Young Washington was out in full force last night at the 2009 Washingtonian Best Of party. Packed to the gills with preppy twentysomethings, DC’s best restaurants put on a show in the National Building Museum. Open bar, small samples from nearly 100 restaurants, we were certainly busy making the rounds. Who shone? Who flopped? Who ran out of food? Who hugged me? Click on through to find out.
We walked in and I was hit with deja vu from Savor. Except this time, the food was ten times better, and the beer list was much shorter. (Though craft beers, most notably in my book, Starr Hill, came out for the occasion, just not at the open bar.) We arrived somewhere around 7:30, and started with dessert – the sweetflow mobile was parked outside handing out samples. Mmm, happy times. We kicked off the night with what wound up being my two favorites – Commonwealth handed out beef on a crostini, and 2941 had these super tasty mint ice cream sandwiches. Since we had already started with dessert – why not? I love 2941, but I full-out ADORE the pastries at 2941 – the best part of my meal there is always dessert.
Places started to run out of food super early – Morou was there representing his new concept Kora, and he ran out of food by 8 p.m. he said. We didn’t get over to his corner until he was packing up. When I complained, he gave me three hugs (count them: three) and shrugged it off. “Lots of people to feed, don’t expect the food to last long!” He wasn’t the only one out of food by 8. Black’s was totally out by the time we walked by (7:45ish) and other places were having a hard time keeping food on the table. Liberty Tavern kept good humor about it, though, handing out a delicious Watermelon Rum cocktail while you waited for your short ribs.
I have no idea how restaurants planned for this event, but I do know that the doors opened around 6 and weren’t supposed to close until 10:30. I also know that other restaurants like Citronelle, 2941, 1789 and Pete’s APizza weren’t out of food by the time we left around 10:15 p.m. I will leave you to discern what that might mean about the preparation and smart thinking, and possibly the longevity, or even catering experience, behind those places. I think you might guess what I think it means. Citronelle dished up one of my favorites (and one of my dining companion’s least favorite’s) of the night – an eggplant soup with these odd little crispies on top. I liked it, fresh, cold, and with a bit of a kick, I don’t usually like eggplant, but that was a winner.
If you will, let me muse for a moment, about what each restaurant chose and what I think about it. There were a few burgers – Matchbox had them and BGR had them. Majestic had hot dogs with fancy accoutrements. Okay, fine on the burgers with Matchbox and BGR – I get it. You can’t serve pizza, Matchbox, so go with the other thing you’re known for. Majestic, though, I get it – I do, but couldn’t you have done the brat’s you’re known for? No? Okay, well fine. Maybe it cost too much, or something.
Then there are places that I knew were supposed to be there but I NEVER saw. Dino, for example. Art and Soul – where were you? PS 7’s, why didn’t you call me? Don’t you places love me? Georgetown Cupcake had plenty of staff running around with tee shirts, I even spotted a half eaten cupcake! But I don’t know where you were… SAD TO MY LIFE!
The two worst things all night were the gelato from Dolcezza, which people waxed so poetic about in the comments of my frozen treats feature from yesterday, that I was super stoked to try! IT WAS NARSTY, ya’ll. I had a half of a bite and threw it away. It was heavy, it was syrupy, it was overwhelmingly chocolaty and almost gritty. YICK. I now doubt my commenters. The other thing I just didn’t like was a corn salad from Jackie’s. Number one, I have no idea where Jackie’s is or what it is, but the corn salad has something odd about it, and that also went in the trash. Oh, and while I’m getting things off my chest, Rosa Mexicana made people grab chips off a huge pile on their table with our hands. TONGS PEOPLE, TONGS. Or at least get some gloves and put them in the bowls for us. Sigh. Ew.
But that was it – my three low points. The rest was fantastic! I had a super fun time, I loved seeing all the DC restaurants in action, even if I’m giving them a hard time. I was asked if it was worth the price. Well – yes. Open bar, counts for something right? It was definitley worth the Groupon deal of half off. And I’d tell you to get there early, and maybe acquire a map. I’m sure they were available (?) but nobody ever handed me one nor did I see one sitting on a table. That way you can hit your favorites, and not wander aimlessly searching them out. Would I go again? HELL YES! That was a blast! Also, should I forget, the decorations were fantastic. The Asian theme was cute, and if the dancing dragon stays away from me, like he did, I’m a happy camper! The Koi cutouts around the center fountain were adorable, and all the lanterns were romantic. The DJ did a great job of staying with the young vibe of the party, people were dancing in line.
All in all? A totally successful, very DC party. Yet another reason to love this here city. Nice work, Washingtonian.