Wednesday, August 16, 2006

From DCFUD - Bobby Van's


Back when the Restaurant Week lineup was announced in July, I scanned the list and saw that Bobby Van's was one of the participants. I quickly made reservations, given their sterling reputation in New York. I used to work with a young lady from Massachusetts who summered in the Hamptons, and she raved about Bobby Van's Bridgehampton location. Now, I'm just a relatively middle class guy from Maryland. I'm guessing that "summered" is rich person code for "sunbathed in an expensive resort and did nothing but revel in luxury." I've never "summered" in my life. I've "weeked" - well, if you consider Ocean City's or Dewey's crowded beaches, all-you-can-eat buffets and sexually-suggestive t-shirt stands luxurious.

In my previous Restaurant Week entry, an anonymous commenter told me I made a mistake in selecting Bobby Van's for dining, saying that they catered only to the VIP crowd. I took the comments seriously - perhaps this anonymous person is a former employee, wrongfully terminated, or a diner who received shoddy service when they dared pay for their meal with a Discover card instead of an AmEx Titanium Card. Or, conversely, since the commenter chose to remain anonymous, perhaps it was a former employee rightfully terminated with an axe to grind, or somebody associated with a competing restaurant, hoping for a good plug. In the end, I chose to keep my reservation, and had four friends join me.

Let me assure you of this - a full 15 hours after dining there last night, I can still taste the perfectly-prepared medium rare Petite Fillet Mignon, accompanied by slightly-smoky mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The Caesar salad, and the rich chocolate cake and incredible New York cheesecake rounded out the courses, and each bite was fantastic. I had feared that a "Petite" filet would be small 5 or 6-ounce serving, but our steaks were closer to 12 ounces. Even the well-done filets came out thoroughly cooked, and not butterfly-chopped like in other establishments. Our server was professional, friendly, and made a distinct point to make us aware of the Restaurant Week courses on a separate sheet from the regular menu. One of their chefs, Eric, made a friendly tour of the dining room, making sure everybody was enjoying themselves. The table adjacent to ours had a bit more menu diversity than my steak-obsessed crowd. Somebody there had the Crabcakes (the recipe is on their website) and another had the Andouille Sausage and Pulled Chicken Rigatoni, both of whom raved about the quality.

For a high-end steakhouse, the atmosphere was professional, yet relaxed. It's classy, but not stuffy - there's no dresscode, and patrons wore suits or jeans in nearly equal numbers. Valet service is a manageable $6. The anonymous commenter's fears couldn't have been more dispelled - if not for a four-course tasting menu at Palena in May, last night was the best meal I've had in D.C. all year. Everything was so tastefully done that I have already planned a September dinner there, where their acclaimed "Porterhouse For Two" sounds less like a luxury and more like a rite of passage. I am so impressed by Bobby Van's strong Restaurant Week showing that I practically walked out singing The Happenings' classic tune "See You In September."

Bobby Van's
809 15th Street, NW
Phone: (202) 589-0060

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