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Mirabelle, Modern American at 16th and I Street Downtown - Chef Keith Bombaugh and GM Jennifer Knowles


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Anyone been yet?

I know they are only open for lunch so far, but the initial buzz seems quite good. I was never in doubt of course, but I think this could be something really special. We have ressies for the middle of next month for dinner, so I will be sure to report back but just curious to see if anyone has been there yet. Also....thoughts on parking?

Mirabelle

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4 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

Anyone been yet?

I almost went - or, should I say, "I almost called" yesterday, Saturday, based on this Google Search:

Screenshot 2017-03-26 at 2.13.58 AM.png

but it looked somewhat suspicious - 12 AM just didn't sound right - and I ended up not going downtown. (Someone from Mirabelle should check this out - may as well get these types of things correct as quickly as possible). Welcome back, Frank and Aggie.

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21 hours ago, squidsdc said:

I thought for sure you would be first Pool Boy! We are considering a belated birthday meal for Mr. S-but want to wait for them to get their sea legs before taxing the kitchen dealing with my allergies. 

Did you see Tom Sietsema's First Bite column? WaPo

I'll be there soon! New job makes it impossible for me to steal away to try it for lunch though you know, you all KNOW, I'd love nothing more than to get there stat.

 

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went today. it's lovely, but too expensive for me to make a habit of going there. But I've been craving a real Jambon Beurre for years now, and so despite all of the other things I might have ordered (the burger looks deliciously decadent), I went with my craving. Even though it was $26. It definitely hit the spot. Dessert was the yuzu sesame mille crepe— more cream and caramel than yuzu, alas. tasty but my tastebuds had been primed for yuzu!

I suspect, however, I may be doomed whenever they open for breakfast (maybe May?), because I'll walk by it nearly every day, and I am sucker for pastries.

The space is gorgeous, and all of the staff are super nice and attentive.

IMG_1027.JPG

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12 hours ago, turbogrrl said:

went today. it's lovely, but too expensive for me to make a habit of going there. But I've been craving a real Jambon Beurre for years now, and so despite all of the other things I might have ordered (the burger looks deliciously decadent), I went with my craving. Even though it was $26. It definitely hit the spot.

My goodness - I think the most I've *ever* paid for a Jambon B (that's either a Jambon Beurre or a Jambon Brie) was $10: This was at BreadFurst with Mark Slater when it first opened, and I'm pretty sure it was a Jambon Brie, and was enough to split. At the time, I thought the price was extravagant.

I'm quite sure it isn't Frank who's setting the pricing; he's probably under orders to "Make the best food you can possibly make, and don't worry about the cost" - that looks like a half-pound of ham!

Ironically, I'm a purist, so the ratio of bread, butter, and ham means a lot to me - here, they're really piling on the meat and butter, but I'll bet it was awesome.

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10 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I'm quite sure it isn't Frank who's setting the pricing; he's probably under orders to "Make the best food you can possibly make, and don't worry about the cost" - that looks like a half-pound of ham!

Ironically, I'm a purist, so the ratio of bread, butter, and ham means a lot to me - here, they're really piling on the meat and butter, but I'll bet it was awesome.

oh, yes. basically, every lunch dish is 25-30-- sandwich, salad, or entree. I suspect the ham is applied to get to the needed price point, not the other way around. I am no purist, but would have been happier with a smidge less ham and a smidge more butter :)

and here is the crepe, because why not?

IMG_1030.JPG

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Thanks for the picture and the report! I am a sucker for Frank & Aggie food no matter the price. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am not near their location (or even near enough) to get there for lunch or the coming breakfast. Maybe once in a blue moon. I will likely be a regular at dinner though. But Frank and Aggie already probably know that. :)

