Sometimes I’m so good I impress even myself. Consider my following experience last night at DISTRIKT Bistro:
The scheduled time of my dinner date: 7:30. My arrival time: 7:35 (I was at a meeting!). The time of my first verbal blunder: 7:42.
Salad Niçoise is pronounced “nee-suaz.” Unfortunately, I let loose a hard c before stopping myself.
To make things worse, my date — a tall Canadian Jew with lustrous dark hair — studied French in school and immediately picked up on my (seeming?) boorishness.
Fortunately, the salad tasted better than my pronunciation sounded, and the rest of my meal at DISTRIKT Bistro tasted just as good.
DISTRIKT Bistro is Washington, DC’s newest kosher restaurant. It’s inside the DC JCC, which is, conveniently for me, on 16th street between P and Q.
But DISTRIKT Bistro hasn’t completely entered the kosher food circuit yet. Most of the kosher conversations I hear still run along the lines of: “On Monday nights we get Maoz and then watch our TV show; Tuesday nights we eat in; on Wednesday we go to Eli’s; Thursday it’s catch as catch can; and on Fridays we do a Shabbat meal somewhere.”
Part of this is due to DISTRIKT’s novelty — it’s not a year old yet.
But the other (and bigger?) part is its price. DISTRIKT’s prices aren’t “every night” prices. Dinner entrees range from $18 (Portobello steak) to $34 (Dijon Roasted Lamb) with most of the other dishes falling in the 20s. Throw in an appetizer, and you’re up to at least $30 a person — considerably more than my milk-and-cereal wallet is used to spending (thank goodness we “make bank” at GTJ — See FAQ #11). So DISTRIKT diners are special diners. My date led me there last night. And the two people dining next to us were there celebrating their fifth anniversary.
True, DISTRIKT is a bit more expensive than Eli’s, but it’s also more ornate. It’s not everywhere — kosher or non-kosher — that you can order Eggplant Cutlets as an appetizer and have it presented to you with the balsamic dressing artistically drizzled around the edge of the plate. Nor is it everywhere that you get such good service. There weren’t many people in the restaurant, but even so, the waitress kept up with my water-chugging habits and other idiosyncrasies as if she had known me all my life. I haven’t been to Eli’s enough times to fairly compare the service, but judging by the fact that Eli’s owner Manny hasn’t paid GTJ for his advertisement — despite repeated requests — in 10 months, it wouldn’t surprise me if Eli’s was sometimes a bit slow on its food too.
The biggest conventional downside to DISTRIKT is its location. Being on 16th street is great, but most people find being on the ground floor of the JCC to be a bit off putting. How fancy does that Dijon Roasted Lamb seem when you’re watching sweaty basketball players enter and exit the building? I personally get a kick out of it because I get to see at least four friends every time I eat there, but I can understand where the negative sentiment comes from.
As for other dishes, my date had Morroccan Harira soup and the entree special: chicken marsala and rice pilaf. I was assured both were delicious. I’ve also heard good things about the lunch sandwiches and desserts.
All in all, very good food, a bit expensive (the tragedy of kosher dining?), good service, and questionable atmosphere. I highly recommend DISTRIKT for kosher eaters looking to treat themselves to something nice, or if you want to break out of the M/N streets mold.
As for my date… Great conversationalist, very interesting, very smart, but I think we’ve both agreed that it works best as a friendship.
P.S. I know it’s a bit rich for somebody with extremely bizarre eating habits to review a restaurant… But… it was fun!