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The Source (2007-2020), Pan-Asian Fusion in the Newseum Building in Penn Quarter - Chef Russell Smith Replaces Scott Drewno


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In today's Washington Post there is an article in the financial section on the Newseum which is under construction on Pennsylvania Avenue. Part of the article notes that an announcement is expected today for the inclusion of a "high end" Wolfgang Puck restaurant when the building opens later in '07. In Los Angeles his signatures restaurants are Chinois on Main in Santa Monica and Spago. Similar restaurants (but not as good) are found in Vegas and elsewhere while Postrio is in Seattle and San Francisco.

Can Emeril's, Norman's and Roy's be far behind?

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The two meals I have had at Postrio in San Francisco were quite good while Spago (the old Hollyweird location) left me rather unimpressed. I would hope for a restaurnat on the level of Postrio to open at the Newseum, but I would not put any money on it. I am sure that it is going to trend more towards wood fired pizza with white table linens.

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From the press release: "The restaurant's ground floor will offer approachable dining with a 'bar and grill' ambiance, and a casual menu designed for comfortable dining or a quick bite. Workday lunch, bar menu, and late-night dining will be available in a contemporary, dynamic environment.

"The upstairs dining room will evoke signature menus from Spago, Chinois and Postrio restaurants, featuring the finest and freshest ingredients, local artisanal producers and a more leisurely dining experience."

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There will be a great deal of anticipation to this: at their best Spago and Chinois have flashes of very real excellence. I've eaten at Chinois at least once a year every year dating to the early '90's. It was where we had our wedding dinner (after Tommy's Chiliburgers for lunch). I'd even hold it up as an example of how good a restaurant can be when the "founding" chef is not in the kitchen on a daily basis. Having said this the Vegas' restaurants really have nothing in common with either of them. Of course I'd also argue that most Vegas restaurants with absentee chefs fall far short of what their "originals" still are.

But I think there's hope for "The Source." This is an extremely high profile location. The Newseum's building seems to represent an extraordinary construction effort, something apparently on the scale of the Smithsonian in national, even international appeal. In appearance it could almost be an "anchor" for Pennsylvania Avenue in the way that the Willard is farther west. I almost believe that as Puck's first east coast high end outpost this may receive more attention than his others have elsewhere. In short I have more hope for this than I've had for other celebrity chefs who have opened here. The Newseum location seems significant and a real plum for him to have. Along with Michel's new restaurant only a couple of blocks away L. A. may seem to be moving (back) east. This time to D. C., not New York.

Now I wonder if Jose could also find a space nearby for his new restaurant?

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Having said this the Vegas' restaurants really have nothing in common with either of them.  Of course I'd also argue that most Vegas restaurants with absentee chefs fall far short of what their "originals" still are. 

Generally agree. BUT...I dropped into Spago/Vegas for a bite about a year and a half ago and ordered the lobster bisque and a foie gras mini-tasting with a couple of glasses of wine. The meal was somewhere between good-plus and excellent-minus. So there's hope yet.

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Let's see: Wolfgang Puck opens his 64th restaurant (12 fine dining, 51 less fine) in a tourist destination and he won't be cooking there, or really doing anything there. The menu will be recycled from other places, and there's a catering business involved.

I wonder why my nipples aren't getting hard?

PS: Any other "communications professionals" notice that the press release was more than half boilerplate? Not that that foreshadows anything...necessarily.

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Forgot to mention that I dined last summer at Puck's new Asian place at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. It's called 2021. I was skeptical, because of the museum setting - and because, well, I've never loved Chinois. But I have to say, it was pretty damn good. Actually preferred it to Vincent, Solera and Cosmos, which were supposed to be superior.

On the other hand, of the half-dozen meals I've had at Postrio, I've loved exactly none.

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Have not seen any DR posts on this. I had a chance to chat with Chef Drewno last week. He seems like a great guy and he is clearly very excited to be opening this new restaurant in the soon to open Newseum at 6th and Pennsylvania Ave. The chef said he expects the restaurant to open as early as September. I'm looking forward to it even if there won't be foie gras on the menu :angry:

P.S. There was a short piece last week in the Washington Times on the Source's opening:

http://washingtontimes.com/article/2007072...0014/0/NATION06

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So, has anyone been yet?
Our own Joe H posted in CH.
The Source, a block off of Pennsylvania Avenue, on the bottom three floors of a rental apartment building a football field behind the soon to be celebrated Newseum, today is his best restaurant. It also has the potential to be one of the best restaurants in the United States. Yes, it is THAT good. And, perhaps, that cutting edge. Here. In D. C.
I was also told, by another board member, that their lounge-menu pizza is good -- we'll see about that Wolfgang.
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So, has anyone been yet?