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I had lunch there yesterday. When we made reservations there 4 or 5 days earlier, the only available times were 11:30 am or 1:00 pm or later. I was surprised when I arrived at 12:45 that easily one half of the tables were unoccupied. They must still be operating on a soft opening schedule to iron out all of the wrinkles in the kitchen and the service. That being said, the place is beautiful. I ordered the yellowfin tuna nicoise. It came on an oval plate with a good sized portion of confit tuna, nicely dressed greens with thin slices of purple fingerling potatoes and a ramekin filled with (from top to bottom) extremely finely diced boiled egg whites, extremely finely diced olives, and red pepper purée.  A clever play on the standard nicoise, and delicious to boot! My host ordered the bouillabaisse, and based on how much was left it was delicious too.  After we finished eating we went to the bar for another glass of wine. I asked the bartender for something different and he suggested I try the Michael Shaps Petit Manseng from Virginia. I consider myself fairly well schooled in the area of wine, but I had never heard of the winery or the varietal before.  I am normally skeptical of Virginia wines, but decided to try it.  The wine was delicious, but probably more suited to drink with food than as an aperitif.  I will definitely be returning. Dinner service starts next week, I think.

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On 4/1/2017 at 0:27 PM, Finatic said:

I had lunch there yesterday. When we made reservations there 4 or 5 days earlier, the only available times were 11:30 am or 1:00 pm or later. I was surprised when I arrived at 12:45 that easily one half of the tables were unoccupied. They must still be operating on a soft opening schedule to iron out all of the wrinkles in the kitchen and the service. That being said, the place is beautiful. I ordered the yellowfin tuna nicoise. It came on an oval plate with a good sized portion of confit tuna, nicely dressed greens with thin slices of purple fingerling potatoes and a ramekin filled with (from top to bottom) extremely finely diced boiled egg whites, extremely finely diced olives, and red pepper purée.  A clever play on the standard nicoise, and delicious to boot! My host ordered the bouillabaisse, and based on how much was left it was delicious too.  After we finished eating we went to the bar for another glass of wine. I asked the bartender for something different and he suggested I try the Michael Shaps Petit Manseng from Virginia. I consider myself fairly well schooled in the area of wine, but I had never heard of the winery or the varietal before.  I am normally skeptical of Virginia wines, but decided to try it.  The wine was delicious, but probably more suited to drink with food than as an aperitif.  I will definitely be returning. Dinner service starts next week, I think.

Now that sounds good. Interestingly, for all the mockery the $26 jambon beurre sandwich is getting, the 15 sandwiches, salads, and entrees are all priced from $25-29, and the entrees are complete plates, so to me they seem like a better deal than the bare-bones plates of fish you'd pay $30 odd for at a place like Oceanaire.

PS. Michael Shaps has a very good rep. Whote Foods carries some of his wines. Petit Manseng is one of those varietals that apparently is doing very well in VA (like Cab Franc, Viognier, and other "off-brand" grapes).

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15 hours ago, cheezepowder said:

But FYI, you can't eat at the bar yet.

It seems like they are taking a phased approach to expanding their service. Lunch, then dinner. Eventually dining at the bar, and breakfast (IIRC). They'll eventually do everything they want and establish a flow and cadence to their operations.

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On March 29, 2017 at 0:41 PM, Gadarene said:

With those prices, I will not be going there.

I'm not going to go that far, but I'm with you in being disappointed that the prices from the Capella/Rosewood have traveled with Frank. $26 for a ham sandwich is up there with the $50 truffle gnocchi at Fiola Mare in terms of blatant gouging.

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12 minutes ago, DPop said:

 $26 for a ham sandwich is up there with the $50 truffle gnocchi at Fiola Mare in terms of blatant gouging.

You'd think at a French restaurant they would be more inclined to gougere rather than gouge.

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9 hours ago, Poivrot Farci said:

Ultimately, your gripe is with commercial landlords who are the scourge of humanity and deserve to collectively get syphilis.

Based on what the landlord was asking, Mirabelle is paying lower rent than some restaurants on H St NE and Rockville Town Center.

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1 hour ago, Gadarene said:

Unpopular opinion: people on this board venerate Frank Ruta too much.

The problem is that there's no good way to reply to this because there aren't enough specifics. 

Here's an attempt at a reply: People on this board don't venerate Frank Ruta enough considering how popular Jaleo, Rasika, and Mike Isabella are.

