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

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Feeling cold? Go and get the Bailey's Nose at the Gin Joint, it is warm Guinness with brown sugar and Death's Door gin, it will take the chill right off. If you would like something a little more romantic, the Pretty Woman is a wonderful riff on a French 75, but instead of lemon juice Amy has gone with a duo of lavenders (liquor and bitters), and she gets the sweetness not from simple syrup, but from the Prosecco and liquor - truly one of the greatest tasting sparkling cocktails I have ever had.

The kitchen was slammed last night, as I am sure many around town were, but the wait allowed me to enjoy the company of lovely wife. The game terrine was a bit disappointing as it was a bit too dense and not delivering much in the way of meaty or gamey flavor. In contrast was the whimsical Rockfish entrée, that had candied crab that was far too sweet on its own, but it brought out wonderful complexities when matched with the savoriness of the fish. The vegetables managed to pick up a hint of the seafood flavor, not in a bad fishy way, but almost as though they were cooked in the sea - an utterly stunning dish.

I cannot wait to return on a night that is not the Saturday before VD.

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Anyone know what time the bar at NH opens? Their website is wonderfully informative except with regard to their hours of operation. [Yes, I could call to find out, but I'm lonely and want to start a conversation on this board and on this thread :) ]

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Anyone know what time the bar at NH opens? Their website is wonderfully informative except with regard to their hours of operation. [Yes, I could call to find out, but I'm lonely and want to start a conversation on this board and on this thread :) ]

Mr. Google says 5:30pm.

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Merci beaucoup! Nothing worse then showing up someplace thirsty to meet up with other folks -- say at 5 pm -- and finding you have to wait or find someplace else until 5:30. Okay, there are probably a few other things that are worse, but....

[bTW someone whose opinion I hold in high regard told me he thinks the best bar tender in town is at NH. That was a while ago, so I hope the same dude is there this week.]

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[bTW someone whose opinion I hold in high regard told me he thinks the best bar tender in town is at NH. That was a while ago, so I hope the same dude is there this week.]

Dudette in this case, using retro-nounage. Amy Smoyer is now the Bar Manager/Lady of the bar, except for Sundays (so it could be a dude on Sundays, as I have not visited then). She is also revamping their beer list, so keep an eye out for better selections there soon.

When did Google acquire a sex distinction?

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Dudette in this case, using retro-nounage. Amy Smoyer is now the Bar Manager/Lady of the bar, except for Sundays (so it could be a dude on Sundays, as I have not visited then). She is also revamping their beer list, so keep an eye out for better selections there soon.

When did Google acquire a sex distinction?

Better still, but I think the bar tender I was told about was a dude. Anyway I drink wine mostly.

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Better still, but I think the bar tender I was told about was a dude. Anyway I drink wine mostly.

On Saturday it was most certainly a Dudette, and while waiting for my wife to arrive, I had a wonderful conversation with Amy about dogs and gin. I look forward to going back as she was a wonderful barkeep.

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On Saturday it was most certainly a Dudette, and while waiting for my wife to arrive, I had a wonderful conversation with Amy about dogs and gin. I look forward to going back as she was a wonderful barkeep.

Dudette behind the bar this past Friday night as well.

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Here's a copy of the New Heights / Ron Tanaka press release (disclaimer). Welcome, Ron!

New Heights is proud to introduce Ron Tanaka as its new Executive Chef, beginning Wednesday, October 26th.

Tanaka was the opening Chef at Cork Wine Bar, where he remained for almost four years. Before that, he spent three years at CityZen under the guidance of Eric Ziebold, five years at Citronelle under Michel Richard, and began his career at Palena under Frank Ruta. Tanaka is the only person ever to be Sous Chef at both CityZen and Citronelle.

"Ron has the most complete resume we've ever seen," says New Heights co-owner Kavita Singh. "He studied under three James Beard award-winning chefs, then turned around and ran the kitchen at Cork Wine Bar. Ron will have complete control over our culinary program, and his arrival heralds the beginning of Woodley Park as a national dining destination."

The lovely upstairs dining room at New Heights, seating 96 people, will be transformed into a showcase for Tanaka to unleash his creative talents. Downstairs, in New Heights' famous "Gin Joint," Tanaka will be featuring a separate bar menu, specifically designed around the city's best selection of 46 different gins.

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Here's a copy of the New Heights / Ron Tanaka press release (disclaimer). Welcome, Ron!

