The crab meat imperial appetizer is a tower forged from curly micro greens, meaty chunks of buttery avocado and sweet, shredded crab studded with zesty capers.
Broiled salmon should have been thrown back. The retro preparation produced a soggy filet (where art thou, crispy skin?) rolled in black pepper pods and left to drown in an oaky chardonnay reduction. The underlying fish was adequately tender, but looked terribly abused; there were unseemly grey spots on the underside that suggested high heat had done its worst, while the top bore an eerie pallor rather than the healthy pink hue of a flash-seared specimen. Sautéed leeks (cooked until translucent), attempted to cut through the oppressive wine sauce, but the pleasantly bitter warriors simply could not win this war.
A squat but wide slice of tart lemon pie curled our lips back up into a smile. The lightly chilled and expressly citrusy custard is spooned into a crumbly graham cracker crust; dulcet liquefied berries complement the pungent pudding-like production.
“Institutions are more powerful than man,” reads one of the political platitudes — this particular one, courtesy of Karl Marx — inscribed in gold leaf along the ceiling of the main dining room.
As Valanos well knows, Capitol Hill political players come and go like clockwork.
His family restaurant?
That’s here to stay.
The Monocle: 107 D St. NE; 202-546-4488; themonocle.com
Average entree: $21 to $30 ($$$). Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday.