Graffiato: my new favorite

“[It only cost $20],  to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” Okay, first off my apologies to Dickens, but I have to emphasize this first and foremost. This meal only cost $20 each!

It’s D.C. Restaurant Week, and my travel buddy and I made reservations (last week) for a spot we’ve wanted to try for a long time:  Graffiato. And let’s just say, we were nothing short of amazed by every bite from the Top Chef veteran. Restaurant Week basically means diners choose one appetizer, an entree, and a dessert from a tailored menu for one flat rate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Restaurant Week is a foodie’s paradise. Seriously! It’s the time to try that place where you’ve been dying to dine.

Graffiato boasts a different kind of vibe. Wooden tables, metal chairs, brick walls, Tim Burtonesque artwork on the second floor, matter-of-fact fonts:  it’s an industrial sophistication. The design concept is muted only by the stunning visuals and tastes of the food. It works as a clean canvas for edible artwork.

View of the second floor dining room.

So between the two of us, here are the dishes we chose. For appetizers, the crispy brussel sprouts and buffalo mozzarela. Jersey Shore (pizza) and salmon for entrees. And for dessert, one of each:  the warm pistachio cake and chocolate tart. Words don’t do the food justice, so never fear, I took several photos.

Crispy brussel sprouts

The brussel sprouts. First of all, these aren’t your mom’s brussel sprouts (no offense to moms)! Cooked with chunks of pancetta, these sprouts were crisp, grilled, crunchy, yet soft enough. A lovely cream was a suprise waiting to happen on the bottom of the plate under a hearty portion of sprouts, pancetta, and slivers of hard-boiled egg. I would have never thought of this flavor combination (probably one reason why I am not a head chef). The second appetizer was the buffalo mozzarela. Using a fork, it sliced with

ease like butter. It held its shape beautifully and didn’t messily tear like some mozzarela I’ve had before. Its smooth creaminess was accompanied by pearl onions, shallots, basil, and, of course, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. What a way to start!

Jersey Shore pizza

The entrees took it to the next level. The Jersey Shore pizza had (get this) fried calamari on it with a cherry pepper ailoi, which wasn’t an overwhelming level of heat, but just enough. Hot and obviously hand-tossed, the actual bread of the pizza was soft and not dense. And there were several slices in this pizza; more than enough for two of us. I chose the salmon, which sat atop dill-lemon mashed potatoes. Five dots on the periphery of the plate showcased an eggplant puree


(which had a lovely charred taste) with squid ink. Yup, you read that correctly. Squid ink. Actually quite an interesting pairing, but delicious.

Ok, dessert time. Chocolate tart with a sea salt gelato, and it basically rocked the house. With a

Chocolate tart

dessert I enjoyed more!

Our waiter was knowledgeable about the dishes, and didn’t rush our meal. Isn’t that the worst when there isn’t time given to actually savor the food because the next dish is already on the table? And the bill wasn’t plopped down as soon as dessert was served.

I should mention that my travel buddy was not a fan of brussel sprouts or salmon. That is, before this meal! She is now a believer. Thank you, Graffiato!

Graffiato is located near Chinatown, and easily accessible by metro. We purchased day passes ($9), so were afforded the opportunity to check out some monuments and memorials we hadn’t

Traditional Chinese herbal remedies

gorgeous painted pots. At the front of the store, bins and bins of traditional Chinese herbs are labeled and stacked. A clerk was weighing and dividing herbs onto paper for a customer who told me they were traditional Chinese herbal remedies.

Around the corner from this shop is Calvary Baptist Church. The outside looked was so stately, we asked if we could take a peek at the sanctuary. And how magnificent! Stained-glass windows, light pouring through, wooden pews with such attention to woodwork and

Calvary Baptist sanctuary

detail, and those organ pipes! 

With our metro pass, we then found our way to the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, and a few exhibits in the American History museum. It was one full day! So in total, $29 for lunch (plus tip), a metro pass, and many sights. So worth it!

On the road again,

Ms. Thrifty

This entry was published on January 15, 2012 at 1:30 am. It’s filed under What to see in D.C. and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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