Eatonville's dining room

Eatonville's dining room

After about a month of being open, I had dinner at Eatonville. The food is good, the atmosphere fun, the service mostly friendly and quick. I enjoyed my time there, and will definitely be back.

First up: the food. My four companions and I sampled widely from the menu: we had the cheddar tart, the crab burger, the crispy chicken, the shrimp and crawfish etoufee, the andouille and sweet potato hash. For dessert: chocolate pie and the peach and blackberry cobbler. I’d read other places that the cheddar tart was out of this world, and man did I agree, that was a great cheddar tart. The crab burger was solid, the shrimp and crawfish etoufee nicely sweet and spicy, the crispy chicken (I heard) was very good. I really enjoyed the side of the andouille and sweet potato hash, the sweetness and the spiciness played really nicely against each other. Desert was yummy, I really enjoyed the peach and blackberry cobbler and companions really liked the chocolate pie.

Prices were decent, like its brother restaurant Busboys and Poets, and a bill for 5 came a little over $100 (it should be noted that a few of us didn’t partake in alcohol and those that did had one drink). I really enjoyed the atmosphere, decidedly funky with the art on the wall, not too loud for easy conversation, and a nice background of jazz music. Our server was mostly fine, helpful and mostly quick, but he did disappear a couple of times over the night. It wasn’t the end of the world since we were enjoying our conversation.

Cheddar tart

Cheddar tart

Now the question a friend posed at dinner: which is better, Ben’s Next Door or Eatonville? They’re both doing the same thing, fancy soul food. But we both decided the comparison wasn’t as easy: as Next Door focuses on more classic soul food dishes, Eatonville has a decidedly Gulf-focus: from the crawfish etoufee, the po boys, the hushpuppies – it wasn’t an easy comparison. I think that both have their merits but that they’re really doing different things. I did leave Eatonville feeling like it was more affordable than Next Door.

For more photos of our meal, check out my Flickr photostream.

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Here’s a foodcentric round-up of what’s happening in the ‘hood:

Eatonville Restaurant, soon to open

Eatonville Restaurant, soon to open

Walking up 14th street the other day, I saw that Eatonville Restaurant to open on 14th and V, by the owners of Busboys and Poets, had/is having a competition to determine who will be the executive chef of the restaurant. The restaurant is an homage to Zora Neale Hurston, the writer who was good friends with Langston Hughes, who of course Busboys and Poets celebrates. Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, FL, the first incorporated African-American town in the country.

Busboys and Poets, and the City Paper’s Young and Hungry blog have been chronicling the chef search. There have been three rounds, chronicled here, here, and here. The finalists were Trent Conry, Rusty Holman, Dennis Clark, Chris Newsome, Jacques Ford, and Jason Tepper. Top Chef finalist Carla Hall (a U street girl favorite), owner Andy Shallal, and Mike Curtin from DC Central Kitchen were the judges. Apparently a winner has been chosen but their name has not been announced yet, and will be announced at a later date in the City Paper. I’ll be sure to update once the chef’s name has been announced.

The restaurant is said to open in either April or May of this year. Should be exciting, another Southern soul-food focused restaurant in the area (will be interesting to see how it contrasts with the food at Next Door, and to a degree, Marvin).