Have you been to CityCenter in Downtown DC? It’s really the new DC, not the stodgy government-centered sleepy semi-Southern town that Daniel Boulud left years ago. This is sleek, urban and wealthy, a New York wannabe, and Boulud’s new DBGB fits right in.
In fact, it’s a cornerstone of the new DC. Great drinks and bar scene, tables that are impossible to get (I made my Friday night reservation weeks ago) and packed with young professionals, couples on dates or double dates, empty nesters, well-heeled tourists.
But at the core, this is a terrific restaurant. Every dish was superb. Nothing disappointed. it was the lite version of Boulud’s flagship, Daniel, in New York City, but with all its care and small touches.
So many choices … and the dishes that passed, from the fried chicken to the charcuterie platters to the elaborate ice cream sundaes, looked, and in many cases, smelled great. So where to start?
We started with the tuna crudo. I’ll admit, I thought, tuna crudo? Meh. But it wasn’t the same old, same old at all. The sauce was perfect, spicy, but never overwhelmed the tuna.
Next came the duo of sausages. Excellent. When you order sausage, you generally think fatty or greasy – or at least I do. Not at all. These were lean, and packed with flavor. The lamb merguez sat on a bed of gently spiced braised spinach, a Tunisian creamed spinach without the dairy. The soft chickpeas added texture and the dots of harissa added a kick. The Thai sausage was tender, bursting with lemongrass and Thai-style flavors. So unexpected. So delicious. While I let G have the egg, I appreciated the deconstructed Thai sausage fried rice composition.
(Is it a coincidence that the French had successful long-time colonial presences in areas of the world with good food? You could do worse than North Africa and Southeast Asia … And those flavors, with classic French fine dining treatment … But I digress.)
For the main course, I was undecided. While many of the hearty dishes were appealing, they sounded too filling. I thought about one of the salads, but settled on the appetizer portion of the pasta in a lemony sauce with bites of seafood and greens, topped with what I’ll call toasted breadcrumbs which provided a crunchy texture to the dish.
But the best course was yet to come. The grand mariner soufflé was amazing – soft, light, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth warmth and happiness. Probably the best soufflé I’ve ever had … G and I ate up every last spoonful.
And the drinks?
If the other cocktails are as good as G’s bumble in the rye, then the bar at DBGB truly is dangerous. The menu had a good selection of craft beers and wines by the glass. Of course, my eye was drawn to the “inconnus” the off-the-beaten-path wines, and we chose a red from near Lyon where Boulud hails. Turns out it was an earthy-smelling pinot noir. While I’m still avoiding pinots, this was quite good with the food, and it wasn’t too acidic or watery.
We wrapped dinner with after dinner drinks, and I tried a French Scotch – I just love saying that – and it was a great way to end a perfect evening.
I would love to eat at DBGB all the time, but I’ll settle for a return trip soon.