I had dinner in the downstairs lounge Friday evening. Service issues will hopefully be worked out in time. Wines by the glass are not impressive, though I did manage to find a 2005 Charles Joguet Chinon "Cuvee des Terroirs" for $35 on the bottle list (I recommend this instead of going by-the-glass - it's a humble wine, but the 2005 vintage shines through in all its glory). Sliders were four teeny-tiny "miniburgers" for EIGHTEEN DOLLARS with no accompaniments, and are simply a rip-off. A Goat Cheese and Sausage Pizza, however was very, very good, and at $14 (if I remember the price correctly), is well-worth ordering again. I don't like the downstairs space, as it comes across as metallic and sterile. Klaus Puck, Wolfgang's brother, was there prowling the room, apparently helping to open the restaurant before moving on to other venues.

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I don't like the downstairs space, as it comes across as metallic and sterile.
Jlock and I stopped in the other night and were actually too intimidated by it to stay for a bite; it just seemed so not casual (not formal, just very not laid back). No loss - we ended up having an amazing meal at Rasika. I actually liked the look though; I just wimped out. But, I think we have psyched ourselves up enough to try it now . . .
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This is a serious restaurant that will help fill the void left by the departure of Fabio. It's not about sliders and pizzas. It's an East Coast Chinois except better. Walk upstairs or order off of the upstairs menu. This is a fantastic addition to D. C. that we should be proud to have here. There are tastes and textures here that our other restaurants only approach in their execution. The Source is Wolfgang and Scott at their absolute best. And it/they are here. A block off of Pennsylvania Avenue. As for wines by the glass I would suggest walking up the stairs and meeting the sommelier: she was the sommelier at Gary Danko and now she is here. And, she knows her stuff and her style...

As for style, think Vidalia but upstairs instead of down. Dress up for The Source. It would be appropriate. I must also note that I didn't even look at the downstairs space. But this restaurant is about what is served upstairs. For anyone going to the bar, ask if you can order off of the upstairs menu. THAT is superb and world class. I have no idea what they are serving downstairs. As good as upstairs is, it will be a long time before I even begin to explore downstairs.

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As good as upstairs is, it will be a long time before I even begin to explore downstairs.

The lounge menu is much more downscale, and they even have a separate kitchen downstairs (with a wood-burning pizza oven). I looked at the upstairs menu, and it's a completely different thing with interesting dishes, certain ones priced in the stratosphere.

[incidentally, the night I was there, they weren't offering the upstairs menu in the lounge. If that continues, I'll split this into two threads because they are de facto two different restaurants - same thing I do with Citronelle Lounge, Cityzen Lounge, and Eve Bistro.]

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I completely agree with Joe H that this is a serious restaurant. I would venture to say that it kicks ass. And, it is unlike anything else that we have in DC - much younger and more cosmopolitan than most of our fine dining It is hip and cool, but still formal and elegant. I would not even think of comparing the style to either Vidalia or Maestro - totally different from either; much younger.

Deciding yesterday afternoon that we needed to check this place out and noticing that my days of fine dining were numbered, five of us decided to try it out last night. It is as-of-yet undiscovered, and getting reservations was a breeze. This will change. Soon. Go now.

The Decor

The upstairs is much like the downstairs bar area. Stark and modern, but not boring. The layout seems very user-friendly. The stairs are in the center with a lot of room around them that can easily be used by the staff so that - even during complicated presentations - the room does not become overcrowded.

The Food

I sampled 5 appetizers, 4 entrees, and 4 desserts, and quite a few were real winners. And, there were no losers.

After ordering, we were presented with a dish of szchezuan string beans to share as we waited. They were delicious!! The meal could not have begun more perfectly.

Of the appetizers, my favorite was a lobster spring roll in which large pieces of lobster contrasted perfectly with the lightly fried shell. My least favorite was probably the one that I ordered - pork belly dumplings. They were good, but there was nothing special about them. They were just pork dumplings. The problem may have been the contrast with the spicy beans we had been snacking on moments before. The flavor of the beans - which, if I hadn't already mentioned, I loved - remained on my tongue, and the dumplings were too delicate to break that memory even for a second. Several people had sashimi-based dishes, which were each fresh and lovely.

One thing that struck us as surprising was the size of the appetizers (and, actually of all of the dishes). Generally, it seems that when you are in this price range ($15-$20 appetizers - I think, I have no menu here), very tiny servings are presented. These were not small. Not intimidatingly large either, but good portions that had plenty enough to share without anyone feeling too territorial about their choice (except for the guy who ordered the lobster rolls because his were really addictive for the whole table).

After the appetizers came the second amuse: a 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch piece of crispy suckling pig belly (if I remember correctly). It was perfect.

The entrees were all delicious as well. I had the crispy sea bass with a "thai-chili sauce." It was presented and carved tableside. It was quite nice, but I didn't taste anything thai or chili-like in the sauce. At first I was a bit disappointed, but then I remembered the thicker thai-chili sauce that had been placed around the table a few minutes earlier, and added some. Made all the difference, and it was great. But, I found myself often reaching for more of my neighbor's prawns in curry sauce; yummy! The other two dishes, the Kobe Short Ribs and the Schezuan Steak au Pouivre were both excellent as well. Jlock insists that his Kobe Short Ribs was the best dish served, and I don't know if I could go that far, but he has a solid argument. (None of us tried either the $58 or $60 entrees).

