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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

La Tomate

Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle

The Setup

The first time I ever ventured up to Dupont Circle, almost eight years ago now, I distinctly remember spotting La Tomate, the little restaurant with the Flatiron Building-like space, made a little bit more appealing than its neighbors because of its cuter typography. It seemed then, as it does now, like a cute little date spot. Which makes it all the more interesting that it took me this long to have a meal there. Along for the trip is Official Wife of DCWD Texas, and Official Friends of DCWD Christine and Keith.

The Vibe

Sitting on the northern corner of Connecticut and 20th, means that the first thing you’ll notice is the point that the restaurant comes to, a similar though much smaller version of the aforementioned New York icon. The outside façade is charming and replicated inside, a cozy little Italian place with a small bar, a few scrunched up together tables, and perhaps most notably, a sizable patio on the 20th Street side. A bunch of large TVs hang around the restaurant, which is otherwise framed by large windows. It's cute and fairly straightforward: it's not the first time an Italian restaurant has painted itself in a palette featuring beige-yellow, black, and various shades of ochre, umber, and crimson.

The Food

I order the squid ink trenette, a generous portion of linguini-sized black ribbons mixed with shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shallots, and garlic. Squid ink is a dense flavor, one that overwhelms dishes at times, and while it's deployed usefully here, it also deadens most of the other flavors in the dish. It's a pasta plate that's dry and the most distinguishable note is of tomato. Each bite is flat, surprisingly providing none of the pitches and dips that one might expect from such a plate of pungent ingredients.
Texas has the tortelli, large ravioli-like pockets filled with swiss chard, ricotta, and parmesan, doused in a butter and sage sauce. Here the effect is reversed, with each bite of cheese generously surrounding itself with the taste of brown butter, which has the effect of softening the pasta a bit. It's rich and oily, which some people like; we just weren't them.

The Verdict

Perfectly reasonable, which is a way of saying "forgettable."

Food Rating: **
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Bar Rating:
Quiet Drinks
(out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Some fun exhibitions at the Phillips Art Gallery: a Van Gogh exhibit and a series from Pakistani artists, among others.

La Tomate on Urbanspoon

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