I must admit, I have been eagerly anticipating the opening of Rogue 24 for what seems like forever. Ilyssa and I were very excited to snag an invite to the friends and family soft opening on Saturday night. I know their Pastry Chef, Chris Ford, from his work at Trummer’s on Main and his beautiful blog, Butter, Love and Hardwork. I tried not to read too much of the press coming out in advance of Rogue’s opening because I wanted to keep the anticipation growing and be surprised throughout the evening.
Our cab dropped us off seemingly in the middle of nowhere*. No other restaurants or retailers in sight, just a brick alley. At first we were a little alarmed, as there is no signage out front (and when was the last time you willingly ventured down a random alley in DC?) We came across a building with chef’s knives graffitied above the door and I realized we had reached our destination. The space itself is beautiful and unique – a very modern industrial loft look with polished concrete, glass, and warm wood tones. Check out our earlier post on Rogue 24 to see what the space looked like a few months ago. Eater has some great pics of the interior here.
As we entered the salon we were invited to try some of Rogue’s signature cocktails. The cocktail menu was designed by renowned DC Mixologist, Derek Brown of The Passenger. His libations were the perfect start to our evening. Ilyssa greatly enjoyed the Melon Sangria, prepared with Horton Viognier (VA), Elderflower Cordial, Compressed Melons, and Grapefruit Bitters, while I had the Pepper & Pepper which consisted of James E. Pepper Bourbon (KY), Sirop de Gomme, Fig Bitters, Lemon Peel, Black Pepper Tincture, and Brandied Figs. The Melon Sangria was surprisingly refreshing and cooled us off from the 100 degree weather outside. Before we were led to our table we were treated to a shot of Dragon Carrot Soda (I am not sure the name is correct, we referred to it as Dragon Blood), whatever it was, it was delicious and it excited us for what was to come.
At Rogue 24 you can choose between a 16 course Progression ($145 with wine pairings, $100 without) or the 24 course Journey ($175 with wine pairings, $120 without). The only choice we were asked to make when we arrived was whether or not we wanted the wine pairing with our 24 course meal. That was an easy decision. For the amount of alcohol we were served over the course of the evening, the wine pairings are an easy choice and they were a very good value. What is unique about this experience is that the kitchen is open in the center of the dining area, so you can see all the action as you enjoy your meal.
I am not going to provide a course by course overview, because the evening went by in a delicious blur, but I will provide some highlights. Ilyssa and I described the meal as a crescendo of deliciousness. While the first few courses were good, the courses seemed to get better and better throughout the evening. Some of our favorites included the Hen Egg (aka Foul Play) which is delivered covered with a glass dome (which you are then invited to take in the smoky aroma) before biting into the perfectly prepared egg yolk, sitting amidst a small pile of edible hay. Another favorite was the Liquid Chicken which was essentially a bite of fried cheesy dough with chicken consomme in the middle. Most fine dining restaurants have that one dish that everyone knows about and talks about. Komi has the cheesy dates, French Laundry has Oysters and Pearls, Alinea has Hot Potato Cold Potato, and I am really excited to see which course becomes THE standout course at Rogue 24. I think the liquid chicken or Foul Play could be contenders for the savory standout courses.
The highlight for my evening were the dessert courses. I tend to prefer salty over sweet, but I was honestly blown away by the desserts. My wife described the Toigo Orchards Peaches with bourbon, sweet tea and cream as an orgasm in her mouth. That course was followed by Tennessee which was fun for me because I had read about the development of the dish over on Chris’ blog.
You have to give RJ Cooper credit, it takes some balls to open an ‘urban fine dining’ restaurant in an off the beaten path location in this economy. Saturday night was the staff’s first time serving the 24 course Journey at Rogue and I was honestly blown away by the food and the service. This was just the first night, I can’t imagine how much better the experience will be after the staff has 6 months of experience fine tuning their operation. Rogue 24 is the most exciting restaurant to open in DC in years. It is truly destination dining and there is nothing else like it in the district. There is a reason that RJ Cooper hired Minibar’s former head reservationist, this place is going to be packed.
922 N Street NW (Rear)
Washington, DC 20001
*I’ve already received some flak for referring to the location as “seemingly in the middle of nowhere.” I realize that Logan Circle is around the corner and you’re a stone’s throw from the convention center, so I apologize. It just felt like the middle of nowhere when we were dropped off. It is actually a convenient location to a variety of DC neighborhoods. I hope That’s What She Fed and @jigolden will forgive me.