That statement will (justifiably) make some people request substantiation, and I said it merely as an example of something that would (if you hadn't said this, I wouldn't have said that - I thought one lick was enough; two called for a rebuttal).

BUT! You have every right to voice your thoughts - you're an informed, knowledgeable diner, and your opinions must be taken seriously - you've earned that right, but I do think people should be allowed to request supporting detail, given that you've now said two very general statements without any.

Understand, at least three of the people venerating Frank here on a regular basis are his ex-employees.

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All are certainly fair points.  And every time I've eaten Chef Ruta's food, I've quite enjoyed it, in an absolute sense if not relative to value.

So here's a reframing that I hope is less overtly combative: I wish that we had many many more chefs in this town that were worthy of as much veneration as Chef Ruta, so that the breathless posts about his cuisine (and Eric Ziebold, another person whose food I very much respect and who seems like an extremely good and worthy and respectable person, but whose endeavors are the subject of overwhelming hagiography on this board) would not seem, in my fully subjective perspective, to stand out nearly so much.

We all want the same thing here.  Ubiquitously transcendent and exciting food at ubiquitously cut-rate prices that nevertheless allow for the highest quality of ingredients and the highest possible standard of living for the chef and all of the kitchen and front of house staff.  That's little enough to ask, surely?

($26 or what-have-you for a jambon beurre is still presumptively ridiculous this side of Zurich (I think still one of the most across-the-board expensive food cities in the world?), though, and I say that unapologetically as someone who has spent far too much on food in the last decade!)

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3 hours ago, Gadarene said:

Unpopular opinion: people on this board venerate Frank Ruta too much.

And it probably speaks to the overall paucity, relatively speaking, of high-quality food in this town, especially (but not exclusively) for a reasonable cost.

That is your opinion and you are certainly welcome to believe it and state it as such. No worries whatsoever. Food and the dining experience is such a subjective thing. Some people love one thing, others another. I was talking to a coworker the other day. She and her husband had been to Komi in the past few months. They left and her husband said to her that 'I'd have been just as happy eating a bunch of Chick-fil-a.' So....see what I mean?

From my experience with Ruta and his food as compared to many, many, many other places I have dined over the past 15-16 years, well, his stuff is top notch and the experiences I have had at Palena and Grill Room have been quite, quite good. For you maybe....not so much? No big deal. I have my own issues with some places like we all do (like Rose's Luxury - I am sure the food is wonderful there, and the service as well, and now I hear you can book a rooftop table if you all do a tasting menu - but I will probably never go there (because 1) I don't have 6 other people I want to go experience a tasting menu there with so I can get a reservation and 2) I cannot otherwise get a reservation - my loss I am sure), and we all deal.

9 minutes ago, Gadarene said:

All are certainly fair points.  And every time I've eaten Chef Ruta's food, I've quite enjoyed it, in an absolute sense if not relative to value.

So here's a reframing that I hope is less overtly combative: I wish that we had many many more chefs in this town that were worthy of as much veneration as Chef Ruta, so that the breathless posts about his cuisine (and Eric Ziebold, another person whose food I very much respect and who seems like an extremely good and worthy and respectable person, but whose endeavors are the subject of overwhelming hagiography on this board) would not seem, in my fully subjective perspective, to stand out nearly so much.

We all want the same thing here.  Ubiquitously transcendent and exciting food at ubiquitously cut-rate prices that nevertheless allow for the highest quality of ingredients and the highest possible standard of living for the chef and all of the kitchen and front of house staff.  That's little enough to ask, surely?

($26 or what-have-you for a jambon beurre is still presumptively ridiculous this side of Zurich (I think still one of the most across-the-board expensive food cities in the world?), though, and I say that unapologetically as someone who has spent far too much on food in the last decade!)

Well, you know that is impossible. It's kind of like the analogy to software development - you can make software potentially good, fast and/or cheap. Out of those three things, you can only pick two - good and cheap (not fast), cheap and fast (but not good), or fast and good, but not cheap. I am sure there is some trinity or similar that applies to dining out.

