On our final night in DC, I was thinking about booking somewhere special and after looking at Minibar and Komi, I ended up deciding that we may not be in the mood for a 15+ course tasting menu after 10 days of eating. So in the end I went for what looked like a very good, safe choice that had an a la carte menu, so we ended up in Cityzen. The restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, although it also has its own entrance to the street. The room is well decorated, being stylishly modern and having subtle lighting. The best feature of the one end of the room is the massive open kitchen which we could see into; it is always interesting to occasionally look at what is going on.
After working at places including Spago, Chef Eric Ziebold joined Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry in 1996 and then went on to Per Se, then left to open Cityzen. The food here can be described as modern American. We went for the 4 course menu ($90) rather than the tasting; this was an appetiser, fish, meat followed by dessert format. Kona kampachi sashimi with chilled baby bok choy and marinated beech mushrooms with white wine miso genmaicha and wasabi oil was a tasty starter. The sashimi was very good, the kampachi (AKA almaco jack) had a meaty fish similar to tuna and yellowtail. The bok choy and mushrooms worked well with the raw fish. The oil also added to the dish although the wasabi flavour was light.
I had a fish course of sautéed Florida sheepshead, coconut infused jasmine rice, confit cuttlefish and cilantro gremolata. This was a fish that I had never heard of before; it was not dissimilar to grouper. The fish was pretty good, although this dish was made by the rice, this tasted of garlic, citrus, jasmine and coconut and was enhanced fuller by lots of small bits of well-cooked cuttlefish mixed into it.
We both went for a main of pan roasted loin of cervena venison, juniper crepes, almonds, clementine tapenade and merlot raft. This was very good, containing really good quality meat that was cooked very well and the merlot foam and juniper flavours worked well. We were both unsure about the clementine tapenade; I found this to be interesting but ultimately too sweet for the dish. Some warm, homemade parker rolls were also served with the main course, these tasted like the Per Se ones.
A candy apple soufflé with mulled cider reduction and calvados ice cream was very well made and had good flavours but was not exceptional.
I was assured that the following three dishes were of good quality as well. A purée of cauliflower soup with sautéed frogs legs, salmon roe and olives and a Matsutake wrap coho salmon, braised cucumber, yogurt dumplings, onion ring and spiced Matsutake broth. As well as dessert of vanilla-roasted late harvest plums, chevre mousse cake, candied almonds and muscovado ice cream.
Overall this was a very good meal; lots of the dishes were of a very high standard but this is not cutting edge food by any means. The service was helpful and professional throughout and this helped to make a very nice evening.