My First Restaurant Review: Art and Soul (Washington D.C.)

by Matt on November 1, 2010

On Saturday night, I had the opportunity for a nice dinner with my ENTIRE family. We only have this chance a few times a year, so it was really something special. Since it was such an occasion, I chose a place that had been recommended to me by a few people:

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From the website, the restaurant is described as:

Art and Soul, located in the heart of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, offers guests a chic setting in which to meet and connect, while enjoying “food for the soul” – food made with love and special attention. With celebrated two-time James Beard-Award winning Chef Art Smith as chef/owner, this 221-seat dining destination serves modern, regional cuisine with southern accents.

Named for its nationally renowned chef and the genuine welcoming feeling guests experience when they walk through the doors, the cuisine at this DC restaurant is presented with southern-style hospitality.

This was actually a very odd restaurant choice for me. I am not a huge fan of southern food, except for cornbread and macaroni and cheese. If I I could live healthily off those two foods for my entire life, I totally would.

After looking at the , I was instantly intrigued and made a reservation.

We arrived about 40 minutes late, but that is normal for my family. Except for me, we have a terrible sense of time. “On time” means a few minutes late AT LEAST ;)

I will apologize in advance for the terrible photos. The lighting in the restaurant was less than ideal (for pictures at least) and I didn’t want to bust out the flash.

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Bama-dad, Bama-sister, Bama-mama, and Me

When we first arrived at the restaurant, I instantly felt that “homey” feeling. It was rich in southern decor, but it had a modern twist to it. Everyone was VERY nice, including the head chef and owner, which I will get to later.

When we first sat down, we served a basket of cornbread. The cornbread was a little cold, but other than that, it was delicious.

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We had pretty much demolished this basket before I even remembered to get a picture. It was that good!

It was crumbly, sweet, and moist. Delicious, delicious, delicious.

For my next course, I ordered the Capitol Hill Salad with goat cheese instead of bleu cheese. We all know how much I like goat cheese ;)

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Local apples, blue cheese, pecans, apple cider vinaigrette

Again, I started eating before I remembered to take a picture. This is why I am not a food blogger; I have no patience when it comes to taking pictures. I just want to eat!

No shame in that right?

It was one of the most delicious salads I have ever eaten in my life. If it had been made with an apple besides granny smith, it might have taken the number one spot. I hate granny smith apples (along with red and delicious), but that was the only downside of the salad. My dad knows me too well because he ordered extra goat cheese ;)

For my main course, I ordered the herb marinated salmon.

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Cured pork braised kale, sweet potato mash, tomato jam

This was the most delicious piece of Salmon I have ever eaten in my entire life. It was perfectly cooked; it was tender, buttery, and melted in my mouth. My sister thought it was too spicy, but I thought it was perfect. I like a little spice in my life ;)

My dad ordered the Bone-In Prime Ribeye:

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Crisp fingerlings, creamed spinach, black pepper marmalade

My dad says: My bone-in ribeye was cooked perfectly. As I cut into the meat, the juices flowed onto the plate. The presentation of the food was well done. The wait staff was very friendly and attentive.

My sister ordered the Pan Roasted Chicken:

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Confit thigh, squash puree, chard, chanterelle gravy

My sister says: The chicken was well roasted and perfectly seasoned. The squash puree was a wonderful seasonal side-dish, but was a little bland. The arugula salad that I had for my appetizer was my favorite- tart and crisp with a delicious blackberry vinaigrette.

My mom ordered the Blackened Scallops

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(She needs a photography lesson)

Buttermilk mash, collard greens, smoked bacon red eye gravy

My mom says: I had the scallops that came blackened, but I ordered them pan-seared. They were absolutely delicious and melted in my mouth. I haven’t had collard greens more than once or twice in my life, but these were excellent.

During the meal, the head chef and owner of the restaurant came around to see how our meal was going. I mentioned my blog and that I was doing a review. His face instantly lit up and he was nice enough to pose for a picture with me.
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He was seriously one of the nicest guys I have ever have the privilege of meeting. He mentioned that he was running the marathon the next day (after running Chicago two weeks ago!) and that he has recently lost 100 lbs. WOW. He really had me impressed ;)

I really wish that we had more time to talk about running and cooking, but he is a busy man and has a restaurant to run.

