When you discuss restaurants in DC, you don't hear about this one. Minibar, Inn at Little Washington, Jont - these are the stallwarts. I'm not sure why this flies so far under the radar. I haven't been to Jont (yet), but this place is better than the the other two. By a lot.
PNP (as it is referred to) was a typical fine-dining restaurant before the pandemic. 10-12 courses, formal, etc. COVID had them question "Why do we need to do that? Why can't fine dining be a party? Why can't we make this super fun?" So that's what they did.
With an early 80s nod to a Studio 54-ish party scene, they bill the night as "THIS IS A PARTY. Every night. You just happen to get an amazing meal while you are here." Dress code? Nope. But "if we did, it would be fancy. Something along the lines of emerald green tuxedo dinner jackets and gold sequin dresses (or your best New Year’s Eve outfit)."
You get the idea. They pull this brand off so well. Everything - from the space (see the first photo below), to the glass of champagne poured from a huge Magnum right when you arrive, to the servers who are actually wearing suede dinner jackets (with t-shirts underneath) and bedazzled shoes. This is a place that knows who they are an invite you to join in fully.
From the playfully fun menu to the friendly, informal service - it all speaks the same thing. I sat at the bar up against the kitchen and was directed "to bother chef for the entire meal". Heck, the first bites are to eat with your hands behind your back! They go all in to assure that you understand that this experience is NOT traditional fine dining. And that it requires your participation.
It is supposedly a 4 course meal. They lie. It's a ton of food. Sure, I ordered both appetizers, but there was so much extra food and gifts and extras that I was at "hate myself" level full at the end of it. I didn't love every dish, but they were beautiful and so well conceived and executed. Really enjoyable.
I also got the non-alcoholic pairing which was creative, versatile, varied and perfectly accompanied the dishes. Really impressive. Lots of thought went into that.
In addition to both appetizers (side note: I offered to pay for the extra, which I always do. They did indeed charge me for it. Not really a negative, but a missed opportunity to really show generosity, as The Inn At Little Washington had. Particularly at this price point.) That said, they gifted me the 2nd pasta dish "because you're a solo diner. And solo diner's are our favorite." Impressive sell.
Service was really outstanding. My two main servers were just SO good. Friendly, easy, fun, present. I can't say enough about them.
This should be your target if you come to DC. It's a special and unique place, and the food is at a super high level. I'll be back, without question.
Replying to Steven Smith