Here’s one new steakhouse that’s a cut above
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011
Lob a sirloin just about anywhere in Washington and you can smack a steakhouse. There are a few exceptions. The corner of 14th and U streets NW was one of them.
Rich Vasey and David Karim, the owners of the nearby Policy, noticed the void and plugged it with Lost Society, a young meat market with as many twists as a French braid. (Bring your ID; everyone is asked to show it at the door. And have some singles handy for the restroom attendant.)
The venue occupies the top two levels of a three-story building, but "the restaurant is the engine," says Vasey of the second-floor dining room that changes personality as you walk around the wood floor. Parts are a little mod, parts are a tad Victorian. Above the restaurant is the main bar, lit with small chandeliers and padded in pale blue leather. Yet another draw is the rooftop deck extending from the posh watering hole. The evening I drop by, pals and I are deposited in a curtained booth on the second floor that could pass for a snug train compartment. Its broad window captures the bustle of the intersection below.
The short menu holds few surprises. Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail and a T-bone all make appearances. The salad, awash in dressing and scattered with dull croutons, fails the love test. The seafood starter is racier than most; poached with chili peppers, the shrimp is garnished with micro-cilantro and circled by a ring of horseradish sauce that the chef, Joseph Evans, sharpens himself. Meanwhile, the T-bone reflects Evans's experience at Smith & Wollensky, where the 28-year-old Houston native obviously picked up some good habits.
The secret to the entree's succulence? "An 1,800-degree broiler," says the chef. Good shopping helps. Not much but the bone of the dry-aged, grass-fed, corn-finished meat remains on the plate. And two thumbs up for the kitchen's tomato soup supporting a raft of cheese toast, and for its wispy, beer-battered soft-shell crabs, staged on a bed of corn that tastes as if it had just been shaved from the cob.
My gang is impressed with the waiter who doesn't write down our multiple requests, until he forgets to keep ice out of our cocktails and to swap some zucchini for turnip greens.
Lost Society refers in part to "the lost art of getting along," says Vasey. "We want everyone to feel like they belong." A glance around the room, populated by diners of all colors and sizes, suggests that this is an equal-opportunity meat-and-greet.