Not up for fish? Not a problem. The kitchen, under the watch of chef de cuisine Robert Rubba Jr., the former chef de cuisine at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, offers an appetizer of creamy burrata cheese encircled by bright green peas that sing spring and a bistro-licious main course steak flanked with golden french fries and lush bearnaise sauce.
The wine list has me scratching my head. Italy is well-represented, but why include so many trophy labels from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the U.S. West Coast when there are great deals to be found in, say, Spain (think albarino and godello)? Also under-represented is the Loire region, home to the best muscadets and some terrific lesser-known Sancerres. By the glass, the better values include the Borgo San Daniele Tocai Friulano ($12) from Italy’s Friuli region and the Catherine Auther Sylvaner ($10) from Alsace in France. Refreshing, fruit-driven and mineral-rich, both wines complement a school of Azur’s fish selections. A bargain, and a treat, among the red wines is the Santa Lucia Uva di Troia from Puglia in Italy ($13 by the glass, $51 by the bottle).
Azur has not been the overnight sensation that De Pue’s first restaurant, Table, was when it opened in Shaw in January, says the chef. He thinks the slower acceptance is the result of Azur’s size (three times that of Table), its relatively healthful focus and “lots of restaurants opening” all over the city.
He’s right about diners enjoying a pool of choices these days. Yet Azur, like Table before it, is a rising tide lifting all boats.
405 Eighth St. NW. 202-347-7491. azurdc.com.
OPEN:Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dinner 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Closed Monday.
METRO: Archives/Navy Memorial and Gallery Place/Chinatown.
PRICES: Appetizers $10 to $15, main courses $18 to $38. Three-course, pre-theater menu is $35 and must be ordered by 7 p.m.
SOUND CHECK:72 decibels/Must speak with raised voice.