Neighborhood: U Street
Of the jillion or so restaurants that have popped up in our neighborhood recently, Hazel was simultaneously highly anticipated and doubted. Why the paradox? On the one hand, its provenance was a pretty good sign; few Neighborhood Restaurant Group spots have disappointed us. On the other hand, a week before our reservation, Official Co-Writer/Wife of DCWD Texas and I were sitting at the bar at Kyirisan when a couple of women plopped down beside us and audibly "meh'd" at the dinner there - they in fact come to Kyirisan for a perk-up dessert. So there's that.
Also joining us on this trip: Official Friend of DCWD AB.
One thing you can't deny is that Hazel is handsome, particularly its outdoor patio. If you can grab a seat there, do it. It's slim by charming, like a poor man's Masseria. The inside is a little more staid, with a dining room that combines the feel of Birch and Barley, the decor of Rose's Luxury, and the tiling of Estadio. The downside was the service: our server was at points inattentive and at others unhelpful. Not a good look.
Red Hen, Casa Luca, Iron Gate, to name a few) that do similar dishes better. The summer corn donburi is fun, but on some level it's a bowled version of the El Chucho cobbed version at twice the price. And both the hamachi crudo with crispy rice and crispy chickpea tofu are passable, but similarly structured dishes can be found at the aforementioned Kyirisan just down the street. So, all good, but nothing I would steer anybody out of their way for.
Food Rating: ** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 4.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Classy Crowd
Cost: $$$ (out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)