Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

September 8, 2007 7:05 PM

Restaurant: Proof


775 G St. NW
Washington, D.C
I went to Proof with Chris, which is always a treat given her knowledge of fine food and wine.

The restaurant is one large area that is divided between a lounge and a dining room.

As you enter the restaurant, the bar and lounge area are dead ahead. The bar has 14 high stools.

There is an "cruvinee" behind the bar. It is not unusual to see a cruvinee that holds 3-4 bottles, but this one holds 32 bottles. It dispenses wines in your choice of 2, 6, and 8.5 ounce portions. (In modern parlance the cruvinee is called an Enomatic.)

The lounge area will seat up to 35 people in total and the full menu is available. However, I think there may well be too many people milling around the lounge on a busy night to fully enjoy a full dinner in this area.

To the right, past the lounge, is the dining room. It is set up in two long sections, with a divider lengthwise down the middle, which makes each side seem a little more intimate than if it were one large area. The section on the left has 5 - 4-person booths, and there are also a number of 2 tops and 4 tops in this section. In the section on the right there are 2 tops and 4 tops. In total the dining area will seat up to 84 people.

At the far end of the room is a wine "cellar," with bottles visible through the floor to ceiling glass wall.

To the left of the wine area there is a cheese station. Here, two folks work preparing portions of dozens of cheeses. Just past this station, if you look to the left, you can see the kitchen in action, and then you are at the restrooms. More on them later.

The whole restaurant is somewhat dim, but there is plenty of light around the bar and over the dining tables so those with slightly dimming vision can easily read the menu.

The dinner menu has 6 sections: Charcuterie, First Courses, Second Courses, Alsos, Cheese and Desserts.

Under Charcuterie there are 12 choices ranging from Soppresetta to Marcona Almonds.

13 First courses - Wagyu Beef Sashimi to Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi.

6 Second courses - Roasted Alaskan Halibut to Grilled Hanger Steak.

4 Alsos - Roasted Wild Mushrooms to Sauteed Zucchini & Summer Squash.

22 Cheeses - 8 Cow cheeses, 6 Sheep cheeses, 7 Goat cheeses, and 1 Blend.

6 Desserts - Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce to Chocolate Bundt Cake with chocolate hazelnut mousse and chocolate sorbet.

There is also a Chef's Six Course Tasting Menu, but everyone in the party has to participate.

Chris and I shared the following:

Starters - Jamon Serrano (Spanish ham); Pickled Okra; Roasted Baby Beets with sherry mustard vinaigrette, aged goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts; Roast Flatbreads with Ricotta, olive oil, lemon thyume, pea shoots, sea salts.

Entrees - Glazed Sablefish, potato puree, pea shoots, wild mushrooms, miso sauce; Crispy Panko Chicken, lemongrass jasmine pilaf, slaw, salsa verde; Sauteed Baby Bok Choy.

Dessert - Honeyed Goats Cheesecake, pink peppercorn shortbread, raspberries, passion fruit.

Every dish was excellent.

(On subsequent vists I was able to sample the Champagne Pate, the Stickey Toffee Pudding Cake with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce, and the Grilled Lamb Burger served on a brioche bun with "chick pea fries (they look like thick french fries, but the taste is quite different).

As you know, this writer is not a wine afficiando, but Chris is, and she described the wine selections as "one of the most impressive wine lists I have ever seen." And she enjoyed those that she tasted. Chris also noted that the glassware used for wine was as good as the wines.

The wine list is expansive and many of the choices are downright expensive. One bottle that caught my eye, St. Emilion, 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc, has a price of $11,000. If that is a little pricey for you, the 1982 is $2,400 and the 1996 is available at the bargain price of $450.

My friend Al Eisele, of "The Hill," has written in more detail about the wine collection. Get a copy of "The Hill" for August 2nd, in the Capital Living section, for his comments.

Maria was our serving person. If there is a prize for the serving person who best represents the restaurant and all its qualities, Maria would certainly be in the finals, if not the ultimate winner.

She spoke glowingly of her co-workers, the managers, the general working conditions, and how much she enjoyed working as a serving person. When asked where else she had worked she ticked off a half dozen D.C. food emporiums, but made it clear that Proof was her favorite.

When asked what wines she would suggest she asked about general preferences before making suggestions. When asked about her favorites for various courses she had ready suggestions. Suffice to say, the service was excellent. (Our service was significantly more attentive than Al reported in "The Hill," but we were in the dining room and he was in the lounge.)

The men's room is dark, black and shiny.

As you enter you face two, rather unusual, black wash basins. There is no bowl in these washbasins. Instead they are essentially flat, with a small channel that runs all the way around, ending with a drain at the back of the wash basin. There is obviously enough slope in the center of the wash basin and in the channels so that water that hits the center of the wash basin runs off into the channels and thereafter to the drain.

To the right are two black ceramic hanging urinals divided by a partial shiny black metal divider. The back end of the room is the large commode area, that is walled off by partial black metal walls and doors.

The floor is covered with large, dark charcoal grey, slightly spackled tiles. The walls are covered with large black shiny tiles, except for the back wall of the commode area which is painted red from a height of about 4 feet to the ceiling. And then there is the art work. From the far left wall, over the washbasins and into the commode area, there is a picture in the tiles of a nude supine women; she has no head and her chest is exposed. Her feet are found inside the commode area.

Each of the urinals also has similar artwork that catches the eye as you stand in front of the urinal. Here the pictures are somewhat more defined. On the right, a full posterior shot with head, that ends just below the buttocks. On the left the picture is of a woman lying on her stomach at an angle.

The ladies room (as reported to me) is quite striking and glamorous. It is decorated in shocking pink and grey, including a pink commode seat. There are full length mirrors, and the walls are covered in a retro foil wall paper.

There is valet parking in the evening.

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