Review: 1789 Restaurant, Washington, DC

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | September 1st, 2009 | Restaurant Reviews

1789An evening of travel without children means it is the perfect time for a culinary adventure.  For my husband and me that usually means an evening of strolling to a few different restaurants and enjoying a different appetizer or small dish at each.  However, during our quick trip to Washington, DC, we decided to indulge in an evening of fine dining.  Not regular visitors to this city, we relied upon our concierge’s recommendation of 1789 Restaurant.

Our concierge made our reservation for 9:00, but we decided to arrive a little early to check out the restaurant and enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail.  When we arrived, there were several parties waiting to be seated, and the staff seemed ill-equipped to handle this rush.  It took at least ten minutes for us to inform anyone of our arrival.

While my husband was trying to get the attention of the hostess, I kept an eye on the bar.  It was the smallest bar I ever have seen with only five seats.  When I saw a couple leave to go to their dinner table, I quickly claimed the seats as ours.  Based on the commotion in the waiting area, it seemed we could be waiting a while.

The bartender was quite attentive, even while filling orders for a number of waiters.  I asked him for a fruit-based cocktail that he thought was his best drink.  In turn, he created a wonderful Cosmopolitan.  Light and fruity, it was exactly what I wanted.  Once my husband arrived, he ordered a Sidecar, which he found to be very well made and quite smooth.

Although we thought we might have to wait at the bar, our table was ready early.  Taken to our table, we were given menus and were greeted by our waiter within moments.  We had three courses to choose for dinner (not including dessert), which meant many decisions needed to be made before placing our order.  Some choices were easier than others, but we managed to choose within a few minutes.

With orders placed, our waiter delivered a basket of bread.  Knowing that there were many courses ahead of me, I only nibbled a little, but it was quite fresh and delicious.  We also enjoyed an amuse bouche from the chef while we awaited the arrival of our first course.

My first course was the Summer Melon Salad, which was a combination of baby arugula, Bev’s country ham, Blis sherry vinegar, and an assortment of melon.  It was a delightfully light start to my dining.  My husband ordered the Spiced Northern Neck Cucumber Soup, made with marinated Chesapeake Bay rockfish, summer vegetable slaw, lime and basil.  His dish had a great amount of flavor and was refreshing and cool.

The second course was the least pleasant part of the meal for me, as the choices were limited:  snails, sweetbreads, clams with linguini, or scallops.  My husband’s choice of Crispy Veal Sweetbreads was an instantly rejected option for me.  Although he thought they were the best part of the meal, I couldn’t imagine eating that dish.  Snails also weren’t appealing to me, and while clams sounded delicious, served with linguini, I didn’t think I could eat that dish and then a third course.  This left me with the final option of  Maine Scallops.  While the scallops were enjoyable, I would have liked having a few more choice.

Our third course brought more options.  I chose EcoFriendly Farms Pork Chop that consisted of crispy fried pig trotter terrine, roasted local peaches, purple snap beans, cipollini onion and fresh black-eyed peas.  This dish was wonderful, making me wish I had a bigger appetite, so I could have sampled more of it.  The pork was tender, the peach warm and sweet, and the beans were perfectly crisp-tender.  My husband ordered the Rack of Lamb served with crisp zucchini blossoms, roasted eggplant puree, pattypan squash, Cerignola olives and white anchovies.  The lamb was succulent and perfectly cooked to his order.  Both were beautifully plated, flavorful entrees.

After some time to sip coffee and espresso, we ordered dessert.  Although, we were fairly full, it seemed like the perfect occasion to overindulge.  Both of us ordered Honey Fritters.  These yeast leavened fritters served with honey vinegar glaze, fleur de sel, peaches, raspberries and vanilla ice cream were delicious.  I was too full to eat my whole serving, but I was quite glad that I decided to indulge.

Aside from the craziness during our arrival, the service at 1789 restaurant was impeccable.  Our water and wine (we ordered a bottle of wine to accompany dinner) glasses were always full.  Timing for each course was impeccable.  Staff members made sure that our needs were met throughout the evening.

Our concierge’s recommendation was perfect.  We were able to enjoy delicious food in a quiet, romantic setting at a relaxing pace.  It was a perfect way to enjoy an evening for two.

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