Cityzen Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 1330 Maryland Ave., S.W., (202) 787-6006
After reading the many glowing reviews of Cityzen at the Mandarin Oriental it's hard not to wonder whether D.C. really has food this meticulously crafted and quite frankly exciting as many proclaim star chef Eric Ziebold's works to be. They are much closer to art than simply a meal. There is no disappointment. An evening at Cityzen is euphoria for any gourmet and lobbyists, journalists, politicians and businessmen now recognize it to be one of the power spots for a dinner that is almost unparalleled in Washington.
Ziebold's menu is an aggressive tour of modern American cuisine infused with five core elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The result yields a luscious lychee lime sorbet blended with Ketel One vodka that is sweet enough to go down smoothly, but with enough zing to awaken your mouth. The cappuccino inspired chestnut soup has a bold surprising bite to with it's intense smoky flavor, yet the creamy foam makes it silky and light.
Even though Ziebold changes his menu monthly, his meals are nothing short of perfection. He scours the planet for the finest ingredients. Cod comes from Japan, as he prefers it over the American variety because it's firmer. He's not afraid to try dozens of pieces of beef until he finds the texture, marbleization and flavor he desires. The ingredients are then treated as if they are divine objects. Vegetables taste as if each potato or carrot has been individually cooked. As with any "hot" restaurant there are some signature items such as the bite-size parker house rolls that melt like the creamiest butter in your mouth. The cheese plate is seductive: 30 cheeses lined on a trolley by type of milk and age. Set in an alluring atmosphere of neutral colors with fierce red candlelight, Cityzen stands apart in Washington's dining scene.