A burgundy-colored “t” in the shape of a corkscrew reflects the hotel’s rebranding of its restaurant. Adour stocked about 1,600 bottles, the vast majority bearing French labels; Decanter lists an estimated 2,000 bottles, a collection that looks more to Italy and Spain and includes nods to Australia, Chile and California.
Another sign of changed times: Rondier’s best-selling dish is a flatbread spread with chickpea puree and decorated with bites of lamb shank, peppers, apricot chutney and goat cheese. A little sweet, a little tangy, at once soft and crisp, the $22 entree glides to the table on a wooden paddle and pleases on multiple
A native of Saint-Jean-de-Luz in southwestern France, Rondier, soon to be 38, shares little stories on his menu to explain the presence of, say, a calamari burger. The seafood sandwich is of Spanish origin and first impressed Rondier when he was a child attending a birthday party for his grandfather. The version at Decanter stars a soft patty of ground squid, capers, preserved lemon, parsley and cilantro tucked into a lightly toasted brioche bun. Served with a glossy green salad, the burger tastes like something Michel Richard might whip up for a beach party.
Not every dish scores. Lobster tater tots “thermidor” strike this diner as a poor way to treat the crustacean, and chilled artichoke veloute becomes tiresome after a few spoonfuls, despite the sprinkle of piment d’espelette that Rondier adds to seemingly every dish, often as a replacement for black pepper.
Decanter’s lemon tart makes me smile, though. Almonds go into its crust, preserved lemon gives the filling a nice jolt, and an accompanying sorbet of basil, mint and lemon takes the heat out of summer.
923 16th St. NW in the St. Regis. 202-509-8000. www.decanterdc.
com. Dinner entrees, $22 to $38.