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Willard Room
By Phyllis C. Richman
Washington Post Restaurant Critic
From The Washington Post Dining Guide, November 1996

| Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
(202) 637-7440

Hours of Operation and Prices
Breakfast: M-F 7:30-10; Entrees: $11.50-$26.50
Lunch: M-F 11:30-2; Entrees: $9.75-$16.75
Dinner: Daily 6-10; Entrees: $17-$29.50

Other Information
• Credit Cards: All major
• Reservations: Recommended
• Dress: Jacket & tie preferred
• Nearest Metro: Metro Center
• Parking: Complimentary valet at dinner
• Handicapped accessible

This is simply the most magnificent dining room in Washington, outside of the White House and the State Department. Its carved wood paneling is worthy of a cathedral. The dining room is furnished in mahogany, velvet and silk, with European silver and crystal dessert carts, abundant chandeliers and an immensity of vertical space. The chairs are comfortable enough for a vacation, the tables are large enough for a day's desk work, and the carpets are thick enough to muffle any exchange of state secrets.

The service is as grand as the setting deserves. So is the wine list - and its prices follow suit. The menu, under Alsatian chef Guy Reinbolt, is a fashionable show of phyllo-wrapped entrees, of venison and boar, pheasant and lobster. And the dishes look as if constructed by a large team, with precise dots of sauce ringing the plate, tulip-shaped pastries cosseting the vegetables. A truffled potato risotto one day appeared as if each piece of potato had been carved to mimic a grain of rice.

The result of this painstaking preparation can be a dish suited more to photography than to gastronomy. Delicious components are smothered in abundance. Some of the garnishes taste as if they were meant only for show. Texture, flavor and even temperature often take a back seat to shape and color. The sublime and the clumsy share the same plate. There's talent here. Sometimes one needs to dig for it.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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