There's a Japanese fable about a crane and a turtle that can be paraphrased thusly: When a great flood came along, the turtle allowed the crane to rest on his back. When later there was a drought, the crane flew the turtle to water.
In that same spirit of generosity, we'll offer you this tip: Crane & Turtle is a great place for an unfussy-but-gourmet date. The Petworth restaurant, which opened Tuesday, is the work of Paul Ruppert (owner of Room 11 and Petworth Citizen) and Makoto Hamamura (formerly of CityZen). The menu is a fusion of French and Japanese ingredients and techniques.
On opening night, we were fans of the hamachi tataki with miso-cured egg yolk, as well as the delicate roasted bass served with olives and squid ink, an ideal east-meets-west combo -- but beware, the ink may turn your lips black. For dessert, we liked the whimsical "drunken fish," a rum-soaked brioche cake in the shape of a fish, resting atop a sherry fig marmalade spread and a wave-shaped crest of meringue. You can see a full menu here.
Warm and sparse, the decor highlights white brick, prints and traditional Japanese fabrics. Aim for one of the primo seats in front of a seven-seat counter that overlooks the kitchen, where you'll get the best views of chefs slicing your carpaccios and plating your duck.
Crane & Turtle, 828 Upshur St. NW. 202-723-2543. (Metro: Georgia Avenue/Petworth)