Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

March 30, 2013 8:55 AM

Restaurant: Unum


2917 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
I had dinner at Unum twice over three days. The first evening was with Mary and Joe, and the second evening with Debbie, Maureen and Andy. Happily, the second visit was a repeat of a very enjoyable first visit.

The restaurant is relatively small and has a pub-like quality. Currently, it is only open for dinner. It seats about 60 people, including about a dozen at the bar, which is to your left as you enter the relatively narrow restaurant. The rest of the seating is at 2s and 4s. The way the tables are organized they can create larger tables.

Mary started with the Unum salad -- petite oak & tango lettuce, endive, cherries, Asian & Bartlett pears and sherry vinaigrette; and then enjoyed the boneless short rib pasta -- tagliatelle noodles, baby root vegetables, red-wine braising jus.

Joe opted for the beet salad -- raw, pickled & roasted beets, lemon-goat cheese & vanilla vinaigrette, followed by the cinnamon-pomegranate duck confit- - pearl cous cous, figs, Tuscan kale, toasted almonds, shallot puree, and pomegranate sauce.

On that first evening, I ordered Unum rabbit terrine, Unum salad and the duck confit.

On the second evening, Maureen began with the beet salad and roasted organic chicken -- jus of olives, dried fruit, capers, with roasted fingerling potatoes.

Debbie also started with the beet salad, followed by the duck confit.

Andy opted for the Unum salad and the duck confit.

I started with the Unum chicken liver mousse, the beet salad, and the boneless short rib pasta.

The first evening ended without dessert. On the second night, we shared chocolate & mint -- mint ice cream, chocolate cemeaux, butterscotch pudding, chocolate soil & pizzle, and assortment of three sorbets, including a goat cheese sorbet.

One relatively unique, but desirable, feature of the menu is that half-portions can be ordered for five of the nine entrees, at half price. I tried a half-order of the short rib pasta because the waiter suggested that I would find it more than ample. He was right.

Phil Blane, the chef owner (along with his wife Laurie Schiller), roams the restaurant, visiting with guests.

The restrooms are in the basement, down a flight of wooden stairs with part of the stone foundation showing. The rest of the stairwell and hallway are painted red. The men's restroom is small but of serviceable size. There is a white ceramic commode and a square white ceramic wash basin in a counter. The walls here are also red, except for the wall behind the commode, which is covered in large green tiles, as is the floor.

Parking is on the street or in one of the lots within a few blocks. If you make a 6:30 p.m. reservation you have a reasonable chance of being able to park on the street in front of the restaurant, on which parking is not allowed from 4-6:30 p.m.

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