House Bread – Sorghum Molasses Butter
Whipped Lardo – Grilled Ciabatta, Pickles, Onions, Mustard Seeds, Herbs
Ricotta Toast – Roasted Chestnut, Black Truffle, Pecan, Maple
Roasted Beets – Goat Cheese, Pumpernickel, Prune, Lemon Verbena
Grilled Fall Squash – Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Charred Greens, Feta, Walnuts
Fried Sugar Toads – Hot Honey, Buttermilk Dressing, Greens
Woodson’s Mill Cornbread – Herb Butter
Chocolate Chess Pie – Smoked Milk Ice Cream, Beet, Crumble
Apple Crumble – Woodruff Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce
Chocolate Mousse for Two – Cherries, Whipped Cream, Toasted Marshmallows, Chocolate Sauce, Butter Streusel
Twice the recipient of a Michelin Star and still one of The DMV’s hottest spots it was as part of a party of three that dinner booked at The Dabney on Halloween night, Jeremiah Langhorne’s spot tucked away in Blagden Alley yet another stunner in terms of design but the Food some of the most precious and expensive in the city despite not being particularly delicious or ‘exciting.’
Celebrated as a result of Chef Langhorne’s pedigree which includes time at noma as well as five years with Sean Brock at McCrady’s, both ventures as well as his own personal interests stirring a desire to create a true “farm to table” concept in the Nation’s Capital, guests at The Dabney will find the Restaurant occupying a largely wooden building just past the former home of RJ Cooper’s Rogue 24 and upon entry the expectation should be a slightly uncomfortable decibel level created by the lively bar and open kitchen, a turn around the corner finding the main dining room only slightly more quiet.
Offering the same sort of professional yet conversational service as his former kitchen in Charleston, a young woman dressed in flannel explaining the menu and recommending the standard “two to three” small plates per person before taking drink orders, Ice Water for one and standard Black Iced Tea charged at $5 per person for the others.
Packed to capacity and remaining as such throughout the duration of a nearly 100 minute meal, the tightly situated tables and a particularly loud physician dressed as Guns n’ Roses Slash one table away creating an environment where one needed to shout in order to be heard, it was after orders were placed that a basket of housemade Bread arrived, four generous slices of Toast delicious when slathered with Sorghum Molasses Butter while the $8 plate of Whipped Lardo was more about the Pickles than anything else and the $14 piece of Ricotta Toast benefitted not from preserved Truffles but rather from the sweet and savory juxtaposition of Chestnuts, Syrup and creamy housemade Cheese.
Said to celebrate local farmers, foragers and fisherman but rarely listing sources on the menu it was after a lengthy delay that the meal progressed onward to two vegetarian plates including a fairly small slice of roasted Squash that had picked up a lot of smoke from the grill to once again pair with Nuts and Cheese, the flavors all blending into a memorable mélange and enjoyed for the 4-5 bites that were available, that being at least one more than the $14 Roasted Beet Salad which ranks as one of the most overpriced plates ever seen with perhaps one ounce of produce and some bitter Pumpernickle crumble.
Unable to resist Langhorne’s now-signature “Sugar Toads,” a type of Puffer Fish fried like low-country Chicken and paired with Hot Honey and Buttermilk Dressing not dissimilar to Ranch, it was as guests bit the flaky fish off its bones that a $10 plate of Woodson’s Mill Cornbread finally suggested the farm that it came from, though little else of the presentation was at all memorable as the crumb was moist but flavorless save for the parts into which a pat of Herb Butter had sank in.
Hiring South Carolina’s Ann Coleman to work Pastry, a busy station at The Dabney thanks to its dual duty of sweets and frying plus the in-house Bread Program it was with high expectations based on a list of personal favorites that 3/4 of the nightly choices were ordered, the Apple Crumble a classic preparation that was neither benefitted nor harmed by herbal Ice Cream thanks to good Fruit and Caramel while the $20 Chocolate Mousse was easily enough to share amongst a group thanks to its richness and myriad condiments, the same not to be said of a $15 “slice” of Chocolate Chess Pie that was no larger than two dominoes amidst three terrible accoutrements including Ice Cream that tasted like Ash and unlisted Passion Fruit Foam…the waitress thankfully striking the plate from the bill when she noticed nothing more than a bite of each part had been tasted.