10 D.C. Restaurants to Make Your New Year’s Eve Special – Metro Weekly
Few holidays come riddled with as many superstitions as New Year’s, which dangles the prospect of better days ahead, as long as you put in the work — and oh, yeah, do the right thing so that “luck” is on your side.
For luck’s sake, do eat your greens over New Year’s, according to many cultures around the world, as green vegetables are said to symbolize money and prosperity. Also celebrate the holiday by eating black-eyed peas, lentils, and 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, just to cite three.
Or you could eat at one of these 10 D.C.-area restaurants, each promising a true celebratory feast to usher in 2023. They may not bring luck, but they’re sure to bring you the kind of satisfaction as only a great meal can.
Cranes, those large, long-necked and -legged birds symbolize good fortune and positive change in various cultures around the world, including Japan. By that logic, dining at the Japanese-inspired Spanish venture by that name seems like an inherently good choice for New Year’s. Cranes (724 9th St. NW) is the upscale restaurant launched by Chef/Owner Pepe Moncayo to demonstrate how well Japanese cuisine complements that of his native Spain.
For New Year’s, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Penn Quarter will feature a menu offering guests a choice of starters from Tomato Grissini & Jamon, Oysters Ponzu, and Cuttlefish Tartar, as well as an extensive list of entrees including Poached Chicken, served with consommé and truffle juice, water chestnuts, and king oyster noodles, plus Foie gras/umeboshi chicken liver pate and toast on the side with plum wine jelly, or Rock Salt Steamed Black Bass served with roasted leeks and morcilla trinxat and warm kabosu creme fraiche.
Finish with a dessert option for this dine-in prix fixe at $228 per person. The restaurant will also offer its regular a la carte tapas menu on New Year’s as well. Visit www.cranes-dc.com or call 202-525-4900.
Cranes has now rebounded from its ill-timed debut in February 2020 and the long struggle through the first half of the pandemic that ensued. The same is true for another Japanese-inspired restaurant that also opened a month before the pandemic hit, only to close shortly after.
In fact, Tonari (707 6th St. NW) only relaunched last year around this time. The fifth venture from the Daikaya Restaurant Group whose other Japanese hotspots include Haikan and Bantam King, Tonari is the most ambitious and distinct of the bunch.
The focus is on wafu, or Japanese-style pasta and pizza, essentially a novel fusion of the two cuisines that is popular in Japan — and well worth trying.
For New Year’s, the restaurant will offer a five-course prix fixe menu starting with an Antipasti choice of either lentils stewed in dashi (stock) with foie gras and seasoned with balsamic and cream, or chestnut with potage, confit porcini, labne, and Torrone (yes, the Italian candy); an insalata of either winter radish with grapefruit, bottarga (cured fish roe), and EVOO, or chicories with orange, goat cheese, and marcona almonds; a pasta course of “Forgotten Bolognese” with Nishiyama tagliatelle, veal, pancetta, nutmeg, parmesan, and parsley, or Spicy Tomato with Marcella Hazan Famous Tomato Sauce, chili, Nishiyama spaghetti, and whipped ricotta; a pizza course of Unagi — Japanese-broiled eel with brick cheese, sansho pepper, and parmesan — or “Neo-Margherita,” with brick cheese, burrata, Jersey tomato sauce, basil, olive oil, and Okinawan sea salt; and finally a Dolci of either Sesame Oil Cake with sesame creme anglaise and lemon curd, or Chocolate Budino with hazelnut praline and coffee ice cream topped with whipped cream. Price is $99 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity.
Additionally, on Tonari’s second floor, the pop-up Hole in the Wall Dessert Bar will be serving from a dessert-tasting menu with four chapters — intended to replace the normal savory dinner.
The prix fixe menu starts with an Introduction of “The Welcome Cocktail,” before launching in with Rice Pudding studded with white chocolate, hazelnut, cream, and Kaluga caviar.
Next, after A Brief Cocktail Intermission, comes Chapter Two: Molten Chocolate Cake with Valrhona chocolate, whipped cream, and confit orange, followed by Chapter Three, “Put the Pineapple in the Coconut,” with pineapple sorbet, coconut granita, and rum gelée. The Final Chapter is “A Hot Drink & the Petit Four.”
Price is $55 per person, with optional purchase of one of three bottles of bubbly (ranging in price from $35 to $65).
