Down a well-lit ally near the Washington Convention Center resides a restaurant that is out of the ordinary. You won’t find appetizers or entrees here, but rather a meticulously designed symphony of flavors presented in several notes, 16 or 24 courses to be exact. I was thoroughly impressed with the dining experience at Chef R.J. Cooper’s Rogue 24. The James Beard Award winning chef starts off the meal with a parade of flavorful canapés. These single bites make up the first seven courses, though no course that evening consisted of more than four bites. Surprisingly though, you are full by the end of the meal.
You have a choice to make when setting the reservation; either the “Journey 24 course” menu, or the “Progression 16 course” menu. I went with 24 courses that night. Go big or go home, right?
The restaurant is sleek and modern with the kitchen being the center of attention. It sits smack dab in the middle of the space giving each diner a full view of the action, and there is certainly a lot going on. You can see the cooks assembling the intense and complicated courses. A split second after they are completed they are hurriedly scooped up by a swarm of wait staff who deliver them to tables. The whole process is perfectly planned.
New utensils are brought with each course. In one case I was given giant tweezers for an Ox Tongue course that had several small components of beet root, onion and tarragon. In some cases the plate seemed to be specifically designed to cradle that particular course, as was the case for the Mushroom course.
Rogue 24 incorporates a lot of interesting techniques in the cooking, such as using liquid nitrogen to powderize elements of a course. One of the standout courses was the Hen Egg. Threads of garlic were strewn on top of a perfect orb of rich sous-vide egg yolk. They also offer some mind-bending flavor combinations. My favorite bite of the night was the mustard ice cream on the Skate course.
My absolute favorite course of the night was the Lamb Collar. Who would have thought that lamb, broccoli, yogurt and sliced radishes would work so well together? It was delicious.
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to taste the over-the-top dishes that are created on Iron Chef? I felt like Rogue 24 gave me a hint of what that experience would be like. Genius..
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