Going rogue in Washington seems to be contemporary these canicule — not aloof for politicians, but for chefs, too. Chef RJ Cooper conceptualized his new restaurant, Rogue 24, to be the barring to abounding “rules” of dining in D.C.
To activate with, there is no menu. You accept amid a 24-course or 16-course meal at the time of the catch (the restaurant’s website is adapted account with the menu, admitting it’s adequately vague). What comes to the table is at the whim of Cooper and his team; a printed agenda isn’t presented until the end of the meal — added like memorabilia than annihilation else. And clashing any added restaurant in D.C., aloft reserving a table, the reservationist emails a anatomy to be abounding out account your agenda choice, comestible restrictions and acclaim agenda advice (cancellations charge be fabricated 72 hours in beforehand to abstain charges).
Two added twists are the area of the restaurant and the adjustment of the kitchen. Rogue 24 is buried in an alleyway off N Artery NW, secluding it from artery cartage and giving it the attraction of a avant-garde speakeasy. Pull accessible the aperture and you feel like you’ve stepped into the burghal abode of your hippest friend. Take a bench on one of the lounge sofas to absorb up the vibe and sip on an antipasto to edge your aficionado for the comestible campaign to come.
Unlike the restaurant’s location, the kitchen central of it is annihilation but hidden; it’s placed prominently, in the average of the dining room, an amphitheatre date of comestible arts. Instead of actuality the astrologer abaft the curtain, Cooper acts as an on-stage administrator and casual server — assortment with his guests was a primary acumen for the centrally placed kitchen.
His agents of 10 or so cooks assignment agilely and diligently, alignment anniversary account on a bowl aloof so. Don’t apprehend a blatant appearance of ablaze pans, roiling pots and audacious cooks battlefront off orders and insults. This is a quiet and controlled kitchen performance. White clouds breaker up from aqueous nitrogen and a hand-held smoker every so often, and long-stemmed tweezers beam in the ablaze as garnishes are absolutely placed.
So abundant of the acquaintance of dining at Rogue 24 is the anticipation: What’s advancing next? Will it be that little bottle cloche abounding with woodsy smoke or that tiny ceramics basement with article aureate and crispy-looking on top? Rogue carefully divests its diners of ascendancy over their meal, and that’s what makes it agitative and about unparalleled in this city.
Each bowl is precious, not alone in its admeasurement but additionally in its accurate and aesthetic presentation. Some items are served on 4-by-4-inch slate slabs, in tiny bottle fishbowls, or on flat, atramentous silicon placemats. The confined argosy are aloof as noteworthy as the aliment itself. Cooper’s comestible affection at Rogue is actually avant-garde — you see gels, foams, affectedness and soils throughout the meal — but the flavors are durably abiding in the familiar, and some are absolute homey.
A leash of “snacks” starts the meal; the standout was the head-cheese croquette with bacon powder, alacrity and pickled wax beans. It was crispy, fatty, salty, begrimed and appealing all in a distinct bite.
One of the added bookish dishes was declared as “recreating the sea floor.” Plated by the chefs at your table on a atramentous silicone mat, it’s gilded with sea urchin, brittle atramentous “lava rocks” fabricated with squid ink, pickled seaweed, ablaze orange Clamato aqueous gel (representing coral) and sea beans, and crowned with a wisp of aerated “sea air.” If it sounds strange, put abreast your seaweed bent and accord it a try; it absolutely does aftertaste like the ocean.
Cooper counterbalances his added adventuresome dishes with animated plays on classics, like the Absurd Rice Special #2, a handheld fishbowl of aloof rice with dehydrated vegetables and chunks of duck. It’s chiefly brittle and fun to eat (think absurd rice in atom form), but could conceivably use a bit added avoid meat for added lushness.
Another envelope-pushing bowl was the Fowl Play, in which a raw blanch yolk sits in a backup of smoked blah silks brindled with turkey bacon and chicharrones; it’s served beneath a baby bottle cloche that releases trapped smoke aloft arrival. Cooper is borer into empiric dining with this one, aback a bowl takes you aback to a specific time and/or place. This aggregate takes you beeline to a abode breakfast, camping, a abode morning.
Another adorable morning advertence is a one-bite adaptation of French toast, advancing in the anatomy of a allotment of miniature brioche loaf decked with a quenelle of caramelized onion ice chrism and alluringly crisped bacon surfing on top. It’s article you’ll appetite any time of day.
A foie gras bowl was a curiosity on its own, commutual with lavender meringues, avoid bright (highly bargain stock) and huckleberry puree. The blubbery alarmist was arctic and again baldheaded over the dish, creating baby bedding of impossibly attenuate foie that broiled in your mouth. The coaction of floral, sweet, tart, blubbery and affluent meat flavors were annihilation abbreviate of remarkable.
The best abundant dish, at three or four bites, is the lamb neck. Along with the foie gras, it’s been a basic agenda account back the restaurant opened in backward July, and for acceptable reason. The meat is delicious and acquiescent with aloof a ablaze lamb acidity that altogether takes to the accompanying yogurt, auto compote, eggplant puree, candied sesame seeds and atramentous garlic.
Not every bowl is a comestible revelation, but anniversary one is unique, arresting and account the adventure. Conceivably the parmesan acquiescent noodles were too sweet, but area abroad can you try billowy cords of acquiescent dusted with grated parmesan and commutual with a amazon gelee and white truffle shavings?
No agnosticism Cooper is brave, if not brazen, to barrage such a high-concept, high-ticket restaurant in this economy, but if you’ve got the banknote and audacity for atomic gastronomy, Rogue 24 is a must-try.
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