Any idea as to how and/or when Ron Tanaka plans to put his stamp on New Heights? I'm excited to have him in Northwest. Curious if things at New Heights will change much in format or cuisine considering Tanaka's small plates focus at Cork or his ultra-high-end experience at CityZen and Citronelle. My wife and I were at New Heights for the first time right before Logan Cox left (maybe within the week) and we had enjoyable experience in a nice, quiet setting. It was nothing revelatory but it was good execution. It was the type of place that I could recommend to my in-laws: Not too fufu, not outrageously expensive, no unpronounceable or unrecognizable main ingredients. Just a solid restaurant that really can be a steal if you use the 30% discount offered on Savored.com. If things are looking to stay pretty much the same with minor chef changes, I'd be happy to send my in-laws there. If things are going to get shuffled up a bit, then my wife will eagerly look forward to returning for a rare date night.

Pax,

Brian

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Any idea as to how and/or when Ron Tanaka plans to put his stamp on New Heights? I'm excited to have him in Northwest. Curious if things at New Heights will change much in format or cuisine considering Tanaka's small plates focus at Cork or his ultra-high-end experience at CityZen and Citronelle. My wife and I were at New Heights for the first time right before Logan Cox left (maybe within the week) and we had enjoyable experience in a nice, quiet setting. It was nothing revelatory but it was good execution. It was the type of place that I could recommend to my in-laws: Not too fufu, not outrageously expensive, no unpronounceable or unrecognizable main ingredients. Just a solid restaurant that really can be a steal if you use the 30% discount offered on Savored.com. If things are looking to stay pretty much the same with minor chef changes, I'd be happy to send my in-laws there. If things are going to get shuffled up a bit, then my wife will eagerly look forward to returning for a rare date night.

Pax,

Brian

We're going in a couple of weeks and will report back if others aren't there sooner--wanted to give the new Chef time to get in place whatever the new approach will be. The website has been under construction for awhile so, as of yet, no information that the new chef has been hired or menus. We're really looking forward to it. Huge deal for NH and Woodley Park.

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Has anyone been to New Heights since the new chef arrived?

I have. We were a group of four. Suffice to say, they're doing some really interesting things and we enjoyed our dinner. Still working out/finalizing the menu so should be even better with time. I was a big Chef Tanaka fan at Cork and booked NH the day it was announced he was joining the team.

I'm waiting to go a second time before I write up full impressions for the board.

But, since you ask, some highlights we really enjoyed that I'd recommend:

- any gin or gin drink (I had a "cat's pajamas" which had a very generous pour of gin and really interesting ingredients)

- starters like a cauliflour soup, endive salad (wow! not like any endive salad I've ever had elsewhere), pork cheeks and fried oysters (one of the better renditions I've had recently and I've been on a bit of a fried oyster crusade in recent months)

- didn't try but have on good authority that the artic char is a winner

- desserts like a seasonal buche noel and a sweet potato churro (also wow!)

I'm looking forward to going back.

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I have. We were a group of four. Suffice to say, they're doing some really interesting things and we enjoyed our dinner. Still working out/finalizing the menu so should be even better with time. I was a big Chef Tanaka fan at Cork and booked NH the day it was announced he was joining the team.

I'm waiting to go a second time before I write up full impressions for the board.

But, since you ask, some highlights we really enjoyed that I'd recommend:

- any gin or gin drink (I had a "cat's pajamas" which had a very generous pour of gin and really interesting ingredients)

- starters like a cauliflour soup, endive salad (wow! not like any endive salad I've ever had elsewhere), pork cheeks and fried oysters (one of the better renditions I've had recently and I've been on a bit of a fried oyster crusade in recent months)

- didn't try but have on good authority that the artic char is a winner

- desserts like a seasonal buche noel and a sweet potato churro (also wow!)

I'm looking forward to going back.

Do you think the menu was more in-line with the previous approach of New Heights, one of Tanaka's previous stops (Cork, Cityzen, or Citronelle), or something different entirely that you would compare it to? Based on your brief write-up, it sounds like it probably stayed within the same identity/format of what New Heights has always been but I just wanted to check. Thanks.

Pax,

Brian

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Congratulations to New Heights, who hosted President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this evening, as well as Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, Brookings Institute Spokesman Strobe Talbot, and about twenty secret-service agents tonight. Quite a party!

Cheers,

Rocks

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Just a quick note to say that we had a fantastic dinner on the patio here, a few days ago. The online menu is (I believe) accurate, so I won't use my own words to describe, other than to say that everything was delicious. Service was very friendly if a bit slow, but that's cool when you're sitting on a patio, in a good mood, on a pretty day. Nice to see that it got a good writeup in Sietsema's spring dining guide, which went online today.

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My wife and I celebrated our anniversary at New Heights on Saturday evening. It was our first time dining at this establishment. While there was much to like, likely enough to warrant a trip back, the missteps were enough to give us pause before rushing back.

