I admit, I used to be a huge Top Chef junkie. And it all started back on season 6 with Mike Isabella. Who would have figured four years ago watching a foodie TV show that I would later move to DC and then eventually eat at a new opening restaurant of a previous contestant. I know, maybe it’s not that crazy, especially given how many contestants there are now running around (especially in Chicago with Stephanie Izard), but just the DC location and way back memory of my Top Chef viewership makes it interesting. Haley and I showed up at 7pm with reservations but at that time the place was pretty empty. It’s a cool space with a neat bar area to the left of the main door, an open kitchen view with bar style seating for a front row action seat (Chef’s seats they call them? – not special reserved either), and plenty of large tables for groups or regular dining. And yes, Chef Isabella was in the house and working hard. I liked the extensive use of dark wood all around and the lighting felt good, even though we were sitting in the kitchen (practically) so was facing the large rotating spits and not the dining room.
I didn’t know what to expect other than “small plate Greek.” That seemed to be a meaningless statement to me since every time I eat Greek with my family we order a bunch of stuff and share anyway. But I got the idea after looking at the menu and seeing the plates flying off the counter next to me. I appreciate the way the menu is organized with many sections but a few options in each. It keeps it easy to pick what you want to try without giving an encyclopedia of options. The main sections are - spreads (with flatbread), raw mezze, cold mezze, garden mezze, ocean mezze, spit roasted mezze and phyllo pies. There is also a last section with four options “for the table” large format including whole lamb shoulder, roasted chicken or salt baked whole dorado. I bet that would be a fun way to eat with friends and something different.
We did a good job of trying something from most sections to get nice variety. We started with a sampling of three spreads (tzatziki, tyrokafteri and melitzanosalata), smoky beets, charred Brussels, fourno patates and finished with roasted swordfish and spit roasted spring lamb. I enjoyed everything and nothing was a dud. The brussel sprouts and beets might have been the best, and the spreads were very good. I didn’t love the lamb but it wasn’t bad, just not the flavors I was looking for. There’s plenty of other options on the menu I’d be curious to try and I imagine a small group is the ideal way to attack it.
I’m not well educated enough to determine if the food is “authentic” Greek, but I also don’t really care. The food is tasty and the restaurant has a nice and fun atmosphere. I am generally a fan of Greek cuisine because it has options for everyone no matter the preference. Vegetarians, gluten free, meat lovers, etc. can all find plenty of options on a Greek menu. Kapnos is a great option for groups or small parties looking for Greek or simply a different kind of meal. The food might not break any records or cause me to return day in and day out, but the overall experience is solid and provides good fun with good value.