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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review: Number One in Dupont Circle = One Lounge

Regulars of the Dupont Circle scene surely know of One Lounge, an iconic setting that is a melding of lounge, nightclub, and restaurant wrapped up in one. The brainchild of chef/co-owner Seth McClelland, this go-to place really provides a bit of everything for the young — or older — and hungry for food, conversation, and fun. In other words, it’s one-stop shopping for good times.

The background music and chatter are certainly compelling, but for the foodie, it’s about, well, the food. Although McClellan is not a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he can compete with the best in DC. Chalk it up to his energy, perhaps, but take into account this is one young chef who started out in the kitchen when he was only 5 or 6. By the time he was 12, he was skilled enough to pull together full family holiday meals from soup to nuts.

So what has McClellan pulled together for the One Lounge menu? While it is certainly not a Thanksgiving turkey, it is an assortment of all the dishes that he knows and loves, which means an eclectic menu that runs from red-skinned potato chips with dips and funky tapas to flatbread pizzas and entrées that range from porcini ravioli to grilled lamb chops —- these are luscious nuggets of juicy lambiness and a wonderful dish to understand how the chef came to command this kitchen. You can get these in both a tapas and an entrée size, though the entrée chops come with mashed potatoes and long beans, making the chops choice really a full meal.

But no meal here could be complete without starting with not only the potato chips and dip but a grilled shrimp taco served with greens, sautéed onions, and a just-spicy chimichurri sauce. Great textures and contrasting flavors, and you may think these are just fine alone for dinner. These, plus wine, beer, or one of the signature cocktails like the cilantro gin gimlet add extra pizzazz.

But maybe the highlight of any meal here are the Greek lamb sliders, though I am sure if you prevailed upon him McClelland would make these in hamburger-sized servings. But even in their mini slider size, these luscious, juicy mini burgers take on a special character with the accompanying olive tapenade and Greek yogurt. A good pairing — the stuffed mushroom with pesto, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Yum

The trick here is to come early, bring friends, eat lots, and stay late: you will still have the entire menu to eat through, for chances are that you will find a tapas of grilled salmon with sautéed spinach or stewed lamb meatballs with basil and goat cheese a welcome addition to a casual meal with friends. Or maybe a flatbread pizza of sweet sausage and sun-dried tomatoes.

Naturally, desserts make the cut here. Delicate pink lemonade cupcakes paired with a mug of Irish coffee should please just about anyone. Other dessert choices, though limited, do include a chocolate cheesecake and a warm apple crisp sweetened with caramel and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Feeling daring? Why not a Chocolate Decadence Martini as the ultimate decadent good-night drink.

If you choose just to sip hot coffee after dinner, you will likely stay awake long enough to enjoy the live music that goes on into the wee, wee hours. That sort of entertainment only enhances the socializing that must make Lounge One a go-to spot in Dupont Circle.

One Lounge Kitchen and Cocktail Bar (1601 20th St., NW); (202) 299-0909. Hours: Mon.-Thu. 5pm-2am; Fri. & Sat. to 3am. Entrée price range: $11-$20.

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.