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“A Corporate Ambience...but still Fun”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Elisir Restaurant - CLOSED

Elisir Restaurant
Price range: $31 - $50
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: 11th Between E and Pennsylvania
Transit: Metro Center, Smithsonian
Little Rock, Arkansas
Level Contributor
32 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“A Corporate Ambience...but still Fun”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 16, 2013

This is a hard one to review. My first impression was not good. Elisir has all the ambience of an executive dining room in some corporate headquarters. In terms of decor, I felt Elisir was far from upscale. It had all the character of a place where downtown lawyers go to congregrate for drinks. However, first impressions can be misleading. Elisir is full of mischief. Let's start with the seating; the banquette and chairs are superbly comfortable. And if you're seated on the banquette, you will have a direct view into the kitchen, which is wonderfully entertaining. The chef seems to have an eagle eye onto everything that is happening in this surprisingly intimate dining room. And then there is the waitstaff. Our server, Joseph, had all the required knowledge to make spot-on recommendations. He was also quite charming and very playful. However, there were also some lapses in service: it took some time for water glasses to be refilled. And be forewarned: there are long lapses inbetween courses. Personally, I appreciated this as I love long, leisurely dinners. Just plan on making dinner the event.

Now for the food. It is wildly uneven, though beautifully presented. My appetizer of chilled lobster with squash was absolutely superb. My dining companion's appetizer of robustly flavored calamari and sausage was good, but overly salty. My pasta dish of gnocchi with lobster and peas was a study in starch. That's all I could taste..starch. Forget the peas and lobster. Their flavors were drowned completely by the heavy ponderous of the gnocchi. Our entrees were both very good (veal and lamb) but once again there was a heavy-handed use of salt. As for the dessert, we let Joseph decide. He chose the panacotta and it was the best panacotta we have ever devoured.

Overall, we had a good time gossiping with the staff and enjoying the triumps coming from the kitchen. However, there were some duds as well. But I got to say that we really enjoyed ourselves and we left quite happy.
We left happy and smiling.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank imperator12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

35 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    21
    8
    4
    2
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Potomac, Maryland
Level Contributor
278 reviews
188 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
“wonderful food and service, but ONE scallop? really?”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 8, 2013

Had been dying to come here for a long time because of reviews I had read. Knew it was expensive, so we came for restaurant week. The menu offered was not the usual one, so that's what I'm reviewing - just the restaurant week menu. The kitchen is open, the hostess greeting was warm and immediate. Liked the choice of music - Sinatra, Ray Charles, Johnny Mathis - and the volume (not loud). On one side of the restaurant was a long orange banquette. If the restaurant was crowded, the seats would definitely be too close together. Service was excellent and we didn't have to shout across the table to hear each other. It felt like fine dining without the stuffiness. We enjoyed starting with the breads - there were 2 Italian breads, focaccia, olive rolls, and bread sticks. For an extra charge you can order an olive oil and sea salt tasting. For our first courses, my husband had a stuffed calamari with shrimp and spicy salami with leek and sweet garlic broth. Sounds complicated, but he really liked it; I had an asparagus salad with crumbled hard boiled egg, pork belly, and pickled cipollini onions - it was light and tasty. For dinner, I ordered the pappardelle with homemade sausage, cannellini beans, pecorino cheese and crispy onions. It was delicious and I liked the different textures of the dish. And it was definitely more filling than my husband's dinner. He ordered the "scallops" main course. And got ONE scallop. It was a large scallop, but I thought this was ridiculous. If it's restaurant week, and you're going to reduce the portion size, we both thought it would have been better to serve 3 small scallops than one larger one. We were embarrassed but the waiter didn't seem to be... it looked like an appetizer. This one scallop was sitting on a bed of spinach mashed potato, cauliflower and tomatoes. It had a delicious taste. The cappuccino was yummy. My husband had the apple and cheese strudel. I had a delicious triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. The high quality of the chocolate was evident. Everything was plated beautifully - my husband was facing a tv screen that showed the chef plating the dishes which he enjoyed (especially when they use the little tweezers for exact placement). So I'd give it a 5 in almost every respect - points taken away for the lone scallop.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank nreyesok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Princeton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
127 reviews
74 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Very good, but a bit short of the mark”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 28, 2013

Elisir endeavors and generally succeeds at being a fine dining experience. The dining room is comfortable, simply decorated with ample room between tables. The table linens were nice and the service very good. The food is artfully presented. My favorite dish was a branzino carpaccio served in a cigar box with smoking apple wood. However, though the food overall was fresh and nicely presented, they were a bit nondescript in flavor, many crying out for additional seasoning -- or in some cases ingredients the menu cited for the dish. My marinated pheasant roulade "stuffed with house made Piemonte sausage and cabbage" had no sausage and cabbage. The chef quickly assembled a side with those ingredients, but I'm not sure how that escapes a kitchen of the caliber that Elisir strives to be without notice during plating. The desserts were excellent. The kitchen has an imposing presence over the dining room, and while I generally like to see into the kitchen, it's presence here was a bit much.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank GSM1111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
McLean, Virginia
Level Contributor
108 reviews
86 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Creative cucina”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 14, 2013

We noticed the white table cloths at this restaurant around the corner from the "E Street Cinema" and decided to give it a chance after the movie. We later saw that the white tablecloths were ironed on the table. The whole experience was wonderfully up-scale.We shared appetizers and all four were surprising and satisfying. Same with the main courses. This is Italian cooking with flair and surprises. Salmon, bass, pasta with squid ink and seafood, all had tastes to delight and refresh the spirit. We will return.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank AKuder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“No detail overlooked”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 11, 2012

The canapés brought to your table are the first clue that it's going to be a great meal, but we are not surprised. We've followed Chef Enzo Fargione from his earlier restaurant, Barolo, to here, so we know what we're in for. He can almost always be seen preparing food in the open kitchen, greeting guests as he works. The food creations -- the best word for them -- are inspired by his native Piedmont, Italy but not strictly "Italian" in the traditional sense. He takes familiar ingredients and turns them into something exciting by combining them with the unexpected and presenting them cleverly. The open kitchen gives it the effect of going to someone's home -- a very elegant house -- for dinner. The space is posh, in hushed, cool tones and the wait staff is sophisticated. They are conversant about the menu and, as it should be at fine restaurants, they are enthusiastic about the creations they bring to your table. There are usually 2 or 3 people attending to you in some capacity. The wine list is extensive and as you'd guess, is impressive on Northern Italian wines. If you like Nebbiolo, Barolo and Barbaresco, you will be in heaven. But there are many others. Let the sommelier walk you through the list. There are usually 2 tasting menus and they can be paired with wines, or not. I have tried them and each course has been a thrill... and not overfilling. Presentation is elegant and sparing without being stingy. You will be full at the end of the meal! At the beginning of the tasting a server brings you a quartet of olive oils paired with different flavored rock salts, which you can sample with the bread of your choice. The bar is excellent too. I asked for my single malt scotch neat with "rocks on the side." It came from the bar with a sizeable "ice ball" in a separate glass, which is a great way to have scotch on the rocks. I have only seen this in Japan before. I mention this because these perks are typical of what you'll experience. It's all about the details here and few, if any, are overlooked.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank dccab
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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