First, the good:

  • The Gin Joint - this could easily turn into my favorite watering hole. I am a big fan of gin so I found their 45 offerings of various versions very appealing. I was proud to have tried 12 of the products on their list before my visit but I could imagine working my way thru the remainder at some point. I wanted to taste the different nuances in the gins I tried so I didn't try any of the housemade flavored tonics, only Fever Tree tonic, but I would like to try them too. For the record, North Shore and No. 3 were my favorite gins. I had never tried them before but I loved their peppery, spicy notes.
  • The Bartender- spacing on her name, but she's an encyclopedia of gin knowledge and very personable. She also appeared on this evening to be responsible for holding service together downstairs (see below) in addition to dealing with a rather busy bar.
  • The food-my wife and I both started with salads and tried the halibut entree. I chose the asparagus salad, which featured shaved asparagus, artichokes, frisee, a roasted peppery puree, and hard cooked egg. Not an especially large portion but nicely composed, tasty appetizer with high quality ingredients. My wife tried the field greens salad, which she liked, noting especially the vinaigrette which had a fruity quality. The halibut entrees were fantastic. A healthy portion of halibut cooked in hot pan to provide a nice sear, which provided a nice textural offset to the flesh, which was cooked just right. This was served over a very minty puree, English peas, some mushrooms, and a pea shoot salad. Very springy, very well prepared dish with top notch ingredients.

The not so good:

  • Service-as we sat at the bar downstairs, we got a hint of how the service was going to be that evening from listening to the servers sorting thru what seemed to be an endless flurry of missed tickets, mis-delivered drinks, late food, etc. It was literally non-stop and I guess we weren't meant to overhear that but we couldn't help it and felt bad for the bartender as she was the one being asked to deal with alot of the missteps. We were seated upstairs and dealt with a very nice waitress but everything took forever. Drink orders, apps, entrees all with substantial lags between. We weren't totally ignored - our waters were refilled and dishes cleared - so it wasn't an unpleasant experience altogether but the delays were notable and kinda perplexing as the dining room was far from full. The staff was pleasant enough but it seemed like the wheels came off that evening's service at some point and never got back on track. Maybe some key person was on vacation? I will note that we were pleasantly surprised by a gratis dessert of a very good chocolate mousse concoction and glasses of Muscat in celebration of our anniversary. We felt badly about griping amongst ourselves about the service earlier when they brought out this dessert as it was very thoughtful and also very tasty.

In summary, we loved the bar and the food and the neighborhood-y vibe of the place and would like to return but the service will give us pause before doing so.

-Sean

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In summary, we loved the bar and the food and the neighborhood-y vibe of the place and would like to return but the service will give us pause before doing so.

[Please note that it was apparently a sequence of nearly cataclysmic, highly unusual events that resulted in the disruption in service at NH on Saturday evening. It sounds like Saturday was anything but ordinary course of business for the folks working there. That explains the hiccups we experienced that night and makes me feel better about returning, which we surely will now.]

-Sean

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I ate here last winter on a very slow weekday evening. Chef Ron Tanaka's offerings were all uniformly excellent. The gin martini downstairs was superb. That said, there were probably only a dozen patrons upstairs in the dining room, so it would be hard to screw up service.

I note that New Heights used to be on the savored.com website, but are gone now. If they came back, it would be a very good bargain, if my prior experience was any indication. But lacking the discount, there are still enough places using that service that I've yet to try that will keep me from coming back.

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My wife and I ate at New Heights last Saturday and had an altogether delightful experience. This was our first time there, so I can't compare the new chef, Takeshi Nishikawa with his predecessor, Ron Tanaka. But everything we had was carefully prepared and imaginative, the service was efficient and charming, and it was a pleasure to watch the snow coming down through the large windows in the dining room.

Our server said that nearly all the meats on the menu are done sous vide and then finished in the pan. I have no particular view on this method, for or against, and it certainly did not detract in any way from the quality of the dishes.

Overall, Chef Nishikawa seems to take a moderately deconstructionist approach. For example, a salmon starter paired sashimi-like chunks of salmon with crispy, paper thin shavings of pumpernickel over a ribbon of caper-spiked horseradish remoulade and dill. A Granny Smith dessert took apart apple pie a la mode, with wafers of fresh apple alternated with gelatin balls filled with cinnamon apple puree, all served with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream. Chicken leg confit was more conventional through no less elegant, brimming with all the comforting flavors of a high-quality bird in a carefully reduced and intense sauce. Although they may sound like it, none of these dishes came across as fussy or affected, but instead were interesting, fun variations on some standard flavor combinations, often with new and interesting textures.

