Though the design in Fire & Sage’s dining room exudes modern elegance, the eatery’s kitchen relies on a decidedly more Old-World device: a wood-fired brick oven. Serving as the kitchen’s cornerstone, the oven bakes signature flatbread pizzas whose flavors range from the classic pairing of mozzarella and basil to an eclectic mélange of sopressa, pepperoni, chorizo, and goat cheese. These upscale twists on finger food represent Executive Chef Stephen Malfatti’s entire menu of refined American classics such as crab-cake sliders on potato rolls, sage-marinated organic chicken over sweet-potato risotto, and sea scallops topped with wild-mushroom ragout. As a starter, the gooey artichoke dip was described as “so generous with lump crab, we imagine it comes from the recipe files of Daddy Warbucks,” by the Washington Post. Regional microbrews join domestic and international beers on the drink menu, which also boasts eight signature cocktails ranging from a tiramisu martini to a cucumber-based concoction with Skinnygirl vodka. Inside the Washington Marriott at Metro Center, diners sit at high-top tables in the bar area or in plush, lime-green booths with giraffe-print accents in the dining room. The colorful booths and chairs play elegantly against the golden-hued wood of the walls and floors, all of which are illuminated by oversize hanging lamps.
Crush Kitchen & Winehouse
In addition to its elegant, warmly decorated lounge and hand-selected stock of wine, Crush Kitchen doubles as an intimate gathering place?a place that lets groups connect over small plates and test pairing tips doled out by knowledgeable servers. The wine list features premium, uncommon wines crafted by small producers from around the world, and wine-tasting events give patrons a chance to learn about pinot noir or American varietals from wine experts. Crush also makes all of its breads, dressings, desserts, and soups in-house everyday, and daily specials encourage patrons to try out new dishes.
Slate Wine Bar + Bistro
Slate Wine Bar + Bistro, carries on the family tradition of pouring fine wines in welcoming surroundings. A carefully curated selection of bottles?with an emphasis placed on wines?pairs with brunch, lunch, and dinner menus of New American cuisine. The wait staff offers insight so guests can perfectly match their meals of pan-seared duck breast with a red wine cherry sauce, grass-fed burgers, or seasonal risotto, and wine experts provide in-depth information in curated tasting events.
WineTasting.org and its founder, wine expert and PBS television host Mark Phillips, enlighten budding oenophiles on the intricacies of wine tasting through a variety of media, including online classes, events, Phillips' book Swallow This, and his TV show. His sundry lessons teach devotees valuable vino insights, such as how to get wine to the right temperature, the differences between glass types, and when it's OK to drop ice cubes into glasses of white. Phillips approaches each lecture with a comedic, unpretentious attitude, ensuring that patrons can easily bolster their knowledge of the subject without having to bribe wine-bar waiters.
The Pursuit Wine Bar keeps the wine flowing freely by loading its taps with a range of varietals. Guests can also sip from bottles of wine, signature cocktails, and craft brews, pairing these classy drinks with simple, yet beloved bites. Diners can build their own grilled cheese with a number of breads, cheeses, and spreads, or opt for classic brunch fare such as frittatas and french toast on weekends.
Cork teaches its clientele to do the seemingly impossible: dissect a liquid. Its wine tastings and classes showcase vintages from around the globe, and a daily selection of more than 50 wines by the glass pair with plates of local squash blossoms and duck confit.
Evocative aromas ascend from swirling chalices at Veritas Wine Bar, a brick-walled lounge where sommeliers pair more than 70 wines by the glass with a menu of cheese and charcuterie plates. Grape-infused elixirs gush from a temperature-controlled tap system, ensuring uniform sips unmarred by sudden climate shifts or clumsy fire breathers. Reds and whites from Italy, South Africa, and New Zealand slosh into individual glasses or join forces to create flights. Globetrotting artisanal cheeses fall under four categories—blue, cow, goat, and sheep—and deliciously mingle with charcuterie selections. Sippers can scrawl an appetizing epilogue across the evening’s feast by noshing on chocolate morsels laced with slow-cooked caramel or pistachio butter, which silence petulant sweet teeth without preemptively donning a bedtime retainer.