The Dabney

I had dinner at The Dabney with my lovely friend Diane on 3-29-2017. What a fantastic place! The food was outstanding, the staff was genuinely friendly and the space struck the most amazing balance between being hip and comfortable. I really liked it here.

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5
Food & Drink: 5 out of 5

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How beautiful is this space?! The bar area looks great overall but they also had the best glassware too. Not only did they have champagne coupes, they had the most lovely little martini coupes as well. The bartenders also seemed very into their job and the jars of homemade bitters definitely added to that feel.

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Once you pass the bar, the restaurant opens into a larger dining room with a long open kitchen at one end and a giant roaring fire.

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Here is that same kitchen with the chef right there in front, working away. It was so nice to see the chef in the kitchen on a Wednesday night.

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Speaking of the chef, could he be any nicer and more adorable? When I asked for a picture he told me to come right into the kitchen!

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This restaurant has such a great vibe. Everyone from the hostesses, to the servers, to the chef himself were incredibly friendly in a very genuine way. Everyone seemed engaged and enthusiastic without being fake.

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Plus the food was AMAZING.

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Left in champagne glass- Balancing Act (Caperitif, wildflower honey, The Dabney fines herbes bitters, Old Hill sparkling cider). This was a lovely cocktail. First off the smell was amazing: I’m not sure if it was the honey or what but it was sort of fruity and floral. The taste was more bitters-oriented, which the chervil garnish accentuated.

Right in coupe – Greenbelt Cocktail (George Dickel rye, boomsma cloosterbitter, bonal, sorrel, The Babney citrus bitters). The server described this as similar to a Manhattan and she was right. It was definitely whisky-y but it was so well-balanced even I would enjoy drinking it.

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Bread with whipped sorghum molasses butter. This was AMAZING. The bread alone was delicious, with just the right amount of crust, drizzled with oil and perfectly toasted. Once you added the sorghum butter, which was topped with Aleppo chili flakes and fennel pollen, it was beyond good. Oddly enough the chili flakes and the crisp bread created an almost pizza-like flavor but I mean that in the best way possible.

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Ember-roasted carrots (whipped ricotta, sumac, fried garlic, spicebush). Oh man were these good. The whipped ricotta, combined with the garlic, tasted almost like French onion dip. I could also taste mint and dill, which blended nicely with the charred flavor of the carrots themselves.

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Scallops crudo (chive oil, diced gold rush apple, Aleppo chili flakes, baby arugula). This was a fantastic special and the best dish of the meal. The flavor was so unexpectedly bright, which I can’t decide if that was due to the chive oil, the apple or both. It was balanced nicely by the almost smoky flavor of the chili flakes. And in keeping with my low brow flavor comparisons (pizza, French onion dip) the chili flakes also really reminded me of Bacos.

This is where the server changed not only our share plates, but our silverware too. I will always mention this in my blog posts. It’s such a small gesture but can really ruin later dishes if it’s not done.

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Foie gras. This was another fabulous special. The foie gras itself was delicious of course but man, the little blini it came with was out of control good. The sauce was also yummy but unfortunately I didn’t write very detailed notes on the ingredients and it wasn’t on the menu. Speaking of being on the menu, I feel like you don’t see seared foie gras often. Usually it’s an ingredient in another dish or served as a terrine, which made me even more excited to order this–sometimes you just need some straight up liver.

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Blinis for the foie gras, of which I could have eaten 10.

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Seared black bass (turnip cream, crispy bread salad, winter herbs, country ham vinaigrette). This was so good too! The turnip puree not surprisingly tasted like very finely mashed potatoes. The grilled bread was like a perfectly crisp crouton. The flavor was bland at times but then towards the end I really tasted the ham vinaigrette, and possibly a hint of tarragon, which were absolutely delicious.

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Butterscotch cake (meringue, shaved chocolate). This was SO good. First off, I usually do not like meringue at all and yet I loved this. It was much softer than usual and had a great flavor, which Diane thought may have been cardamom. The pie filling was similar to pecan pie, in both taste and texture. This was good to begin with then somehow got better the more of it I ate (and trust me, I ate a lot).

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Chocolate chip cookies that came with the bill. As though I needed more sweets, I gobbled these right up. They were so good and the perfect balance of soft and crisp.

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I absolutely loved this place. I was afraid it might have been over-hyped but now I can completely understand why it’s so hard to get a reservation. It was low-key enough for a few tables with kids here and there, but also fancy enough for business dinners. It was accessible luxury and I cannot wait to go back again.

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