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Restaurants & Bars 5

Viridian report

DC in DC | Jan 13, 2006 09:59 AM

Tried Viridian recently - the new restaurant on 14th Street, next to the Studio Theater. This neighborhood continues to sprout eateries fast, and Viridian is a nice addition. It's among the fanciest in the neighborhood to date.

In a nutshell: it's good but not great, shows promise, very pleasant space, moderately expensive.


The wine list is very small - only 15 wines total (none from the United States, interestingly), but they sell each by the glass too, which is a really nice option.

The menu has about 8 starters ($5-10), 5 main dishes ($14) and about 8 veggie "sides" ($6) - so diners can mix and match among them.

The kitchen sent out an amuse to start - an endive and grapefruit arrangement. We appreciated the nice gesture, but this particular combo didn't work - it felt like we were on the diet plan at Canyon Ranch. No fat, sauce, or richness to balance the citrus and lettuce. Oh well; it's complimentary.

We started with one squash soup and one mushroom/kale soup. Both were fine but not great. Very fresh-tasting, nice consistency - but needed multiple additions of salt and pepper to be tasty. The kitchen has its basics down, we thought, but needs to be acquainted with seasonings.

Next we had a buffalo steak and a lamb shank. The lamb was falling-off-the-bones tender, but again, was totally underseasoned, and had no sauce except for a bit of its own jus (unsalted). I added lots of salt and pepper and, though still no sauce, it was much more tasty.

By contrast, the buffalo steak was very flavorful. The steak itself was excellent: juicy and tender, with an outside sear and a pink inside, and it came in a really good, strong balsamic-reduction sauce. We'd definitely get that entree again.

We ended by sharing one rice pudding for dessert. It was wonderful: nicely dense, not watery, with toasted coconut shavings on top and a bittersweet chocolate truffle hiddden at the very bottom. Delish!

We had one glass of wine each. The total tab was $82 before tax and tip.

Service was very skilled and professional - until the end when our server became busy and much more scarce (we had to flag her down for both dessert and the check). That issue may or may not sort out over time, since the restaurant is still very new.

The space is lovely - if a little on the grand (versus intimate) side. The restaurant fills one very large room - with super-high ceilings, long dramatic drapes, wonderful lighting, an all-cream color scheme, and modern art.

Our conclusion: we'll definitely return, but when placing orders, will also take care to ask about each dish's sauces and seasonings, since the kitchen seems a bit conservative in the flavor department for some (but not all) dishes.

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