Image: Shrimp Remoulade
Last Updated: August 2021
Current Status: The dining room is open for sit-down service. The bar is also now open for drinking and dining (we’ll see if that remains the case).
Overview: Guided by tradition but not bound by it, Dauphine’s serves food drawing on the cuisine of New Orleans. For months we waited for the white wrapping to fall off the new construction in the old Washington Post location, and when it did it was a throwback to when restaurant openings created buzz. It was also a throwback to when restaurants had openings. Now a few months in, it has not lost its spirit or creative edge. If the delay had one good side effect it was that the restaurant gained an outstanding, full-time chef from New Orleans in the interim. Dauphine’s is from the team behind the Salt Line, and the original plan was to have Chef Kyle Bailey cover both spots, but then Kristen Essig of the lauded Coquette (among others) reached out to express interest. What would have likely been a respectable spot became something more gastronomically serious. Chef Essig draws on Louisiana but also the Mid-Atlantic, with a commitment to well-sourced ingredients. Only a few months in, and the menu is already changing with the seasons. Note that bread service is extra but worth it.
The space is large with two outdoor seating areas. There are also two long marble bars. One is a raw bar that also serves charcuterie from Bailey. The other is finally open for drinks and food. A place sure to be popular if downtown repopulates. Contrary to Tom’s dig (see review link below), the wine list covers a lot of ground and a lot of price points. Yes, there are few baller bottles from Burgundy, but there are also several under $100 (and even under $70) that were clearly chosen to pair well with the food – get the Napa Cab to impress others, get the Rhone or Beaujolais to impress your palate (but if you get the Dujac let us know so we can come sneak a taste). Cocktails are from another notable New Orleans figure, Neal Bodenheimer, who was brought in as a consultant and ended up being the link to Essig. The bottom line is if you are thinking someplace nice and downtown but not too fancy, you now have a great option.
Washington Post: Tom’s initial take was very positive. He also has the scoop that Essig may actually like D.C. enough to stick around for a while – here’s hoping that is true.
Rick Eats DC: Seemed to like it, but was not awed.