I’ve heard the buzz about Art and Soul. Oprah’s former chef, southern cooking, two-time James Beard Award winner…blah blah blah. So when the restaurant appeared on the faux-restaurant week list (AKA OpenTable’s Appetite Stimulus Plan.) I was pretty stoked.
Seeing as the Appetite Stimulus Plan (AS) was kind of like a best-kept-secret restaurant week only for those in-the-know, it was hardly competitive for the good reservations, and Matt and I were able to land the perfect Friday night table for two. (Ya’ll just wait until real RW, I get uber competitive and call people past their bedtimes to confer about reservations. I change them, drop them, negotiate for them. OH MAN. Just you wait, cause now I’ll blog all about them!)
Anyways. I read Tom Sietsema’s review before we went, so I was prepared. I was ready, bring on the hoecakes (and a that’s what she said joke). I was excited to try a hoecake, after hearing so much about them, and boy did it live up. That hoecake was my favorite thing all night. The AS menu had only one kind, The Pantry, with blue cheese, grapes, arugula, pickled onions. DELICIOUS. So good, that last weekend I had a food dream about that hoecake and even tried to make my own by throwing together some bisquick and some cornmeal and cooking it like a pancake. It was actually pretty close, but I’d say go have the real thing first before you attempt to make your own. Matt had a salad. Yummy but still a salad.
Our entrees were pretty good, I was aiming for the chicken Tom raved about. Pecan crusted, it’s served with creamed spinach and a sweet wassail sauce. For some reason the texture of my chicken was off-putting, I can’t pinpoint it, it had a really flat consistency to it. But the spinach was yummy, and the flavors went well together. Matt had a roast, and the meat practically fell off the bone. The root veggies with it were done well, also. I may or may not have taken his plate and eaten his instead of mine. I may or may not do that to him a lot. He is a good boyfriend.
Dessert was a bit of a disappointment. None of the other desserts on the AS menu looked super appealing, so we both got the baby cakes, and had the exact same problem Tom did. The chocolate was moist, but the other flavors were dry. The cakes were terribly inconsistent, and even the icing ranged from dry to creamy depending on the cake. I would have taken a scoop of Moorenko’s ice cream (offered on the normal menu) any day. Sigh, I really love Moorenko’s.
The restaurant itself is funky – red walls, large portrait black and white paintings, and a sleek silver and black theme, I felt like I was at a restaurant near leicester square in London. Not even remotely stuffy, yet super-trendy and delicious, it’s the perfect place to awe your friends when they’re in town playing tourist. Ask for a booth along the back wall for the best people watching.
Art and Soul is located at 415 New Jersey Ave. NW. Closest Metro stops: Judiciary Square or Union Station (Red line). For more information, call (202) 393-7777.