That all being said, you can get some awfully good food out there, you just need to pick some things that you are unwilling to sacrifice on and deal with the rest. Hot Doug's in Chicago (gone, dang it) was a place where you got really excellent hot dogs and sausages, for pretty darn good prices for pretty cheap, but you often had to wait an hour or two in line to get it (we waited 45 minutes - an anomaly for me - I utterly hate waiting).

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

The problem is that there's no good way to reply to this because there aren't enough specifics. 

Here's an attempt at a reply: People on this board don't venerate Frank Ruta enough considering how popular Jaleo, Rasika, and Mike Isabella are.

That statement will (justifiably) make some people request substantiation, and I said it merely as an example of something that would (if you hadn't said this, I wouldn't have said that - I thought one lick was enough; two called for a rebuttal).

BUT! You have every right to voice your thoughts - you're an informed, knowledgeable diner, and your opinions must be taken seriously - you've earned that right, but I do think people should be allowed to request supporting detail, given that you've now said two very general statements without any.

Understand, at least three of the people venerating Frank here on a regular basis are his ex-employees.

And it is a travesty of the two that I am aware of are no longer in the DC Metro area because they are both completely and utterly amazingly talented folks. I miss them not being here in the DC Metro dining scene for sure. A lot.

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10 minutes ago, Pool Boy said:

That is your opinion and you are certainly welcome to believe it and state it as such. No worries whatsoever. Food and the dining experience is such a subjective thing. Some people love one thing, others another. I was talking to a coworker the other day. She and her husband had been to Komi in the past few months. They left and her husband said to her that 'I'd have been just as happy eating a bunch of Chick-fil-a.' So....see what I mean?

From my experience with Ruta and his food as compared to many, many, many other places I have dined over the past 15-16 years, well, his stuff is top notch and the experiences I have had at Palena and Grill Room have been quite, quite good. For you maybe....not so much? No big deal. I have my own issues with some places like we all do (like Rose's Luxury - I am sure the food is wonderful there, and the service as well, and now I hear you can book a rooftop table if you all do a tasting menu - but I will probably never go there (because 1) I don't have 6 other people I want to go experience a tasting menu there with so I can get a reservation and 2) I cannot otherwise get a reservation - my loss I am sure), and we all deal.

Well, you know that is impossible. It's kind of like the analogy to software development - you can make software potentially good, fast and/or cheap. Out of those three things, you can only pick two - good and cheap (not fast), cheap and fast (but not good), or fast and good, but not cheap. I am sure there is some trinity or similar that applies to dining out.

That all being said, you can get some awfully good food out there, you just need to pick some things that you are unwilling to sacrifice on and deal with the rest. Hot Doug's in Chicago (gone, dang it) was a place where you got really excellent hot dogs and sausages, for pretty darn good prices for pretty cheap, but you often had to wait an hour or two in line to get it (we waited 45 minutes - an anomaly for me - I utterly hate waiting).

It's not impossible, actually, if "transcendent" and "cut-rate" and "highest possible" are toned down for hyperbole.  There are half a dozen cities I've been where it seemed, to me, with my upper-middle-class privilege of having a well-paying DC job (which will soon no longer be the case), that cheap/affordable/reasonable, delicious, and even innovative food was virtually everywhere (Portland, Austin, Berlin, Madrid, Tokyo-though-admittedly-because-the-dollar-was-strong, even New York, honestly, if one stays in the midrange independent places and does due diligence, almost anywhere with a vibrant street-food scene and a food-loving culture, a bunch of random smaller places in southern and central Europe) in a way that it is certainly not remotely here in the district.  

It's not unattainable.  It's just unattainable here, in the land of the expense account and the restaurant groups and the property manager preference for chain places or super high-end places or both.

It doesn't have to be the way it is here.  Not to say there aren't great things here, but I totally disagree with any notion that the things I describe aren't far more attainable in a number of other places.

But the rest of your post is certainly quite well-taken.