With our bellies stuffed and our taste buds satisfied, we headed out.

I hope you guys enjoy my review :)

If I am ever in Washington D.C. again, you better bet that I will be back!

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

November 1, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Loved the review!!!! So love the pic with you and Chef Art Smith:) I had to take a double take, he really has lost a tone of weight. He looks fantastic! Do you follow him on twitter? His avatar is still before the weight loss. The food looked amazing, love reading about places where I plan on visiting soon. Thank you for the review:)

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November 1, 2010 at 7:33 AM

What a great place.
And great story about the chef – very cool! I’m still shy to mention my blog so that’s awesome!
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November 1, 2010 at 7:36 AM

Sounds like a great meal!! I’d be all over your mom’s scallops- they’re my favorite seafood.
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November 1, 2010 at 8:02 AM

Chef Art is sometimes a judge on Iron Chef America! I was just in DC – bummed I didn’t get to eat here!
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November 1, 2010 at 8:08 AM

That is so cool that you got to meet him! I watched him on Top Chef masters (when he still had that 100+ lbs on him) and then a few months later he was a judge on the regular Top Chef and I couldn’t believe how much weight he had lost! He looked great! He seemed like such a nice man too — I’d love to try his food.
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November 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM

I am very jealous that you had the chance to dine at Art and Soul. Art Smith looks amazing! He was definitely one of my favorites on the Top Chef Masters show. How kind of him to stop and chat with you also! Thanks for sharing this experience!
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November 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM

This is so amazing!!! And you got to meet the chef!!!! Your fam is super cute :)
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November 1, 2010 at 11:20 AM

I LOVE Art Smith – how fun!

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November 1, 2010 at 11:46 AM

I would have enjoyed your salad and your mom’s meal! eveything looks deelish! oh and corn bread too!
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IdaNo Gravatar November 1, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Wow, I can’t believe Art was actually there!! What a fun dinner.

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November 1, 2010 at 12:19 PM

I woulda picked Bama-mama’s choice–I LOVE scallops! I’ve had collards a few times having gone to school in NC. They are the best with bacon or ham, for sure.
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November 1, 2010 at 12:34 PM

so when are you taking me there? ;)
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November 1, 2010 at 12:54 PM

This is awesome! What a fun opportunity. fantastic bama family pics! This is great:)
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November 1, 2010 at 1:32 PM

That’s so cool that you got to meet Art! When I first saw the pic of you two, I thought it was some other chef, but then I realized that it was really him! He looks fantastic…that’s amazing that he’s lost so much weight and is now running marathons. What an inspiration! He seems like such an awesome person whenever I’ve seen him on Top Chef. I want gourmet Southern food now!
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November 1, 2010 at 4:01 PM

oooh that is so wonderful that you got to meet the chef! And what a fantastic array of food!!! :)

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November 1, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Great review! I go to DC a couple times a year (and will be there in March for the National Marathon) so I will definitely add this to my list of places to visit. I would totally order the scallop. They’re my favorite! It’s so nice that you were able to enjoy a special meal with your family this weekend.
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November 1, 2010 at 6:14 PM

I have been reading your blog for a while now, I love it, and I decided to finally comment! Thanks for all the advice and recipes!! Your salmon looks so so good!

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November 1, 2010 at 8:55 PM

That head chef/owner seems like such a cool guy! (You WOULD somehow manage to pick a restaurant with a runner chef…hahaha). I’m not big on traditional southern food either, but based on your review I would love to hit it up if I’m in DC sometime.

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November 2, 2010 at 12:31 AM

That’s awesome you got meet the head chef like that! I’ve never been there, but I might check it out in a few weeks. Next I’ll have to let you know my reccomendations

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November 2, 2010 at 10:56 AM

looks like a nice restaurant. i’ll visit someday if i get to the place.

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Bama papaNo Gravatar November 2, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I enjoyed the meal very much, but most of all, I enjoyed sharing this great meal with my wonderful family.

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