Friday, September 18, 2009

Travel Dish: DC Coast

Continuing reports of “The Single Guy Goes to Washington” as I blog about my vacation visiting my sister in the Washington, D.C. area.

Overflowing with Cuisine from All Coasts
1401 K St., NW, Washington, D.C.
PH: 202.216.5988
Lunch weekdays, dinner daily
Reservations, major credit cards accepted

Much of my dining in D.C. was geared around location. Which places were close to the sites or museums I happened to be visiting that day?

One day after walking around the monuments and the White House, I stopped into DC Coast for lunch. The 11-year-old restaurant is in a Beaux Arts building and has a very nautical theme, as demonstrated by the huge stone mermaid sculpture in the front. (It really looked like it came off the bow of the Titanic.)

I was there early since I didn’t have reservations, but I was taken to the mezzanine level to a table at the top of the steps in the corner. The location just seemed so lonely (no one was around then) and I knew I would have to stare at every person that walked up the stairs. Plus, no one puts baby in the corner. (RIP Patrick Swayze.) So I opted to just sit at the bar, which turned out to be the better option because the bartender was super friendly and they were showing the U.S. Open on TV.

The menu from Executive Chef Brendon Cox is primarily seafood with influences from the various coasts—from the Kennebec fries to the Louisiana seafood gumbo. The cuisine is listed as American but has touches of Italy and Spain.

I started off with the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnocchi ($11) with lobster sugo, crab and basil. I had forgotten that when I read a review of DC Coast, it mentioned the large servings. They weren’t kidding.

The gnocchi, which came out in a saffron-colored sauce, looked like an entrée size instead of an appetizer. Each individual gnocchi was a bit larger than I’ve seen, but still soft and light. But really, it’s the sugo that makes this dish delectable. The tasty lobster and crab meat blended together to create a sweet sumptuous sauce to stick to the gnocchi. I was tempted to save some to take home, but I couldn’t stop eating it.

Luckily, when I ordered a Caesar salad, the bartender was nice enough to suggest a half order. (I love it when they offer to do that without you asking.) My half order of the Caesar ($5) still looked like a generous portion, with the full romaine lettuces topped with croutons and extremely fresh anchovies. I’ve never seen such shiny anchovies (they were Spanish), and they were less salty than regular cured anchovies and had more of a twang to it.

My main lunch entrée was the Louisiana Seafood Gumbo ($14), which again was a huge plate of gumbo with a scoop of rice in the center. The gumbo had lots and lots of andouille sausage chunks and several whole pieces of shrimp (there was even one large fresh oyster). While the flavor was nice (it wasn’t super spicy but I was given a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce on the side), I felt the gumbo was a little too watery for my taste. I like my gumbo a bit thicker to cling to the rice.

So you can imagine at this point I didn’t have room for dessert. It was a good thing I was doing more walking at museums in the afternoon.

Side note: The room filled up quickly, and it looked like a lot of power lunches were happening with everyone in suits. At one point there was a Secret Service agent standing by the door (you know, with the ear piece), and since we were close to the White House, I thought maybe First Lady Michelle Obama was going to drop in for lunch. But eventually the agent disappeared. He probably was just getting food to go.

DC Coast is definitely the power lunch locale during the day, with a friendly and fun vibe at the bar. But the food, with nice flavors here and there, is really like the value meal for fine dining because of the portion sizes and the price. More restaurants should follow DC Coast’s lead in this economy, and you can bet there will be lots of stimulus action for the industry from happy diners.

Single guy rating: 3.5 stars (value dining)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:

1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

DC Coast on Urbanspoon

Travel here too:
Restaurant EPIC (Honolulu)


foodhoe said...

hmmm, that last shot reminds me of jardiniere with the exposed 2nd floor diners... I want some of that gnocchi!

Kim said...

That gnocchi looks incredible!