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14 hours ago, Gadarene said:

It's not impossible, actually, if "transcendent" and "cut-rate" and "highest possible" are toned down for hyperbole.  There are half a dozen cities I've been where it seemed, to me, with my upper-middle-class privilege of having a well-paying DC job (which will soon no longer be the case), that cheap/affordable/reasonable, delicious, and even innovative food was virtually everywhere (Portland, Austin, Berlin, Madrid, Tokyo-though-admittedly-because-the-dollar-was-strong, even New York, honestly, if one stays in the midrange independent places and does due diligence, almost anywhere with a vibrant street-food scene and a food-loving culture, a bunch of random smaller places in southern and central Europe) in a way that it is certainly not remotely here in the district.  

It's not unattainable.  It's just unattainable here, in the land of the expense account and the restaurant groups and the property manager preference for chain places or super high-end places or both.

It doesn't have to be the way it is here.  Not to say there aren't great things here, but I totally disagree with any notion that the things I describe aren't far more attainable in a number of other places.

But the rest of your post is certainly quite well-taken.

I was just having a similar conversation on a different topic with a friend down in TN. If you don't have the population base to support inventive or non commercial endeavors, what does become mainstream has lost most of its uniqueness.

Frankly, DC cuisine is always going to be less interesting than other cities on East Coast because of the economics. NYC will support original or obscure restaurants if it is good. Philadelphia has a population base that will try new things. DC and the surrounding metro area have high rents that preclude chefs from taking risks and over the past decade as gentification has taken hold in the DC proper and quasi urbanization has weaved itself into the suburbs, it has only gotten worse. 

Of course this has nothing to do with Mirabelle or Chef Ruta's restaurants, we have enjoyed Palena on our visits.  

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On 4/11/2017 at 9:42 PM, Gadarene said:

($26 or what-have-you for a jambon beurre is still presumptively ridiculous this side of Zurich (I think still one of the most across-the-board expensive food cities in the world?), though, and I say that unapologetically as someone who has spent far too much on food in the last decade!)

$26 for a ham sandwich might be on the pricey side. I'm not there. But if it's $26 and after eating it you are satisfied and full then I am ok with that.

At Rose's Luxury, there are diminutive pastas on the menu that go for $13, $14 and $15. If I went there for dinner one night and just wanted to eat pasta...and be sated, I would probably end up having to eat two or three pastas. Which would cost anywhere from $26-$45. 

That is an expensive bowl (or three) of noodles, which typically comes with not much more than butter and cheese.

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On 4/11/2017 at 10:12 PM, Gadarene said:

It's not impossible, actually, if "transcendent" and "cut-rate" and "highest possible" are toned down for hyperbole.  There are half a dozen cities I've been where it seemed, to me, with my upper-middle-class privilege of having a well-paying DC job (which will soon no longer be the case), that cheap/affordable/reasonable, delicious, and even innovative food was virtually everywhere (Portland, Austin, Berlin, Madrid, Tokyo-though-admittedly-because-the-dollar-was-strong, even New York, honestly, if one stays in the midrange independent places and does due diligence, almost anywhere with a vibrant street-food scene and a food-loving culture, a bunch of random smaller places in southern and central Europe) in a way that it is certainly not remotely here in the district.  

It's not unattainable.  It's just unattainable here, in the land of the expense account and the restaurant groups and the property manager preference for chain places or super high-end places or both.

It doesn't have to be the way it is here.  Not to say there aren't great things here, but I totally disagree with any notion that the things I describe aren't far more attainable in a number of other places.

But the rest of your post is certainly quite well-taken.

Well those are good points. One of the things I hate to see happen is when a place gets redeveloped in to a modern mixed use thing and then the chains come in. Boring! And with the rents being so sky high, it gets harder and harder for restaurants to make it in this metro area.

However, if you extend your definition of this metro area to include points a bit south, east, west and north (like Baltimore), there are plenty of options with good food that is a better value and may even be closer to where you live potentially. Grace Garden in Odenton is a good example. So is Curry Leaf in Laurel, MD. Ren's Ramen in Wheaton. Many, many options for Peruvian Chicken based on your own preferences. But I do, indeed, hear you about having a really good overall experience that delivers the goods on good, interesting food, with a nice atmosphere and service and maybe a decent wine list/beer program/cocktail program is, in general, a bit harder to find in even the expanded idea of this metro area.  I like a lot of interesting places in Baltimore, too (Peter's Inn comes to mind, as does Fork & Wrench, and plenty of other options, too).

