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The Dabney, Chef Jeremiah Langhorne in Blagden Alley near Mount Vernon Square

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I was thinking about this restaurant the other day, knowing that it was supposed to open in the Spring (but figuring that it would be delayed) and realized that we went the whole summer with no news on when exactly it will start service.  I figured I would come here to see if cheezepowder or any other members had heard any rumblings and was shocked to see that no one had posted a thread about it yet.  There has been quite a bit of buzz on the internets for over a year now, and dare I say that if David Chang and Eric Ziebold did not have anticipated openings this year or early next year that this would be the hottest reservation in town when it opens.  I'm sure everyone has at least heard in passing about it at this point, but wanted to see if anyone had any more insight into what sounds like a very cool new restaurant.

Website / @thedabneydc on Twitter

 

"Jeremiah Langhorne's Restaurant, The Dabney, Will Open in Blagden Alley" by Missy Frederick on dc.eater.com

"Meet Jeremiah Langhorne: Picking Composters, Pigs, and Potential Line Cooks" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com

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I think delays have cooled the buzz a bit, but it'll ramp back up as soon as there's some hard news on an opening. Been no shortage of publicity for the opening, especially Tim Carman's multi-part series in the Post.

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Tim Carman says the Dabney is opening late next week:

Langhorne expects the patio and garden will be complete by the time the Dabney officially debuts late next week, following three friends-and-family services to prep the staff.

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Ate at The Dabney last night.  love the space - particularly the open kitchen and hearth-  and the staff is genuinely enthusiastic.  The restaurant is filled with hard surfaces and so it's very loud- I would have a hard time hearing with a party of more than 2-3 people.

I really enjoyed my cocktail - Leather Britches with rum, Virginia maple syrup, lime, and The Dabney bay leaf bitters.

My husband and I shared flatbread with caramelized onions, Appalachian cheese, garlic and herbs.  The portion size of the flatbread was small and it was served lukewarm and somewhat soggy. The flavor was fine- but this is nothing special.

I had the seared fluke mentioned above, and it was quite good.  My husband had grilled swordfish with roasted beets, whey sauce and onion ($24).  The flavor was good and the fish well-prepared, but the portion size on this dish was teeny. We would happily pay a bit more for dishes in return for increased portion sizes.

For dessert, we enjoyed apple crumble with wood-grilled marshmallow (loved this element) and angostura bitters ice cream. La Colombe coffee is a plus.

The small menu changes daily- I'm seeing items there now that weren't available last night. This is a great thing and reflects the concept of being super local and sustainable.   I was dining with someone who doesn't eat meat or shellfish and this was a challenge.  I would love to see more vegetarian/pescatarian friendly dishes available.

I look forward to seeing this restaurant develop. I think it has great potential.

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I wasn't going to write up my meal at The Dabney, because it was on October 31st, the very first night they opened for business, and I was an early customer, so that quite likely means I had both dishes I ordered the very first time they were ever prepared.

Nevertheless, this restaurant seems to have some interest in it, so I'll contribute my experience - with the caveat that this was the first night they were in business. However, I should mention that the "normal" things that go wrong on the first night (i.e., service), didn't, so this is probably pretty representative.

I grabbed a seat at the end of the bar (on the left when you walk in). I asked my bartender to make me a Gimlet with Hayman's Old Tom, and it was not just good - it was perfect. Perfectly poured, perfectly shaken, perfectly served - whoever this girl was obviously knew what she was doing. It was remarkable to watch, actually, and it turns out this was Tyler Hudgens, who is not only running the bar at The Dabney, but also ran the bar at The Columbia Room for several months. Yeah, she knows what she's doing.

As a side note, I overheard that Version 2.0 of The Columbia Room (which is opening directly above The Dabney) will be opening soon. The precise word Angie Salame uses is "Novemberary," so you can take that for whatever it's worth.

I enjoyed my Gimlet as much as any I've had since Dwayne Sylvester shook me one at BourbonSteak awhile back - these drinks were both peers. I *love* tiny ice crystals in my Gimlets, as they add a thrilling textural nuance to the drink (even though some purist bartenders refuse to create them).

Anyway, after I unwound with my 10-out-of-10 Gimlet, I decided to do something a bit odd: I created an Egg Tasting dinner, with wine pairings for each.

