2941 would be memorable if only for what begins and concludes the meal. First off, you get some of the best bread around, baked by the chef’s father, a retired doctor, in an array of varieties such as porcini truffle and cherry chocolate (I counted six in the basket on my last visit).
Finally, some two hours later, the kitchen sends out a heaping mound of lighter-than-air cotton candy to elevate your blood sugar before the ride home. Fortunately for this 2-year-old gem just off the Beltway, what comes in between is just as satisfying.
The man behind the menu is Jonathan Krinn, last year’s winner as rising culinary star at the annual Rammy Awards for local restaurants and a veteran of Gerard’s Place downtown and Gramercy Tavern in New York.
The menu changes seasonally, but the French-American style does not.
Current seafood selections include vodka-cured tuna ($12), caramelized diver scallops with Iranian Oestra caviar ($35) and line-caught swordfish with Dungeness crab ($34).
Vegetarians can enjoy a sinfully rich black-truffle risotto appetizer ($14) or a wild-mushroom dumplings entr饠($25), to name only two.
But the meat preparations rival anything around. That portion of the menu is dominated by exotic wild game, including elk, bison and pheasant, as well as Mishima beef, which is even more expensive than Japan’s famed Kobe beef. Mishima beef is from the small Japanese island of the same name and appears on 2941’s menu in several forms, including three appetizers and an entree.
The appetizers include a combination of seared Mishima beef and bluefin-tuna toro, served with soy and sake ginger glaze, which at $35 is the most expensive starter we’ve run across at a local restaurant. Or you can try the Mishima shabu shabu, served with seared foie gras, coriander, scallions and wild-mushroom consomm頦amp;#8212; a relative bargain at $12, or the Mishima beef tartare with fresh quail “egg in the hole” for $17.
Then there’s the seared Mishima tenderloin, which will set you back a staggering $18 per ounce — $108 for a 6-ounce portion — but at least you get Yukon-potato pur饠and saut饤 wild mushrooms with it. We told you this stuff is expensive.
My companion and I didn’t feel right eating steak that costs almost as much as caviar, so we picked two others. The gamy Montana elk loin ($33) — served with sage spaetzle, white asparagus and elephant garlic — was tender enough that it was no match for the assassin-quality cutlery they brought.
The “turf and turf” combined New Zealand ostrich, roast duck breast and foie gras ($34). The heart-healthy lean ostrich almost made up for the cholesterol-laden duck and unctuous foie gras, which was accompanied by celery root, quince confit, watercress and pistachios. All in all, an unusually imaginative and satisfying combination.
A brand new space allows for some freedom in design. And Krinn, his anonymous partner and the building architects delivered a beauty. The space is 21st century modern, without sacrificing comfort, and the wood and neutral colors blend perfectly with the tree-ringed, man-made lake visible through 30-foot picture windows. “When it snows, you feel like you’re on a cruise in Alaska,” Krinn has said.
Throw in a gleaming bar at the front of the room, a chef’s table and two large dining rooms — one of which looks out onto a waterfall that feeds the lake — and it’s no wonder that Krinn calls this his “dream job.”
Service here is provided not by a traditional wait staff but rather by a team of suit-clad maitre d’s, assisted by another team of backwaiters and bussers.
The result is that on the one hand, anyone who approaches your table is unusually knowledgeable and professional; on the other hand, you never quite know who’s taking care of you.
The room also boasts a dedicated sommelier, Caterina Abbruzzetti, one of only two female wine captains in the Washington area. As you might expect, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of seemingly every bottle on the voluminous list.
My only service issue came when we ordered wine from another member of the staff. The cellar was out of the first bottle we requested, as well as the second. So our waiter offered alternatives — all at $30-$40 more than our initial choice. We had to insist on another bottle in the original price range.
Still, such problems are minor in the grand scheme of a restaurant that is magnificent in its conception and execution.