Review: Estuary at Conrad Washington DC

Review: Estuary Conrad Washington DC

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This Estuary, Washington DC Review is from our recent visits for dinner and breakfast, while staying at the new Conrad Washington DC, which opened in March 2019. Estuary's menu is from Chef Michael Voltaggio (Sack Sandwiches, winner of Bravo's Top Chef) and Chef Bryan Voltaggio (VOLT, Family Meal), and as its name implies, focuses on the seafood bounty of the Chesapeake Bay.

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Estuary Location and Hours

Estuary is on the 3rd floor of the Conrad Washington, DC, located at 950 New York Avenue, and part of CityCenterDC.

The restaurant is open for breakfast (6:30-11am), lunch (11:30am-2:30pm) and dinner (5:30-10:30pm; until 11pm Fridays and Saturdays) but I recommend coming for dinner.

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Estuary Dinner Ambience

We had an early 6pm dinner reservation on a Thursday evening, so there were just a few other tables seated at this hour, all of them other couples. The space is handsome, with wooden paneling and floors, but not pretentious–placemats, rather than white tablecloths, and an open kitchen. While we were dining, a large party of ~12 guests came in, one of them in a crazy looking birthday hat.

Review: Estuary Conrad Washington DC


Table Setting, Estuary, Washington DC

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Estuary Dinner Menu and Food

Estuary's dinner menu has a wide array of appetizers meant to be shared, so we chose exclusively from that, although there were also larger entrees in the $30-$40 range.

Estuary Menu Cover, Washington DC
Estuary Dinner Menu
Estuary Dinner Menu
Estuary Dinner Menu

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Unusually, the amuse bouche was a cranberry orange sorbet. Typically a sorbet would be a palate cleanser or pre-dessert. Nevertheless, it was wonderfully fresh and tart, and we enjoyed it.

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My hungry dining companions managed to eat several breadsticks before I could take a photo:

Breadsticks, Estuary Restaurant at the Conrad Washington DC

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First to arrive of the dishes we ordered were the brussels sprouts with burrata cheese, fish sauce vinaigrette, and pork cracklings. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening, and even a bit better than the wonderful brussels sprouts at The Red Hen, our usual DC restaurant favorite.

Brussels Sprouts, Estuary DC Review

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The Parker House Rolls came in a generous serving of 7 rolls, with both ricotta drizzled with olive oil and finished with green onion, and whipped mortadella. If the bread sticks don't cut it and you miss a bread basket, order the Parker House Rolls.

Parker House Rolls, Estuary Washington DC Review

Whipped Mortadella Accompanying Parker House Rolls, Estuary DC Review

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Octopus with chorizo mayo and fennel salad arrived next; it was a good sized portion and delicious, although I'd have liked it to be just a tad more tender.

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Our son chose the egg yolk gnocchi with roasted maitake and mushroom brown butter, which was a wonderful dish–we used the Parker House Rolls to soak up every last bit of the brown butter. Maitake mushrooms are pricey, so I don't begrudge Estuary the $18 price for the dish, although I do think a few more gnocchi could have been included.

Egg Yolk Gnocchi with Maitake Mushrooms, Estuary Washington DC Review

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My husband ordered the Cedar Planked Scallops with yuzukosho, a spicy Japanese fermented chili-yuzu paste. Nicely presented and an intriguing flavor combination, with the butternut squash puree, although the thin scallops seemed to have been cut in half, making this $20 dish pricey for what it was.

Cedar Planked Scallops, Estuary Washington DC Review

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We didn't order dessert, but some pleasant if forgettable mignardises were brought at the end of the meal, a nice touch.

Mignardises, Estuary DC Review

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Estuary Breakfast Menu and Food

Estuary serves breakfast daily between 6:30-11am; the Virtuoso breakfast benefit is $60 for two.

Estuary Breakfast Menu, Washington DC
Estuary Breakfast Menu, DC

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The Crab and Corn Waffle sounded good on paper, but the execution was decidedly mediocre. The waffle was soft, instead of crispy, and the crab didn't taste that fresh.

Crab and Corn Waffle, Estuary Washington DC Breakfast Review

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My husband's Fried French Toast was better than the waffle, and the exterior at least was quite crispy, but it would have benefitted from more flavor: perhaps some caramelized pears or apples in addition to the pear preserves, a dash of Vietnamese cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, more vanilla in the batter–something.

Fried French Toast, Estuary Washington DC Breakfast Review

The Verdict

While service at Estuary was excellent at both dinner and breakfast, the meals themselves were night and day, literally and figuratively. I was impressed with the appetizers we shared at dinner, with the Brussels Sprouts, Octopus and Gnocchi with Maitake Mushrooms as particular standouts.

Breakfast, on the other hand, was disappointing. The corn and crab waffle with eggs sounded good on paper, but the waffle was soft, not crisp, the crab didn't taste completely fresh, and I left half of it. Definitely not worth the $27 price. My husband's fried french toast was better, but would have benefited from some caramelized pears or apples and some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to add flavor. Perhaps other dishes would have been better, but based on what we tried, I can recommend the appetizers at Estuary for dinner, but can't recommend Estuary for breakfast, at least not the waffles or fried french toast.

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