Awwww yisssss. I’ve been waiting for this reservation for about six weeks. I literally only heard about this place from my weekly “What’s new in DC!” email from Yelp and I made reservations without knowing anything about it. I still didn’t have any idea where we were going when we were in the uber. I had just heard the words “district” and “winery,” and I was in.
District Winery has some prime waterfront real estate in Navy Yard. Their whole setup is impressive. Multitudinous bottles greet you when you arrive, along with not one but TWO levels of hosts (kind of unnecessary, but I’ll choose to see this as a mark of excellence) and the ambiance is great.
I felt like I should have ordered wine at a place with wine in its name, but their first house cocktail caught my eye and I couldn’t stop myself: “A Figment of Your Imagination.” If you hoped and dreamed that this cocktail would be a pun on figs, then I have some good news for you! It didn’t disappoint either; spicy rye, pungent walnut bitters, and a skewer of warm smoked figs on top made this memorable and definitely figgy. My husband ordered their house Malbec and was very satisfied. The cocktails were pricey but sadly not as pricey as the wine. They didn’t offer any economy-class wine, but it’s not exactly Trader Joe’s, I guess.
We went a little overboard tonight in the name of research. So, starting with the octopus appetizer: the pineapple flavor of the sauce was very apparent and peppery but the octopus itself could have been better texture-wise, both less chewy on the inside and more crispy on the outside. But I don’t want to dis it too much because we demolished it and it was not by any means the worst octopus I’ve ever had.
The entrees were where this place really shone:
Between the two of us we had the celery root cappeletti (left) and the smoked duck (right). Starting with the pasta: the filling burst out in your mouth like soup dumplings full of pleasantly bitter celery root. The rabbit sausage in it was, for lack of better explanation, gamy in a good way, and the parm paired well with everything else in the dish. This was a perfect dish. The duck was mostly cooked well, although there were parts that were slightly more done than I would like, but it was served atop a sauce that was savory and smoky in all the right places, and made a great companion to the meat. The plantains and snap peas were plentiful and interesting, playing on the sweet/smoky theme.
Again, research led us to pursue dessert and everything on the menu sounded interesting so we had a hard time deciding. After our server was absolutely zero help in making any of the desserts sound less appealing, we resorted to using a random number generator for choosing (I wish I were kidding about this) and ended up with the hummingbird cake. Literally nothing could possibly top the entrees, so I shouldn’t be too disappointed that the cake wasn’t everything I dreamed of. What it was: moist, nutty, served with a killer pineapple sherbet. What it wasn’t: particularly flavorful on its own. The sherbet was supposed to be the sidekick but it kind of pushed its way into the spotlight and covered up the main item. I kind of identify emotionally with the hummingbird cake and its subtlety. This cake just needed some less extroverted friends to hang out with, that’s all.
The service couldn’t be beat. It was a place that it felt normal to wear jeans, but they still folded my napkin for me when I went to the bathroom and replaced the silverware after the appetizer. From start to finish, everything was a little overpriced, but in a classy way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being ripped off. At least for the big price tag, I got well-composed delicious food.
Price: $50 per person.
Bottom line: It would be hard to eat a better meal in DC while wearing jeans. The food and drinks could be seen as pricey, but you could instead choose to see them as totally worth it. Go ahead, treat yo’self.