1.10.2008

Mark & Orlando's

Mark & Orlando’s probably doesn’t get all the hype that others do, but that’s a good thing. It’s not trendy, posh, or all the things that most every restaurant is trying to be. It’s a small, cozy, welcoming restaurant. My visits there have been very enjoyable and make for a wonderful evening. The location is also great, being in the heart of Dupont Circle.

Owners, Mark & Orlando, offer two dining scenes in the same restaurant. Mark serves a simple menu of mainly sandwiches and salads upstairs, while Orlando serves a fancier, contemporary American menu on the main floor. I’ve only had Orlando’s menu, and have been pleased with the overall experience.

They start you off with a basket of breads that are accompanied by 4 yummy spreads. The spreads change constantly, and usually consist of 2 butters and 2 jams/vegetable purees. I once had a strawberry butter there that was amazing. The whole table couldn’t get enough of this.

Orlando’s menu is always changing, and what you see on line isn’t indicative of their current offerings, but it gives you a good idea. One thing that’s always on the menu is the grilled caesar. Neil is obsessed with their version, and has me making it at home now almost weekly. I’ll post the recipe one of these days. The appetizers and entrees are hit or miss. I’ve had some amazing dishes, and some just a little “blah”. I suppose this is because they are constantly testing out new concoctions. I had an appetizer of crisp goat cheese grit cakes w/ shaved fennel and ancho chili aioli. This sounded like a winner, but there wasn’t enough goat cheese flavor for me. Neil, who can’t stand the smell/taste of goat cheese, was even able to eat this! There was an amazing entrée of seared crab cakes over risotto and spinach coulis. This dish was delicious, and the blend of flavors so perfect. A venison they featured on the menu ranks as one of the best I’ve ever had. The little medallions were so tender and not a bit chewy. They just melted in your mouth. A mahi mahi with date puree was a little too bland for my taste, but loved by another at the table.

Desserts here are tasty for the most part, and they are usually constant offerings with seasonal additions. A crème brule was a tad bit underdone, but the flavor exceptional. The blueberry financier, which is basically a small blueberry muffin/cake, is a must have. It’s a little crispy on the outside, but so soft, moist, and buttery on the inside. The blueberry flavor is very pungent and sweet. It’s served with fresh whipped cream, which is the perfect compliment. A bourbon bread pudding just wasn’t rich enough for me, and was too French toast like. I like my bread pudding to be much moister, sweeter, and richer than French toast. One dessert I haven’t tried is the warm chocolate cake, but I’ve read that they make the best in town. So, I’ll have to try it out next time.

Other than that, the wine list is decent…a little small, but I haven’t had trouble finding a nicely priced bottle.

This is a great venue for a date or intimate dinner amongst friends. Mark & Orlando are usually there, and will often personally greet you. As previously noted, it’s a small place, so make reservations. Also, don’t be deterred by the size. The tables are nicely spaced for privacy and ample conversation. Prices are a little steep, but the portions are a nice size for the price.

Mark & Orlando’s
2020 P Street, NW
Washington DC 20036
202.223.8463