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Inside Enzo Fargione's Elisir, Opening on December 1 Nov. 30

[R. Lopez]

One of the fall's most hotly anticipated openings, Elisir is finally putting on the finishing touches and gearing up for next week, when doors finally swing open to the general public. The restaurant is the first from former Teatro Goldoni chef Enzo Fargione and is perhaps so hotly anticipated because of the reputation Fargione earned from his days at the K Street Italian restaurant. Elisir aims to be at once modern, warm, refined and also fit in the highly elusive category of "affordable destination restaurant."

The first thing to note about Elisir is that it is a show kitchen. The kitchen is wide open to the dining room, where you can walk right up to Fargione to chat. There's also a camera trained overhead at the chef's station that will broadcast his every move to the five monitors placed throughout the restaurant. These high-tech touches are countered by a design scheme that is meant to evoke a sense of warmth and comfort: recessed lighting, wood-paneled walls, imported Italian tile, leather-topped and double-stuffed pumpkin-colored seats and more. A mural on the wall in the dining room is intended to make diners feel like they're inside a champagne glass.

Of course, a fine dining restaurant that primarily offers two tasting menus does not generally call to mind "affordable," but that's exactly what they're trying to do. The team behind Elisir has very purposely kept the price points for both menus below $100, if only barely: a seven-course menu will cost you $75 and 10 courses will run $95. There will also be limited a la carte options and eventually the bar will host its own four-course menu inspired by New York's Gramercy Tavern. Lunch, meanwhile, will be a little more casual, a little more bistro, all a la carte except for at the bar where $19 will get you an entree, a dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage. Fargione's signature four-minute branzino carpaccio made in a cigar box and green pea cappuccino with foie gras custard brulée will be making appearances on the menu.

As you might expect from a fine dining restaurant, a lot of the items will be made in-house: desserts, bread, more than a dozen types of pasta and even mixers, sparkling Negroni and more for the craft cocktail program. No mainstream beers here — they've got Moretti lager, Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA and Blanche de Bruxelles on tap. Wines are only about 60 percent Italian and you can expect to see some fancy ice cubes, such as the lime-and-mint cube that will accompany a mojito. Please note, though, that there will be a 29-cent surcharge on water since Elisir is only serving the filtered kind.

Even though general manager Justin Kraemer says he gets about 50 or 60 people trying to walk in the restaurant each day as the opening gets closer and closer, hold on just a little longer. Elisir opens to the public on December 1, when it'll be serving lunch only for the first two days and then dinner-only on December 3. December 5 will be the first day of both lunch and dinner service. They're already accepting reservations so place a call at 202-546-0088.

UPDATE: Elisir GM Justin Kraemer tells Eater that they're now planning to open on November 30 and there are a few tables left if you want to snag your reservation.

· Elisir [Official Site]
· All Previous Elisir Coverage [-EDC-]


427 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004 202 546 0088