Art student or attorney, professional blogger or congressional aide, everyone has an equal shot at the 50 or so seats at Rose’s Luxury. The white-hot American restaurant across the street from the Marine Barracks on Capitol Hill turns one in October, does not take reservations, and has waits that crest above the three-hour mark on the weekends.
Fortunately, from bread service (miniature potato loaves) to digestifs (house-made Irish cream), chef/owner Aaron Silverman and his cheerful squad of industry veterans curate a joyful experience that’s uncommon in Washington—and very worth the wait.
Aaron grew up in Maryland and cooked in New York (Momofuku) and Charleston (McCrady’s) before coming back to his home turf to open Rose’s. It is named for his grandmother, a poet and Truman-era hostess known for her dinner parties.
Homegrown hospitality radiates throughout. The upstairs bar, where hopefuls take refuge in brick alcoves, is a hive of how-do-you-dos. Strangers scoot down the orange silk thrift-store sofa to make room for arrivals and pass bottles of Crystal hot sauce and Champagne.
The bartenders need coercing to take food orders if you don’t have a seat. Just be patient—someone nice will make room—and then delve into creative snacks such as plump Kusshi oysters frosted with fermented bourbon-and-ginger ale granita and crunchy, pickle-brined fried chicken thighs.
Aaron turns gnocchi dough into ricotta-filled ravioli, country ham sausage into something out of Southeast Asia. The latter’s laab-like crumbles join fresh lychee, coconut mousse, chile, and cilantro. Family-style brisket and schnitzel arrive on silver platters, foie gras on blue polka-dot china that once belonged to a bartender’s grandmother.
These assorted matriarchs may be Roses biggest influence. Even the flowers have a maternal history, transplanted from roots tended by a hostess’ female family members, bringing new meaning to stop and smell the Rose’s.
Reservations: Not taken. Cost: Small plates, $3-$13; family-style plates, $28-$29; cocktails, $10-$12. Address: 717 8th St. SE., Washington, D.C.; rosesluxury.com
The Hot Plate
Cornmeal-dusted and fried, the soft-shell crawfish are no-peeling-necessary. Aaron sources them from a crustacean whisperer in Louisiana who uses different temps and lights to make mudbugs molt their shells. Aaron serves them over grits and hot sauce beurre blanc.