Last night I had the pleasure to eat at Policy in DC’s U St. Corridor. What a fantastic choice of a restaurant!
It is a “small plate” restaurant and thus very conducive to sharing with other people in your party. We had a party of 5 celebrating a couple birthdays. We started with a drink at the bar where they had a large menu of specialty drinks. From the moment we arrived it was clear that one standard feature of Policy is great service. Our bartender immediately made us feel like VIPs.
The decor strikes the perfect note for the neighborhood with a sleek urban feel. There is a lot of glossy black surfaces warmed with deep reds, and the feel is somewhere between a kitschy lounge of the 60’s and a sexy private club.
This would also be one of those nights when the server took it from a good night out to a great night out! Ryan came to our table and told us to prepare to have a great night and then set about to make it happen! He took us through the menu and let us know some stand-out items and in some cases how they were prepared and why they were so special.
The Red Curry Lentils, for example, had golden raisins in them which he described as “little landmines of sweetness” that gave the dish bright notes.
We jumped right in ordering 4 small plates to be passed around the table. The nice thing about Policy’s approach is that each dish was ample enough to pass among 5 people.
The Butternut Squash Gnocchi was the first thing we tasted and it was so good we would go on to order another portion! Tiny gnocchi made with butternut squash and pate de choux dough (in lieu of potato) were boiled and then sautéed to brown them,then topped with a delicate sauce that hit every taste bud.
From there we moved to the dish that would be my favorite of the night, the Sweet Chili Pork Belly. These morsels of pork were cooked chicharron style and topped with pickled daikon and a kim chee puree. The flavor combination was outstanding! If you’re a fan of pork belly you know that it has to be prepared perfectly or else it comes off as a fatty greasy piece of meat; but, when correctly executed as this was, it borders on sublime!
Everything we tasted was delicious and memorable! Other meat items included Waygu Beef Medallions with marinated roasted peppers and a sweet garlic sauce. Braised and Grilled Beef Shortribs were served with a miso-mustard glaze and topped with house made pickles. As good as the meats were, they were equaled by the vegetables. A vegetarian could eat really well here including a brussel sprout dish that everyone raved about, the red curry lentils with swiss chard and a coconut essence. The beet salad featured a gorgonzola mousse, aged balsamic vinegar and pistachio pesto!
The fun thing about a small plate restaurant is that every time a dish arrives at the table there are oohs and ahhs. Our server worked this to his advantage and has us trained to watch him arrive!
When we were done eating he told us to sit tight and that he had a special birthday surprise for us. He returned with a brown bag with a birthday message written on it that was filled with small round homemade donuts! They were covered in confectioner’s sugar and served with creme anglaise on the side for dipping.
But to make things fun, he served it with two rather robust sparklers in his mouth!!
The whole evening struck the perfect balance between casual and fun, and seriously offering food the whole staff is clearly proud of and eager to share.
I will return to Policy, and between now and when I do, I will dream about returning! Happy birthday Mary and Michael!