800 F Street NW
Washington DC 20004
After my unfortunate experience at 15 ria, I decided to take another stab at Restaurant Week. I'll be honest-- I stumbled upon Zola because it was at the end of the Restaurant Week list. What a fabulous coincidence!
Located next door to the International Spy Museum, Zola blends modern simplicity with coziness. The dining area is divided into relatively small, intimate rooms; very large parties are seated in booths surrounded on three sides by sound-absorbing cushions. As one of the few college students in DC who saves for fine dining rather than clubs and clothes, I've become accustomed to feeling a bit out of place among professional 30-somethings who've just gotten off of work. S and I were some of the youngest in the place, but the wide variety of ages made us comfortable and relaxed. DC can be a bit unfriendly, especially to a rural girl like me, but we found ourselves chatting with our next-table neighbors. Great atmosphere!
As at 15 ria, S and I each paid $35 for our three course meals. (Okay, I paid a bit more, but only for an exquisite drink!)
I normally stick to water at fine restaurants (though I did wistfully look over the fabulous wine list), but our attentive waiter charmed me into trying the Fresh-Squeezed Ginger Lemonade (complete with hibiscus syrup). Playful, pretty and perfectly yummy!
I had the Lamb Meatball Sliders for the first course; S had a mushroom ravioli. I only had a bite of hers, so I can't give as detailed a description as I'd like, but rest assured: it was delicious, and she raved about it. My mini lamburgers were quite rare, tender and scrumptious. The goat cheese aioli, coupled with the romaine and red peppers made the dish. The portion size (3 sliders) was perfect, but I could have eaten 15 of them.
For the entree, I ordered the roasted veal tenderloin. S had the skate wing. Mine was served atop a mound of blue-cheese infused "pasta bites" (think spaetzle, but smaller) and butternut squash, and I simply can't say enough good things about it. Tender, mildly "beefy" and just barely salty. I brought the last bit home; J liked it, despite being a self-proclaimed Veal-Phobe. S let me try a bit of her skate wing; it was my first taste of this variety of fish, and I loved it. Sweet, buttery and salty-- probably the most mild fish I've ever tasted. Yum!
Our desserts were the perfect end to such a fabulous meal. S, predictably, ordered the Glazed Chocolate Mousse with the pears, hazelnut crunch and passionfruit sauce. Without question, the lightest, fluffiest mousse I've ever tasted. Perfection! I had the Apple-Quince Pie, complete with Pomegranate Syrup and Gingersnap Ice Cream. I only have one word, and that word is: phenomenal.
We'll be back. I'm already working on finagling another Zola dinner out of my parents the next time they visit!
If you're in the DC area and a fellow foodie, you might want to check out the cooking classes online.