“Food & Wine includes The Dabney on 2016 Best Restaurants of the Year List”

dabney
122 Blagden Alley NW

From Food & Wine magazine:

“It’s no small feat for a restaurant to source 100 percent of its ingredients from the region, especially if the area is the mid-Atlantic, which isn’t known for bountiful produce. To turn those ingredients into outstanding food is more challenging still. To do this at The Dabney, chef Jeremiah Langhorne obsessed over historic cookbooks. The resulting dishes—aged ham toast with truffle Mornay sauce, peanut butter cake with celery ice cream—taste wonderfully modern but have roots that go back hundreds of years. The local pride extends beyond food to an excellent list of hard ciders, all also found in the mid-Atlantic.”

Agree with the accolade?

43 Comment

  • justinbc

    I liked it, didn’t love. In some instances they seemed to be trying TOO hard to be creative, and focused on uniqueness over flavors. We had several dishes that were excellent (although still not best in category in DC) and some that just fell completely flat. For example, I found that peanut butter cake with celery ice cream, mentioned in the article, to be one of the least appetizing desserts I had in all of 2015, and the other 3 people dining with me agreed.. Still, for a brand new restaurant they’re doing a lot of great things, so props to them for that. The drink program is easily one of the best in the city at a restaurant.

  • My husband and I had a fabulous dinner there shortly after they opened. Great food, great atmosphere, great service. I’ve been wanting to go back ever since.

  • Comment Artist

    100%? Surely there are some essential ingredients that simply can’t be sourced from within the region. In that case, do they just do without? Seems like a silly goal.

    • I recently had dinner at a restaurant in Baltimore that claimed to be 100% locally sourced. It was straight out of a Portlandia skit. My friend asked for a club soda with lemon and then was scolded by the waiter that since lemons are not native to area, they do not have lemons in the restaurant. But I ordered a salad with that was dressed with a very lemony-tasting vinaigrette. We spent most of dinner debating on whether or not our dishes contained lemon juice.

    • I’m not saying that this is the case with this restaurant, but this was an elucidating read given how we’re bombarded with all the locally-sourced marketing: http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2016/food/farm-to-fable/restaurants/

      • I was going to mention this story! From the way it sounds, anyone who professes to be all local is at least stretching the truth, if not outright lying. I’d always had my suspicions.

    • Once i went to the most insufferable bar in the meatpacking district and ordered a “bacardi-diet coke.” With a straight face the bartender says, “We. Dont. Have. Bacardi. And. We. Dont. Have. Diet. Coke.” and walked away….

      • anonymouse_dianne

        I would have walked away myself.

      • When we went to Blue Hill in NYC (Dan Barbour’s restaurant, very farm to table), an older fella at the table next to us wanted a Capt. Morgan and Coke. The server was slightly speechless. lol

    • Actually, I’m fairly certain they are 100% local. That’s the whole theme of the restaurant and their menu is geared toward dishes that allow them to be fully locally sourced. Check out their social media, they’re pretty open about their sourcing and they make/grow a lot of their own stuff.

      • Comment Artist

        What about things like spices and salt? If nobody in the region is producing table salt, I should probably bring my own salt shaker.

        • You didn’t know about the Shaw salt mines? Psh. I think using reasonable judgment on what can realistically be done with local ingredients is necessary in these cases. The point is that they’re going above and beyond where possible, much more than any other “local” or “farm to table” restaurant I’ve seen in the area.

        • actually, yes, you can find locally sourced salt. The bay is nearby and WV used to have a big salt industry.

        • Ahahahahahahaha

  • The Mid-Atlantic has a very good growing season and truffles aren’t from around here.

  • Loved this place.

  • Food was good, but had terrible service. From the aloof waiter who would run away from our table when we had a question, to the manager that showered the table next to us with attention while completely ignoring us. (both of our tables had long waits past the rez time, but they got apologized to profusely, kitchen sent over some food and drinks, and not a word to us…) I would like to go back and give it another try, though.

    • justinbc

      Oh, that reminds me, we had the most absolutely idiotic food delivery service of any restaurant I’ve experienced in DC here. Like every restaurant lately, they’ve adopted the mentality of “food items will all be brought out ‘as they’re ready'”, rather than in an order that makes sense to the diner, because apparently they can’t figure out how to fire dishes in an order that actually pleases the customer. My wife and I went with two friends, and we typically order more food than most people, but they are light eaters. As a result they ordered from the smaller part of the menu, and us from the larger part. Rather than firing the dishes in an order so that we would all be able to eat together they brought out our friends dishes, we watched them eat the entire course, and then about 10 minutes later ours came out, and they watched us eat. I can honestly forgive chefs for “pushing the edge” flavor wise, even if I disagree with their pairings, but this asinine service behavior perturbed me to no end, and is the primary reason we haven’t returned.

