It is funny how time flies by. Around four years ago, my wife Jun and I were visiting the pop-up dining space Chefs Club in New York City to try a mesmerizing meal from the team behind chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s The Dabney. Back then, we were genuinely impressed with the New American dishes sourced from ingredients in the Mid-Atlantic and executed with precision and thoughtfulness that we wished that chef Jeremiah decide to open a second location somewhere in Manhattan. Fast forward to 2022, we found ourselves visiting The Dabney in a quiet corner of Blagden Alley in northwest DC after moving to the DMV area last year. We had visited the restaurant shortly after our move last year and liked our meal; the revisit earlier this month was even more memorable.
The restaurant currently offers a four-course tasting menu at $110 per person (which has gone up from $85 we saw last year). The best bet here is to try as many different dishes as possible for sharing, which Jun and I are always inclined to do for tasting menu formats where we get to choose dishes. The snack portion, for which we didn’t have a choice and consisted of fresh oyster, tasty zucchini fritter and charred eggplant you can dip with cornmeal cracker, will make you instantly think that the restaurant is not really settling for mediocrity. On our visit, the one dish that left a lasting impression was surprisingly a simple plate of hearth-roasted summer vegetables and heirloom grain salad. Our server explained that the vegetables were all sourced form local farms nearby, and we could tell by the freshness of the ingredients which were made even more delicious with light roasting. It really represented the pinnacle of the ethos of farm to table. For something a little bit more meaty for the second course, the pork sausage with potato salad and fennel pollen honey was quite delicious.
For the main course, we very much enjoyed the Rohan duck with cherries and golden beets. Being a duck meat aficionado, Jun has perhaps a bit unrealistically high standard for duck dishes but happily gave a thumbs up to the more or less perfectly grilled duck breast. The coulotte steak (a lesser-known cut from the beef) was also quite good, especially with watermelon (quick note: watermelon is not even one of my favorite fruits) that surprisingly worked quite beautifully with the meaty flavor. One of my favorite desserts I’ve had all summer came from The Dabney, too; I just couldn’t stop digging into the blueberry Bundt cake with buttermilk and blueberry sorbet that was just a perfect dessert for a hot summer season. The bourbon brown sugar ice cream with marshmallow and chocolate shortbread was also a decadent plate of sweetness that Jun very much enjoyed.
The Dabney is perennially one of the more popular dining destinations in DC, so getting a reservation in advance via Resy is highly recommended especially during peak weekend hours. In addition to the food, we also really liked the intimate but not over-the-top dining space of the restaurant that is ideal for a date night. The restaurant’s wine and cocktail lists were also above-average with a variety of selections from nearby Virginia and around the world; for the caliber of the restaurant The Dabney is, I do wish the wine list could show a bit more ingenuity though. Our server told us that the restaurant will be renovated in the fall with a longer tasting menu. Suffice to say, Jun and I are very excited to go back again in the near future to see how the restaurant has evolved from its already outstanding form.
KenScale: 8.5/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.5/10)
Address: 122 Blagden Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001
Reservation via Resy