The adventure continues.

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On 4/11/2017 at 5:53 PM, Gadarene said:

Unpopular opinion: people on this board venerate Frank Ruta too much.

That's like saying people venerate Jean Georges, Daniel Boloud or Gunther Seeger too much.

it might be true. But he, and they, are deserving. Having had the pleasure of working for Frank for 6 years, his technique, flavors, attention to detail and work ethic are second to none. From his simple Oxtail Vaccinara or little pork head cheese croquettes to his more sophisticated Lobster and Oyster Navarin with Sauternes...his food is unlike any I've encountered in my travels or in my work with other chefs.

i still dream of his stollen. His bread and tomato soup. His brandade. His bolognese. (I could go on).

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55 minutes ago, Pool Boy said:

Well those are good points. One of the things I hate to see happen is when a place gets redeveloped in to a modern mixed use thing and then the chains come in. Boring! And with the rents being so sky high, it gets harder and harder for restaurants to make it in this metro area.

However, if you extend your definition of this metro area to include points a bit south, east, west and north (like Baltimore), there are plenty of options with good food that is a better value and may even be closer to where you live potentially. Grace Garden in Odenton is a good example. So is Curry Leaf in Laurel, MD. Ren's Ramen in Wheaton. Many, many options for Peruvian Chicken based on your own preferences. But I do, indeed, hear you about having a really good overall experience that delivers the goods on good, interesting food, with a nice atmosphere and service and maybe a decent wine list/beer program/cocktail program is, in general, a bit harder to find in even the expanded idea of this metro area.  I like a lot of interesting places in Baltimore, too (Peter's Inn comes to mind, as does Fork & Wrench, and plenty of other options, too).

The adventure continues.

Would that I had a car!  And the time and inclination to fight through traffic for an interesting meal.

But yes, I don't think our perspectives are nearly as far apart as it seems.

And apologies for hijacking the topic!  Let's let Jonathan's beautiful post about Chef Ruta's food guide the thread back on track.

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On 4/11/2017 at 10:12 PM, Gadarene said:

It's not impossible, actually, if "transcendent" and "cut-rate" and "highest possible" are toned down for hyperbole.  There are half a dozen cities I've been where it seemed, to me, with my upper-middle-class privilege of having a well-paying DC job (which will soon no longer be the case), that cheap/affordable/reasonable, delicious, and even innovative food was virtually everywhere (Portland, Austin, Berlin, Madrid, Tokyo-though-admittedly-because-the-dollar-was-strong, even New York, honestly, if one stays in the midrange independent places and does due diligence, almost anywhere with a vibrant street-food scene and a food-loving culture, a bunch of random smaller places in southern and central Europe) in a way that it is certainly not remotely here in the district.  

It's not unattainable.  It's just unattainable here, in the land of the expense account and the restaurant groups and the property manager preference for chain places or super high-end places or both.

It doesn't have to be the way it is here. 

It doesn’t have to be but it is and forever will be under the survival of the richest economic model. The costs of living, goods and services are very high in the D.C. area which is commensurate with an area flush with fat cats. In terms of cosmopolitan cities, Berlin is a gruff, thrifty outlier more in line with Montreal where rents are still very affordable and ½ of Berlin/DDR was essentially off limits (and backwards) up until 25 years ago. Germany is much more affordable than this land of opportunity and Germans enjoy far less income inequality despite having the 4th highest GDP. And you can get a 18th century fixer-upper manor house in the former DDR for $45K.

-deputy archivist and executive cheerleader of the FR fanclub.

 

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Everyone wants a Bentley for the price of a Hyundai.  The world does not work that way. Fine dining demands the best ingredients and more labor. There are dozens, if not more, restaurants in our area producing phenomenal food, albeit not cheaply. You get what you pay for. We all have different tolerances for price points of food. I paid $1200 for dinner for two at the French Laundry years ago. It was horrible. I also paid $600 for dinner for two at Le Bernardin. I would go back in a heartbeat!

