- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Unless you’re eating ice cream in the middle of the Mall, you’re not going to get a grander dining view of the Capitol dome than from the Capitol View Restaurant and Lounge on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency Washington.

The food, while not stretching the imagination, is fantastic, too.

For starters, the smoked tomato soup, served with mini brie sandwiches, is very tasty, if a bit slight.

A bit more generous and equally delicious is the watercress and frisee salad, which includes red and green pear, warm baby beets and Maytag blue cheese. Ingredients are superfresh, and the greens, pears, beets and blue cheese complement each other perfectly.

Oysters Chesapeake, a scrumptious dish of jumbo lump crabmeat served on an oyster shell with vine-ripened tomatoes and basil hollandaise, should not be missed, either.

Other appetizing items on the starter menu include Southern-fried Griggstown quail, served with black-eyed peas, onions and a sweet-potato haystack; the grilled chili garlic calamari, served with cilantro-scented hummus; and pickled daikon, grilled scallion and shiso (sometimes called Japanese basil) salad.

The main-course menu is heavy — and delicious — on the red meat but also has several nice seafood choices, including Maryland crab cakes and tournedo of ahi tuna Rossini with a sweet Madeira glaze and white-truffle-and-lobster mashed potatoes.

The combination of a petite, extremely tender filet mignon and flavorful jumbo crab cakes is very nice. The crab-and-meat duo is served with tasty roasted garlic mashed potatoes, chili aioli and red-wine shallot sauce.

Another fine entree is the dry-aged New York strip, which is aged for 21 days before landing on the diner’s plate together with scrumptious basil mashed potatoes and fried onions.

For the very hungry and value-conscious, a six-course tasting menu is available for $68. It includes wood-grilled jumbo asparagus, smoked tomato soup, watercress and frisee salad, the tuna tournedo, roasted baby rack of lamb and chocolate Nirvana, a trio of chocolate treats.

For the thirsty, Capitol View offers a well-chosen wine list with wine by the glass starting at $9.

While the quality of the food is high, the portions are on the small side. The presentation is elegant, but the food is quite lonely in the middle of large white plates, some adorned with a Capitol dome emblem.

Maybe it’s a good sign that we can’t get enough of a good thing? Or maybe it’s the restaurant’s strategy not to fill the stomachs of its customers completely so they can sample the outstanding desserts. These include a delicious raspberry souffle, a Granny Smith apple cobbler and a chocolate chip cheesecake.

The jewel of the dessert menu, though, is the chocoholics bar, which offers at least 10 chocolate treats each evening, such as bittersweet mocha bombe, Grand Marnier chocolate cheesecake, chocolate Sacher torte, Black Forest cake, chocolate pistachio pate, German chocolate cake, Venezuelan flourless chocolate cake, chocolate fondue, chocolate-dipped strawberries and assorted truffles.

This buffet of chocolate desserts is as wonderfully extravagant as it sounds.

The restaurant offers the chocoholics bar treats without dinner for $14, and they are worth it.

The service is outstanding: knowledgeable, swift and helpful without being intrusive. The decor is simple but tasteful and includes framed architectural drawings of the Capitol. The dining area with its white tablecloths and cushioned chairs is spacious and comfortable.

Capitol View Restaurant and Lounge provides solid, high-quality food with only a few nouveau-American frills, pleasant decor, excellent service and, of course, a capital view.

RESTAURANT: Capitol View Restaurant and Lounge, 400 New Jersey Ave. NW; 202/783-2582

HOURS: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday (lounge); 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (dinner); 6:30 to 11 p.m. (chocoholics bar)

PRICES: Starters $8 to $16; main courses $25 to $38; desserts $9 to $12; chocoholics bar only (not in connection with meal) $14

CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards accepted

PARKING: Complimentary valet parking for all dinner guests

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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