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Dish + Drinks, American Dining in the River Inn - 25th Street and Snows Court, Foggy Bottom


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If you had to pick a restaurant near the Kennedy Center for dinner before the opera and you hadn't planned far enough in advance to get a table at Notti Bianchi, would you try Dish or go farther afield? Has any one been there lately? I can't find any mention of it in this forum. Circle Bistro is fine, but have been there a few times this year already. Marcel's is good too, but a bit expensive.

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If you had to pick a restaurant near the Kennedy Center for dinner before the opera and you hadn't planned far enough in advance to get a table at Notti Bianchi, would you try Dish or go farther afield? Has any one been there lately? I can't find any mention of it in this forum. Circle Bistro is fine, but have been there a few times this year already. Marcel's is good too, but a bit expensive.

The bar at Kinkeads for raw bar, soup and fried clams.

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I've eaten at Dish twice. The first time about a year ago or so, the second a few months ago. Unfortunately I don't remember what I ate at either meal.

All I remember the first time was that it was cold in the restaurant (from someone who is rarely cold), and the food wasn't that good. My G/F dragged me back there a second time since she lives in the area and we were hungry, and I was pleasantly surprised (it's possible that my expectations were sufficiently low, but I remember thinking the food was very good).

The menu is mostly "comfort food", and I'm pretty sure I had the meatloaf at one of the meals. The decor is kind of lacking (it's a fairly small dark room, and lower than the ground outside so there isn't much light), the restaurant was mostly empty both times, and it's kind of expensive for what you're getting, but despite all this, not a bad meal if nothing else is available. The unfortunate truth is that Foggy Bottom has very few decent restaurants, likely due to all the undergraduates who live there.

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Grover, I and our erstwhile dining companion had tickets for Gil Shaham at the KenCen last night and so decided ot dine at Dish on our way. As the 'red-headed stepchild' of Notti Bianche, Dish really doesn't get much respect. This is a shame. For dinner, the three of us ranged over a lot of the menu. A sampling of dishes and our responses.

Seared Diver Scallops: served as an appetizer with seared spinach with forest mushrooms. Two plump, expertly seared scallops. The mushrooms added just the right counterpoint to the richness of the scallops.

Roasted Beet Salad: a dish that's becoming a candidate for the trite food list. However, the whipped Maytag blue cheese made all of the difference in the world. The beets were almost sweet and the Maytag added just the right touch. Very good.

Muscovy Duck Breast: ordered by someone who "doesn't eat duck very often". Almost way too much of a good thing. A huge portion of sliced duck breast, nicely medium rare. Very moist and very tasty.

All in all, quite nice, very tasty and very satisfying. Chef Chittum was there and came out to say hello and to check on us now and then to make sure we were enjoying the food. The service was prompt, expertly done, unobtrusive, and friendly. Truly a satisfying experience.

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As the 'red-headed stepchild' of Notti Bianche, Dish really doesn't get much respect. This is a shame.

Indeed! We tried Dish for the first time on December 30 and came away thinking it must be among the most underrated (unrated?) restaurants in town.

The restaurant itself is strikingly small, but elegant without being pretentious.

We tried the tasting menu and a few other plates. The five-course tasting menu is a good value at $65 and a great value with wine pairings for only another $20. The tasting menu emphasizes game, of which I'm not a real enthusiast, but Chef Chittum is deft with salt and his dishes were executed with perfect - every time cooked to a perfect pink medium rare inside, with nice seared outsides. The quail salad and rabbit "stew" had us oo-ing and ah-ing. The quail salad comes with curly endive, intensely smoked bacon, and an aged sherry vinegar. The quail was rich and the salad reminded my of my favorite salad of 2006 - the poached egg salad at Circle Bistro. It was paired with a lovely chardonnay. I never quite figured out how to describe the rabbit "stew" but it did little to resemble stew, struck me more as some sort of an egg custard accompaniment. The rabbit itself was tender and moist. The pairing was a carneros pinot, which was not highly structured and had soft tannins, but was ripe and smooth. The duck course too was outstanding. It could not have been cooked to a better perfection (at least if you like medium-rare) and was accompanied by a butternut squash "risotto," which was amazing and sweet featuring pumpkin water and a gastric. It was reminiscent of pumpkin pie, but as thin as a light broth. It was paired with a Cote du Rhone. I was stuffed by the time the roasted venison with brussel sprout pedals, pears, and crispy sweetbread roll arrived, but it too was cooked to perfection with a nice crisp sear and beautiful pink inside. Again, it was beautifully salted. You could tell it was prepared by a real technician. The Havens merlot was a nice pair. The walnut cake was nice, but less noteworthy than the Austrian Kracher Auslese Cuvée '03 that accompanied it. From the regular menu, we sampled the foie with pumpkin three ways, which was huge and a delight, the mixed greens, which also came with a nice tangy vinaigrette and roast pears, and the Maryland rockfish with crispy blue points, which was beautifully cooked for an otherwise less than exciting fish. Its skin was crisped and covered in a chowder froth that was a tad fishy, but lovely nonetheless.

