Food & Drink

2015 in Southern Restaurants: The Dabney

In a city divided, it’s a democratic approach to white tablecloth dining.

photo: Andrew Cebulka

Jeremiah Langhorne at work in the open kitchen.

For the third year, we’re profiling five of the most exciting new restaurants below the Mason-Dixon line—one per day, in the order that they opened.

The Dabney, Washington, D.C.
Opened in October 2015

Chef Jeremiah Langhorne of Charlottesville, Virginia, is plating the Mid-Atlantic in our nation’s capital, using ingredients like oysters, sunchokes, country ham, and apple cider.

With help from a ten-foot-wide colonial-style hearth, he is bringing flavor back to the sorts of rustic, farm-fresh stews and roasts that once fed our founding fathers in a city known today for its diversity of international cuisines. This isn’t exactly throwback food, though.

A lamb leg hangs over the hearth at The Dabney.

photo: Andrew Cebulka

A lamb leg hangs over the hearth at The Dabney.

Langhorne was the chef de cuisine at McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina, where he became an expert forager and oversaw a pantry full of scratch-made misos and vinegars. During the build-up to his first restaurant, he had time to put together his own library of local flavors. “We’re using all sorts of vinegars,” he says. “Virginia maple, sorghum, smoked sorghum. Quince, apple, two types of wild grape. I could keep going. Then there are the misos: butterbean, pumpkin seed, black walnut, pecan, squash.”

Those scratch-made seasonings aren’t explained on the menu, though, and neither are the local suppliers behind daily dishes like sweet potato rolls stuffed with crispy pork belly, mayonnaise, and pepper jelly, root vegetable chowder with oysters, and the classic, crowd-pleasing likes of strip steak with potato puree, creamed spinach, and horseradish.

photo: Andrew Cebulka

Virginia oyster stew with bacon and cider.

 

“We do what we do because we believe in it, not because we want everybody to know about it,” Langhorne says. “It’s the quality of food we want to serve, but we also want that guy who only likes steak and potatoes to be able to come in and have a great time.”

In a city divided, it’s a democratic approach to white tablecloth dining.

Don’t miss: The menu changes often, but the sweet potato roll is a reliable standout.


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