For my first course, from the "Dishes" section of the menu (which falls in-between "Appetizers" and "Family Style"), I ordered the Baked Farm Egg ($18), with creamed celeriac, farro verde, kimchee, and herbs. With the dish, I ordered a glass of Sherry (which delighted Tyler to no end), an El Maestro "Sierra" Amontillado 12-Year ($13) which was pretty much a perfect Amontillado, and I would urge Sherry drinkers to spend the extra dollar and get this instead of the (also very fine) Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla "En Rama" - as good as the La Gitana is, this is better, and more suitable for this type of cuisine. Speaking of which, this dish was an obvious riff on Bibim Bap, even though I'm pretty sure that's going to go over the heads of the vast majority of diners here. I know the ingredients aren't typical for such a thing, but it was "strongly influenced" by this Korean classic. Surprisingly, I thought the Sherry would go with this even better than it did - maybe this needed soju, I don't know - the pairing was good, but not the dazzling brilliance I'd hoped (and thought) it would be.

Next up: a step backward to the "Appetizer" section, where I ordered a Buttermilk Biscuit with fried egg, foie gras, country ham, apples, and maple ($15). And with it, I opted for a glass of 2014 Bernard Baudry Chinon "Les Granges" because I wanted the green-pepper stalkiness of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc with the ingredients in this dish - I waited awhile, and was told they had to bring a bottle up to the bar; I told them not to worry about it, and instead ordered a 2014 Chateau Cambon Beaujolais ($14) which I figured would be the next best thing, and "close enough," and sure enough, it was - it went beautifully with the dish. Two components in the dish itself needed work: the egg was slightly overcooked (I wanted runny), and there was no discernible foie gras, anywhere I looked or sniffed - there might have been a thimble-full mixed into the sauce, but none that I detected. So I would suggest the restaurant either up the ingredient, or the diner should not assume it's going to be there.

This was an extremely light meal, although I did manage to down three drinks, and I decided to keep it that way - it was a really good showing for the first night of a restaurant, and I have souvenir menus from The Dabney's first night in business (yes, I asked). Especially with The Columbia Room on top of it, and with Rogue 24 next door for now, The Dabney, and Blagden Alley in general - with La Colombe coffee (which The Dabney serves, btw) seems poised to be a shining star pocket of cuisine. Keep an eye out for it.

My, how cuisine has changed in this town over the past thirty years - my, how it has changed just in the past five years.

The Dabney is initiated strongly in Italic in the Dining Guide, and should be on your list of places to try.

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After dinner here last night, I walked away feeling that this place is really quite expensive for what you get. I feel like there'd been a decent amount of hype surrounding the restaurant and I'd read some articles about it, so it's not as if I walked into the place having heard nothing about it. Yet, I had no clue it was a share plates type of place. Yes, that is typical for many places nowadays, but I guess nothing I'd read or heard had make me think this was anything but a more traditional appetizer/entree place.



As Sietsema noted in his review, there's no separation on the menu between apps and entrees, but our waiter did tell us the plates were meant to be shared and they were listed in order of size. He recommended we order 5-6 dishes between the 2 of us and noted that even the largest dish ($28) was still smaller than a traditional entree. He also mentioned something about thinking of it as making your own tasting menu.



We weren't super hungry, and so decided to cut his recommendation in half. We ordered the roasted beets ($14), chicken liver and foie gras parfait ($20) and the ranchers cut ($28). We also got the ice cream sandwich cookie ($9) for dessert which ended up being my favorite thing of the night. Their current online menu matches what we saw (but will likely change soon).



I completely agree with Lori's descriptions above of the portions being small and "teeny". In the beet dish there were 4 chunks of beets that were each about the size of half a golf ball. The parfait came in the form of a bar that was maybe a little bigger than a Twix. It came with a slice of brioche that was cut in half. The beef was I'd guess about 4 oz (maybe?) the dish included a small sunchoke and a charred endive that was about half an inch wide and 5 inches long. No real complaints about the dessert, as mentioned above I could eat that thing every day and be happy. The complimentary (ciabetta?) bread they brought out was excellent and had just the right amount of char on it. It was served with a delicious sorghum butter.



Drinks included one (tiny) cocktail, a beer (Right Proper Haxan at $8 for a mere 12 oz pour) and a $5 nonalcoholic thyme lemonade. The bill came with 4 really good cookies a little bigger than a quarter - 2 ginger sorghum and 2 pecan sandies which was a really nice touch. Our total bill before tip was about $105, which might not sound so expensive but honestly for the amount of food we got it was a lot more than I would have expected to pay.



