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Ever since the heydays of Laboratorio del Galileo and the original Minibar in Café Atlántico, some of D.C.’s most rarefied dining experiences have taken place at restaurants within restaurants—kitchen-side settings where chefs show-off experimental or extravagant dishes at a premium price. Now, lots of restaurants are reserving special seats for prix fixe menus and a direct view of the kitchen. Here are some of the newest.
Del Campo’s Asado Bar
777 I St. NW
What you’ll eat: A board of grilled, smoked, and charred meat and seafood is the main attraction from chef Victor Albisu. Starter dishes include grilled king crab with smoked caviar and crab mustard and grilled anchovy with goat cheese and burnt tomato. Desserts include grilled ice creams and grilled cheeses.
Price: $77 or $44 for the vegetarian menu
Wine pairings: $22
When: Two seatings per night at 6:30 and 9 p.m.
How to make a reservation: Call (202) 289-7377
Roberto’s 4 at Al Dente Ristorante
3201 New Mexico Ave. NW
What you’ll eat: Chef Roberto Donna brings elements of Laboratorio del Galileo back to life with whimsical twists on Italian cuisine. Look for dishes like fried head-on shrimp with a saffron mayonnaise and a two-inch pizza served in a mini pizza box with taleggio cheese, shaved truffles, and quail egg. Vegetarian tastings can be requested in advance.
Wine pairings: $45
When: One seating per night at 7 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays
How to make a reservation: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chef’s Counter at B Too
1324 14th St. NW
What you’ll eat: Chef Bart Vandaele, of fleeting Top Chef fame, improvises Belgian dishes with a modern flare using seasonal ingredients.
Wine, beer, and cocktail pairings: starts at $35
How to make a reservation: Call (202) 627-2800
Chef’s Table at Beuchert’s Saloon
623 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Seats: 6, or up to 9 for a full buyout
What you’ll eat: Chef Andrew Markert will tailor the meal to diners’ likes and dislikes using seasonal ingredients. At the request of one diner, he did a full Southern feast. Markert has never prepared the same menu twice.
Price: $75 to $95
Wine, beer, and cocktail pairings: $30 to $50
Courses: 5 to 7
When: Tuesday through Thursday
How to make a reservation: Call (202) 733-1384 or email email@example.com at least 72 hours in advance
Photo of Del Campo’s Asado Bar by Greg Powers