      • Did you make it clear you were ordering as a couple rather than a table? I’m guessing most tables don’t order like that and they’re used to everyone sharing food.

        • justinbc

          Yes, each person said specifically “I’ll have this dish.” They also don’t preach the small plates “sharing” spiel that every other restaurant feels the need to explain to you, which I did at least appreciate. I’m a big boy, I’ve been to restaurants before, thank you waiter.

      • “Plates come out as they are ready” is the laziest thing in the world and I have zero tolerance for it. In a strictly tapas restaurant, ok, im more forgiving, but a restaurant of that caliber/price point, that situation is infuriating!! A good waiter would read the situation and try to accommodate.

      • We had similarly poor service/pacing. For a meal for two, where we ordered multiple dishes from all parts of the menu, they brought us our check less than an hour after we were seated. Essentially all our food arrived at once, where it could barely even fit on the table. Our server then abandoned us, making it impossible to order a second drink beyond the cocktail we had as we were seated. We felt simultaneously rushed and ignored (a feat!) and thoroughly irritated at the amount of money we spent for that experience.

    • That’s too bad- I had the opposite experience. I was there on a holiday night with a long list of food allergies (that I disclosed in advance on my reservation). They were so attentive that even the bartender came back to ask me about my drink order. It was very impressive.

    • I should also note, in the Dabney’s defense, I emailed the manager after that experience and the co-owner responded in a sincere way, explaining that he would relay my thoughts to the staff. Nice gesture to respond, I thought.

  • Loved it. Definitely deserved.

  • Absolutely deserving. We’ve been a couple times and consistently walk away astounded by the meal. Mostly – the vegetable dishes. We’re not the greenest of eaters. But we’ve found ourselves ordering vegetables we don’t typically eat and finding those dishes to be our favorites of the night. And they aren’t piddly dishes – lots of thought going into them. Even though the concept is nothing new, I’m hard pressed to think of comparable restaurants. They are doing their own thing. Hands down the best bread/butter offering too!

  • I decided against trying it when I learned Dabney Coleman isn’t performing nightly.

  • can it really be 100% local? what do they do about salt?

    • justinbc

      Many restaurants have a rather interpretive definition of “local”. I’ve heard more than one say that it means “as local as possible”, meaning they get it from whatever source is technically closest, whether that be Maryland, or North Carolina, or Florida.

    • Road salt lovingly harvested from the very local DC streets.

  • “especially if the area is the mid-Atlantic, which isn’t known for bountiful produce”

    Really? I mean I know we’re no California but I thought there was a really rich farming history in the area. Does Shenandoah Valley / SW Virginia not count as “mid-Atlantic”? I’m just surprised they’d make this point, I had no idea that was a perception of the region.

    • Comment Artist

      Drive 50 miles in any direction, and you’ll end up deep in the middle of farmland.

    • Seriously. Go to the Sunday morning Baltimore Farmer’s Market and tell me their isn’t “bountiful produce” in the mid-Atlantic. Best farmers market in the world.

    • I was wondering the same thing! It sounds like they’re not from around here…

  • The Dabney has never claimed to be 100% local, to my knowledge, while they’ve been actively misquoted as such since before they opened (cc: WAPO article by Tim Carman and yesterday’s CBS post re: 100% local sourcing). According to staff, they openly discuss using lemons and olive oil, and made a conscious decision to do so in order to impart the best flavor possible to guests. IMHO (and I’ve dined here frequently as I have friends behind the bar and have been privy to the insider perspective), the Dabney is comprised of a team of people who all 100% buy into the concept, which is showcasing the rich cultural heritage and hospitality traditions of the area, while sourcing as locally as possible, and cooking in historically traditional ways…all with the caveat that the chef and bar operate at the highest possible standards. These owners and managers are neither taking not accepting shortcuts in their quest for excellence. And I’d like to applaud them on a job incredibly well done. Way to represent DC and your brand.

  • Congratulations to Chef Jeremiah and the Dabney team. FYI Food & Wine just changed the 100% to 95%, and amended the “bountiful produce” remark to include “isn’t *necessarily* known…” .

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