The redhead and I visited a friend in Washington D.C. this weekend. Most of the weekend was spent drinking, eating, and walking around markets. I'll have some photos of the Eastern Market up tonight or tomorrow, but I wanted to talk about a Nuevo Latino restaurant we visited called Café Atlántico.
Café Atlántico near the National Archives and Ford Theatre, is one of D.C. star restauranteer José Andrés's establishments. On the weekends, they serve up a tapas style meal they call Latino Dim Sum that is expensive, but well worth the price.
Café Atlántico is a three story restaurant that uses its small floors well. From where we sat on the second floor, we had a good view of the kitchen without sacrificing the natural light from the large windows. I recommend you try to get a seat with a view into the open, bustling kitchen (if only to reassure your suddenly hungry tummy that great food is on the way).
The three of us shared about a dozen small dishes. Among the favorites were fresh asparagus with orange. The asparagus was tender and mixed well with the orange flavors. A demitasse of potato puree with vanilla and American caviar was a savory mousse - silky, sweet, and salty all at one. The Pan-American ingredients used in Atlántico's corn, quinoa, and pomegranite salad showed the chef's pride in the cuisine of this side of the ocean.
I liked the mango and anchovy ravioli. While I'd expected chunks of mango, I bit into a puree of mango with a hint of the ocean from the anchovy. The taste was more reminiscent of caviar than of the pizza fish.
There were other dishes, such as the Spinach with pumpkin seeds and raisins (and garlic, I might add), and the malanga chips with malanga dip which we found similar to a think cream of potato soup; but the performance highlight of the afternoon was the guacamole made tableside. The server brought tableside a black volcano rock mortar and pestle along with fresh avocados, diced onion and tomato, citrus juice and spices, and created the dish right in front of us.
Like all the other dishes we had, it was tasty and light.
My companions made the right call on the drinks, ordering a spicy cocktail made with jalapeno, rum, and juice. I made do with a serviceable, but not spectacular pisco sour. It was probably a very good pisco sour, but I don't think I'm a pisco kind of guy.
I haven't mentioned the salmon or the scallops, or any of the other dishes, but believe me we left there with a very positive opinion of the place. My only quibble is that we were all still a little hungry after the meal, which ran us approximately $35 with one drink apiece. We probably would have kept eating, but the kitchen closed at 3:00 and we were forced to find sustenance (in the form of big mugs of tea and a cookie) at the Teaism shop across the street.
Still, the food was great, the atmosphere modern and neat without being unfriendly, and the waitstaff was very attentive. I hope to return to Café Atlántico on my next visit to Washington.
405 8th St. NW,
Washington, DC 20004
+1 202 393-0812
cafeatlanticodc.com (this is wrong on their business card, but I called to verify)