Dining

House of Chard

Jeremiah Langhorne celebrates Mid-Atlantic cuisine at The Dabney in D.C.
Photo: Andrew Cebulka
The Dabney

"Let me walk right up," Jeremiah Langhorne says on the phone as he pokes his head outside to survey the small garden he's planted above the patio at The Dabney in Washington, D.C.

"There's nasturtium, lovage, chervil, Swiss chard and thyme," he lists. "A particular variety of rosemary, anise hyssop, sorrel, thistle . . . ."

Calm and cool, Langhorne doesn't sound like he's only in day five at the brand-new restaurant, which happens to be one of the most anticipated openings in D.C. this year. The former McCrady's chef is following in his mentor Sean Brock's footsteps, relying strictly on local ingredients and extending it to his hometown in the Mid-Atlantic.

"I started foraging there, and Charleston was a wonderful place, but here is my home. Virginia, Maryland and Chesapeake have all these great things, so I thought it would be really great to showcase that," Langhorne says. "I wanted to put myself in a box and create a pantry with all these ingredients. My food will have no choice but to reflect the region."

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That means connecting with nearby farms to get whole animals—they go through three pigs, three lambs, 25 ducks a week—they break down in the restaurant and building his own hyperlocal pantry from the ground up with ingredients, some of which he's foraged himself. There are currently 150 on the shelves, ranging from watermelon molasses to popcorn miso to sorghum vinegar, which Langhorne puts to use on the dozen or so dishes he dreams up each day. Many of those ideas are sketched out on the chalkboard walls of the cozy restaurant.

The menu changes almost daily, depending on what is at its peak in the walk-in fridge. Some days you'll find waffles with foie gras and chicken liver pâté in lieu of syrup and butter or catfish with tomato gravy, but you definitely won't find epic wait times—or just not yet.

"We purposely put very little out there about when we were going to open, because we truly care about our customer's experience. So it didn't make sense to guarantee it and have a huge line," Langhorne says.

"It's funny though," he continues. "You feel like you're running in a race to get it built and get it open. Once you open, it does feel good to be done with that, but really the race just started, because it's about the food we put out. Now we just went to the starting line in a lot of ways."

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