Open for just over a week, Azur seems to be getting off to a mediocre start. Who hasn’t been looking forward to the opening of Frederik de Pue’s second DC restaurant (Table, being his first) in the former Cafe Atlantico/Minibar space? (Read my write-up on the Daily Meal here for more background.)
Azur has many ingredients for success. Among other things, there’s the chef’s experience at acclaimed seafood restaurants abroad; the seafood-centric menu, which includes a raw bar replete with a variety of East and West Coast oysters, house cured salmon, and caviar; and the lack of seafood restaurants in DC. So far the reality has not lived up to its potential. In the words of a young girl in an often-played ad about a cellular provider, “We want more, we want more.” Overall, the food was fine, the portions were too small, and the price tag was too hefty.
I began my evening at Azur with confusion. The nautical-themed cocktail menu took up about twice as much space as the food menu and included cocktails, named after famous boats, with one too many ingredients, and ranging from $14 to $22. Side note: Maybe it’s just me but I don’t need to pay $22 for a cocktail merely for the honor of ingesting gold flakes. I finally settled on the Pilar, a rum-based drink with Crème de Noyeaux, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, fresh grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and mint. I thought this was a good bet since I recognized all ingredients except one. What I got was something akin to maraschino cherry juice. I have to give all the credit to my friend for being able to pinpoint the sickening sweet flavor of the Pilar.
I was so turned off by its sweetness that I sent it back. I.Sent.Booze.Back. Unheard of! Instead I went with the Mary Celeste (vodka, ginger syrup, lime, and club soda) which was fine but by no means notable. On to the food …
First course. I started off with the grilled octopus and braised, crispy pork belly ($15). The pork belly was excellent. The octopus was tender but bland. My friend opted for the tuna tartare ($15) which she said was bland and cut so fine that it diluted the tuna’s flavor.
Second course. I ordered the mussels “Belgian” style ($19), meaning the mussels were cooked in Belgian ale with buttered leeks and parsley.
My friend ordered the clams “Azur” style ($22), meaning the clams were cooked in white wine with fennel, garlic, and citrus. Clams, mussels, and lobster may also be prepared “Bangkok” (coconut broth, lemongrass, and Thai basil) or “Veracruz” (chorizo, cilantro, pasilla chili broth) style. Each of our dishes came with excellent frites. While my mussels were delicious, I would have liked a larger portion. My friend said her clams were good though the fennel overpowered the clams’ delicate flavor.
Dessert. We both couldn’t resist the Hazelnut Dacquoise ($8) or, as I like to call it, a Nutella candy bar. It was delicious. Enough said.
So, like I said, the food was fine, the portions were too small, and the price tag was too hefty. The service was great though I think someone should think twice about having an employee walk out into the middle of the dining room with a broom and dustpan to carry out some routine sweeping in the middle of dinner service.
I’m always optimistic and I hope that my experience at Azur was unique and not indicative of the quality of food that we should expect to see in the future. And in the meantime, I’m going to become a regular at their happy hour ($1 oysters and drink specials 5-6:30 weekdays).
405 8th St. NW
Hours: T-W 5pm-12am
Su 5pm-12am M closed