By Kate Oczypok - 12/01/10 11:55 PM EST
If you’re looking for a quiet sanctuary for a holiday get-together with your loved ones amid the chaos of the season, Vidalia’s subterranean dining room is a sure bet.
Somewhat hidden along 19th and M Streets, one must enter Vidalia down a flight of stairs that at first leave you thinking you’ll be welcomed into an old English basement-like atmosphere. Vidalia’s main dining room resembles that of a cruise ship, and the effect seems to be just that — you sit down with your party and are instantly whisked away on a food-related adventure with a Southern twist.
Order the mint julep cocktail to start. The cool refreshing concoction will bring your group back to the balmy nights spent out on your apartment balcony or quiet evenings on the porch. As you sip and stir your cocktail, consider the five-course tasting menu. Make sure you get the whole table to agree on the multi-course meal, as Vidalia will only serve everyone — or no one — the set menu.
You have your choice of a hot and cold appetizer, a meat and a seafood dish and a dessert. The grilled Maine lobster salad is a definite recommendation if you’ve opted not to stand in line for the infamous lobster food truck in D.C. Served with compressed apple, celery root puree and lobster caramel, it’s a delectable way to begin your meal.
Warm up with Vidalia’s famous five-onion soup — this souped-up (forgive the pun) version of French onion soup has a duck broth, duck dumplings and cornbread croutons. Also recommended to warm you up in the cold is the frogmore stew, made with rockfish, Carolina shrimp, lump crab and smoked sausage.
The ribs are a must-order, as they literally fall off the bone. They’re saturated in a delicious barbecue sauce and served with Southern style potatoes. The duck breast is a spicier alternative, served with sweet and sour beets, fig-duck confit strudel and port gastrique.
Be sure to save room for Vidalia’s baked macaroni. The dish is everything you thought macaroni should be, baked just enough so the Amish cheddar and goat cheese on top are lightly browned and the smoked ham tossed throughout is hot and tasty.
If you can manage to order dessert after the heavy Southern meal, check out Vidalia’s extensive menu of Southern comforts and sweet treats. The pecan pie is recommended, a perfect closing act to your below-the-Mason-Dixon-line meal. The pie is paired excellently with bourbon ice cream, praline lace crumble and caramel. If you’re into different flavors for your dessert, try the sugar-spiced doughnuts with chocolate cardamom, caramel toffee and berry citrus dips. The dips are so decadent you’ll want to revert to your childhood and lick the bowls clean.
Vidalia offers private dining and special-event space in case you want to turn your small holiday gathering of friends into a full-fledged reunion. For more information, call 202-659-1990 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.