I didn't take a detailed look at the wine list, but the pairings listed for the individual dishes (an herbaceous viognier with the salmon, a buttery chard with the chicken, and a Sauterne with the apple dessert) were excellent choices. NH of course also has a great bar, and their cocktails maintained that reputation. The "Hanky Panky," with Bluecoat gin, Fernet Branca, and sweet vermouth had three of my favorite things so I couldn't help but like it.

I was also impressed by the decor. Some finish carpenters spent a lot of time on this place. If you're a woodworker then having a drink at a Bubinga bar is a rare pleasure.

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My wife picked this place for us to go to. I'd been years ago with some wine buddies. She'd never been.

We dined al fresco on a wonderful night. Lots of good people watching, but smokers smell up the place depending on where you're sitting.  Most of the inside upstairs dining room was empty-ish most of the time we were there. The bar area was busy all night. Parking was not toooooooo hard, but it did require some hunting.

We had some service issues (mainly a delay in the arrival of two courses, but also one of the waitstaff could not remember the wine we ordered, and kept bringing me the cocktails/bar menu to show him which one), but no big deal. The other odd thing was my wife picked a gin and a tonic to have as a cocktail, and it was clear that they did not stir or mix the two liquids together at all. Ah well.

Wine list is good and a lot of reasonably priced offerings - very nice.

We had the house cured salmon, which was pretty good, but the corresponding dish served at the same time, the fried oysters was great (they rival the ones at Macon). Next came the prawns with harissa, mint and yogurt. Very good. But it was also the runner up for that course, because the fettucine with bacon a 63 degree egg and pepper was wonderful. The egg was the star with the pasta being a close runner up. I only wish I could have ordered a large portion of this!

Moved on the the pan roasted branzino with fennel celeriac and olive. Really good. Nits here are that I thought the potion size was too small, and they should put more olives in the dish. Otherwise very good. But the other dish, the chicken with maitake, chard and polenta won this round. Really great.

Dessert overall was weak, but the coffee was decent. Strawberry panna cotta was better than the lemon meringue tart (the lemon tart was too sweet with not enough in your face lemon flavor).

I'd go again, it's a good place to have a nice meal and people watch (especially if your dining outside). Would like to explore more of their gins, too.

PS: Pictures available if people really want them, let me know!

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On 5/11/2017 at 10:08 PM, cjsadler said:

Any reports lately?

I didn't realize New Heights had been the subject of so many posts going back so many years.  Frankly I was unaware of it.  As mentioned elsewhere I was intrigued by the name Gin Joint and had stopped by for drinks and dinner, and also because the new(ish) bartender, a grad of the bartending school, had recently gained a 5 star review on Yelp.

Dinner was highlighted by the branzino, somewhat different than on the menu.  This version came over snap peas and a very tasty pesto risotto.  Quite excellent with regard to all the elements.  I also had a bar dish and tried a few gins.  Kate the bartender got Umbi, the owner to meet me.  That was a pleasure.  He is very engaging and a delight to speak with.  Among his comments were that traditionally New Heights has been a restaurant that provides new up and coming chefs an opportunity to show off their wares.  That also means the menu will vary with each change of chef. 

Back to Kate the bartender.  She has a love of gin and has taken to become acquainted to their vast gin inventory.  If I were somewhat younger I'd equally try their vast array.  Its impressive.

All in all I can see why New Heights generated a lot of commentary.  A commendable restaurant.

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15 minutes ago, DaveO said:

I didn't realize New Heights had been the subject of so many posts going back so many years.  Frankly I was unaware of it.  As mentioned elsewhere I was intrigued by the name Gin Joint and had stopped by for drinks and dinner, and also because the new(ish) bartender, a grad of the bartending school, had recently gained a 5 star review on Yelp.

Dinner was highlighted by the branzino, somewhat different than on the menu.  This version came over snap peas and a very tasty pesto risotto.  Quite excellent with regard to all the elements.  I also had a bar dish and tried a few gins.  Kate the bartender got Umbi, the owner to meet me.  That was a pleasure.  He is very engaging and a delight to speak with.  Among his comments were that traditionally New Heights has been a restaurant that provides new up and coming chefs an opportunity to show off their wares.  That also means the menu will vary with each change of chef. 

Back to Kate the bartender.  She has a love of gin and has taken to become acquainted to their vast gin inventory.  If I were somewhat younger I'd equally try their vast array.  Its impressive.

All in all I can see why New Heights generated a lot of commentary.  A commendable restaurant.

I have had many charming and excellent meals at New Heights. I've also seen them fall victim to the insane hotel invasion that was talked about in the Woodley Park thread. 

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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.

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