Picture: Smith Island Cake at Estuary
Last Visited: December 2019
This is a serious restaurant that should be taken seriously. The PR-hype machine may fool you into thinking the new Brothers Voltaggio place is just a nice hotel spot with a celebrity-chef stamp to draw crowds. Estuary is aiming for something bigger than that. The dishes range from well-executed versions of the familiarly pleasing (crab salad on brioche roll), to the funky (lamb “pastrami”), to the sublime (Peruvian-inspired ceviche). The ingredients in the dishes are less in harmony and more in exciting tension. Far from cashing in on celebrity, the brothers seem to be staking their reputation by doing complex, compelling cooking that draws on a Chesapeake-focused palette. It had a rolling, soft opening, and, as of April 9, it is officially open. There are still hiccups – a lost order, the wine list arriving for review after the first course is served. These probably reflect the logistics of serving a huge space and should be worked out soon. Setting that aside, the service is smooth and friendly – with talent poached from some other high-end spots around town. The wine list needs filling out, it could benefit from some balance – both price points and styles. The reds by the glass start at Oregon Pinot and quickly goes to big Malbecs and Cabernets, without much that is less powerful. There are some good finds at affordable prices, but it might be just above a $1500 bottle. The space is immense, with a long, curving seating areas, both in the restaurant and bar, set against massive windows. The grandeur matches the ambitions of the kitchen. This could have easily been a steakhouse. It is our luck it is something altogether different. This is the second new place I’ve tried this year that I would not be surprised to see Michelin recognize (the other was Rooster & Owl). I imagine this place will evolve. It will be exciting to track its progress.
Rating: Worth Paying for Cab
Cuisine: New or Old American
Neighborhood: Chinatown/City Center
Address: 950 New York Ave NW Washington, DC 20001 (on third floor)