If there’s one thing that Washingtonians crave, it’s variety. That’s why having just one or two items off a menu won’t do. Washingtonians want a taste of the best the chef has to offer and that’s what they get in these top five Washington DC tasting menus.
Minibar by Jose Andres
405 8th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
Price: $160 for tasting menu
Located on the second floor of Andres’ newest restaurant America Eats Tavern, minibar is an experience that many Washingtonians have wanted to try. Reservations are notoriously difficult to get as you can only book one month in advance and there are only six seats, two seatings per evening, offered only six nights per week. To be precise, you have to call at 10 a.m. one month in advance of the day you want to go to Minibar. So what’s so special about this place? Everything. It’s not just a tasting of food, it’s gastronomy at its finest with a playful side. Twenty to 25 small courses are prepared right in front of the guests. Dishes include a deconstructed Philly cheesesteak, olive-oil bon bon, oyster escabeche, lobster and grits, sea cucumber over bone marrow, PB&J, pumpkin and truffle baguette and chicken shawarma.
922 N St NW
Washington, DC 20001
Price: $85 for the eight-course tasting menu; $110 for 16-course tasting menu; $135 for 24-course tasting menu
Rogue 24 is a concept by Chef RJ Cooper that features experimental cuisine in a theatrical setting. But don’t think of this as dinner with a show; dinner is the show at Rogue 24. Tastings include pork skin on wonder bread with motor city bbq, lipstick radish with seaweed butter, snails with potatoes, brisket with kale and mushrooms, pigeon with petits pois or smoke-filled jars that are lifted to excite the senses before you even taste the dish. The menus can be as little as eight or as many as 24 dishes for a set price. There are also beverage pairings that you can add to the 16- and 24-course meals. The beverage pairings consist of unconventional handcrafted cocktails and infused spirits that are $40 with the 16-course menu and $65 with the 24-course menu. Or if you prefer wine, you can have wine pairings for $70 with the 16-course menu or $95 for the 24-course tasting. Beverage and wine pairings are a la carte for the eight-course menu. Reservations are required. If you’re vegetarian, you’re in luck, Chef Cooper will do a vegetarian tasting menu with seven days advance notice.
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Birch & Barley
1337 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
Price: $60 for six-course tasting menu; $85 for six-course tasting menu and beer pairing
Most tasting menus in the DC area pair wine with your dinner, but this is not the case at Birch & Barley. Chefs Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac create a delicious meal of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients while Beer Director Greg Engert pairs a selection from its 555 artisanal beers. When you enter the space, you can’t help but notice its woodsy décor and a wall of copper pipes known as the beer organ that delivers the dozens of beers on tap. The tasting menu consists of four dishes, a cheese course and Tiffany MacIsaac’s award-winning pastries. The spring lineup consists of spring beet-cured artic char, pan-seared black bass, Yukon gold potato gnocchi, seared lamb tenderloin, a tasting of three artisanal cheeses and finishes with a passion fruit cheesecake. Each course is paired with a different craft beer, like the Ayinger Brau Weisse from Germany, the Gouden Carolus Classic from Belgium or the Kasteel Tripel. While reservations are recommended for the restaurant, you don’t have to preorder the tasting menu, but the entire table does have to participate.
Kaz Sushi Bistro
1915 I St NW
Washington, DC 20006
Price: $85 and up for eight-course tasting menu
In Japanese cuisine, tasting menus are called omakase and are a long-outstanding tradition of allowing the chef to design the menu for you. Kaz Sushi Bistro is one of DC’s most popular sushi destinations with beautifully crafted fresh seafood. There is no set menu for the omakase, it’s up to the chef, but dishes have included spicy seafood gazpacho, trout Napoleon with beet coulis and seaweed salad, house-smoked fatty Norwegian herring with Japanese cucumbers, miso-marinated salmon, braised short ribs with sweet potato puree, nigiri and panna cotta dessert. If you’re really feeling adventurous and hungry, you can order the Ultimate Sushi meal where the sushi chefs will serve you the best of what they have and won’t stop until you say. The Ultimate Sushi experience is priced a la carte. Both tastings do not need reservations, but are recommended as they are only served at the Sushi Bar.
2401 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20037
Price: $85 for four-course for tasting menu; $105 for five-course tasting menu; $125 for six-course tasting menu; $145 for seven-course tasting menu
Marcel’s by Chef Robert Weidmaier offers a decadent, classic French tasting menu with dishes that will harken any Francophile back to his or her French experience, but with Weidmaier’s unique twists on it. Courses include roasted chestnut and foie gras soup, tartare of filet mignon, Marcel’s classic boudin blanc, breast of pheasant, a cheese course and desserts like the Valrhona flourless chocolate gateau or lemongrass crème brulee. If you’re off to the theatre, you can still sample Weidmaier’s talent with a special three-course pre-theatre menu that is served before 6:30 p.m. for $65.
Related: Best French Cuisine In The DC Area
Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isn’t enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamies traveling on her scooter or walking her two pitbulls. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.