Ryme Lansari, general manager of Westend Bistro in Washington, D.C., was tired of hearing friends always mention the same three neighborhoods when deciding where to go for dinner in the District: Georgetown, 14th Street, or Penn Quarter.
“Nobody ever said, ‘Let's go to the West End for dinner,’” Lansari says. “We have some of the best restaurants in the city, and I wanted people to make us a restaurant destination.”
This month, four of D.C.’s West End neighborhood’s restaurants—Blue Duck Tavern, Marcel’s, Ris, and Westend Bistro—joined forces to do just that, creating a progressive dinner series, called West End Wednesday, that gives participating chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists a stage to showcase their skills.
Held every Wednesday beginning in April and continuing through July, diners are treated to signature or exclusive menu offerings across all four restaurants. At each restaurant, guests dine together at a communal table, feasting on specialty small plates that include a hors d’oeurve, a seafood appetizer, a meat selection, and a dessert.
Only 12 participants are allowed each week, and tickets, which cost $100 per person, are sold out for April. The ticket price incudes pairings of wine, beer, or specialty cocktails at each stop.
The series takes full advantage of the proximity of the restaurants to each other, allowing guests to easily walk from one to the other, escorted to each location by a staff member of one of the host restaurants. In line with the idea of a progressive experience, diners are not given a menu before their food is served at each restaurant.
“So far, everyone loves the idea, and the dinner is going very well,” Lansari says. “It's a true collaboration between the four restaurants, and that’s what makes it successful.”
For the month of April, the progressive dinner starts at Marcel’s, moves on to Ris and Westend Bistro, and finishes up at Blue Duck Tavern. Both the restaurant lineup and special menu change monthly, giving each chef an opportunity to present a different dish.
For April’s menu, the first course is served at Marcel’s, where Chef Robert Wiedmaier offers Tortellini Stuffed with Duck Confit with black truffle puree; Stuffed Morel with velvet mousseline of foie gras; and Egg Shell with lobster custard, crab, and Ostera caviar.
Next, it’s onto the seafood course at RIS. Chef Ris Lacoste features Portuguese Seafood Stew with scallops, cod filet, shrimp, octopus, clams, chickpeas, and linguica.
The meat course is served at Westend Bistro, where Chef de Cuisine Devin Bozkaya offers Roasted Veal Loin with foie gras ravioli, chanterelles, and baby turnips, prepared with a crimson veal demi-glace.
For the dessert course, under the direction of Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault and newly hired Chef de Cuisine Daniel Singhofen, Blue Duck Tavern presents its renowned Apple Pie with honey vanilla ice cream.
“Hopefully, now more and more people will say, ‘I am going to the West End for dinner,’” Lansari says.
By Joann Whitcher