What better first restaurant post of the new year than to write about the RAMMY New Restaurant of the Year for 2008?
Wolfgang Puck’s The Source
Attached to the Newseum, I expected a setting with a theme relating in some way to news. Instead we couldn’t tell the restaurant was connected to a museum. The downstairs consists of long, high communal tables, with a bar dominating most of the area I saw when we came in. We were seated upstairs in low banquet/chair seating, enclosed in an area made more cozy by blocking off sections with thick glass panels. The effect broke up what could be a monster space, and also helped with the noise level. (Except when you’re seated next to a table of 8 SCREAMING women who thought everything that anyone said was the. funniest. thing. ever. and proceeded to do the women en masse squeal. To everything. For the amount of money you’re paying to eat at The Source – about $150 for 2 people sans wine and tip – I would like the other patrons to hush and be respectful of other patrons. Luckily, the waitstaff eventually asked them politely to be quiet).
Our service was great – our waiter had just the right mix of formality and familiarity to make for a very positive experience. The staff wished Brian a happy birthday – I had noted it in my OpenTable reservation – and bent over backwards to get me a copy of my receipt after I left it at the table. (As a good to know tidbit: your receipt is good for 15% off Newseum tickets on Mondays or Tuesdays).
The Source serves Asian-inspired cuisine, but not so overtly that you don’t recognize most of the ingredients. The amuse bouche was several bites, and may have been our favorite dish of the night: simply dressed and slightly spicy green beans. Delicious. The appetizers were also big winners, with a duo of crab consisting of a crab salad and a small crab cake, and tuna tartare “cones” – served in a sesame and miso cone with raw tuna, roe, and microgreens. It was a close second of best dish of the night, and the presentation was fantastic.
For dinner I went with venison served with Brussel sprouts and a Japanese squash blossom puree that was, in my mind, just about perfect. Venison is very tricky to get right…it has such a low fat content that it needs to be served rare or medium rare at the most, and most times I have it, it’s been either over or under cooked. At The Source, my meal seemed like it had been kept on the pan about 20 seconds too long on just one side, but was still really fantastic. The squash blossom puree added a perfect sweetness, and the Brussel sprouts balanced the dish. I would have a hard time ordering anything else from the menu, I enjoyed this so much.
Brian was slightly disappointed in his scallops. He claims I’ve spoiled him, and I agree that his dinner needed more spice. The Drunken Noodles accompaniment was great, though, and the presentation was very cool as well.
We rounded out the meal with a blueberry and almond crumble that looked and tasted like a fancy coffee cake. It was served with a ginger ice cream to carry on the Asian theme, but I thought good old-fashioned vanilla would have been better.
With the hefty price tag, the dining room at The Source isn’t somewhere we’ll frequent on a regular basis, but I’ll be back for the tuna tartare cones and pork belly dumplings in the affordable lounge.
Best for: A special evening out.
Worst for: Penny pinchers – hit up the lounge to get a taste of the good stuff at a fraction of the cost!