By the time we finished our entrees, we were all full. But, we still wanted to try dessert. We considered sharing a couple, but as we had been so pleased with everything else, we opted to each get our own. Having read the above-mentioned Chowhound review by Joe H., I quickly decided on the Cherry Blossom dessert. It was multi-layered and multi-textured, with cherries, and some sort of dumplings, and cheese, and some yummy twig-like things that I believe were referred to as trees or something during the excessively long (but necessary for full understanding) description by our server. It was incredible!!! The other desserts sampled were also very good, but I didn't venture out as much as I was pretty much in love with my own. One of the guests tried to restrain herself from finishing hers - I believe it was a trio of passion fruit - but, as the plates were being cleared (after we all agreed that we had finished), the table couldn't handle the waste and everyone started devouring it from around the table until she regained her sense of ownership and waved off the utensils, finishing the last bites herself.

Service

The service was great and has the potential to be absolutely outstanding once a few little kinks are worked out. Care seems to have been put into the service at every single step of the process. As we arrived, the valets opened the taxi doors for us. The hostesses were lovely and helpful. Our main server was excellent - perfectly reading the table at every point and adding humor when appropriate without being too intrusive. Everyone that we interacted with did an amazing job of acting entirely professional while not taking themselves too seriously.

And there were a lot of people involved, with all dishes being presented simultaneously by a full entourage - at one point, I counted 10 servers around our table. But, yet they were not intrusive at all. The system is not down quite right yet though, as we had a couple misplacements of dishes. At one point, this turned into a bit of hilarity as three servers seemed to be playing musical chairs with a few dishes - one of which had actually been placed correctly in the first instance and then picked up again by mistake. But, even this played out well. Often when such mistakes occur, you can feel the blame jumping from server to server - that didn't happen, or at least we certainly didn't feel it. And, in the end, we all got the correct dishes.

The wine service deserves special attention, especially as all we ordered were a couple of the $35 bottles that Don suggested (thanks Don). A wine service table was pulled up to our table and a full decantation ceremony was performed for each bottle. It was very intricate and impressive (again, not intrusive), especially for $35 bottles!!

The Source is not cheap, but it is not as outrageous as it seems at first glance. Yes, you could spend an absolute bundle, with some entrees as much as $60. But, we managed to have a full dinner for 5, with wine, for $400 before tip. Not bad in my opinion, given the experience as a whole.

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When this does open for lunch I wonder if the menu will have much in common with the dinner menu. The plating of some of the dinner dishes is fairly intricate-I'm not certain this would work for several of them at lunch.

We are returning with four friends this Friday night to work our way through the menu as best we can. The ONLY reservation that I was able to get (for six) was at 6:15. I was told there nothing else in the entire evening available for a party larger than four and there were only a couple of openings for that.

Word is going to spread quickly on The Source. By the time the Newseum opens next year if the quality and style persist this will have a several week or more wait for a table on a weekend.

Thanks for trying the Cherry Blossom! And, Saturday night they played a lot of Stones!

This is the link for my Chowhound post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/450594 By the way, the reason I posted there is that there was an active thread about The Source and it seemed timely.

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Anyone have a URL? A copy of the menu? Are they open for lunch?

Try this . At least it gives you a phone number.

I should have mentioned the music. We loved it! There was a lot of Stones, some Pink Floyd, Carly Simon, Led Zepplin, and an awful lot of Rod Stewart (some not so great). It added a lot to the experience.

Silly question: is the music loud? Honestly, if I'm going to pay that kind of money for an evening out I want to be ble to hear my friends talking.

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is the music loud? Honestly, if I'm going to pay that kind of money for an evening out I want to be ble to hear my friends talking.
I didn't think so. I didn't really notice it until dessert - I mean I knew that there was music playing, but none of us were tuned into it. It is louder in the bathroom, but I don't think that would be your complaint. The accoustics in general seemed pretty good, much better than might be anticipated with the stark look.
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One reason I am actually looking forward to this place is that I heard great things about the music. I feel like 95% of restaurants in this city cater to the crowd that wants soft music, where every other city has tons of restaurants with loud music, tons of atmosphere, and perfect for a fun night out. There are very few places like this in DC, so I hope that the Source does not cave to the pressure to be soft, and in my opinion dull, that many of the restaurants here are. I am in my late 20's and like some noise with my dinner. If I wanted silence, I would eat at home.

