Oh D.C. How I miss you. Your sparkling clean streets, low buildings dwarfed by monuments every which way you turn. They dominate the sky line through their sheer architecture and the indelible fingerprint they’ve left on residents and visitors alike (whether fleeting holidaymakers or fleeting politicians). It is a city that hums with power, and power needs feeding.
Charlie Palmer Steak has an enviable position looking on to Capitol Hill, and is within easy walking distance of it. Deals are undoubtedly brokered here over fine meals. It’s quiet when we arrive, between Christmas and New Year with politicians away from the capital and post-2016 election the sounds across the city are from the building of the stages and stands for the forthcoming inauguration and little else. Upon entering we’re greeted by two hosts who lead us on a meandering passage to our table, around a water feature, a sort of stream, a bar, what feels like every empty table and at last we end up sat at an intimate table next to the window overlooking the white, domed building previously mentioned.
The location and décor is enough to inform even the most absent-minded wanderers that this place will come with a hefty price tag. And indeed it did. We ordered the Porterhouse steak for two, cooked rare. The meat was seasoned well and the steak was simply exceptional. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated. Alongside the steak, we opted for the potato and cheddar gratin- our server having told us the sides were family portions. It was luxuriously creamy and cheesy with a deliciously crunchy browned crust. But there simply wasn’t enough of it. A mere 2 or 3 tablespoons a piece, I’d hoped for ladles of the stuff. We also plumped for a peppercorn sauce, which was most definitely peppery. But it lacked the cream behind it (and lashings of brandy) to go the distance in taste. It looked more like a jus than a sauce.
Whilst the food was delicious. The wine was not, and this is where my grumblings begin. I opened the wine list, or book as it was around 50 pages long, where my eyes almost fell out. The red wines started at $50 a bottle, a Californian Pinot Noir- which I chose. It had a French name which escapes me, but le derriere would’ve been more appropriate than the pretensions it sought to air. It was unbearably acidic and closer to vinegar than it was wine. In a supermarket I would’ve expected to get change from $3 for it. This wasn’t helped by one of the servers who poured all the sediment into my glass. I use the term one of because at one point four servers were clustered around our table performing different and needless tasks. It created a very uncomfortable setting with servers hovering too close.
The steak whilst excellent, was $95. A steep, steep price. Whilst steak is done exceptionally well in the U.S I can’t help but feel you can get some of equal standard significantly cheaper elsewhere. This place is to be enjoyed on rare, special occasions.