Large, downtown DC restaurants often don’t last long. The rent is insane, they must turn over multiple lunch, dinner…dare we say…brunch or breakfast covers (gasp) and do so with quality service, decor, and food that their smaller compatriots nestled in the nearby suburbs (Shaw comes to mind) can manage a bit easier. Okay, it’s never easy to manage a restaurant, let’s just say they have a different scale.
Enter Woodward Table, a massive restaurant with a 38-foot bar located a stones throw from The White House and Treasury is intimidating, and, if we’re confessing, often passed on the way to nearby eateries. Well the fools we where! The vibe inside is indeed loud but inviting at the bar area filled with folks visiting in local hotels and suits with their ties loosened knocking back a few.
Walking through the elegantly appointed dining room to a table semi-overlooking the kitchen, the noise dissipated as we slid past a white table cloth. Honestly it didn’t even feel like the same place.
The waiter delivered fresh baked bread and warm, spreadable butter shortly after the water was poured. Sweet, delicate rolls with perfectly salted butter. These were a good sign.
Cocktails were ordered, two Rob Roys, up and neat, and promptly delivered. They were perfectly mixed with a delightful dried cherry at the bottom rather than the bright red variety found in mass produced cans. The result was a subtle sour note to offset the sweetness of the Vermouth and the punch of the Scotch. I believe another round is needed.
Paired nicely with fresh, local oysters which came out perfectly shucked, no shell, no smell. Always a good sign. They were inhaled as fast as they were delivered. Who knew I found myself asking…”I didn’t even know they had oysters,” I think I remarked.
Passing over the “hearth baked pizza,” which made an already long menu (pizza, big bites, small bites, raw bar, salads, appetizers, entrees, and sides) seem overwhelming, we settled on the steak tartare. The “CREEKSTONE FARM ANGUS BEEF TARTARE” advertised Asian flavors that were just too much; such as “crisp shiitake, kombu, miso aioli, yuzu, kosho, furikake, cured quail egg.” What’s more the colors and plating left much to be desired. For a place that advertises themselves as using a “regional repertoire of ingredients” on their website, a traditional tartare might be the way to go. While it was good, it was far from memorable and after consulting with peers, we should have ordered the flatbreads which were described as nothing but amazing. Next time Woodward!
The rest of the meal was absolutely divine.
Often changing, the off the menu special of a bone-in braised pork shank was by far one of the best pork dishes I’ve eaten outside of a Southern NC pit! The dish, served piping hot, was exactly what was needed. Tender, sweet, perfectly cooked pork fell off the bone with a single fork poke. The accompanying vegetables cooked perfectly transformed us to a country cabin. I would literally call again, make sure they were serving it, and arrive in my PJs with a good book and a glass of red!
Equally as surprising was the cacio e pepe. A traditional Italian pasta made simply with butter, cream, cheese and pepper which is often a disappointment was far from it. I think, nutmeg, may have been added as well. The perfectly cooked pasta with velvety sauce was so rich and comforting. The mix of toasted parmesean and bread crumbs (guessing) that topped the pasta gave it a nutty flavor which cut the rich butter nicely. This dish literally blew us away.
So, the next time you’re downtown, or want to make a day of it or if you’re visiting DC, make sure and check out Woodward Table. Ask for the specials, by all means get the pasta and pork if they have it, and enjoy.