Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Café Citron D.C. - review

Café Citron
1343 Connecticut Ave. NW
(Dupont Circle)
Washington, DC 20036
Subway - Dupont Circle
Parking - Street/Valet

Although this is a food blog, I base my reviews on several aspects to be fair. I look at the food, of course, but I also look at pricing, ambience, staff, and most importantly, how I felt. Fortunately, I was introduced to Café Citron by a friend. Café Citron ranked very well on all aspects, especially the way I felt. Then again, it was a festive occasion where three Chicagoans were showing D.C. how it's done, but one of the best quotes I heard was from my friend who was visiting D.C. He is extremely well-traveled, has been to more places on earth than anyone I know, and has about 1,500,000 miles (and counting) racked up. His quote: "I had the best time in D.C., better than any other city in the country." (He did stress "in the country.") Part of that reason is because of our time at Café Citron.

Café Citron is a three-level restaurant/bar/nightclub. It has a deep Latin theme, but it also has a world beat. The staff there is wonderfully friendly. The DJ was spinning the best Latin music and other wordly music. Most of the music sounded like it came from my own personal collection. Entertainment was surprising and talented. Pricing was very fair. And the food. Well, after having all of this, I wasn't expecting much from the food, but I must inform you that they definitely delivered: from the appetizers to the main course to the dessert to the drinks. I love this place. I will go back, and I will bring others.

When we walked in, the hostess sat us down with a terrific smile and gave us information on what she likes to eat. While we were waiting, we all took out our cameras to view our inventory from the National Mall. I took a few pictures of the place, and they did, too. It was enough for the waitress to come over and jokingly ask what's going on. Looking back, I can see how we would look funny with our cameras and large lenses poking everywhere like a porcupine. We explain the touristy aspect of the cameras and the food blog. With that, she also gave us suggestions on what to try. She stated they are known for their mojitos, so we order a pitcher. (I never had it from a pitcher, so I was a little worried.) As we perused the menu, our mojitos were delivered, and I poured them. Just as I thought... not too good. Very "okay." Oh well. The waitress returns, and we ordered Lomo Saltado, Salmon, and the Chicken Stew. We also ordered Fried Plantains for an appetizer. I wasn't too keen on that, since I really dislike plantains. In fact, I wanted to order the Jamaican Curried Goat, but I didn't since part of the dish involved plantains.

While we were waiting for dinner to arrive, different people from the waitstaff stopped by our table to talk, hang out, and ensure we were having a good time. One such time we were surprised by a round of shots of tequila. Not just any tequila, but Patron Tequila. Down they went, very smooth. With that, you know why it's more costly than other tequilas and is not one to make margaritas with. We voiced our opinion on the mojito, and the bartender graciously offered to make us some more. By hand. All individually. I'm glad we took her up on her offer, because I can say that it was pretty close to being the best mojito I've ever had. It did not have a stick of sugar cane protruding from the drink, but everything else was pretty close to perfect. She redeemed the restaurant in a big way, especially since my friend is quite picky and the connoisseur when it comes to mojitos.
The food finally arrived, and it was the typical presentation with dustings of spices around the edges of the plates, sauce strewn about in a decorative format and so on. It was very dim, but when my flash hit the food, it was quite colorful. Again, I wasn't expecting much from a place that turns into one of D.C.'s most popular nightclubs. Much to my chagrin, I was delightfully surprised. I went according to the waitress' suggestion and had the Chicken Stew and was not sorry I did not get the goat. I sampled the other dishes, and they were good, too. But my Chicken Stew was tasty. I was encouraged to try the plantains. I knew I would not like them. I despised them as a young person and all through my life. I was at a Colombian restaurant in Chicago the week before, and I didn't like them. Why would these be different? Fine. I tried them after much coaxing, already making a bad face - but then a smile appeared. Could it be that my taste for plantains changed within a week? I didn't think so, either. Citron just prepared them in such a way that, not only can I tolerate them, but I ate several more pieces after that preliminary piece. Oh yes, I was happy indeed.

And then dessert. At Latin-themed places, it's flan. Almost always flan. I can eat it, but I'm not a flan fan. The others ordered it, so I can taste, but I ordered the Tres Leches. Again, Citron did not disappoint me. The flan was... flan. It was good, but it didn't stand out against other flans I've had. But the Tres Leches? Heavenly. My mouth is simulating the moist texture of the cake when it was in my mouth as I type this. I didn't want it to end. What a way to finish off dinner. But what, there's more. I hear a bartender beating on a tambourine, the bouncer tapping a bongo, and the DJ spinning Middle Eastern sounds. I look up, and a belly dancer has taken the floor. Her show is well done, and her body pulsates perfectly with the music, each part moving independently to the others. Well done.

We were invited to return for the nightclub portion, which started in an hour, but we didn't go back. I guess the goat and the club is another reason to return - along with everything else Café Citron has to offer. I highly recommend this place.

Mojito - pitcher - $30 - C
Mojito - glass - $8 (I think - it was free) - B+
Shots of Patron - (don’t know – free again) - B+
Fried Plantains - $4.50 - C+
Cooked in Curry spices, potatoes and carrots served w/ fried plantains and rice w/black beans
LOMO SALTADO - $10.90 - C+
Succulent strips of beef, grilled w/onions tomatoes, peas and fried potatoes served w/rice
CHICKEN STEW – Around $11 - B-
CITRON FLAN - $4.50 - C
Traditional Cream caramel
TRES LECHES - $4.50 - B
Traditional Latin American specialty, white cake soaked in sweet caramel milk


Anonymous said...

The fact that your friend is, "well traveled" and thinks DC was one of the coolest cities is depressing. Not only is DC incredibly lame but Citron is one of the douchiest DC places. Thank god my five years in that hell hole are over.

Anonymous said...

Whatever Schleprock. I've been to Citron 3 times I think. Once for the flamenco dancing and food. We were the only ones there and it was nice. Once again when it was INSANE. People dancing on the tables and bar jammin to some serious house music. And one last time to go to the club downstairs. I only stayed for a little bit but just long enough to try a delicious Mojito.. Yum.. Citron is definitely a nice spot to hit and rarely gets the credit it deserves.

Anonymous said...


Athos said...

I'd like to believe that it wasn't so much DC but the host that made it so good (if I do say so myself). It's too bad that you couldn't make your stay in DC better. One of my main thoughts that I live by is to make the best of any situation.

As the other person commented, Citron can be a very good time. And I wasn't even there for the nightclub portion.

And as far as who the Korean girl is, go there, and introduce yourself. She is the one who made one of the best mojitos I've ever had. She's extremely nice.


Anonymous said...

The blond in the picture above is amazing looking. I think I need to start going to Citron. She is probably "taken" but I'd be happy just looking at her all night.