I didn't think so. I didn't really notice it until dessert - I mean I knew that there was music playing, but none of us were tuned into it. It is louder in the bathroom, but I don't think that would be your complaint. The accoustics in general seemed pretty good, much better than might be anticipated with the stark look.
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One reason I am actually looking forward to this place is that I heard great things about the music. I feel like 95% of restaurants in this city cater to the crowd that wants soft music, where every other city has tons of restaurants with loud music, tons of atmosphere, and perfect for a fun night out. There are very few places like this in DC, so I hope that the Source does not cave to the pressure to be soft, and in my opinion dull, that many of the restaurants here are. I am in my late 20's and like some noise with my dinner. If I wanted silence, I would eat at home.
You can always go to Posh.
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I think a restaurant can still turn out great food...yet not be sleepy and sterile. When I want a more intimate dinner, there are already many options here. However, there are not as many options when I want a more lively restaurant that still has great food. Every other city I have lived in (Chicago, New York, London, New Orleans) seems to be able to combine great food with a lively atmosphere. This seems to be missing here. Our waiter at Zengo told us nightly people ask them to turn down the music, which they have from when it originally opened.

You can always go to Posh.
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The Food Section of the Post has a blip on The Source today, including a brief interview with WP himself. Not much about the restaurant, but an interesting interview nonetheless. I'm ready to go order the duck right now!
I assume that when Puck says stay at home if you want to order steak, he means unless you are going to eat at Cut!
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The Food Section of the Post has a blip on The Source today, including a brief interview with WP himself. Not much about the restaurant, but an interesting interview nonetheless. I'm ready to go order the duck right now!

Directly from the menu:

First Flavors:

Spicy tuna tartare, sesame-miso cones, shaved bonito, tobiko 15

Wild Japanese hamachi & tuna sashimi, avocado, endive-sweet onion salad 17

Roasted suckling pig with plum chutney, pickled cippolini, sweet bean 16

Seared big eye tuna, Wasabi peas, Yuzu shallots, hot garlic-balsamic ponzu 18

Tandoori sea trout, pickled cucumbers, tomato chutney, cardamom raita 16

Warm Maine lobster-daikon roll with "sweet & sour" dressing 19

Tasting of Maryland Crab:

Sauteed crab cake & crab salad, mango, Thai viniagrette, aromatic herbs No price listed

"Tiny dumplings" pork belly, black vinegar, chili oil, ginger, cilantro leaves 14

Blue crab & shrimp su mai with Shanghai curry lobster-uni emulsion 16

"Chinois style" chicken salad, Chinese mustard dressing, candied cashews 14

Meat and Poultry:

Lacquered Chinese duckling, wild huckleberries, ginger, glass noodles 30

Kobe beef short ribs "slow cooked" Indian spices, Masoor dal lentils, raita 34

Pan roasted organic chicken, garlic gai lan, lapsong sausage, fried rice 28

Grilled lamb chops, Hunan eggplant, pea tendrils, chili-mint viniagrette 36

Szechuan filet steak "au poivre," caramelized shallot-peppercorn sauce 37

Grilled Kobe NY steak, Chinese "hot * sweet" mustard, parsnip puree 60

Kurobuta pork chop & honey glazed belly, 10-spice, fennel-pear marmelade 38

Fish & Shellfish:

"Wok fried" whole Sea Bass, Yuzu ponzu or spicy Thai-chili & fragrant herbs 40

Spicy "Assam prawns," fresh curry leaves, turmeric, mustard-yogurt curry 30

Pan-roasted Maine lobster, garlic-pepper sauce scented with Thai Holy Basil 58

Steamed wild King Salmon "Hong Kong Style," baby bok choy, ginger, soy 30

Pan roasted Red Snapper, red Thai curry shrimp, pineapple-chili sambal 29

Seared Maine diver scallops, tamarind peanut sauce, pad Thai noodles 31

I do not have a copy of the dessert menu but all desserts are 10. Their signature dessert is the "Cherry Blossom"

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Thanks for the menu, Joe. We're going Saturday night. When you say upthread that it's a restaurant for dressing up, what kind of attire are we talking about? I can get my husband into a jacket much more easily than into a jacket and tie :blink:.

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A tie isn't necessary but he'll feel more comfortable with a sport coat. It's not an elegant room (i.e. The Inn) but a very "smart" room where dressing nice would be appropriate. Sport coat, dress slacks and a pocket handkerchef would be perfect for here.

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A tie isn't necessary but he'll feel more comfortable with a sport coat. It's not an elegant room (i.e. The Inn) but a very "smart" room where dressing nice would be appropriate. Sport coat, dress slacks and a pocket handkerchef would be perfect for here.
Thanks, Joe. I don't know about the handkerchief, but if he doesn't need a tie, things are good :blink:.
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Darn, the word is out! I just tried to make a reservation for 2 on Friday and they are fully booked. So, is the general consensus that the lounge is not worth it?

I'd go back for a pizza in a heartbeat.

They were taking a limited number of tables last Friday, so it's not like Cheesecake Factory with a two-hour wait and crowds out the door - I suspect they're being (correctly) cautious in their bookings at this early stage.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Wow. We got back from a great meal a little while ago. I love the design of the place and the vibe. It's very sleek but warm and inviting at the same time. The screens over the windows gave a really cool look from the inside out.

