant's cooking on the whole.

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The Gin component of New Heights started way back in the day with a former chef by the name of John Wabeck. Yup, a gin man with a taste for the DC punk scene and gin.

Stopped off at the Gin Joint/New Heights again.  IF I were more oriented to drinking, IF I lived closer this would be my new favorite hang out bar.  With over 70 bottles of gin on the menu and behind

I have tasted the future and it is bacon stuffed naan...available on the bar menu at New Heights now! Wabeck's gin concoctions don't suck either

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Tom says:

It's true: John Wabeck, who recently left Firefly after more than five years, has gone back to familiar turf. Here's the scoop: Three weeks ago, the chef met with his former

boss, Umbi Singh, who asked him if he'd like to cook at New Heights again. Monday was Wabeck's first day in the kitchen there.

"This happened quickly," the chef told me this morning. Wabeck says he was drawn to the position by an open-ended menu concept and the

reality that he can spend his time cooking rather than "on conference calls," as he did when he worked with Kimpton. The chef plans to roll

out a new menu by the end of next week. (Walk, don't run, he pleads for a little time to settle in.)

Good luck John! Let us know when you're ready for the first dr.com happy hour!

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I was sitting at the bar of New Heights last night when someone puts a hand on my left shoulder, and says, "Dude, you're killing me." I turned around and it was John Wabeck. Okay, okay, so it's a bit early to be randomly ordering things (John only took over the kitchen last week), so I asked him what was good and he listed a few things, two of which were so good that I'm comfortable sending the world over to beat down his door for them.

Lamb Carpaccio, with Yellow Tomatoes and Cilantro Mint Chutney ($9.00) is one of the greatest carpaccios I've had in recent memory. What makes this so good is the lamb itself, cut thicker than you'd expect in a carpaccio, and the superb use of a little coarse salt, not just for flavor, but for a bit of texture. The tomatoes and chutney integrate well together, and certainly provide the overall tone of the dish, but the lamb itself is the star here - not many people would be gutsy enough to serve it - and nine dollars for this dish is a great deal.

I'm willing to bet that I've had soft-shell crabs no less than thirty times this year, probably in twenty different restaurants, including CityZen and Citronelle. But the Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs, with Cucumber, Fingerling Salad, Cilantro, and Vindaloo Oil (one crab for $14, two for $28) at New Heights is my favorite of 2007, hands down. The crab itself is perfectly cooked, succulent and meaty on the inside, and crisped just the way you want it around the shell. But that's only step A, and what elevates this dish over all others is step B, the seasoning. Vindaloo Oil (cumin, black mustard pepper, black pepper) transports this dish into something that I'll be craving a year from now, and the cucumber and fingerling salad serves as a form of raita, putting this dish strongly inside of India. It is a magnificent presentation of crab, and well-worth your time and effort - have it with a glass of Albarino and your spirits will soar.

For the benefit of people on WETA, I will mention that John Wabeck is someone I consider a friend, so please take this little mini-bite with the appropriate grain of salt, but I stand behind my words here, and it finally appears that Woodley Park might have a worthwhile dining destination on its hands.

Incidentally, I ordered each of these dishes twice. "You're testing my consistency," John said. Yep, I was, and the carpaccio arrived a touch too cold the second time out - but I thought the crab was even better!

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Last Thursday night Beau and I stopped in to say hello to JW and to see what personal touches he'd added to the menu during his first (fragile) week back in the NH saddle. We were thrilled with the lamb carpaccio described by Rocks. The slight sear on the thinly-sliced lamb, combined with the lively fresh chutney and that dash of crunchy salt makes for an awesome summer dish. Loved the mushroom risotto appetizer (could also be a main) with big chunks of oyster mushrooms, sweet corn and a hint of tarragon. Really delicious! Entrees included the duck breast and the marinated pork chop. Liked both dishes very much -- particularly the preserved shiitakes tossed onto the duck which added a nice tangy crunch to the dish. Glad to hear that softshells were added this week

Welcome back John ;)

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Did anybody else stop by for drinks at the bar Friday to check it out? There was a whole lot of singing going on in the restaurant upstairs. And for at least the next couple of Friday evenings, "A Little Night of Music" is featuring soprano Diane Able and guest tenors Paul McIlvane or Joseph Haughton in a selection of arias and showtunes to accompany a special four-course dinner prepared by Chef Wabeck ($60 plus drinks, tax and tips).

The website doesn't have the new menu up yet, but you can reserve on-line through it.

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The lamb in the carpaccio is sensational, and the softies are lovely, although I was less taken with the cucumber/fingerling salad than Mr. Rox was. The Chateau Coupe Roses minervois is a red to drink the hell out of this summer - black fruit, tobacco, bay, lavender and a hint of olives. Mmm-hmm. John ably explained the cheese plate ;) ...best was the right-on-the edge livarot with the very good bread.