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57 minutes ago, Finatic said:

Everyone wants a Bentley for the price of a Hyundai.  The world does not work that way. Fine dining demands the best ingredients and more labor. There are dozens, if not more, restaurants in our area producing phenomenal food, albeit not cheaply. You get what you pay for. We all have different tolerances for price points of food. I paid $1200 for dinner for two at the French Laundry years ago. It was horrible. I also paid $600 for dinner for two at Le Bernardin. I would go back in a heartbeat!

Apparently you didn't get what you paid for at French Laundry.  :-)

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1 hour ago, Finatic said:

Everyone wants a Bentley for the price of a Hyundai. 

Strawman IMO.

No one is saying that a >$200/pp meal should be available for <$50.  But is it to unreasonable to think that one could obtain a comparable level of quality for, say, $100 to $150?  Or a $100/pp meal for $40 to $60?  Because I too have been able to accomplish that in Tokyo (with great exchange rate, and eating at lunch), San Sebastian, Portland, Toronto (go strong USD!), and most recently Lisbon.  Or in cities with corkage-friendly policies.

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1 hour ago, silentbob said:

No one is saying that a >$200/pp meal should be available for <$50.  But is it to unreasonable to think that one could obtain a comparable level of quality for, say, $100 to $150?  Or a $100/pp meal for $40 to $60?

totally agree.  unless i'm mistaken, only turbogrrl has actually eaten at mirabelle, where she had the ham sandwich and the yuzu crepe dessert, both of which sounded satisfying without being revelatory (too much ham, not enough butter, not enough yuzu).  obviously it will take a lot more dining experiences/reviews thereof to really form a view on mirabelle -- on both whether the chef is doing justice to his talents, and whether there is a sufficient "value" (however subjective) to justify the cost.  i can't wait to hear people's opinions on the first question.  

an observation to the second question: yes, fine(r) dining has higher costs for ingredients and labor, but it was also a conscious choice to set up shop in this area, presumably with an eye toward taking advantage of the downtown power broker price insensitivity.  it will be interesting to see what effect that choice, and the resulting prices, has on mirabelle's draw for those without that sweet, sweet expense account money.  chef ruta understandably has a lot of goodwill in this town that earns him a number of defenders on mirabelle's pricing who have not yet eaten mirabelle's food.  (compare the tone of this thread with the tone of the shaw bijou thread before its opening.)  experience and resulting credibility should matter, but they shouldn't mean that we can't ultimately make judgments about relative value.  (although i don't actually know, i'd read gadarene's initial comment on veneration to be expressing a similar feeling.)  

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4 hours ago, silentbob said:

Strawman IMO.

No one is saying that a >$200/pp meal should be available for <$50.  But is it to unreasonable to think that one could obtain a comparable level of quality for, say, $100 to $150?  Or a $100/pp meal for $40 to $60?  Because I too have been able to accomplish that in Tokyo (with great exchange rate, and eating at lunch), San Sebastian, Portland, Toronto (go strong USD!), and most recently Lisbon.  Or in cities with corkage-friendly policies.

I am going to go out on a limb here. The restaurant business is notoriously fickle with thin margins. We in the DC area do live in a high rent area. Whether you put a fine dining establishment at 16th and K, NW or a Burger King, your rent is going to be the same, although your build out costs will probably vary drastically! I have eaten at Mirabelle. It was phenomenal! I tried to go back, but could not get a reservation because it was booked solid. It may not be worth it to you, but it is apparently worth it to many other people. One size does not fit all. I personally will keep trying to go back. I WAS ASKED TO DELETE MY PRIOR LAST SENTENCE WHICH I DID!

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1 hour ago, Finatic said:

I am going to go out on a limb here. The restaurant business is notoriously fickle with thin margins. We in the DC area do live in a high rent area. Whether you put a fine dining establishment at 16th and K, NW or a Burger King, your rent is going to be the same, although your build out costs will probably vary drastically! I have eaten at Mirabelle. It was phenomenal! I tried to go back, but could not get a reservation because it was booked solid. It may not be worth it to you, but it is apparently worth it to many other people. One size does not fit all. I personally will keep trying to go back. Perhaps you should opt for the dollar meal at McDonalds!