I decided to go with Don's wine recommendation upthread, and it was excellent. It was great to drink and paired well with everything we had. Malia, the sommelier, was wonderful, and the service was quite good all around. At times, the large number of orchestrated personnel seemed a bit much, but they pulled it off.

To start, I got the "Tiny dumplings" pork belly, black vinegar, chili oil, ginger, cilantro leaves. They were delicious and an ample appetizer. My husband ate maybe a third of them. He also ordered a green salad ($12), not on the menu, but our waiter said it was no problem to get one. (Maybe it's on the lounge menu? I'm not sure, but when my husband asked if he could just get a regular salad, the waiter put in an order for one. And this is how good the waiter was: My husband set half the salad aside to eat during his meal, and when the server returned, instead of trying to take the half-eaten plate, he read it exactly correctly and inquired if he was saving that to have with his meal.)

For mains, I had Lacquered Chinese duckling, wild huckleberries, ginger, glass noodles, and he had Pan roasted organic chicken, garlic gai lan, lapsong sausage, fried rice. I'm guessing the greenery with the duck was watercress. I forgot to ask.

My only disappointment was dessert. We split the cherry blossom and, other than the ginger ice cream and cherries, I just didn't feel like it worked. It ended up being a soggy mishmash in the bowl. And that bowl was on the verge of being counter-functional.

(Thanks again for the menu, Joe. Sorry to disagree on the cherry blossom.)

And I had quite the "duh" moment (or maybe it's a eureka moment) when I was looking at the outside of the dessert menu, with "the source" written in varying degrees of boldness. It finally occurred to me why the restaurant is named this :blink::P. (I don't know why it hit me exactly then, but better late than never...)

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On Friday night the six of us shared a four hour ten course tasting dinner which featured two desserts including a somewhat smaller version of the Cherry Blossom. It was not nearly as good as it was the Saturday before. It's possible that in reducing it to a somewhat smaller serving that something was lost but it actually looked a little bit different, too. Overall the dinner was outstanding and was a real opportunity to work our way through much of the menu. The duckling was excellent with the suckling pig outstanding as well as several slices of Kobe steak and the Kobe short ribs. The tuna tartare in sesame miso cones proved a delicious first course as well and prelude to the flavors and style that would come. We spent thirty or so minutes before this in the bar waiting for our friends and had a real chance to study the bar menu as well as look at the food that comes out. For everyone reading this: the bar at The Source has NOTHING in common with what is going on upstairs. I believe that for anyone going to the bar and having dinner, unless they've ordered and been served from the upstairs menu you still have not tried this restaurant.

I would also trust Malia's recommendations. She has impeccable taste and is extremely knowledgeable, one of the finest sommeliers that I have met anywhere. She is also quite skilled at turning up almost "bargain" wines that are genuinely delicious.

Overall, for me, based on two dinners and having tried much of the menu now I would suggest The Source is directly comparable in its first two weeks to what we experienced at CityZen soon after it opened. Because I personally prefer these types of flavors I probably like it better. Scott Drewno is going to make a national name for himself here.

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On Friday night the six of us shared a four hour ten course tasting dinner which featured two desserts including a somewhat smaller version of the Cherry Blossom. It was not nearly as good as it was the Saturday before. It's possible that in reducing it to a somewhat smaller serving that something was lost but it actually looked a little bit different, too.
I was wondering how much they were still refining some of the recipes and presentations, given that they'd only been open about 10 days. The description our waiter gave of how the dessert was prepared sounded intriguing enough. I don't know if splitting it up by pulling part of it off onto another plate may have affected the way it was supposed to unfold visually, or if the fact that I decided to let it sit a while and rest my taste buds partway through caused it to get soggier than it would if I ate it quickly.

That said, I really loved the ginger ice cream component, though my husband was overloading a bit on ginger at that point. (It's not his very favorite spice and it seemed to be in everything.)

I'd like to get back later and try more of the menu, but I'm glad we got in early to try it out. I usually wait too long when new restaurants open, then it's hard to get a table, and I end up not getting to some places at all.

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Hi everybody - we just posted an early look at The Source (with menus) at washingtonian.com here. Thought you might enjoy.

Cheers,

Catherine

washingtonian.com

Had some very yummy dishes in the lounge last night after the Spoon concert. Highlights were the General Tsao's chicken wings (they were so tasty I almost got a second order) and some delicious house made sausages with pretzels. They serve till 11 during the week and service was outstanding.

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2, 1, 3

The Source is the latest in the string of area restaurants opened by out-of-area corporations featuring celebrity chefs as their public face. It follows Olives, Lespinasse, Charlie Palmer Steak, and BLT Steak, among others.

When you go to The Source right now, you’ll see Klaus Puck – Wolfgang’s brother – as the face of the dining room. Will he be there a month from now? Will he be there six months from now?