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The Wabeck groupies were out in full force last night. ;)

Things are indeed looking up for New Heights. I can't wait to stop by later this summer after John has had time to get things completely under control, but last night's early taste was delicious and set expectations for even better things to come. In addition to items noted above, I enjoyed my bite of the salmon gravlax with melon and roe.

I've known John for a while, but it was the first time that I had ever met the owner of New Heights, Umbi. He is a riot.

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The carpaccio is indeed a thing of beauty - and the vegetarian thali is just about the right size and density for a summer evening meal. Plus, the spiced potatoes that come with it are evil, crack-filled nuggets of cuminy goodness.

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Looks like the new menu is on the website now: http://www.newheightsrestaurant.com/DinnerMenu.htm

It seems most people are sampling the appetizers. I'm curious if there is a bar area or not, because the apps sound good and the price point for the entrees is kind of high for a casual night out (at least for me). Hope to sample at least some of the menu soon.

The veal breast wasn't on the menu last night. Poor Dame Edna--first he was given a dessert menu, which was soon snatched out of his hands. Then, he ordered first (since he was sitting at the far end of our group) and asked for the veal breast. That had the rest of us snapping our heads up: WHAT veal breast? So, I handed him my menu and orders were taken from the OTHER end of the bar, while he perused the offerings.

I just ordered like I do at Corduroy: Soup and an appetizer portion of the soft shell crabs. ;) What's not to love about that? None of us ordered any dessert because cheese samples were brought out for all of us. :P

Now if Wabeck will just bring back the fried oysters and the braised lamb shoulder from Firefly . . .

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Looks like the new menu is on the website now: http://www.newheightsrestaurant.com/DinnerMenu.htm

It seems most people are sampling the appetizers. I'm curious if there is a bar area or not, because the apps sound good and the price point for the entrees is kind of high for a casual night out (at least for me). Hope to sample at least some of the menu soon.

There is a bar area on the first floor and you can have dinner there as we did tonight. Lamb Carpaccio and softshells were fantastic. Don't miss out on the peach cobbler that Wabeck recommended.

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Now if Wabeck will just bring back the fried oysters and the braised lamb shoulder from Firefly . . .
I've been thinking about this all week, and as good as those dishes were, I am more looking forward to seeing what else John can do. Those soft shells are dreamy.
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The veal breast wasn't on the menu last night.

Oh no! I saw it on the menu on the website (in my obsessive anticipation of returning to New Heights) and had to wipe the drool off the keyboard. Has anyone had the veal breast, and if so, thoughts? If not (and I'm almost afraid to ask) has anyone seen it on the actual menu? Of course, I could always choke down some softshells, if need be.

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Idle speculation: Wabeck, as the new high mucky-muck, is running the menu through the grinder...

keep some old favs (and permanently 86 some items even if they are old favs, just because he can),

add some old chestnuts, and maybe add some really fun things that might or might not be accepted by the

paying public. Its going to be a bumpy night.

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Great minds think alike. Ran into Heather at New Heights tonight.

Black bean rilettes with avocado - was a nice twist on what are usually Tex-Mex flavors, and had a surprising kick to them

Soft shell crab with fingerling salad and vindaloo oil - how does one wax poetically about something, when everyone else already has... the crab was great and still had the mustard inside, which made it even more delicious. I adored the sea salt sprinkled on top for the occasional salty hit.

Creme fraiche panna cotta with cherry compote - wow.. smooth and matched so beautifully with the cherries, not too sweet

Had a taste of the steak duo that Heather had. The filet mignon with mushroom-horseradish sauce on top was lovely, the meat was perfectly seasoned and a little crusty. I don't usually like mushrooms, but I still really enjoyed the sauce on top. The chicken fried steak with potato puree was good. Chewy. A nice contrast of the down home with the high class.

It was a lovely meal, and the service at the bar was excellent.

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Did anybody else stop by for drinks at the bar Friday to check it out? There was a whole lot of singing going on in the restaurant upstairs. And for at least the next couple of Friday evenings, "A Little Night of Music" is featuring soprano Diane Able and guest tenors Paul McIlvane or Joseph Haughton in a selection of arias and showtunes to accompany a special four-course dinner prepared by Chef Wabeck ($60 plus drinks, tax and tips).

The website doesn't have the new menu up yet, but you can reserve on-line through it.

Has anyone been upstairs during the Friday night singing? We have reservations there this Friday for a birthday dinner, and based on crackers' comment my friend called and they confirmed there will be singing in intervals starting at 8. I'm not a big fan of live music over dinner, but it's a bit late to get reservations elsewhere. I'm wondering if anyone's experienced the music up close and personal.

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Has anyone been upstairs during the Friday night singing? We have reservations there this Friday for a birthday dinner, and based on crackers' comment my friend called and they confirmed there will be singing in intervals starting at 8. I'm not a big fan of live music over dinner, but it's a bit late to get reservations elsewhere. I'm wondering if anyone's experienced the music up close and personal.

i was there last friday during the singing (one of many recent meals about which i have been meaning to post). i sat in the bar area which is downstairs from the main dining room. while the music was a significant dining partner, it did not prevent conversation at civilized tones. another option is the patio where the music would be even less of a factor. i am sure that a phone call to the restaurant indicating your preferences and the reasoning behind them will be given much consideration in the seating chart that evening.

