I was super excited to stay in Washington DC’s new built to order hip neighborhood, The Yards, that took the defunct navy yard and magically transformed it into a epicurean and tastemaker paradise. At the center of it and a stone’s throw from the baseball field, is the luxuriously sleek Thompson hotel. A premiere Hyatt property, the rooms here are nothing less than dreamy, offering casual white glove service and some very clever amenities you wish you had at home. I also liked their cheeky sexy nod that we are in an adult’s playground part of town. While the hotel offers views that beckon you to explore DC, there is a strong case for not leaving the yards at all, with Maialino Mare (https://www.maialinomare.com/) right down stairs, honed by my favorite restaurateur Danney Meyer, which was so hot I couldn’t even get a table so here’s a bunch of pictures of food they might have if you go. And upstairs the party continues with their penthouse lounge Anchovy Social (https://www.anchovysocial.com/) which has killer booze, killer food, and killer views that give you a true glimpse into What it’s like to live here. Hmmm. They should come over to the bar and have fun. Regardless what kind of night you have in the morning you are met with perhaps the sweetest self serve continental worthy of a Pinterest board for sure, that will fuel you for your conquest of the great city of Washington DC.
While exploring The Yards district nestled in the District of Columbia we discovered what would be our new most favorite dining experience, Albi. And when I say experience, I mean it. Here you journey through the rich complex flavors of Levantine cooking with chef/owner Michael Rafidi guiding the way. Drawing on home cooked Palestinian dishes, Rafidi gifts you with an unbelievable authentic fine dining experience while wrapped in a womb of warm architectural beauty.
Every Albi seat is enchanted by the traditional wood burning open hearth that adds palatable drama to every course, and their chef table offers more show then Cirque du Solei. While Albi is known for its ambrosia, their nectar game is as on point with a very serious wine program crafted by William Simons that brings eclectic eastern Mediterranean grape direct to your pallet. I was more interested in the small batch Syrian arak, whose ceremonial preparation and astringent bouquet puts your meal in hyperdrive, both complementing these desert flavors while serving as physician on duty as a slowly administered digestif. Simply genius. All this sensory conditioning is perfect to prepare you for the epicurean tidal wave that’s about to crash on your palate.
Equipped with a handy user manual to these unique flavors, these onslaught of playful dishes that come in waves rave in your mouth, each more complex and soothing than the next. Best yet, the entire experience is elevated by the super friendly and knowledgeable staff that seem to be as excited as you are to feast on such unique and perfectly prepared dishes, and why wouldn’t they be? Embered mushroom and black garlic hummus, smoked beef cheek dolma, apple and pear fattoush with pomegranate molasses, and smoked belly lamb kebabs with habanada honey are a few magical dishes that if said out loud have a truly spell-like effect. While the menu is not vast, it is profound, right down to the deserts, and while not what I would consider cheap by any measure, every bite is worth every penny for this extraordinarily special experience. Bravo Albi, shukran lakum.