Visit www.tonaridc.com or call 202-289-8900.
Named after Executive Chef/Owner Matt Baker’s late mother and inspired by his upbringing in Houston and New Orleans, the Michelin-recognized Michele’s (Eaton Hotel, 1201 K St. NW) is a centrally located brasserie providing what it bills as “an upscale New American dining experience with a French accent and international flair.”
Starting at 9 p.m. and lasting for roughly four hours, the venue’s New Year’s Eve Bash promises an “unlimited night of drinks & elevated food,” an all-inclusive package in partnership with Mumm & Pernod Ricard featuring Mumm sparkling wine and cocktails crafted by Bar Director Judy Elahi, oysters, small bites, and bar food, plus music by DJ OZ.
The price is $175 per person excluding tax and fees, with partygoers offered 30 percent off a hotel room for the night. For those unable or still uncomfortable with dining and celebrating en masse, consider Baker’s CMB At Home, an extensive catering and takeout menu offering both a la carte and holiday packages of food and beverages serving two to eight people, requiring a minimum 24-hour advance order with a cutoff of 5 p.m. on Dec. 30.
Visit www.michelesdc.com or www.cmbcatering.com or call 202-758-0895.
From its rather unassuming two-story brick brownstone occupying a corner spot in a mostly residential, relatively quiet stretch between Dupont Circle and Kalorama, Annabelle (2132 Florida Ave. NW) lures area epicures and longtime devotees of Executive Chef Frank Ruta with its “locally inspired cuisine that tells the story of the growers and producers.”
On New Year’s Eve, the Michelin-recognized hotspot offers a three-course prix fixe menu starting with a choice of appetizer, including Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi with butter squash, Castelmagno cheese, toasted sunflower seeds, and pickled Fresno peppers; Salad of Chicories, Roasted Beets, and Blood Orange with crispy horseradish and cumin vinaigrette; Lobster & Turbot Boudin with black trumpet mushrooms, fricassee of abalone, and lobster roe cream; or Pan Roasted Quail Breast with foie gras, Castelluccio lentils, tardive radicchio, and apple.
Entrée options include a Roasted Pork Loin stuffed with dates and olives and served with black-eyed peas and ham hock braised collards; Roasted Roseda Beef Tenderloin with truffle sauce, boulangère potatoes, and glazed root vegetables; a Bouillabaisse of Icelandic Cod, served Demi Sel (slightly salted) with potato confit and brandade; a Porcini Mushroom & Sheep’s Ricotta Ravioli with green peppercorn butter sauce, salsify, and shaved black truffle; or Ballotine of Organically Raised Guinea Fowl with braised red cabbage, spätzle, picked honey crisp apples, and Calvados sauce.
Finish with a seasonal dessert of Traditional Opera Cake with chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream, Poached Pear “Belle Helene” with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, or a Grapefruit & Coconut Meringue Tart with blood orange sorbet and mango sauce. Visit www.annabelledc.com or call 202-916-5675.
Arguably the flagship brand in the ever-expanding, gay-owned local empire of KNEAD Hospitality + Design, both existing locations of Mi Vida (14th Street, 1901 14th St. NW, and DC Wharf, 98 District Sq. SW) will serve from a special Feliz Año Nuevo menu created by its gay Executive Chef Roberto Santibañnez.
Specials include an appetizer of Camarones & Callos en Aguachile, shrimp and scallop ceviche in a spicy jalapeño lime sauce ($17); main dishes of Budin de Langosta con Suiza, Swiss-style savory bread pudding with corn tortillas stacked and stuffed with butter-poached Maine lobster and served in a creamy tomatillo sauce with chihuahua cheese ($41), or Tablas, bone-in, slow-braised short ribs served with smoky, tomatillo-based mestiza sauce and creamy sliced poblano peppers ($39); dessert of Flan Imposible, a slice of chocolate cake topped with flan and doused with raspberry sauce ($12); and cocktails Chocolate Caliente, hot cocoa with dark chocolate, whipped cream, toasted marshmallows, and a Maria cookie ($14 with shot of añejo tequila, $8 without), or Espíritu de Navidad, a mix of Uruapan Charanda rum with guava, pear, pineapple, and orange juices with holiday spices, served warm ($14).
The evening also features a live DJ to ring in the new year and a midnight champagne toast. Visit www.mividamexico.com or call 202-516-4656.