Luckily we made up for it in the bang for the buck category with dinner at Peter Chang's (Arlington) tonight.  :)

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I don't understand how an entree type dish that is meant to "share" is so small. Shouldn't shareable dishes be bigger than a typical dish? Where did this all come from?!? Tapas in Spain are served behind a bar and you can literally eat one shrimp or one piece and be charged for that...this whole small plates/share thing may be related to that but it is so far removed from what actually happens at a Spanish bar that I have a real difficult understanding where this whole thing was born from.

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Small plates here are more like a "racion" from a tapas bar in Spain. But even then, they're just scooping up a plateful of something for you to share.

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Shouldn't shareable dishes be bigger than a typical dish? Where did this all come from?!? 

Where did this come from is exactly what I was thinking, Jonathan - that's what puzzled me more than anything. It's like they're almost creating some new category of dining - entree prices, shareable concept, but with portions too tiny for that.

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I had a completely different experience about a month or two ago. I thought the portions were rather large, and I was stuffed. Granted, the menu looks markedly different from the one they had when I went there, so they might have made some adjustments to pricing and portion size since I went, but I couldn't imagine being more full after finishing my meal. I think my dining companion and I spent around $100 -- though we didn't get drinks.

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I had a similar experience to WWZ.  i went both opening night and the night of the blizzard, and each time my companion (a different person each visit) and i felt that the portions were quite small and expensive, even by DC standards. i have found the cocktails and decor to be some of the best in the city though.  still, i find myself around the corner at convivial much, much more often. 

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still, i find myself around the corner at convivial much, much more often. 

That's not a bad place to find yourself.

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I've now eaten there three times and have not had the time to write something longer, but I absolutely love everything about this place, and have not had a bad experience. I've also been able to just walk in on two of those occasions and be seated nearly immediately. The winter vegetable salad that they have on the menu right now is terrific. 

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I've now eaten there three times and have not had the time to write something longer, but I absolutely love everything about this place, and have not had a bad experience. I've also been able to just walk in on two of those occasions and be seated nearly immediately. The winter vegetable salad that they have on the menu right now is terrific. 

I'd love to hear more when you have time. It's on my list of places to get to soon.

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We had dinner at the Dabney on Sunday night at 8:30 - the only time we could get in!  It was four adults and one toddler (who was mesmerized by the hearth!), and it was really lovely.  In particular, I was quite pleasantly surprised by how many vegetables were on the menu and how well they were treated - perhaps this should not have been surprising, but I guess based on the "Southern" tilt I figured it would be porkier than it was.  Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of piggy on the menu!

The space is stunning, but boy it is LOUD.  Had the dining room been full, we would not have been able to hear one another at the table.  I thought there was a great selection of cocktails, wine, and beer, and we enjoyed everything that we ordered from the drink menu.

We sampled most of the food menu, and everything was really yummy - my favorites were the sorghum glazed maitake mushrooms, the grilled ciabatta, the pan-fried blue catfish (totally unlike any catfish I've ever had before - delicious), and the farro verde.  There was also a chicken special with grilled potatoes and charred lettuces that was awesome.

I wasn't super enamored with the dessert choices, but the devil's food cake with sour cream ice cream was actually quite good.  I have no idea what the total bill was (and we were probably comped some items), but we definitely did not leave hungry.  I thought the portion sizes were really generous for what they were and for the prices, and I can see hubby and I coming in to sit at the bar and order a few dishes.

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Wow, this totally differs from my take.  When I went a few months ago, there were almost no veggie dishes, tons of pork dishes, small to very small portions, and a high bill.  I agree re: the beauty of the space and the drink program though. 

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The vegetable dishes have been among my favorites here, including the amazing mushroom dish bettyjoan described above (honestly one of the best things I've tasted in a long time) and a celery root (yes, celery root) dish from a winter menu a few months ago. Actually some of my favorite things at the Dabney have been dishes I didn't necessarily expect to love from the menu descriptions but was convinced to try. He does really creative things with interesting ingredients. I love this place.

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I went to the The Dabney right when it opened, and liked it well enough, but what I experienced there this week was a restaurant that has started to come into its own - the entire experience being at a much higher level.

Even when it opened, The Dabney had a strong beverage program, but not what it is now. Paying homage to The Dabney's commitment towards "local," I started out with a draft of Right Proper Ornithology, brewed right up the street, and weighing in at a refreshingly light 3.9% alcohol - a Grisette - closely related to a Saison in that it's meant to keep you light on your feet, and can be had in multiples during a single sitting.

