Looking for a new dining experience in D.C.? Opportunities await during Winter Restaurant Week.
The event, created in 2001, is offered through Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) in partnership with Events DC. Local restaurants will have affordable meals with prices set at $35 for dinner, $22 for lunch and $22 for brunch. The Restaurant Week website, RWDMV.com, lists the 250 restaurants participating for the week.
In preparation, four restaurants — Dirty Habit, All-Purpose Capitol Riverfront, Due South and The Delegate — hosted preview tastings, showcasing some of their most popular dishes:
Dirty Habit is nestled in the middle of the Hotel Monaco, across from Capital One Arena. The restaurant is managed separately from the hotel. A Restaurant Week tour group tried items from a tasting menu that included mushroom soup, poké tuna, the vegetarian burger, a pork katsu sandwich and grilled salmon. I have always loved mushroom soup.
Dirty Habit’s version did not disappoint. A nice creamy base included the right balance of sautéed mushrooms garnished with a large crouton. The soup came with poké tuna, a concoction of raw tuna, seaweed, sesame, scallions and wasabi tobiko, a type of caviar from flying fish. Executive Chef Kyoo Eom’s pairing of the Poké Tuna with the soup was the star of this tasting menu.
Beginning with Winter Restaurant Week on Jan. 14, Dirty Habit will offer a daily brunch until 2:30 p.m., starting at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends.
Located across from Nationals Park in the Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront area, All-Purpose Capitol Riverfront maintains the same selection of pizzas as their original D.C. location in the Shaw neighborhood. Several folks on the tour were familiar with the Shaw location and called out the names of their favorite pizzas.
Owner/Chef Michael Friedman led our group through descriptions of the tasting menu. Sampled were Caesar salad, broccoli and cheddar arancini (fried risotto balls with pecorino and feta ranch dipping Sauce), and three pizzas. The pizzas were the Buona (tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, Calabrian chili honey and basil), the Sedgewick (whipped ricotta, mozzarella, Tallegio parmesan, truffle honey and chives) and the Upstate (mozzarella, gorgonzola, honey-Hot buffalo chicken, red onions, celery leaves, chives feta ranch).
The combination of cheeses in the Sedgewick was the big winner for me. The crust was light, and it must have been the truffle honey that made the slice melt in my mouth.
I think southern cuisine will always be hot as long as grits are served on the side. Due South, also in the Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront area, has figured out a way prepare southern staples in a creative way that will “make you slap yo’ mama!” That’s considered a good thing coming from the menu created by Chef Rusty Holman. Buttermilk fried chicken with cheddar grits and the shrimp and grits were delicious and expertly prepared. Then there was the gruyere and chive grit fries appetizer. These fries were huge, served with a creole tomato sauce. Add the Nola-style BBQ shrimp, another appetizer, and the two are a perfect meal.
Dessert was a light and fluffy bread pudding served with a bourbon caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Due South was more than a satisfying dining experience.
The Restaurant Week preview ended at The Delegate, the restaurant inside the new Marriott Courtyard/Residence Inn across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Executive Chef Pernell Morton served chopped salad with eggs, bleu cheese, bacon, chicken, avocado, red onions and ranch dressing. The main dish consisted of pan-seared sea bass and wild salmon with Adams Farm root vegetables and an arugula salad. This final stop on the preview tasting tour was light and easy on the palate. As a diner, I did not feel overwhelmed with razzle-dazzle. It was just a great meal and exactly what my taste buds needed. With 20 years of Marriott experience, Chef Morton looks forward creating fine dining experiences at this new Marriott property.
During Winter Restaurant Week, it is recommended that diners wear comfortable, loose clothing. The list and variety of restaurants are massive, and the prices are great.
For more information, go to RWDMV.com.