Image: It’s hard to find at first, then you can’t miss it.
First Visit: June 2019
The most important thing to know about Spoken English is that it is just a couple communal tables where guests eat standing up. If you can get over that, the food is very good with some outstanding dishes. It is worth making a trip out of the way or, more crucially, patiently waiting to pounce on an open reservation.
The cuisine is Japanese-style dishes. There are simply-grilled skewers of vegetables like artichokes, squash and mushrooms. There are some meat skewers too and a rich bite of Camembert. Small plates include a sizable chicken skin dumpling filled with rice and flavorings, a sublime carrot curry, and caviar on a thick pancake. The carrot curry, caviar, and mushroom dishes were crowd favorites. The curry has very few whole pieces of carrot, but ladled over rice it becomes a rich, spicy, creamy dish even if lacking in crunch. The mushroom is a Maitake that is simply seasoned and prepared. The caviar is one or two small bites when shared, but each one worth savoring. There are two larger format dishes, the duck or chicken yakitori. The duck (picture below) looked impressive, but we did not try it. The chicken, which we did try, was several different ways to show off the animal – liver mousse, skin, de-boned wing, meatball, hearts, etc. It was served with a egg yolk (and truffle shavings?) dipping sauce.
The drink menu is not long, though there are several cocktails and sake options. A handful of beers and a couple wines round out the list. The service is charming, especially considering the tight quarters. Despite the casual setting, prices are not cheap – but not crazy if you are splitting two or more ways. Most creatures learn to stand before they walk. In this case, it is worth taking a walk first to learn to stand while eating.
Other Guidance: The entire feel is casual and friendly, and that goes for attire. GF can work around the menu. The two centerpiece dishes are chicken and duck – so vegetarians are at a disadvantage (though there are many good veggie dishes). While not implicating Spoken English directly, the Line Hotel has been criticized for not living up to its obligations for development subsidies from the city.
Rating: Worth Taking a Walk
Neighborhood: Adams Morgan
Address: 1770 Euclid St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (In rear of Line Hotel Lobby)
Washington Post: Tom gave it 2.5 stars and #7 in the Fall 2018 Dining Guide.
Washingtonian: #79 in 2020 Top 100; #12 in 2019.
DonRockwell.com: Generally positive, except for the standing thing and the price.
Lori: Maybe the first to use the “outstanding” pun.
Michelin: Bib Gourmand