Came highly recommended: The Dabney.
It’s made all the list, including a Michelin star…which makes scoring a reservation a bit of a challenge….especially if you live on the West Coast. Reservations open up on a rolling 2 week basis and they are available online and by telephone starting at noon Eastern time. They fill quickly so don’t dally.
Finding the place can be a bit of a challenge as well….down an alley near the Convention Center…in an old row house. Once inside, the space is open and inviting….made all the more inviting by the open, wood burning hearth. The cuisine is described as Mid Atlantic.
It all started with ciabatta bread and butter. I usually don’t talk much about bread and the same holds true here but the reason to mention it is the butter…made sweet by sorghum….delicious….you’ll want to just eat it without the bread. First up….small plates once again….was a special that night….catfish sliders which arrived on a sweet potato bun bathed in a heavenly tartar sauce and topped with pickled onion…outstanding! This was followed by the first of two salads, Head Lettuces….citrus based, including the vinaigrette which was nicely balanced by yellow raisins. Visual appeal was made all the better by including blood oranges in the mix. Next was the Winter Radish and Fried Oyster salad which was visually stunning….red, white, pink and green topped off with a mildly sweet rice wine based remoulade. I was a bit taken aback by the small size of the oysters but they were very tasty nonetheless.
For my main “small plate”, I went with the Beaver Creek Quail which was outstanding……perfectly cooked over the open, wood fired hearth and stuffed with cornbread and plated on a delightful foie gras jus and grits which, along with the herbed mushrooms, added an incredible richness to the dish. I couldn’t pass up a side of Bloody Butcher Cornbread….made from red/purple cornmeal which arrived molasses dark. Very interesting, non-sweet but rich, example of that Southern mainstay.
With respect to wines, I focused on reds with a nice Cab Franc from the Loire and a left bank focused blend from Linden Vineyards in Virginia. Very light tannins with the main varietal tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon origin. Not bad.
The experience ended with the apple crumble, which was typical but brought to a higher level by a topping of bourbon ice cream and caramel. I had to try the rosé port…..Touriga Nacional and Franca grapes…pink, tart and lighter than your typical port.
Wine list was notable for a large selection by the glass with a concentration on French and Italian sources but with a few new world….US choices as well. Thomas Jefferson would be proud….also listed were a few choices from Virginia!
Service was excellent and this is one of the best meals I’ve had in DC. They are closed on Mondays.