Table for One: March 15, 2013 @ 6:45 PM
It is ironic that I dissed my co-workers’ dinner invitation at a soul food restaurant only to have a solo dinner at another soul food place. The difference was they went to a stick-to-your-ribs eatery while I chose fine dining soul food.
Art & Soul’s chef, CHEF ART SMITH boasts of two JAMES BEARD awards plus an impressive resume involving cooking for OPRAH for 10 years, being a TOP CHEF participant and recently being associated with LADY GAGA and her parents.
My food-loving self just could not pass up this culinary opportunity.
Art & Soul is located at the Liaison Hotel where I was staying. The decor is a continuation of Liaison’s: stylish, contemporary, swanky yet classy enough for DC lobbyists. And dark enough for a tryst.
The inviting patio has a view of the State Capitol and an outdoor fireplace.
I really wanted to eat at Art & Soul before I flew back to SF. And I enjoyed the experience of dining solo, the ambiance and my entire meal.
FRENCH Bubbly $12 each:
I really just wanted one glass but the server misunderstood me while I was chewing my food when I said “I am okay, thanks.” I was really not about to refuse a 2nd glass of this delicious French bubbles. I accepted, enjoyed the second glass and walked to the Union Station for more exploring while very tipsy!
CRISPY FRIED PIGS EARS WITH SUNNY SIDE DUCK EGGS $13
I was excited to try them served crispy. What I got was a crispy “cake” with chopped ears encrusted inside and topped with runny fried duck egg. I was disappointed. This dish was too “overly processed.” I prefer to taste the actual flavors and texture of the meat. This was a far cry from the way it is served in the Philippines which is boiled, sliced, served with tofu in soy sauce, vinegar and chili peppers.
SHRIMP AND GRITS $25
Buttery silky grits with shrimps still head-on with nice okra gravy. This dish was delicious and very flavoful. This would have been an issue for those who do not eat shrimp heads but I do! That’s the best part with all the juices and as long as they are crispy.
RUM CAKE $8
Coconut custard and fruits. I really did not have any room for dessert so I took this to go and ate in my room later. Now, this was worth every calorie and suffering from lactose intolerance. The custard complemented the rum cake and the fruits provided a a nice citrusy contrast to the cake. Delish!
TOTAL: $80 including tip and 2 bubblies
*I took advantage of A&S post-renovation prix fixe menu. Taken a la carte, this would have been a $100+ dinner including tip and tax!
I do not regret that I chose A&S nouvelle Southern cuisine over my co-workers’ traditional soul food at B Smith’s. The environment and service were very comfortable to me as a solo diner. The food was solidly good although not mind-bogglingly delicious, except for the appetizer which was too ambitious that it fell short.
What a rare yet lovely solitary dinner. Given that I rarely travel and have dinner by myself anymore these days, I will definitely remember this dinner for a very long time.
Now I know what Oprah, Lady Gaga and her parents possibly eat when Chef Art is doing the cooking!