Yesterday afternoon the James Beard Foundation tweeted the finalists for this year’s awards, and, wouldn’t you know it, a few DC eateries made the prestigious lineup. Today’s the day you finally visit some of these elegant eateries whose price points usually have you running for cover. So who made the cut? Fiola pocketed a Best New Restaurant nomination, and four lucky area chefs garnered Best Chef—Mid-Atlantic nominations: Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve, Johnny Monis of Komi, Peter Pastan of Obelisk, and Vikram Sunderam of Rasika. So get those reservations in order, keep your eyes peeled for the May 7 showdown, and if you’ve been to any of these select restaurants, post your thoughts on the top grub.
601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Among the top ten in Washingtonian’s list of 100 Best Restaurants 2012, this charming trattoria could rest on starters alone, especially the slow-cooked veal cheeks with risotto Milanese, the smoked potato gnocchi with Norcia black truffle, and the meatballs accompanied by a sunny-side up egg. Local ingredients take center stage here, carefully complimented by simple Italian preparations.
110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria
You’ll have to head for Alexandria for this one, but Dublin native Cathal Armstrong’s innovative fare is well worth the trip to Old Town. Seasonal ingredients enliven both the bistro menu and the chef’s prix-fixe selections. A few favorites over the years have included poached Maine lobster with butternut squash ravioli, whole branzino with saffron cream, and roasted Chesapeake rockfish with polenta and wilted greens.
1509 17th Street NW
An air of mystery surrounds this elegant Mediterranean eatery, known for the multi-course prix-fixe menu that’s decidedly unadvertised—you’ll just have to chance it and see what delicious eats they’re crafting when you arrive. We will say that the Post’s Tom Sietsema gives this eatery four stars and compliments the sweetbreads with sea urchin and figs, the brioche with caviar and mackerel, and the rich chocolate baklava.
2029 P Street NW
A Dupont haven for rich Tuscan cooking, the focus here is simply prepared, classic plates like house-made burrata with olive oil, porcini ravioli with sage butter, and dry-aged squab with fennel and heirloom beans. The seasonal menu rotates to be sure Chef Pastan’s only working with the best, and the intimate interior and familial vibes will instantly make you want to stay a while.
633 D Street NW
Vibrant Indian flavors are the focus at this elegant eatery nestled near the archives. The beautiful thing about this eatery is its fusion of traditional Indian flavors and preparations with decidedly contemporary flair. The tandoori trout is screaming with flavors like lime leaves and chili flakes, and other favorites range from lamb roganjosh with caramelized onions to chicken green masala with mint and coriander.