Last Visited: November 2018
The creative force behind Honeysuckle is Chef Hamilton Johnson. Johnson has been around D.C. for a few years and made some solid contributions, most notably at Vidalia, which used to occupy this space. The cooking is New American with interesting touches of the South and Scandinavia. This is the kind of restaurant that D.C. needs, but it may not be one that it deserves. It is fighting a valiant fight against letting this space become just one more steakhouse. Anyone who cares (and can afford it) should treat themselves to a night at Honeysuckle.
The food has interesting flavors and playful combinations. One appetizer was a large piece of foie gras placed on a shortbread cookie. Fig jam and citrus sat to the side to be mixed in. It is melt-in-your-mouth creamy, salty, sweet, and acidic. Skate’s preparation is altered with the seasons, as are many of the dishes. Slightly off-beat ingredients like sweetbreads and monkfish dot the menu. So may a well-prepared (and sizable) steak and potato entrée, which is more traditional than new American cooking.
The wine list is interesting and affordable and longer than you might expect. As a young restaurant it will not have a deep cellar, but it compensates with tasty, smart choices. The service is charming and engaging.
Two other important things to note. First, the bread basket is insanely good. When ordering make sure you take into account you will be eating three different kinds of bread because you will not be able to resist them. Second, the space has some funky artwork on the ceiling and in the entryway. Despite that edgy introduction, the dining room is still a white-tablecloth reserve of propriety, and the bar is proper not rowdy. This is a place for adults who like to dine like adults, eat something sophisticated, drink an interesting wine, and spend an enjoyable night out.
Honeysuckle may be underground, and it may be an underdog, but don’t overlook it.
Washington Post: Tom knee-capped it out of the gate with 2.0 stars (There is a direct line from this rating to this website as a competing voice). There is also a direct line from his review to Honeysuckle’s closure.
Michelin (Michelin can be hit or miss for D.C., but this is pretty good).