When traveling, as at home, I make an effort to eat fresh, local real food. Last week in Washington, DC I visited tony Restaurant Nora near Dupont Circle for what I expected to be a spectacular meal. Having read that in 1999, Restaurant Nora became America’s first certified organic restaurant, and that chef Nora was a pioneer in the sustainable food movement, I had high hopes. The $75 (plus tax and tip, not including wine) tasting menu left me flat; the food wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t all that great. Here’s what I had:
- First Course: Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
- Second Course: Goat Cheese Tart
- Third Course: Grass-fed Beef Filet with Carrots and Mashed Potatoes
- Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding with Coconut Ice Cream
The best thing I had was the filet which was absolutely tender and flavorful; there is nothing like a good steak from a cow allowed to forage, breathe fresh air and … well, be a cow. As for the rest of the food, I think Nora may not have gotten the message that traditional fats are actually good for you (e.g., butter and lard). I think that’s the missing piece in her menus.
Other observations: the wait staff that served my table were aloof and slow; the restaurant is decorated with museum-quality antique Mennonite and Amish crib quilts that are spectacular and perfectly lit.
The bottom line is that I wish I had read the following Zagat review about Restaurant Nora before my trip: “Never trust a skinny chef: the food here is as dull as it is overpriced. If you care more about seeing the organic label than you do about food quality, then …”
P.S. The perfect place to stay in that neighborhood is Embassy Circle Guest House.