New Heights, Woodley Park

(See December 11, 2010 Review here.)

The Minestrone ($9 on the bar menu) at New Heights meets some sort of technical definition in that it contains a grain (farro) plus a bean (corona), but it’s more akin to a Palena consommé than a traditional Italian minestrone. The odd-shaped bowl comes with winter vegetables and farro, and a pitcher of warm, spiced consommé is poured around it. The most unusual thing here was what’s termed a “bean sphere,” which is a corona-bean custard, held together by a paper-thin skin. It’s a soup for a true food lover, not the typical Woodley Park hotel guest. The 5 spice-scented, Pho-like consomme was a bit salty on this night, but taken in concert with the rather neutral farro (and the broken bean sphere), blended in nicely.

The Braised Beef Short Rib ($14 on the bar menu) is to die for, and is similar to a component of the $31 beef entree here. A huge portion of absolutely incredible oven-braised Virginia short ribs, unfortunately showing some redness due to nitrates which I’ve never seen here before. Served with a wicked, horizontally (!) sliced cippolini cooked al dente, breakfast radish, and some whole corona beans (variations on a theme). Get this.

If you get the short rib appetizer, get it with a side order of Sautéed Spinach ($5). Using fresh spinach and a great oil, the garlic here (which is often spotted in big chips in Chinese restaurants), was a barely detectable undertone. This side dish is enough for two people, and is something you must order.

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