Birthday Adventures: Chef Geoff's

The night after Zengo, we continued Julia's birthday celebration by going to an amazingly hilarious (and raucous) Lisa Lampanelli comedy show at the Warner Theatre. Since we went to the late show, we were able to go to Chef Geoff's, right across the street first for an interesting and delicious meal.

Chef Geoff's has one of the deeper, more creative and more intriguing menus in all of DC. With a litany of interesting, high-end versions of various small bites, appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and pizzas, you might think this a gastro-pub of sorts. But the other side of the menu has many mesmerizing entrees, steaks and chops that could compete with any haute cuisinerie. It's a meld of familiar and fancy that makes for a fun, different and highly tasty experience. And that's why we love going back. This dinner was not an adventure – it was money in the bank. You can order something completely new and evocative or an old standby and expect it to always be spot on.

This time we ordered some fabulous dishes with few complaints. We started with some truffle-parmesan popcorn, which despite not having much of a truffle hint at all, was extremely tasty, brimming with an explosion of parmesan. It was ever-so-slightly oily and so crisp and fresh that our paper-cone of it was gone well before our very fine shared red flight and white flight of wine were.

I ordered the crab bisque next in lieu of appetizers (which were tempting me so I don't know why), and I was served a thin and delicate version of the creamy soup with little else in its rich and flavorful broth besides a few succulent pieces of crab meat and a couple croutons. The flavor was very concentrated crab, and that is what I want in a bisque. It did seem a little ordinary, especially for Chef Geoff's, so it's nothing that I'll be dreaming about for weeks.

My surprisingly simple order continued with their sirloin steak. It came with a creamy horseradish sauce and a few crispy onions. It was a heavenly piece of meat, which the horseradish accented and the onions (while tasty on their own) did nothing to help and were quickly pushed to the side and eaten later. It was cooked perfectly, succulent medium rare, and as tasty and buttery as a $25 steak should be. I was content with my order, but felt that the price was a little high for a steak that came with nothing else, despite having a waiter trying to push me to order multiple $6 sides with it. Nah, not worth it.

Julia sometimes finds vegetarian dishes in nice restaurants that simply blow me out of the water. The handmade mushroom-stuffed raviolis in truffle butter sauce at Chef Geoff's was one of those dishes. It literally tasted like light little nuggets of a buttery, savory masterpiece with an extraordinary concentrated punch of wild mushroom. It was enchantingly good and is making my mouth water right now. I really hope Chef Geoff's holds on to that menu item, so I can return and order three plates of it! I would recommend this dish to anyone who appreciates an amazing bite of food – lifelong vegetarian or ravenous meat eaters alike. Needless to say, Julia loved it too and had to fend me off throughout the meal, siphoning off little bits every so often to satisfy my urge to steal her plate. Maybe if it wasn't her birthday…I would have tried harder.

We finished up at Chef Geoff's feeling full and happy after sipping on a little Bailey's and sampling some of the house ice cream (coconut) and sorbets (mango, and piƱa colada, which was tasteless). Couldn't have asked for a better restaurant to have right across from our show, or for Julia's birthday, or just to have around!

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