If you crave even more tropical heat, head to the Navy Yard for a high-spirited Caribbean-inspired feast at Bammy’s (301 Water St. SE). Having opened in the summer of 2020 in D.C.’s hippest new neighborhood, taking over the bright and airy space overlooking the Anacostia River formerly occupied by Whaley’s, Bammy’s will welcome guests on New Year’s Eve to enjoy a four-course prix fixe New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu designed by Executive Chef Peter Prime. Starting off with Callaloo Soup featuring braised spinach and taro leaves in a rich and smoky coconut cream further enhanced with okra and crab, the second course is Black Eyed Peas with pigtail, collard greens, and pumpkin, and that’s followed by an entrée of Jerk Cornish Hen & Branzino Escovitch served with pickled Escovitch-spiced vegetables, rice, and the sweet fried dumpling called festival, and concluding with a slice of Key Lime Pie with guava rum sauce and Angostura whipped cream.
The menu will be served with open bar for all drinks except top-shelf liquor in a maximum of two-hour increments, with reservations starting at 5 p.m. and service ending at 11 p.m. Priced at $175 per person, plus nearly $50 more to cover taxes and fees, and a minimum purchase of two tickets currently required. Visit www.bammysdc.com or call 202-599-4400.
Ivan Iricanin launched what has become a signature fixed-price bottomless brunch menu concept shortly after opening Ambar in 2013 — a savvy ploy to entice American diners to try the Balkan cuisine the Serbian native grew up on, one small plate at a time.
Over this year’s New Year’s weekend, the two current locations of Ambar (523 8th St. SE in D.C. and 2901 Wilson Blvd. in Clarendon) will serve this Balkan “Without Limits” Brunch Experience during the day on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. So long as everyone in your party participates, the unlimited brunch menus offer an all-you-can-eat selection of mezze, soups, salads, sandwiches, egg dishes, pastries and crepes, and sweets.
Additional highlights include a Strawberry Waffle with Nutella and vanilla whipped cream, Shrimp Omelet with mixed pepper stew and creamy poblano sauce, Salmon Benedict with crème fraîche and kajmack sauce, Almond & Walnut Crusted Fried Chicken Sandwich with pickled fresno and apple-wasabi slaw, Sudzuk Beef Flatbread with mozzarella, sheep’s cheese, and truffle oil, Tomato Soup with house-made pesto and roasted tomatoes, and Bacon & Grits with charred garlic, aged sheep’s cheese, and oregano.
Brunch will be served at D.C.’s Capitol Hill location from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and costing $34.99 per person excluding tax and gratuity, plus $8.99 more per person for unlimited featured cocktails such as the Traditional Mimosa, Bloody Mary, and Red Sangria. Meanwhile, the Clarendon location will serve guests from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days at a price of $42.99 per person excluding tax and gratuity, with brunch drinks priced at a mere 25 cents each.
Both locations will also offer a special menu highlighting the best dishes throughout the Balkan Peninsula with a modern twist at dinner time on New Year’s Eve. The New Year’s Eve menu includes specials such as Scallops with tarragon sauce and mashed potatoes, Filet Mignon with black pepper sauce and crispy fingerling potatoes, Lamb Pâté with horseradish and cranberries, Croatian Seafood Stew “Brodet” with polenta, cuttlefish, mussels, shrimp, and tilapia, and a Smoked Trout Dip with mayo, jalapeño, tomato, and cilantro.
The dinner is available at two seatings, the first at 5 p.m. and priced at $79.99 per person before tax and gratuity, plus $24.99 per person for unlimited drinks in D.C., or 99 cents per drink in Clarendon; and the second, starting at 9 p.m. and lasting until 12:30 a.m., is priced at $99.99 per person without tax and gratuity, plus $24.99 per person for unlimited drinks in D.C. or 99 cents per drink in Clarendon. A cash bar will be available after 12:30 a.m. until close.
For those who’d prefer to enjoy Ambar’s Balkan specialties from the comforts of home New Year’s Eve, both locations will also offer a special grab-and-go feast with staples from the regular menu and seasonal specials, as well as an assortment of Balkan pita bread and cornbread.
