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Darlington House, Connecticut Ave. in North Dupont Circle


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New awnings on the building say that it's becoming Darlington House. Sayeth Zagat Buzz:

Just off Dupont Circle, the space that formerly housed Childe Harold has been recast as Darlington House, a chic, Italian-influenced New American; the upstairs salon focuses on full dinners, while a dimly lit rustic cantina below – with sidewalk seating – serves deluxe bar fare like tuna sliders, gnocchi and schizza (flatbread pizzas), as well as cheese and charcuterie; plans include a third-floor library lounge that will offer cappuccino, pastries and WiFi.
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Had drinks and bar snacks at Darlington House on Friday. It was totally surreal. They really haven't changed the basement of CH at all--it just looks like they power-washed the place, took down the redskins bric-a-crap and put in mood lighting. It certainly smelled nicer--perhaps they also relocated the sewage line that ran underneath the bar? So much for the "ambiance." LOL

We had a couple different waiters/waitresses (team serving?) and they were all friendly, though there were a few minor service kinks, as to be expected (one app that never came out and had to be re-ordered, although they were nice enough to take it off the bill and very apologetic.)

As for the food--I confess I had a little buzz by then as it was late and was really looking for nosh more than dinner. But the tuna sliders were soft and tasty, and the little, fried sausage-stuffed dumpling thingies rocked! And the fries were handcut, hot and crispy--served with curry aioli and ketchup. Seems like the whole friggin world is in love with curry aioli these days, doesn't it?

I gotta say--it was SO odd being in that basement and looking around to see GOOD LOOKING, young, hipster types all over the place. I mean--it was sort of a SCENE! I kinda missed the sad old degenerates (said with love, people--with LOVE!)

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I recently had brunch at Darlington House. It has the same owners as Cleveland Park Bar & Grill and Sesto Senso.

The "Red Flannel Hash" was a heaping, gooey, delicious mess of potatoes, beets, bacon, cheddar, onions and sour cream, topped with two poached eggs. I'll go back for it .

The chef is Alex Schulte. I don't know anything about his background, but he can probably do some Seaver-esque cougar baiting if he puts his mind to it.

Alex

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I recently had brunch at Darlington House. It has the same owners as Cleveland Park Bar & Grill and Sesto Senso.

The "Red Flannel Hash" was a heaping, gooey, delicious mess of potatoes, beets, bacon, cheddar, onions and sour cream, topped with two poached eggs. I'll go back for it .

The chef is Alex Schulte. I don't know anything about his background, but he can probably do some Seaver-esque cougar baiting if he puts his mind to it.

Alex

Oh my, move over Seaver, I have a new crush. Speaking of Darlington House, has anyone attended any of their Tasting Journal Dinners? I smell DR gathering.... PM me if anyone is interested in organizing a dinner.

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I'm not sure when Alberto Baffoni took over at Darlington House, but he is now Executive Chef, and looking dapper in his gigantic black toque.

The downstairs lounge was jammed for Friday happy hour, so we headed upstairs and took a table in their lovely main dining room, and received a warm greeting by host and server alike.

Darlington House uses stemless wine glasses (which I'm slowly, grudgingly, coming to terms with), and the wines by the glass are presented in bottle, then poured as a sample. This is the type of gesture that I'll remember long after this meal, and is actually the first thing I think about when someone mentions Taberna del Alabardero. The pours were on the short side, but I think stemless glassware lends itself to this, especially when it's set down low on a table (some wines by the glass I saw being brought out from the bar had much higher fills, and were probably poured at closer to eye-level).

The bread basket is weak, with an unacceptably industrial white, and a passable focaccia, both served with good olive oil. Complimentary tomato crostini were also brought out, and now that I'm typing this, I'm recalling that all the service touches throughout the meal were smooth and courteous, right down to the bussing of the plates.

A plate of Charcuterie ($9) is sourced, and was a decent-sized serving of PdP, salami, coppa, and mortadella, the coppa being unusually good. Interestingly, it was served with strawberries and honey.

The biggest difference between the Fettucini Bolognese ($16) at Darlington House, and the Tagliatelle Bolognese ($19) at Westend Bistro, is that Darlington House's is a pasta-based dish, with homemade pasta and a smaller serving of meat sauce, whereas Westend's is a meat-based dish, with a huge ladleful of coarse sauce taking center stage. Darlington House's is a good version, really brought to life by a couple spoonfuls of parmesan, but I'm not sure it was worth a repeat.

I was on a mission to find some Ivory King Salmon at Darlington House last night, but they weren't offering it (although they had regular King on the menu). Instead, I got a special of Ippoglosso Alla Griglia ($28), grilled wild Alaskan halibut with sauteed rainbow chard in a lemon caper sauce. This was an excellent piece of halibut, unfortunately a little overcooked, but saved by the great lemon caper sauce. And this dish reminded me of how much I adore well-sauteed chard, and how long it has been since I've had it in a restaurant. An interesting characteristic of halibut I've found is that it always seems more satisfying when I cut it along the grain, so it flakes off easily and retains a silken texture, as opposed to most cuts of beef, which I intentionally cut against the grain to unlock the juices inside each fiber.

Warm Donut Holes! ($7), ten of them, served in a paper bag with dipping sauces of dark chocolate and butterscotch-like caramel. A furious debate ensued over their origin, which was settled by walking down to Krispy Kreme which, surprisingly, does not serve them, offering "mini doughnuts" in their place. I'm not sure why we walked down to Krispy Kreme to settle the argument, since we could have just gone home and done a quick Google, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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