Editors' pick

Restaurant Eve

Nouveau American
$$$$ ($35 and up)
Restaurant Eve photo

Editorial Review

2014 Spring Dining Guide

2014 Spring Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
May 15, 2014

If you were disappointed by a performance at Restaurant Eve last year, blame a kitchen that churned out more than 60 different dishes for its bar, bistro and formal dining room — “too much,” admits founder Cathal Armstrong. As Eve approached its 10th anniversary this year, the executive chef vowed to return to the kitchen six nights a week when his No. 2 left to open a place of his own last winter. Armstrong also did away with the bistro in order to turn the establishment into a strictly fine-dining destination. What a difference some streamlining and more discipline make! The owner’s revised strategy finds breezier service, a lighter color scheme and cooking that’s both straightforward and sophisticated: bay-fresh rockfish with a spring bouquet of carrots and peas, “first of the season” morel mushrooms with plump poached lobster, a thick rib-eye spread with horseradish cream and not one but six onion rings the size of bracelets. Amazingly, the golden tower arrives at the table intact. Armstrong makes even pork belly seem new again, by staging two bars of brined, barbecue-glazed meat on a slate canvas along with a totem of sushi rice topped with a quail egg and a vinegar- and chili-laced dipping sauce. Filipino heaven. To get the night rolling, the kitchen sends out a luscious treat, lamb tartare on a crouton with sunny aioli during my spring fling. Before the evening ends, you might find yourself licking the bowl of a warm rice pudding centered with apple cider sorbet, or a jiggly pistachio panna cotta set off with fried sage. Sour cream pound cake, on the other hand, needs every bit of its Meyer lemon ice cream to combat the dry centerpiece. Still, Eve sweats the small stuff. Bread is baked throughout the evening to ensure freshness, and bar star Todd Thrasher pairs the food with drinks that linger in your memory like a good song. Party (back) on, Eve!

2011 Fall Dining Guide

2011 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, October 16, 2011

When customers are shelling out hundreds of dollars per person for a single meal, an exclusive restaurant has to distinguish itself not only from the luxurious competition but from any lofty recollections a diner might have. The top spots can't afford to rest on their accolades. That's why I so admire the most formal of Cathal Armstrong's dining rooms in Old Town. The chef constantly pushes himself to please. If you haven't reserved in a while, you'll be pleased to see that the garden is the source of more ingredients (artichokes, herbs, pumpkins) and the dining room is bigger and plusher, dressed with huge chairs the staff refers to as "thrones." If you've never been, here's what you might find on Armstrong's five-, seven- and nine-course tasting menus: hats of pasta filled with lemony soft cheese and presented on beet butter in a copper pan; sweet lobster poached in bacon fat and arranged with near-melting sweet potato gnocchi; marvelous veal sweetbreads and croutons made with head cheese, their decadence tempered with tangy sauce gribiche; a button of smoked cheesecake glinting with gold leaf that is introduced as a "pre-dessert"; and … well, you get my drift. Just do it. Are the meat courses less thrilling than everything that comes before them? Just a tad. I've never been a fan of mingling chocolate with booze, but mix master Todd Thrasher converted me with one of his latest cocktails: an Atypical Martini created with stout, rum, cocoa nibs and house-made bitters. The result is surprisingly elegant and not at all sweet. Eve marries fun with finesse; yes, they really do iron the linens right on the tables. "What a pity this is not in Washington," a companion says as we spoon a glorious liquid salad of succotash. This District dweller selfishly concurs.

Reader Reviews

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Disappointing Changes at Eve's

Eve has dropped its tasting room and its seven/five course meals. The replacement is one six course meal with few choices. We were very disappointed with our last meal at Eve's. The cooking was mundane.