Splashy new standalone restaurants are generating most of the dining buzz in Washington as the city and surrounding region come into full bloom as a truly outstanding national food destination.
But in a transient power capital like D.C. where well-heeled diners constantly come and go, hotel restaurants are also stepping up to claim their place in the fierce competition for customers, even among locals.
The Diplomat has dined at lots of Washington area hotels over the years. Most recently, we’ve announced our admiration for the Park Hyatt’s Blue Duck Tavern in the West End and Dirty Habit at Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter. Meanwhile, one newcomer in particular — Tredici Enoteca at the St. Gregory Hotel near Dupont Circle — has us looking forward to a return visit, while Entyse Bistro and Wine Bar at the gorgeously renovated Ritz-Carlton provides a great reason to visit Tysons Corner in Virginia these days.
Nestled on the ground level of the boutique St. Gregory Hotel, Tredici Enoteca — a wine and raw bar that serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine — manages the aesthetics of its inviting bar and restaurant exceedingly well. The hotel, which was purchased by Hersha Hospitality Trust in 2015, recently underwent a major renovation that included the new 4,500-square-foot, 90-seat restaurant concept. The Tuscan-themed eatery is spacious without being cavernous, while the separate 30-seat bar is cozy without feeling claustrophobic, thanks in part to floor-to-ceiling windows and well-placed skylights. While the overall look is warm and appealing, the menu is definitely the main attraction.
Tredici has an array of options for vegetarians, an enticing selection of fish and seafood dishes, as well as pasta and grilled meats, including something called “lollipop lamb chops” with mint aioli that remained on our minds for weeks after our visit.
We started with the Mediterranean Board, and if you like staples of the cuisine such as hummus, falafel and tzatziki, we suggest you start with it, too. The hummus was cool, rich and creamy with just a hint of lemon zest, and the tzatziki, with its mild yogurt and cucumber flavors, was just about perfect. But the showstopper here was the falafel. Unlike many Greek or Mediterranean versions of the dish that tend to be over-fried and over-spiced, Tredici’s rendition was lightly dipped in hot grease and simply appointed with dried chickpea and a delicious salsa verde dipping sauce. The Mediterranean Board is a great place to start at Tredici.
We also tried the raw bar sampler featuring three each of shrimp cocktail, crab claw and oysters from the Madhouse purveyor on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. No regrets there, either. Each of the offerings were plump, fresh and delicious on the palate.
Another menu standout was the Caesar salad, innovatively prepared with kale and romaine lettuce, as well as sundried tomato, pine nut, crouton and pesto Caesar dressing. The pesto, while subdued, made for an intriguing variation on a classic flavor.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t encourage indulgence in the bacon-wrapped dates. Warm, sweet and filled with a delectable combination of manchego and blue cheese, we had to restrain ourselves from a second order.
In addition to the lamb chops, the squid ink tonarelli pasta with cockles, shishito peppers and white wine garlic cream sauce lent the entire dinner a sophisticated elegance.
One other interesting element of the Tredici dining (or drinking, if that’s your focus) experience is the option of less expensive half glasses of wine, which allow you to pair different selections with the menu options without breaking the bank.
We can’t recommend this Dupont Circle-area newcomer highly enough, either for an intimate date, a business dinner or celebration with a group of friends. This Philadelphia-based restaurant is a very welcome addition to D.C.’s ever-improving dining scene.
While D.C.’s hotels are elevating their culinary game to match the ramped-up energy pulsing through the city’s dining scene, some hotels in surrounding suburban areas are keeping pace, as well.
As part of a recent multimillion-dollar renovation celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner recently unveiled Entyse Bistro, serving breakfast and lunch, along with Entyse Wine Bar and Lounge, offering a full array of dinner options.
On a recent visit for happy hour, the bar was crackling with energy, with an intriguing mix of out-of-town guests and locals relaxing after a hard day’s work. The space is cozy and sophisticated, with golds and magentas anchoring the rich color scheme. Some nights the room pulses with a live jazz combo. For those just looking for an early or late evening nosh, Entyse Wine Bar offers delicious charcuterie trays featuring meat selections from the farms of Virginia butchers. Those looking for something more substantive might opt for the chicken lasagna with ricotta, garlic and a basil parmesan broth or perhaps the more classic surf and turf.
Entyse Bistro, adjacent to the wine bar, is a good bet for a more casual lunch. While the wine bar employs soft light and sensuous colors to attain a chic vibe, the patriotic-themed bistro is brighter with light wood floors, white furniture and a sort of rustic-chic ambience highlighted by the presence of an open kitchen. We had the San Marzano tomato soup with brioche croutons for a starter and the slightly smoky and tangy broth proved a delicious and savory way to warm up on a frigid day. The Ahi tuna Niçoise salad was another solid choice, with a generous portion of sliced tuna steak and crispy, fresh greens.
Those looking for just a little something extra to nibble on would be well-served by ordering the black truffle parmesan fries. Truffle fries are on the verge of becoming ubiquitous, and thus, unremarkable, but Entyse retains the delectable novelty of the side dish by refusing to allow the truffle to overwhelm the flavor profile. A little bit of truffle goes a long way and Entyse’s version gets bonus points for keeping the texture of the fries a little bit crunchy.
The glamorous hotel also offers one of the most enticing Sunday brunches in the region. Among the more intriguing menu options are a PB&J banana brulee, a waffle with buttermilk battered chicken and short rib corned beef hash made with caramelized onions and jalapeno peppers.
Sprawling Tysons Corner can sometimes be overwhelming — or underwhelming, depending on your perspective — but even those who aren’t staying at the Ritz-Carlton in the area should consider either Entyse Wine Bar or Bistro as a solid bet for a satisfying meal no matter the time of day.
2033 M St., NW
Phone: (202) 888-2899
1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean, Va.
Phone: (703) 506-4300
About the Author
Michael Coleman (@michaelcoleman) is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.