I remember when Le Paradou opened at the end of March, 2004. Many people were eager for Tom Sietsema’s review to arrive. And yet Tom waited, and waited, and waited some more – it wasn’t until the beginning of October when the review was published, six full months after the restaurant opened. His reason? He wanted to be absolutely certain about Le Paradou before issuing such an important review.

The Source is getting a lot of buzz on the internet right now, but one must wonder how much of this initial enthusiasm is due to the opening team putting on a full-court press during review season. How will they be in six months? More importantly, how will they be in two years?

Restaurants opened by experienced corporations have a much easier time front-loading their quality from the very first day they open; it’s the mom-and-pop operations who are particularly susceptible to fumbling and making big mistakes early on.

The biggest favor Tom Sietsema and Todd Kliman can do for the dining public would be to take their sweet time in issuing their reviews and star ratings for this restaurant. The days of scooping the internet are over, but what the major publications have is the ability to be definitive, to be the reviews of record, the reviews that will be sitting on the windows of the restaurant in 2010. That is a big, big responsibility, and one that should not be rushed just to get the story out first.

---------------

On the menu at The Source, “Kobe beef” is listed three times: as a sixty-dollar steak, as thirty-four-dollar short ribs, and as sixteen-dollar “sliders” on the lounge menu.

I asked my server where they got their Kobe beef, and was told that it came from Idaho – presumably from Snake River Farms, which is a major purveyor of products made from Wagyu cattle.

But “Kobe” is a controlled appellation in Japan, and all Wagyu beef labeled Kobe must meet the extremely strict production standards used in that prefecture – it is for this reason, and this reason alone, that real Kobe beef can cost several hundred dollars a pound. And it’s worth it, too.

Many restaurants flaunt American Wagyu beef as “Kobe,” so I don’t believe any laws are being broken. Nevertheless, it is, at best, misleading and irresponsible for any restaurant – certainly one at this level – to be engaging in this marketing tactic.

As long as American Wagyu is listed on this menu as Kobe, there’s a very simple answer to the question: Where is The Source?

The Source is in Idaho.

---------------

The upstairs menu is available in the downstairs lounge, but only if the restaurant can handle the load on any given evening, so there are no guarantees.

A glass of 2004 Joseph Matrot Meursault ($22) makes a fine aperitif, but I would council having this before dinner, as much of the menu’s Asian influence might mask the nuances of this subtle, well-balanced Chardonnay.

Roasted Suckling Pig ($16) is three rectangles of pork, each served skin-side up and perfectly crisped on top. Sitting atop a little pool of plum-fig chutney, it cried out for a glass of 2004 Les Cailloux Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($25). The pickled cippolini sounded intrusive, but was a dazzling addition to the dish, one tiny little onion-round sitting atop each piece of pork, absolutely masquerading as a little piece of pork fat. It was clever, subtle, and brilliant. The menu also lists “sweet bean” as part of the dish, but unless it was a component of the chutney, I didn’t find it. I loved this dish, and would get it again, absolutely.

I opted for the Yuzu-Ponzu sauce with my ”Wok-Fried” Whole Sea Bass ($40), which came with steamed jasmine rice, although brown rice is an option. Presented whole, and expertly filleted and carved tableside, this was another beautifully crisped dish, the flaky meat being a touch overcooked, but well within the range of being a good wok job. This is a lot of money for a mid-Atlantic sea bass, but the cost is mitigated by a glass of 2006 Wieninger Riesling ($12), which works decently with the ponzu sauce. I won’t rave about this dish, but you’ll hear no complaints from me, either.

There are a couple downsides to ordering from the bar downstairs. The roasted suckling pig would have benefited from a small, sharp knife which it’s undoubtedly served with in the upstairs restaurant; the one I had was huge, metallic, and very cold at the handle. The tableside carving of the sea bass took five full minutes (and was a very well-done, thoughtful job), but the carver was forced to leave the upstairs restaurant, and due to space constraints needed to walk down to the end of the bar to perform his handiwork. Nevertheless, I really, really appreciated the trouble they took in presenting the whole fish, and carving it nearby, rather than simply doing it in the kitchen - it was an amazing touch that far exceeded anything I could reasonably expect while sitting at a bar.

Total cost for three glasses of wine, an appetizer, an entrée, tax, and tip: $151.50. This is a lot of money, obviously, but the service was fantastic, I dined well, and I left happy.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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We stopped in after work thursday for a drink and snack, and liked our fries well enough to decide to dine upstairs. Enjoyed the quite large string bean amuse with candy cashews -- has quite a smoky and hot after taste that sneaks up on you. The hong king style steamed salmon was delicious, with a melt in your mouth texture. my husband enjoyed the short ribs.

The highlight for us was dessert -- the cookies. There were two each of about six different kinds, so we didn't have to fight over them. I can't remember the exact cookies, but they were varied, with flavors including lemon, fudge, chewy carmel, and others.

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Dined at The Source on Friday night. Drinks in the very crowded bar beforehand was fun. I couldn't imagine dining on the pizza, etc. they serve in the bar in such an crowded environment. Diverse and interesting looking crowd, somewhat high styled.

