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Rural Society
Rural Society
R. Lopez

New and New-ish Tasting Menus, Chef's Tables and "Culinary Tours"

The latest tasting menus, chef's tables and culinary tours where the decision making is left to the guys in the back of the house.

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Rural Society
| R. Lopez

After another long workday of commuting, meetings, more meetings, and playing on Facebook, sometimes it's easier to let someone else make the decision. Plenty of new places are allowing the chefs to drive the experience, whether it be through tasting menus, chef's tables or other spins off the same idea.

There's a new chef's counter from B Too's Chef Bart Vandaele that walks the diner through Belgian cuisine. And for those seeking something more New World, Chef Richard Sandoval's Toro Toro keeps the small plates flowing with his South American rodizio experience. And because one South American-inspired meal isn't enough – Rural Society's Chef Jose Garces takes eaters on an Argentine tour with his crafted "parradilla experience" and of course, South American wine pairings.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Alphonse Italian Market & Osteria

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1212 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 735-0525
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Alphonse Italian Market on U Street is up and running but it' private dining option – Nonna's Kitchen – isn't just yet. But when it does (this fall, according to a rep), the plan is to have a tasting menu in the $85-100 range. The kitchen still needs to be finished, so fingers crossed it's soon rather than later.

2. B Too

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1324 14th St NW, Washington
D.C., 20005
(202) 627-2800
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Chef Bart Vandaele just launched his chef's counter last month. Every Wednesday, diners drop $45 and get a tour of Belgium through the chef's selection of dishes. Since this Belgian faire, expect at least one waffle during the course of the dinner. And enjoy the chef's take on using vegetables in the dessert with his sweet avocado soufflé. That's healthy, right?

3. Dino's Grotto

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1914 9th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 686-2966
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Dino left Cleveland Park and relocated to Shaw over the summer. And with the move came more of a late-night crowd. For diners who arrive before 6:30 p.m., the "menu della sera" or the "menu of the evening" includes a starter and a main course. After dinner, hit the town and come back for Dino's epic late-night menu.

4. Iron Gate

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1734 N St NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 737-1371
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What's old is new again. The Dupont institution is back (in style) and has a tasting menu ready to roll. The tasting menu is divided into trendy sections, like garden, water, pasture and sweet. Diners have to figure out if they want only four courses ($60), six courses ($80) or the full chef's tasting ($110). Beverage pairings start at $40.

5. The Oval Room

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800 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 463-8700
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The Oval Room just did a major interior revamp, so it's kind of like a new restaurant, right? It's tasting menu is $60, and features four courses – all seasonally selected. There's also the option to include wine pairings for an additional fee.

6. Rural Society

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1177 15th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 587-2629
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Chef Jose Garces wants diners to eat classic Argentine dishes. His chef's tasting menu has a collection of small plates inspired by the "traditional Parrillada experience". And because this culinary culture has great wines, there's also the South American wine flight available to make the Argentine tour complete.

7. Tico DC

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1926 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 319-1400
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Nothing gets to the point like having a section of the menu labeled "Can't Decide". Completely relinquish control at Chef Michael Schlow's eatery on 14th Street. All diners have to decide is if they are "kind of hungry" ($35/person), "forgot to eat lunch" ($55/person) or want the "full on Tico experience" ($85/person). Decisions, decisions.

8. Toro Toro

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1300 I (Eye) Street, NW, Washington
D.C., 20005
(202) 682-9500
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The Rodizio Experience at downtown's Toro Toro is for the entire table to enjoy. Chef Richard Sandoval has put together a selection of "free-flowing small plates, carved meats & side dishes". That means prawns, prime ribeye, chorizo and Brazilian-style picaha steak are all on the table. Literally.

1. Alphonse Italian Market & Osteria

1212 U St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

Alphonse Italian Market on U Street is up and running but it' private dining option – Nonna's Kitchen – isn't just yet. But when it does (this fall, according to a rep), the plan is to have a tasting menu in the $85-100 range. The kitchen still needs to be finished, so fingers crossed it's soon rather than later.

1212 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

2. B Too

1324 14th St NW, Washington, D.C., 20005

Chef Bart Vandaele just launched his chef's counter last month. Every Wednesday, diners drop $45 and get a tour of Belgium through the chef's selection of dishes. Since this Belgian faire, expect at least one waffle during the course of the dinner. And enjoy the chef's take on using vegetables in the dessert with his sweet avocado soufflé. That's healthy, right?

1324 14th St NW, Washington
D.C., 20005

3. Dino's Grotto

1914 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Dino left Cleveland Park and relocated to Shaw over the summer. And with the move came more of a late-night crowd. For diners who arrive before 6:30 p.m., the "menu della sera" or the "menu of the evening" includes a starter and a main course. After dinner, hit the town and come back for Dino's epic late-night menu.

1914 9th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

4. Iron Gate

1734 N St NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

What's old is new again. The Dupont institution is back (in style) and has a tasting menu ready to roll. The tasting menu is divided into trendy sections, like garden, water, pasture and sweet. Diners have to figure out if they want only four courses ($60), six courses ($80) or the full chef's tasting ($110). Beverage pairings start at $40.

1734 N St NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

5. The Oval Room

800 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20006

The Oval Room just did a major interior revamp, so it's kind of like a new restaurant, right? It's tasting menu is $60, and features four courses – all seasonally selected. There's also the option to include wine pairings for an additional fee.

800 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

6. Rural Society

1177 15th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20005

Chef Jose Garces wants diners to eat classic Argentine dishes. His chef's tasting menu has a collection of small plates inspired by the "traditional Parrillada experience". And because this culinary culture has great wines, there's also the South American wine flight available to make the Argentine tour complete.

1177 15th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

7. Tico DC

1926 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

Nothing gets to the point like having a section of the menu labeled "Can't Decide". Completely relinquish control at Chef Michael Schlow's eatery on 14th Street. All diners have to decide is if they are "kind of hungry" ($35/person), "forgot to eat lunch" ($55/person) or want the "full on Tico experience" ($85/person). Decisions, decisions.

1926 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

8. Toro Toro

1300 I (Eye) Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20005

The Rodizio Experience at downtown's Toro Toro is for the entire table to enjoy. Chef Richard Sandoval has put together a selection of "free-flowing small plates, carved meats & side dishes". That means prawns, prime ribeye, chorizo and Brazilian-style picaha steak are all on the table. Literally.

1300 I (Eye) Street, NW, Washington
D.C., 20005

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