Here's a slight mistake I made so you don't have to: I began my meal with an order of Pumpernickel Toast ($4), topped with ricotta, smoked honey, and charred Spring onions. The mistake was not in ordering this delightful bread course, but in forgetting that The Dabney serves you a complimentary slice of grilled ciabatta, with flavored sorghum butter that is, in itself, a wonderful course, and more than enough to satisfy any bread cravings a single person may have. Remember this if you go there alone, but don't neglect the Pumpernickel Toast just because of this, because both bread plates are delicious.

Then came the 1-2 punch of the main course: Lacquered Quail ($25) with Chesapeake Oyster Stuffing (inside the deboned quail), brown butter, greens, and golden raisins - the only bones that remained were the legs, so you could pick each one up and finish off the dish. It was fantastic, and even better with a side of Ember-Roasted Young Potatoes ($8) - make sure to turn your head towards the kitchen when ordering, because the wood-burning fire is raging, several feet high, and these clearly picked up some of the smoke, and were served with pork sausage, sour cream, and mustard. The two dishes as a combination worked brilliantly, and I couldn't help myself in getting two different reds: a Beaujolais, and a Chinon.

The Beaujolais ($12) was a 2014 Cháteau Cambon, which, although not from a single village, had a reasonably full body and a delicious palate presence. However, even this fine example of Gamay was dwarfed by the Chinon ($11), a 2014 Fabrice Gasnier "Les Graves" - a single-vineyard, 100% Cabernet Franc with a body that would put many a St. Emilion to shame. This is a red wine I could drink every day and not get tired of, and I made sure to save half a glass of it for my dessert, which I knew in advance would be chocolate.

Devil's Food Cake ($9 (all desserts are $9)) came with Sour Cream Ice Cream, Pumpernickel Streusel (closing the circuit from the first course of the dinner), and Candied Ginger, and went splendidly with the Chinon. Has anyone noticed that we're having an ice-cream spurt in town of late? We're seeing flavors now that we've never seen before, and we're seeing them at many, many restaurants. Ten years ago? It was 2 Amys; now, there are fully two dozen restaurants serving homemade ice cream filled with heart and soul.

My bartender was fabulous, and this meal at The Dabney solidifies the restaurant in my mind as one of the very greatest newcomers on the scene (I had some doubts after my first visit, but no longer). Well-worth the time and effort to get into Blagden Alley early, right at 5:30 when they open.

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I had yet another just-okay meal at the Dabney last night.  Sat at the bar alone around 8.  Chef Langhorne wasn't in the kitchen--a first for my visits.  I ordered the Green Garlic Soup with crab, garlic croutons, radish, & yogurt to start.  It was tasty, but had a strong flavor of tom yum soup (lemongrass/ginger?), which I asked the bartender about.  She couldn't figure out why, and neither could the kitchen.  Oh well--I still liked it, but there wasn't nearly enough crab (as in, barely any) to justify the $15 price tag.

I then had the soft shell crab ($17), which I had been craving.   It came with ramps, pea shoots, radish, benne, pickled strawberries, & hollandaise.  Unfortunately, either the kitchen lost my order or the bartender forgot to put it in, as I had to ask for them to check on it after about a half hour.  Upon arrival, it was quite good, but I've definitely had better, juicier ones elsewhere.  My skepticism about how the pickled strawberries would work with the dish was unfounded, as they paired surprisingly nicely.

The staff was nice enough to give me a 10% "We Like You" discount on my bill, which I appreciated.  Unsure if it's something they do often for solo diners, or if it was a mea culpa for the delay in the softshell.  Either way it was nice.

Unlike previous visits, I didn't have one of their delicious cocktails, just a Highland Oatmeal Porter from a bottle, which I very much enjoyed.  Less enjoyable was listening to a bartender complain to the guests next to me about another bartender working that night.  That kind of stuff should be left to private conversations, I think.

It's right around the corner from me and a beautiful space, so it pains me to say, but I'm running out of chances to give The Dabney, especially with so much great nearby competition.

BTW, I also should mention that I came by with about five friends at 12 a.m. on a Saturday a few weeks ago for a nightcap.  The bar was full, with the main dining room mostly empty.  We were informed by the host--who surely was just doing his job--that we would not be allowed to stand at the bar.  Non-plussed, my friend who knew a staff member appealed to the bartender, who reluctantly allowed us to stay and run up a $100+ tab.  I understand the reason for such a policy during crowded dinner hours, but it didn't make much sense at that time.  Not sure if it's been revised since then.

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