You don’t even need to walk into Honeysuckle to know there’s something a little different about this place.
From its street entrance – on M Street, just south of DuPont Circle – diners walk down a flight of stairs to enter the actual dining room. It’s on that walk down you’ll first encounter the aesthetic that makes this place cool and eclectic: a wall full of three-eyed skulls.
The motif continues into the dining area, where you realize living in a world with a banana-headdress clad Freddie Mercury is preferable to one without it. Everything at Honeysuckle is unconventional, starting with the restaurant’s Southern and Nordic menu influences, reflecting chef Hamilton Johnson’s South Carolina roots and zeal for Icelandic fare.
Saddling up to the bar to watch the bartender take a blowtorch to an orange slice for my delicious Bulleit-based cocktail, the New Boss, made me instantly recognize that we were in for a treat this evening. That feeling was repeated when our complimentary bread basket came to the table packing slices of melt-in-your-mouth banana bread.
We started our meal with a series of appetizers, each bite a little better than the one that came before.
There was the Hamachi crudo – bite size pieces of fish topped with caramelized fennel, dill, black radish, and pistachio tuile. The freshness of the fennel and nuttiness of the pistachio complimented this simple dish well.
We followed these with perfectly tender champagne poached oysters and a knockout Shenandoah lamb tartare dish.
For the main course, we tried the Muscovy duck cooked in molasses butter, and the waiter-recommended sautéed skate wing. Both were delicious.
Rich and meaty thanks to the morel mushrooms that adorn the dish, the duck benefits from the sweetness of lingonberries and plays into the restaurant’s larger Nordic theme.
The skate did not disappoint either. Topped with roaster cauliflower, buttered shrimp, maitake mushrooms, and in a light sauce, this was the best thing I ate: light and delicious.
Honeysuckle is a must-try new spot for lovers of the weird and wonderful.
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Featured image credit to Honeysuckle’s website.