Wednesday night found us descending on DuPont Circle for a much-anticipated dinner at STK DC. A NY native, the STK in the Meat Packing District is hands-down one of my favorite restaurants in all of New York. STK has a winning formula, which generated major success in NY and Vegas. They offer the unique experience of enjoying fine dining and impeccable service while maintaining a high-energy, fun ambience. It’s rare to find both in one venue. For a lot of restaurants, the food and service are excellent but the venue is a bit stuffy. Or the venue is really fun, but the food is sub-par and good luck finding your waiter. STK really nails both and creates a memorable dining experience.
Upon entering the restaurant, you are welcomed by a stylish & gracious host staff in a sleek, modern environment. There is a lot of black and white, and large mirrored pillars make the space seem enormous. We were seated at one of the large dining tables, which offered a spacious gold cushioned couch that circled the whole table and was very chic. I knew I’d have plenty of room to bop to Whitney Houston when my favorite track came on. The DJ is always spinning, and I was curious if they’d play the same type of music as the NY locations, and THEY DID! STK has a really unique playlist with the absolute best party songs and thumping beats from the 80’s-today. Think Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Notorious B.I.G. and Guns & Roses all had a joint birthday party and we got an invite. That is what eating at STK is like.
Before we discuss the food, I just need to talk about the staff again. They really went above and beyond, answering our questions, making sure everything coming out of the kitchen was correct, and just plain taking outstanding care of us throughout our meal. They are attentive, professional, and very personable. It speaks to STK’s ability to attract, train, and retain an engaging, knowledgeable, and gracious restaurant staff. Executive Chef Mark Hennessy and his team were truly wonderful.
We started with appetizers and two signature cocktails. I kicked things off with a Not Your Daddy’s Manhattan (bulleit bourbon, fernet branca, carpano antica sweet vermouth) and no, it certainly was not. I am a Manhattan drinker and I really liked it. It was warmly biting and refreshing at the same time. My favorite. Executive Chef Marc Hennessy sent out an amuse – a cross between their signature Tuna Tartare and a sashimi. It was served with avocado in a light soy-honey glaze, delicious. We sampled the Glazed Sea Scallops, which were dressed in a ginger scallion vinaigrette and served over chilled rye noodles. (Get the scallops.) Also delicious were their signature Lil’ BRG’s. I am a burger lover so I had to sample their take on a classic. Made with wagyu beef and topped with melted gouda, these are “Not Your Daddy’s Sliders” either! Rebekah enjoyed the Grilled Octopus (Fingerling potatoes, capers, red chili) and Baby Beet Salad (orange blossom honey, radish, boucheron goat cheese) and the Mixed Green Salad (demi sec cherry tomatoes, manchego, sherry emulsion) is also a great way to go if you’re going for something a little lighter in a place where the food is typically hearty.
For entrees, we wanted to try what they’re known for (steak) and we rounded out our turf with a surf entree by selecting the Skate Wing (greens, butternut squash, brown butter) as our fish. Rebekah paired the Skate Wing with asparagus and the creamy wild mushrooms. I ate a lot of her mushrooms (sorry Rebekah). They were a dream. Just say yes to mushrooms. In the meantime, I went to work on a Sirloin with a Chile Wagyu Butter Sauce and Truffles, while the DJ went to work on a mashup of Man In The Mirror. MJ may have wanted to make a change, but I definitely did not. The steak was phenomenal! I paired it with a few side choices including the Lobster Mac & Cheese, Truffle Fries and Sweet Corn Pudding. Normally I’m picky with Mac & Cheese and will only eat homemade. If you consider yourself a master of M&C, then this is one you must say you have tried. It is a melting, decadent, pasta-shell cluster of goodness. Beyond! The Truffle Fries are also something to love. They are thick, cut square, and are served fresh from the oven. They are truffled, and that is lovely. However I was on to my next signature cocktail and happily renamed them “Jenga Fries” and challenged Rebekah to unstack them at the table (see fig. 1, Jenga Fries). ‘Truffled’ has been done to death, but nowhere else will they serve your fries stacked like a Tetris game ready to go. Loved.
Speaking of signature cocktail #2, it was called The Strawberry Cobbler (belvedere, fresh muddled strawberry, graham cracker crust) and it was like stumbling upon The Ambrosia Stash of the Gods. If heaven has a flavor, I’m pretty confident it will remind me of the Strawberry Cobbler cocktail at STK. It combines belvedere, fresh muddled strawberry, and a graham cracker crust for the perfect golden trifecta (ok pink). One last cocktail recommendation – the Sugar Plum (brugal anejo, house made plum-ginger shrub, lemon, thai basil).
Finally, I was ready for my favorite part of any meal, dessert! In the name of research, I ate 3 desserts. First was the manager’s recommendation, which was Banana Cream Pie in a Jar (house made nilla wafer, vanilla custard, butterscotch). Then I tried the Birthday Cake (go shorty!), and the ICE STK which was a mini ice cream cone sampler.
The banana cream pie in a jar was great, and if you love bananas then this is definitely for you. For me, no one has anything on birthday cake. It was an almond torte, cookie dough ice cream, and vanilla buttercream ensconced in cake batter and therefore essentially reborn. That cake batter was poured with love. I just know these things, I can tell.
Much like any night at STK in NY, I grew sad when my food was done. But then I heard him speak to me, it was George Michael. He was telling me that he’s never going to dance again, because guilty feet have got no rhythm. Someone needs to tell George about STK, because who needs a dance floor when I can dance at my dinner table? With somebody who loves me (RIP Whitney).
I give STK 5 Stars. The ambience can not be beat, and the food is outstanding. I would not say that it’s a place for a business meeting. It’s a fabulosity mecca, which makes it perfect for a night on the town with your favourites, or a fun place to bring a date. It’s the perfect place to impress her with fine dining and elegance while simultaneously letting your hair down. I don’t view my dining experiences there as “my dinner at STK.” It’s always “my night at STK.” It’s not written on the menu, but each patron is comped with a Good Night Out. Side effects may include excessive joy, great memories, lip syncing, and the inexplicable urge to yell JENGA!
1250 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, DC 20036
(Originally posted for EpicureanDC)