Upstairs was less hectic. Our two-top was meant for four, and was by the window. Wines by the glass seemed a bit pricey, but the Italian Nebbiolo was a real winner. Didn't think the Chateau nuf was worth $25. Enjoyed the string been amuse (seemed to be instead of bread); it was quite spicy. The tuna tartar was fantastic. It comes in a sweet (maybe fried) carmel colored cone. Seemed to be seaweed and pepper flavored. Inside stuffed with the tuna. I could have eaten 10 of these!

Had the Kobe (really Kobe styled) steak. Small 6 oz and served sliced. Very tender and flavored perfectly. I think it was worth the $60 and probably was one of the top steaks I have had in a while. Also got the appetizer Arctic Char (tandoor style). This was great and had authentic Indian Raita (yogurt) and tandoor spices. I personally think that white flaky fish done in a tandoor is amazing and more restaurants should do this. For dessert we had the cookies and the ice cream. The Vanilla was amazing, the chocolate and coconut less so. The cookies were very good too, but the American in me probably wanted a bigger serving as they are quite tiny.

Overall a great place to dine. Upstairs is styled a bit like Indi-bleu wanted to be a few years back. But these professionals certainly pull it off.

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Mixed feelings. Most of the food (four appetizers, four entrees, three desserts, several cocktails) was outstanding in concept and execution; a few were merely competent. Service was excellent. Not perfect, which is a different thing. By excellent I mean that the few mistakes made, when brought to our waiter's attention, were corrected promptly and graciously.

But the music. Oy. Loud thumping monotonous repetetive boring tuneless club music. Upstairs as well as in the bar. Not quite loud enough to cause discomfort, until a few larger, vivacious parties were seated. Then the combination of music and white noise made it impossible to hear my friends.

I'm not agitating for soft music, as someone posted above, nor do I want "hushed temples of gastronomy", as someone posted in another thread a long time ago [love that phrase], and I recognize that my taste in music isn't exactly mainstream, but restaurant acoustics are a real issue for me. I don't expect a concert at a restaurant any more than I expect a good meal in a concert hall. People shouldn't have to raise their voices in order to be heard when dining at a fine restaurant.

At $85 (before tax) per person for three courses and a cocktail, our meal was a real bargain. And yet The Source left me feeling somewhat cold. It was nice, but... but... I can't quite put my finger on it. Which really makes this a useless post. oh well.

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Had dinner with the wife here on Saturday night. In general, when i'm going to a restaurant that charges 30+ for an entrees, I expect near perfectly cooked food and good service. My expectations were pretty high, and in some respects met, but in others not.

We entered the restaurant and saw a packed bar with young, yuppie types (pretty much people like the wife and I). The same kind of people you see at Central, Proof and other places around town. But something was different, and I couldn't put my finger on it till later in the meal.

The restaurant was dark, very dark. It was nicely decorated, as far as I could see, but felt cold. A lot of concrete going on which gave it a sterile, almost doctored up government building kind of feel. We were met by a friendly, hostess who took us up the stairs the to dining room. The ground floor, as others discussed is a bar area.

The upstairs was dark. It was hard to see. The wife complained she couldn't see much. It was Outback Steakhouse dark on steroids. The restaurant was also rather small, surprisingly small with less tables than I expected a Puck restaurant to have.

We were seated at our table and our waiter promptly came over and gave us the wine list. The wine list is pretty extensive and expensive. There are a few under $40 bottles, but my quick perusal showed most bottles clocking in at over $70 or so. Corkage was conspicuously noted as $25 per bottle ($65 for a magnum). The wine list had a nice variety and some odd stuff I haven't seen on a list in a while, like Lemelson Pinot Noir from Oregon.

The menu had a large number of choices. The left side of the menu was about 10 choices of appetizers and the right, 10 entrees or so, as others have discussed. The wife ordered the tuna and hamachi sashimi for her appetizer. I ordered the tandoori arctic char with raita and chutney. For mains, I ordered the wok fried sea bass and the wife had the duckling.

We were first served an little taste of green beans and candied walnuts. Honestly, they can keep them. Overcooked, and the rank taste of chili oil. (I hate chili oil - its good on tom yum soup, but shouldn't be used everywhere in asian cooking. In moderation its nice, but much like truffle oil to Italian and French chefs, its overuse overpowers everything. As we would soon find out, the chef at the Source loves chili oil - yuck).

The appetizers though were superb. The wife's sashimi was fresh and a nice sized portion. It was served with some micro greens and some sushi rice which was superb. My arctic char was superb. Beautiful crisp skin, wonderful flavor. The raita and chutney on it were outstanding. I wish there was more to dip the fish into.

