Restaurants in The InTowner
The InTowner
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Restaurant Review ~ Rose’s Luxury / 717 8th St. SE

A Rose by any other Name? When a DC restaurant wins a prestigious “best of” award, foodies listen. That’s what has happened to Rose’s Luxury, a small eatery on Barracks Row. In September, Bon Appetit magazine named this quirky restaurant America’s number one new restaurant for the year.

And not only are foodies listening, but they are lining up to grab a table as soon as the doors open. Of course, as time passes the crowds will dwindle, and that’s good news for those who don’t want to wait in line for two-and-a-half hours.

When you are finally seated, pleasant staff greet you with suggestions for cocktails and wine, and offer the menu. Where to start? Well, clearly with something as cheerful as the cocktail that features Blanco tequila, Domaine de Canton, jalapeño, agave (for a kick of sweet), and grapefruit. If that sounds unusual, never mind. Its hot-sweet taste is luscious. And as you enjoy your drinks, waitstaff come by with a small basket of warm biscuits, with ramekins of butter and honey. It was unclear if seconds are offered; we did not get any, and the biscuits vanished fast.

As you sip this — and hopefully you are joined by a friend or two — consider ordering several of the small plates, just enough to share for two, unless you are really hungry. Then order three. Recommended starters include the big-eye tuna with freshly grated wasabi, a small plate that includes four slices of the tuna with a dab of wasabi.

Add to your order the pork sausage with habanero and a lychee salad, which offers a wonderful mixture of flavors and texture. Especially appealing is the rather exotic lychee. If the evening special includes crispy octopus, add that to your starter list. It is cooked sous-vide “under vacuum”) then grilled, and the result is a tender seafood temptation, not the usual chewy-rubbery offering.

Two chicken offerings shine, and are so completely different that you won’t regret ordering a double dose of chicken. The Jerk chicken comes as grilled pieces accented with lime and shredded pickled mango. The other — pickle-brined fried chicken — is apparently the one dish that sent the Bon Appetit reviewer into sheer delight. In fact, its recipe appears in the September issue, if you would rather fix it at home instead of waiting in line for a table. What results from the prep work is crispy boneless chicken pieces that are tender and infused with a touch of honey sweetness.

But not all was honey and glory at Rose’s that night. The smoked brisket appeared as several grayish pieces of beef without much flavor, though the horseradish and slaw perked it up. And the dessert called the English pea cake with mint curd and pistachios was too contrived — and minutely portioned — to deserve any gold stars. Better was the goat’s milk stracciatella with raspberries and spicy meringue, but it, too, came in too small a portion — just two or three bites.

To wrap up, Rose’s Luxury offers a spread of inventive dishes, some too novel and small to make much sense. It is also likely that the chef changes the menu around, so if you are mad about one dish, such as the pickle-brined fried chicken, it may be gone the next visit.

But if you love a crowd scene and a too-hot destination, head to Rose’s Luxury and don’t fret over a two-hour wait for a table. The doors open at 5:30 p.m., and if you want a first-seating table, you’d better be ready. Note: the downstairs crowded, noisy dining area may appeal, but if you are looking for a quieter, and more expensive, meal, get a reservation for the private roof garden.

Rose’s Luxury / Hours: Mon.-Thu. 5-10pm; Fri. & Sat. 5-11pm. Entrée prices: $11-$29. (202) 580-8889.