McDonald's no longer does dollar meals.  Now it's called McPick 2 or something like that.  I don't personally have an opinion on whether Mirabelle is overpriced since I haven't been.

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The owner of Mirabelle decided to open a restaurant that caters to those with expense accounts, pricing out many fans of Chef Ruta who can not make this new establishment a regular habit (or even a special occasion restaurant). Self included. That is unfortunate. I haven't eaten there so I can't comment on whether the food is deserving of the high prices. 

For those upset about the lack of affordable fine dining in DC, Chef Ruta had such a place. It was called Palena and it was not a sustainable business model. Can't imagine that a new build in downtown DC is more affordable in 2017 than Cleveland Park in 2014.

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I do think it's important to note that there's a fundamental distinction between the lack of affordable fine dining and the lack of affordable good dining.  To my mind, D.C. suffers from both, because it's beset by chains and blandness and general lack of value for money at all price points, not simply the very top.

This is significant because, while one should expect to pay high prices for more refined food, luxury ingredients, whisper-soft service, and elegant ambience (which appears to be the thrust of Fintastic's point above), it's simply not true in many, many places that one should expect to pay high prices for delicious or interesting or even exciting food that does not have, or need, the level of refinement necessary to qualify as "fine" dining.  Many of the best meals of my life have been dirt-cheap, especially relative to the quality of the food.  (That yakitori place in Tokyo with random skewers of amazing chicken parts for $1.50 each...man.)

So it is a bit of a strawman, I think, or at least an incomplete argument, to focus on the consequences of DC's unique milieu on the kind of food you expect to pay a lot of money for regardless -- I'm never going to rail against the steep markup at Ruth's Chris or The Prime Rib, for example, because those places are what they are -- because the larger issue isn't "hey, this restaurant opened up catering to the expense account crowd, and I'm mad that it means a legendary chef's prices are higher than they might be," it's more (as someone observed earlier) "hey, i wish there was a more vibrant and affordable restaurant scene at all price points, but that's hard to do in this city because so much of the current development is centered around 'new builds,' which are biased towards the profit margins of the investors and property managers over all else."

Fine dining will always be expensive; it comes with the territory.  Good dining doesn't have to be -- and, in many many many cities in the world, it usually isn't.

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I should also hasten to add that the D.C. dining scene today is light years better than what it was when I moved here in 2001, or even in 2011.  I love the fact that there are interesting, unique, and chef-driven places out there that aspire to thoughtfulness and deliciousness without being self-consciously "fine dining," like Himitsu, Tail Up, Thip Khao, Little Serow, Etto, Tiger Fork, EatBar, and so forth.  If the prices at these places are a little higher than they would be elsewhere, well, then I chalk it up to a feature of the area and don't let it diminish my enjoyment too much.  I just selfishly wish that there were way more of those kinds of places (and that more of them were within easy walking distance of Mt. Pleasant, dammit! Purple Patch and Beau Thai, I'm looking at you -- why can't you aspire to more?), because I know there can be, because I've seen it elsewhere again and again and again.  I want more under the radar hole-in-the-walls with surprisingly awesome food for cheap, too, for the same reason.  And while I'm at it, I want a pony.

I'd much rather dine in DC now than ten years ago.  That doesn't mean I can't begrudge the amount of culinary real estate in this town given over to making money for investors/property managers/corporate headquarters (and/or attracting as broad a well-heeled clientele as possible by aspiring to widely acceptable genericness in its category -- see Kushi taking all the interesting stuff off its menu after a month -- and/or churning out lazily slapped together "on trend" food and calling it a day) as its first, second, third, and fourth priority.  (And, to bring it back to the topic again, I'm not painting Mirabelle with that brush, because I haven't been there and because I know that Chef Ruta is not going to allow anyone to lazily slap together anything in his kitchen.)

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