The main courses were served shortly. My wife was served a huge portion of duckling. Two large breasts and two legs. A wonderful flavor and some nice huckleberry sauce on them. Excellent in every way. Also served on top of the duckling was a nice micro green salad. My wife said it was the best salad she has ever had - I thought it was very good. The duckling came with a side of fried chow fun noodles. They were good, not too oily, mixed with nice mushrooms and bok choy, but then the chili oil attacked again. Somewhere in there, tons of it. Overpowering the chow fun. If there was no chili oil on them, it would easily be the best chow fun noodles i've ever had. The chili oil ruined it for both of us.

My bass was good. They carved it table side. It was entertaining to watch for a few seconds as the waiter did possibly one of the worst fillet jobs of a whole fish i've ever seen. After some coaching by the wife, the waiter accomplished his task. Luckily the fisk was so huge (could easily serve two), there was plenty of sea bass and leftovers even after his poor filetting job. The fish was very tender and had a wonderful crisp crust. I ordered the ponzu sauce which was nice. The fish was topped with "fragrant herbs" - very tasty. The fish was served with rice. Pretty unflavorful and uneventful - it was rice. I wish some veges or something else were served instead.

For dessert, the wife had the Mango desert - a small mango cheesecake, mango sorbet and a donut type thing filled with wonderful mango creme. Her desert was good, but pretty unextraoridnary. We've had mango deserts elsewhere, like 1789, which were better. I had the chocolate purse served with caramel sorbet. The sorbet was outstanding - wonderful chocolate caramel flavor. But the purse itself, for lack of a better description, sucked. It was a large fortune cookie thing (which was extremely salty) filed with melted chocolate. I think if we went back, we would pass on desert and get it elsewhere in town.

Overall, the meal was good and definitely something different than normally available in DC. I think the asian influences will do well as there are few restaurants to get higher-end asian influenced food (may 10penh but thats about it). Like others have said, some of the food is superb. Other food needs work. I'll probably be back in the future but will definitely make my selections carefully.

Not for the oddness - as we sat thru dinner, I put my finger on what was different. Generally, when I go to higher-end restaurants in town, I know someone or have seen some of the people around - you know locals dining there. As we ate, it dawned on me, the restaurant was filled with tourists. The people on both sides of us were tourists, and the people who were reseated at those tables later in the meal (all puck junkies). The people at the bar were tourists, talking about their trip to DC from Milwaukee or whatnot. The waiter mentioned it was a popular place for tourists. It was interesting. Unexpected in a way but interesting.

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We were first served an little taste of green beans and candied walnuts.

I find this interesting. They asked about allergies when I called for a reservation - a nice touch. I told them the odd truth: green beans and walnuts (honestly, real allergy not "I don't like green beans so I'll lie about it"). After we were seated, our waiter said "I understand there are some allergies here" or something like that, and I confirmed. No one else in our party has allergies.

How do you think a restaurant should handle this when a customer is allergic to the standard amuse? What we got was nothing. Not a substitute amuse. Not the standard amuse for everyone and something different for me. Just nothing.

It wasn't a complaint-worthy thing (indeed, I never noticed the lack, until I re-read this thread). I just find it odd. I'd think a truly first class restaurant wouldn't serve the same amuse every time, anyway. Or would be flexible and creative enough to whip up something else. Maybe that's the ephemeral thing I was trying to describe in my last post - The Source felt just a bit...canned. Pre-formed and ready to re-heat, not fresh and warm. Please understand these are entirely subjective comments and don't reflect any sort of objective reality. The food really was very good.

In the end I don't care how many nationally recognized super-chefs set up outposts in DC. My favorites are still the homegrown places: Komi, Palena, Restaurant Eve, Vidalia. Something just feels honest and right about them, a feeling I haven't gotten from CityZen or The Source. <shrug>

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Not for the oddness - as we sat thru dinner, I put my finger on what was different. Generally, when I go to higher-end restaurants in town, I know someone or have seen some of the people around - you know locals dining there. As we ate, it dawned on me, the restaurant was filled with tourists. The people on both sides of us were tourists, and the people who were reseated at those tables later in the meal (all puck junkies). The people at the bar were tourists, talking about their trip to DC from Milwaukee or whatnot. The waiter mentioned it was a popular place for tourists. It was interesting. Unexpected in a way but interesting.

Wow, this is really interesting and somewhat sad. With all the great restaurants we have in DC, this is where the tourists are going? I guess it figures as the PR machine behind the place has got to be huge. Looks like the city needs to advertise that we have many other places to try when visiting.

BTW, one entree of duck was 2 breasts and 2 legs? That is one huge entree!

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Wow, this is really interesting and somewhat sad. With all the great restaurants we have in DC, this is where the tourists are going? I guess it figures as the PR machine behind the place has got to be huge. Looks like the city needs to advertise that we have many other places to try when visiting
Well let's face it the Wolfgang Puck name is bigger than most guys in DC. They know his frozen pizzas, and they hear his name on all those awards show specials. Faced with the unknown versus chef to the stars, who do you think most people are going to pick? It also helps that it's in a museum. One stop shopping...
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