The Dabney, A Modified Touch of the South in Shaw

I still marvel that there are DC restaurants located in alleys. And that people go to them. Judging by the crowd on Friday evening at Rogue 24 and newly opened The Dabney, both in Blagden Alley, it looks like Washingtonians don’t bat an eyelash at the alley location.

Jongling board outside The Dabney

Joggling board outside The Dabney

There was a contemporary Southernish quality about the The Dabney, down to the joggling board outside on the patio, which should be wonderful on a nice, non-rainy Fall evening. The interior had a welcoming quality about it, with the warm open kitchen and buzzy bar. But it also didn’t try too hard.

When I sent our friend T the review for The Dabney, she remarked, it sounds like Husk. And it should because the chef/owner at The Dabney came from McCrady’s in Charleston, in the same Sean Brock family as Husk. And it shows. The cocktails had a similar flair. The ingredients were fresh and super local. The plates were beautifully prepared and balanced, with little touches that showed off the chef’s training and background.

On the drinks, I scored big time with the Dabney Bramble I ordered for G. It tasted like a fresh, tart cherry Moscow mule. But my Gentleman’s Bet wasn’t a winning one. Too much blackberry jam swirling around under my nice square ice cube. On the whole, though, good, creative drinks – and can’t wait to try the others!

Scallop crudo, little bites of heaven

Scallop crudo, little bites of heaven












Our foursome shared two items on the progressive menu to start. Our server was careful not to call them appetizers, but alluded to the idea that the first few items on the menu were smaller sized while the ones at the bottom of the list where larger and heavier. The menu apparently changes all the time. Partly because the chef forages his ingredients. Of course, that makes me a little worried about the alley location …

Both the scallop crudo, tossed with rich, crunchy bacon and crisp pears, and the sausage served on grilled bread, were delicious. The textures and flavors were well-balanced, so each mouthful had a bit of everything without being cloying – bright, crunchy, overall delicious.



For the mains, T ordered a heavenly lamb which I had eyed, but I was extremely happy with my fluke. I worried a little that it was “seared” but that just meant perfectly and just barely cooked.

The ingredients were terrific, the plating and presentation beautiful all around.

I also liked that the food wasn’t too saucy. I like sauce, I just find that it can overwhelm the food. And that the flavors can be muddled, instead of highlighted. Sometimes, I find that so-called Southern-inspired restaurants run afoul of that.





Although funny enough, I’ve never encountered that in Charleston or Savanah, so it’s more that an interpretation of Southern cooking makes it too saucy – for my taste. Anyhow, I guess this isn’t Southern, it’s Mid-Atlantic cuisine … which I look forward to sampling more in the near future.

A great, fun meal all around. In fact, one of the best meals I’ve had in DC in a while.

Of course, made better by the company!


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