Highlights include Scallops with mashed potatoes and tarragon sauce, Brussels Sprouts with crispy bacon, garlic, and lemon yogurt, and Mixed Green Salad with candied pecans and elderflower dressing, plus for dessert a Balkan-inspired Raspberry Cake with whipped cream, raspberry marmalade, and chocolate glaze for two.
All that plus a choice between four pre-selected wines by the bottle. Priced at $99 per couple. Order by 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, for pick-up Saturday, Dec. 31, between 5:30 and 9 p.m. Visit www.ambarrestaurant.com or call 202-813-3039 for Ambar DC, or 703-875-9663 for Ambar Clarendon.
In May of 2021, Mexican-born international restaurateur Richard Sandoval opened dLeña (476 K St. NW) in the Mount Vernon area of downtown.
Named for the firewood that imparts rich, nuanced flavors in so much of the food served, the large, two-story building offers a refined, rustic-chic-styled setting to properly savor the chef’s well-seasoned grilled goods. It’s the perfect backdrop for a celebratory five-course prix fixe indulgence on New Year’s Eve
Start the meal with Wagyu-Grilled Guacamole or Ceviche Amarillo, followed by one of a variety of salads and soups. Choose among fillings for the Tacos third course, including Short Rib, Pork Carnitas, Langosta, or lobster, and Hongos (mushrooms) a la Leña, then pick a main dish served hot off dLeña’s grill, with options including Pollo al Carbón, Camarones a la Diabla (Spicy Breaded Prawn), or Coliflor a la Leña (Cauliflower Steak).
Finish with a dessert of Crispy Churros, Pastel de Elote (creamy corn cake with ice cream), or seasonal Sorbets and Gelatos. The cost is $150 per person, plus $75 for optional coursed beverage pairing. Afterwards, guests are invited to head downstairs to the gorgeously appointed mezcaleria dLeña ROJA lounge with live music from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Visit www.dlenadc.com or call 202-560-5999.
Despite the name, there’s nothing really naughty about Dirty Habit (555 8th St. NW), with the possible exception of its decor, inspired by film noir and stylish avant-garde, and in playful contrast to the classic architecture surrounding it — specifically the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, located in what used to be the 1841 General Post Office.
On Saturday, Dec. 31, the Penn Quarter venue will offer multi-course menus designed by Chef Edgar Escalante full of decadent dishes including Hamachi Crudo with blackberry granita, Roasted Pineapple Consommé and nam pla espuma (Thai red curry culinary foam) and Halibut with Mushroom Farce stuffing, Savoy Cabbage, and Smoked Shellfish Emulsion. Wash it down with a la carte drinks or optional wine pairings.
A four-course tasting menu is available at the 5:30 p.m. seating, priced at $120 per person plus tax and fees, while a five-course tasting menu is offered at 7:30 p.m., and priced at $185 per person, not including tax and fees — but the second seating does include entrance to the venue’s “Le Chalet Rouge” party with a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.
The party is set in the venue’s courtyard, which has been transformed into The Dirty Habit Chalet, a pop-up inspired by a French Alps chalet.
Featured attractions include a snow cannon for organized snowfalls, outdoor fire pits, warming and themed cocktails by Beverage Director JR Rena, a live DJ playing pop hits, and festive party favors.
It starts at 9 p.m. with a one-hour Select Premium Open Bar. Tickets for the party only are $125 to $150 not including fees, with few remaining at press time. Visit www.dirtyhabitdc.com or call 202-449-7095.
Among the many New Year’s-related superstitions, one suggests that what you do on the first day of the new year is a portent for the entire year ahead. So if you wake up early, you’re on track to be an early riser throughout the year.
And if you start or spend the day together with friends and loved ones over brunch at a beloved institution in your community? Well, funny you should ask. Why yes, Annie’s will be open and serving from its extensive menu on Sunday, Jan. 1.
The Bull in the Pan is always good to add a little dramatic flair, and if you’re anything like us, it’s probably been way too long since you had even thought about those sizzling marinated sirloin tips served with roasted bell peppers and grilled onions. For heart-healthier fare, Annie’s does a fine job with the Blackened Salmon Salad, too.
On the other hand, surely we don’t need to sell you on the desserts — especially the Key Lime Pie — and the fact that they are, pound for pound, worth whatever they may add to your scale.
Annie’s is at 1609 17th St. NW. Visit www.anniesparamountdc.com or call 202-232-0395.
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December 28, 2022 at 07:34AM