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The new bar and patio menu is up.
Also, there appears a welcome back Wabeck deal according to the special events page:

"3-Course Dinner with Complimentary Wine Pairings

$38.00 (Exclusive of Tax and Gratuity)

July 9 thru July 31"

Anyone know the details on this deal? like what the choices are for the 3 courses - limited or the whole menu?

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Also, there appears a welcome back Wabeck deal according to the special events page:

"3-Course Dinner with Complimentary Wine Pairings

$38.00 (Exclusive of Tax and Gratuity)

July 9 thru July 31"

Anyone know the details on this deal? like what the choices are for the 3 courses - limited or the whole menu?

Maybe call the restaurant and ask? ;) (202) 234-4110

Maybe some intrepid rockwellian can get to the bottom of this with some stealthy recon.

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And I just thought I would point out this comment, left by a guest:

"I hear John Wabeck is hot. Why no pictures? I prefer steamy men to make my foods."

Sounds like someone needs a subscription to Tiger Beat Chef. ;)

John can make some good vichyssoise, y'all.

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John can make some good vichyssoise, y'all.

Not to mention one heck of a chilled cucumber cream soup. But I also couldn't resist those crispy oysters, which were as perfectly fried as I've ever encountered in a light, wispy-crispy batter.

Combined with the view of leafy treetops all around, New Heights has become a perfect escape from DC summer.

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I've been eager to try the soft shells here - does anyone know if they still have them/will still have them this week?
According to this article in the online Express, New Heights still has them (they also mention Hank's Oyster Bar), at least for the next few weeks.

I'll be so sad when soft-shell crab season is over. ;)

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After been shut out of Citronelle lounge last night due to circumstances beyond their control, we decided to pay a visit to New Heights, and I'm very glad we did! Yes, the sauteed soft shell crabs are still on the menu. They come with a cucumber and fingerling potato salad, sharpened with cilantro and a vindaloo oil, and can be ordered as a half entree for $15, or full for $29 on the menu (the lower price listed in the Express might be for the bar menu?)

However, I chose to try the new $38 "Melding Pot Menu" - three courses and three glasses of wine - an outstanding bargain and truly delicious. I started with the lamb carpaccio that has been so nicely described above. This is my third time having this dish, so it is approaching "addiction" at this point. I shouldn't even say that or it will surely disappear from the menu! It was accompanied by an Albarino, Laxas, Rias Biaxas, SP 2005.

I also sampled the smoked trout with white miso and soba noodle salad. The Idaho rainbow trout was smoked in-house by John Wabeck and was artfully presented and quite tasty. For my main, I chose a roasted red snapper with a corn and fava bean succotash. Perfectly executed and a generous enough portion that I will be reheating it for dinner tonight. I believe it came with a Macon, Alain Normand, "La Roche Vineuse" 2005.

Dessert was something wonderful and off menu. As I was sitting down at the bar, I noticed that a dessert was being brought out to others that looked intriguing and "different." I was told it was not yet on the menu. Of course, I had to try it! It was a delightful summer dessert, reminiscent of the tomato marmalade tart with ricotta basil gelato and basil syrup that I love so much at Tosca. This was a deep dish of soft wide ribbons of sweet syrup-steeped ripe red and yellow tomatoes accompanied by a scoop of creamy basil-thyme ice cream. It was the creation of New Heights' pastry chef Melissa Horst and I hope it makes it to the menu, or at least to a special!

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Question - I see that the online menus have the fried oysters on the bar and patio menu, but not on the regular dinner menu. Can you order them if not at the bar/out on the patio?
The crispy oysters were on the restaurant menu last night. With an ever-changing creative menu, perhaps it's best to consider what is on the web a "respresentatative menu" rather than the literal menu. ;)
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The crispy oysters were on the restaurant menu last night. With an ever-changing creative menu, perhaps it's best to consider what is on the web a "respresentatative menu" rather than the literal menu. ;)

Great, good to know - thanks!

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Made it to New Heights (Full disclosure, I am a friend of Wabeck) for dinner this past weekend and had a great meal. We started with the Smoked Trout White Miso & Soba Noodle Salad and the much mentioned soft shell crab. Entrees were the Meyer Angus Beef Duo and the Roasted Red Snapper. I enjoyed the beef, but the snapper with the creamy succotash was spectacular. We also got to sample a bit of the mushroom risotto, there seems to be a lot of risotto being served around town, and it was very good. For dessert we split the Bourbon Chocolate Cake, couldn't taste the bourbon, but I was happy.

We also got to try a potential new dessert and it was delicious, Mexican chocolate ice cream sandwiches with cayenne (?) pepper in the ice cream. Hopefully this will make an appearance on the regular menu.

Wabeck has been there for over a month now so should we start the countdown to the official review? :angry:

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