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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review / Lost Society = Found: A Gem

Perhaps the busiest time of the week to drop into — or drop up to on the second floor — Lost Society restaurant/nightclub would be Friday nights. That would be a safe bet, and an even safer bet would be to make a reservation, especially if you are planning to eat there. Otherwise, chances are excellent you won’t find a seat à deux, or however many are in your party.

Glancing around the second floor bar area on a recent Friday night shows clusters of hot, twenty- and thirtysomethings hanging out with cocktails, wine bottles, and brews at the bar. The chatter is lively, the air is heavy with whispers and giggles, and you can bet that the dating scene is just beginning to ramp up and to head into a long evening ahead. All this confirms that at least for some part of the evening, the Lost Society is definitely a found destination. And if you can grab a window seat, you can watch all the U Street corridor hustle and bustle.

But for those who come to eat and sip wine quietly, and not to spend a night about town, you can plan on some unexpectedly over-the-top fare. The chef, a quiet fellow who has a steakhouse background, is the ideal fit for a boutique steakhouse that really is just as much about epicurean fare as it is about booze.

The menu is short and sweet, a plus when you really want to concentrate your palate on some rare combinations. That said, as you enjoy the freshly made potato chips with a truffled dip and sip your drink, think long and hard about where to start. For those who look for something a little offbeat, start with the root beer-braised short ribs, about as succulent a portion of boneless beef with a sweetish undertone as you will find in DC. Served with a turnip purée that adds just an edge of tartness, these would be worth expanding into an entrée portion.

Other appetizers include one of the city’s more unusual dishes, roasted bone marrow. There may be a market for this, and it’s probably delicious, but look at the other offerings, too: crispy pork belly (all the rage citywide), tuna tartare, and oysters. Needless to say, you can simply have a salad instead, and the Caesar and the baby wedge with nuggets of crunchy bacon are outstanding. Indeed, the wedge, replicated over and over again elsewhere, becomes a superstar in the hands of this chef.

As for entrées, you can stick close to casual, as with the blackened bacon-cheddar burger with hot, crunchy fries, or go upscale with the petit filet with frites and slender, roasted young carrots. The steak is considered a signature, but the hamburger, according to the menu, is a favorite, and there’s a good reason why. The portion is immense: a patty bursting with juiciness, flavorful sautéed mushrooms tossed with onions, and all is spiked with a flavorful spread.

Saving room for dessert is mandatory here: It’s a tossup if the apple upside-down cake bests the Nutella tart, and that would depend on personal choice. But if you are a chocoholic, then you’ll pick out the tart, with its thick graham cracker crust and a topping of melted marshmallows. Once you finish the last crumb, you may wonder what on earth you were thinking to dream about licking the plate for the last hint of chocolate. It’s that good.

Dinner through? You can stick around, huddle at the bar over a brew or one of the fancy cocktails, or wander out to U Street and join the throngs passing along. But you won’t soon forget your dinner at Lost Society. It’s a kind of homecoming, even if you are not a nightclub type.

Lost Society | (2001 14th St., NW (202) 618-8868. Hours: Tue. 5-10pm; Wed. & Thu. to 11pm; Fri. & Sat. to 12 midnight. Dinner entrées price range: $11-$32.

 

 

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.