- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Christopher’s is getting more comfortable, not only with food, but also with a redesign of its dining room.

Located in a Crofton shopping plaza since 1998, the restaurant has been a well-kept secret for locals. Now word is getting out, and owner-executive chef Christopher Bowers isn’t complaining.

Mr. Bowers describes his culinary creations as “upscale American comfort food.”

A new menu, which debuted last month, offers several American classics with a twist. Among them is macaroni and three cheeses with roasted chicken, sun-dried tomato and grilled red onion; it’s topped with smoked mozzarella and basil gremolata.

Another is a grilled New York strip stroganoff with wild mushrooms, asparagus, veal pan gravy and sage egg noodles.

Meatloaf lovers will like the Christopher’s version, made with lamb and served with a chunky vegetable-tomato ragout, fried artichokes and garlic mashed potatoes.

An updated dining room has been separated into three areas. We dined at a table in the center area, which also has a wall of wooden booths. The remodeling has created more privacy and separation than in the past. Flowers and plants also are going to be worked into the design of this room.

As for the food, we began the evening with a roasted corn crepe with barbecue duck confit and a garlic-chive creme fraiche ($10). The corn crepe offered a good balance to the rich duck meat, nicely accented by the creme fraiche. With the barbecue sauce very decoratively on the side, the flavors were not masked, as can happen so easily with “barbecue.”

Other offerings included gingered calamari with green apple-horseradish creme fraiche; fried lobster wontons with white-truffle cream cheese and a grilled asparagus salad; and a spiced beef tenderloin carpaccio accompanied by grilled portobello mushroom and wasabi aioli.

Warm bread from the District’s Uptown Bakery and a house salad are included with all entrees.

Other than the offerings of comfort foods, the remainder of Mr. Bowers’ menu is made up of new American versions from land and sea.

A blackened red snapper ($20) with char-tomato salsa, fried leeks, aioli and garlic mashed potatoes is worthy of consideration unless you don’t like blackened. I do, but still, this generous piece of fish was a bit overly blackened. However, the sweet salsa and wonderful garlic mashed potatoes helped put out the flames.

The savory crusted filet mignon is huge and comes with a blue-cheese-potato croquette and smoked Burgundy demi glace.

Venison stew ($21) mixes the game with country vegetables, wild mushrooms, a rich red wine sauce and truffle oil and is served with garlic mashed potatoes. To call the sauce rich is an understatement; it might be more accurate to call it luxurious. The hearty pieces of venison were melt-in-your-mouth tender, too.

A grilled salmon filet ($20) was topped with crab-and-corn relish, two fried oysters and roasted fennel creme fraiche. (It also was served with garlic mashed potatoes.)

The salmon was prepared simply, but the relish offered an unusual — and welcome — change of pace. The one disappointment was the fried oysters. While the outer coating was crispy and not too thick, the oysters themselves were flat and flavorless, rather strange this time of year.

The seared rabbit loin with small green beans, sweet-potato-walnut fritters and sun-dried cherry demi glace is a plate that we hear is quite adventurous if you’re not afraid of playing with game.

Vegetarian? Mr. Bowers will accommodate requests.

For the sweet tooth, all desserts are made in-house. While I can’t say I actually slipped into a trance with the chocolate oblivion torte ($7), I can say it was rich, creamy and decadent. The raspberry-merlot coulis added just the right punch to counter the sweetness of the chocolate, and the crunchy pine-nut espresso truffle was a lovely finishing touch.

Other dessert offerings were rosemary creme brulee, warm blueberry tart and fruit tacos.

Service was attentive and friendly, and the large portions were presented with attention to detail. The dining room atmosphere is upscale but not pretentious. Children surely are welcome.

A nice wine list is available (about 12 varieties by the glass), and a full-service bar is at the entrance area of the restaurant.

Christopher’s is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Mr. Bowers wants Christopher’s to be known as more than just a place for special occasions, and he hopes recent changes will turn even more patrons into regulars.


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