Nikki, our server, was gracious in taking the time to explain details of each dish and pairing, and the rest of the front of house staff paid careful attention to us at all times.

I can't say if Dish will be as outstanding as it was for us every night - the restaurant was more than half empty, and I saw Chef Chittum himself manning the kitchen - but I can say with certainty, that when it is on, it is deserving of great praise of which it has received far too little. It was one of the top few meals of 2006 for me.

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OK.

That's what I would say about our recent dinner for six at Dish + drinks (and yes, for those inquiring minds, according to the menu, this is actually the name). Dandd is definitely not a special occasion kind of place, but the food was fine, if properly prepared, for the most part.

We started with "Chicken spring rolls...honey sambal dipping sauce" and Conch fritter Martini with Cuban lentil salad and Mojo sauce. Both were 7 bucks, and in the case of both efforts, the sauce and accompaniment was better than the object they were there to serve. Think Cheesecake factory plus here, if you are looking for mouthfeel.

The lobster bisque (Chef's soup of the day) that a few had next was slightly better than average, with a nice back-of-the-spoon coating consistency and genuine creamy essence of lobster to the soup. The only thing it was missing was any sign of lobster meat as a garnish, or at least as a reward for those brave enough to trust this kitchen to pull this off. Others played it safe with "Mixed greens...goat cheese crouton & honey-champagne vinaigrette" and "Butter lettuce salad...Maytag bleu cheese, citrus segments, peppered pecans & raspberry vinaigrette". Neither salad was offensive or left a pool of dressing on the bottom of the plate, and the lettuce seemed fresh. The raspberry dressing was a bit on the sweet side.

The main courses that followed were mostly straight forward. The "Grilled beef tenderloin on crispy potato, shitake mushrooms and red wine sauce" was a crowd pleaser, with the meat coming out perfectly cooked. Also good was the "One-half chicken...mashed potatoes and pan jus", which also arrived equally as good as Cafe Deluxe version. These two dishes were clearly the dinner's strong point and was greeted by nods of approval by those who went this route. Other menu choices included crab cakes, pepper crusted salmon, pan seared rockfish and a pork chop. None of these got the call, however. We did, though, get to see the kitchen's attempt at pasta, listed n the menu as "Dish pasta...egg fettuccini, forest mushrooms & mascarpone cream", to which could be added roasted chicken, grilled shrimp and hanger streak. (The shrimp came out well-done and the hanger steak, like the other meat, came as requested.) The pasta itself was overcooked, however the sauce was excellent. A refined, creamy, surprisingly complex tasting concoction.

Do you see a trend here? Whoever had the meat station was on that night, as was the saucier, since in every case, the sauce noticeably outclassed the food it was designed to enhance. True for the chix spring roll, the fritter, as well as the pasta... and if I see so many ellipses on a menu ever again I will have to mail a copy of Strunk and White to someone.

We bailed on desert and had Double Rainbow chocolate ice cream at home (Thank you Trader Joe's).

All in all, not a bad meal, and certainly good company, which alone made it worth a getting a sitter for a night out with friends. But would I go there again? No. Was it better than a large chain dinner? Not much.

A decent neighborhood choice, certainly. But with gas over $3 a gallon, I wouldn't even give my car a sideways glance to get here for dinner.

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The website in the Dining Guide should be updated to http://www.theriverinn.com/dish/ . dishdc.com no longer is functioning.

[Done, thanks!]

 

That said, dishanddrinks.com is now the website, and is functioning.

We are going as a group of six tonight. Will report back. Any one been there since the new kitchen crew took to the grill?

 

Speaking of which, does anyone know who is running the show at Dish + Drinks these days? Peggy Newbold Thompson was there a few years ago, but I've heard nothing about her recently.

BTW, has anyone ever wandered around the back of this hotel? It's quite remarkable, actually - a neighborhood within a neighborhood, and a part of Washington, DC very few people know even exists.

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