Best Restaurant

Rose’s Luxury
717 8th St. SE, (202) 580-8889
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

It’s easy to be skeptical about the hype around Rose’s Luxury. Doesn’t anyone have anything bad to say about it, other than the often lengthy waits? Isn’t it annoying how everyone fawns over it like that really, really pretty girl in high school?

And yet, every time I eat there, it charms me all over again.

A restaurant worthy of the title of “best” should be a place you can afford to eat at more than once a year. (Sorry, Minibar.) And it should be a place that feels like home, while providing an experience far beyond what you could ever replicate in your own home. All of that you get from Rose’s dinner-party-host-esque servers and chef Aaron Silverman’s imaginative yet comforting menu.

But the beauty of Rose’s Luxury is the many little things that make you wonder “why has no one thought of this sooner?” That’s what runs through my mind when I notice a container full of bobby pins in the restroom or when a server points out little cubbies under the tables to store the menus.

More than that, the same forehead-smacking feeling applies to Silverman’s food. Strawberry tomato pasta? Doughnuts and vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cabot cheddar cheese? You might second-guess the combinations—but not once you try them.

One of Silverman’s signature dishes is a pork and lychee “salad” with coconut espuma, red onion, fried garlic, cilantro, mint, and peanuts, which must be mixed together for full effect. The dish knocks down flavors like bowling pins: sweet, salty, citrusy, creamy, bitter, spicy. Another newer dish combines fluffy scrambled eggs and slabs of uni under an uni Hollandaise foam with crunchy string potatoes and hints of preserved Meyer lemon. The dish will not only melt in your mouth, but also melt your grudge over the two-hour wait.

While most of the menu consists of small plates you’ll want to hoard to yourself, family-style meals can easily feed two or more. I’ve never ordered one of these gut-busting dishes, served cheekily on silver platters, that didn’t elicit oohs and ahhs from the table—and others nearby. A recent pork schnitzel—accompanied by applesauce, whole grain mustard, and a riff on potato salad instead made with sunchokes—is more flavorful than any version I’ve tried, thanks to a marinade of reduced apple cider and mustard egg wash applied before breading. Even better is the platter with tender slabs of smoked brisket, slaw, horseradish cream, and buttered toast that could hold muster with most Texas barbecue joints. And convert any skeptics.