Washingtonian’s AT&T Best of Washington

One of the best events every year, Washingtonian’s AT&T Best of Washington party this week was definitely another fantastic experience.

While last year’s theme was Candyland, with attendees greeted immediately with pastel colored decor and fantasyland attendants at every station, this year’s theme was much calmer while still capturing the otherworldly feel. Held in the enormous National Building Museum, floating mobile hot air balloons drifted around the ceiling of the lofty ballroom.

Over 60 of Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants, such as Michel Richard’s Central, Jose Andres’ Jaleo, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, and Scott Drewno’s The Source, served tastes of their famous dishes. All funds from the silent auction and a portion of the ticket proceeds benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as they did last year.

With so many amazing savory and sweet samples served up, it’d be impossible to identify a fave. A few creations did stand out, however, for their creativity and taste. My personal favorite had to be the mushroom torchon from CityZen. It looked like foie gras, which I thought it was at first, but had a much more distinct flavor. More like unsweetened mushroom fudge, I asked the chef it’s contents. “Mostly butter!” was his response, which is probably why it tasted so amazing.

I also loved Cava Mezze’s fried chicken served with greek yogurt. A very unexpected pairing for me, I’ve loved this restaurant ever since I had their crazy feta. The chicken was moist, and the greek yogurt provided a nice tang that I’d prefer any day over barbeque sauce.

If you’ve ever traveled to Asia, you know the food there is delicious. One complaint I always find myself feeling after a trip there, however, is: WHERE IS THE CHEESE?! After a few weeks abroad, the only thing that could make peking duck better would be a side of brie. Alas, that kind of fusion hasn’t happened yet.

That is, until now. Sure, California Tortilla isn’t know for its ambiance the way other fine dining establishments at the event may be, but their innovative Korean barbecue taco was fabulous. The meat was perfect, and I was delighted to see some melted cheese thrown in there–finally we are incorporating my much missed fromage! As an added bonus, they handed out cute little cocktail carryall trays, which featured a place to put your drink and a sturdy flat surface upon which to balance your dinner plate.

Guests who needed a second or two to digest could visit the swanky Qatar lounge, where a business class cabin was available for test rides at the ground level. Strolling down the burgundy carpet, I tried out the fully flat airplane seats, which each came with its own widescreen television. Qatar boasts an impressive collection of chefs creating in-flight cuisine, with the masterminds like Nobu, Thomas Aiken, Vaneet Bhatia and Ramzi Choueiri. Indeed the Qatar lounge looked quite appropriate at an event dedicated to luxury and the best our city has to offer.

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