Washington D.C. is one of the better places in the country to have a flashy night out at a fine dining establishment. With plenty of money to be spent, there are certainly restaurants that set out to shock and awe. One might certainly expect a world-renowned hospitality brand like Ritz-Carlton (where the hospitality is in a category nothing less than stellar) to be similarly as over-the-top with their dining establishments. It was refreshing to discover that at the Ritz-Carlton Washington D.C., this is decidedly not the case (but that’s a good thing).
The property’s restaurant, Westend Bistro, is unfussy and remarkably comfortable. While at first glance, the edifice might seem purpose-built to serve The Beltway’s high-powered types, it’s easy to imagine diners of all stripes from suburbanite date-nighters to solo travelers receiving a warm welcome and having a comfortable, satisfying evening here. A departure from the tucked-away, heavily wooded and upholstered dining rooms of the Ritz-Carlton past, Westend Bistro feels like a corner coffee shop where haute cuisine just happens to be served up. There’s plenty on the menu to satisfy, from premium proteins to macaroni and cheese. It’s all plated with more than a little attention to aesthetic.
The a la carte menu isn’t terribly overpriced for D.C., and portions are generous. Thrifty diners will enjoy happy hour specials from five to seven in the evening on weekdays, and again from nine to eleven at night Sunday through Thursday. Theatregoers can enjoy three courses from a select menu for $40. There’s an extensive wine and spirits menu at the bar, and the new fad of barrel-aged cocktails hasn’t passed over.
Reservations are available via Open Table or by calling (202) 974-5566. Our warmest thanks go out to the staff at Westend Bistro for their hospitality and for furnishing the meal enjoyed in preparation for this article.
Garden Vegetable Salad
Lovely garden vegetables here are both cooked and raw. It seems to be the trend in salad plating to leave half the plate empty, but the colors here are distinct – there’s nothing on this plate that isn’t celebrated. The edible flowers were especially tasty.
Jasmine Tea Negroni
Negronis can be an acquired taste, but this one was a fast hit. Plymouth Gin, Aperol, and house-made Jasmine Tea Vermouth conspire to make a very drinkable aperitif.
While not barrel-aged like the Negroni, this cocktail evoked the glory days of the speakeasy. Hendrick’s Gin, house-made orange and fennel tonic, cucumber, celery bitters, black pepper.
Ah, golden goodness! This autumn vegetable soup by itself feels like the harvest. The flavors in the soup itself are quite muted, but the harissa creme brightens them into a vibrant tapestry.
Duroc Pork Chop
Sweet and smokey – the real winner here is the smoked honey ham hock jus. Served with pomme puree, an onion ring, and broccoli rabe.
Meyer Lemon & Pistachio Sable
The ice cream here was to die for. The fennel pollen merengue was especially notable. The Meyer Lemon was satisfyingly tart and not too sweet.