Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meridian: Unexpected Visit and We Made Out OK

Rare that I'd post two entries about restaurants in a week, but w-e! Yea, that's an abbreviation for "whatever." Yes, I am clever. Anyway...

Two weeks ago I attended a going away party for a friend. I was so busy at work, I failed to note the location of the dinner on the e-vite; I just replied "yes" and vowed to check on the details later. Well, the day of the dinner I realized that the location was Meridian Restaurant and Bar in Brightwood. I hadn't been to that corner --Missouri and Georgia Ave NW-- for some time and was curious to see how the Lofts at Brightwood project and other development had worked out. I have watched this corner wax and wane for a few years, waiting for the chance to again become a significant crossroads in the District.

Part of that change is the Meridian Restaurant. We pulled up at about 8PM and I was stunned at the transformation. This place is a beauty. Whoever the owners are pulled out all the stops in creating a swank and appropriately appointed atmosphere. The dining area is low lit and sleek, with muted colors on the walls, but they had enough sense to keep it interesting with artwork and other design elements. The seating and tables are modern and the candle-lit place settings make this a place for "event" dinners; first date, birthdays, going away parties, parents in town, etc. I have to say the service was second to none. I mean, really, the service was some of the best I've had recently in the District, and I'm sure you know that we have a WIDE range of restaurant service quality here.

Meridian has inventive, but expensive, cocktails. I had the berry caipirinha, a to-die-for drink with a to-die-for $11.00 price tag. It made my personal one drink maximum easy to stick to. Speaking of drinks, there is a bar, but you wouldn't know just sitting in the dining area. The bar inhabits its own area within the restaurant and I was surprised to find every bar seat filled when we left the place; there was virtually no noise carry-over. Also, Meridian seemed like a place that drew a relaxed, quiet crowd; its not a sports bar.

The menu wasn't exactly vegan friendly, and half of our group was vegetarian or vegan. The waiter took VERY good care of us and made more than one trip to the kitchen to get the detailed answers to some detailed questions. I don't remember her name sadly, but hey waiter, here's a public thank you!

The vegans were able to manage an appetizer and main course, but we didn't have much choice, and there was nothing on the dessert menu even close. Meridian has strong Caribbean and Cajun influences, working from a base of soul food. My entree was penne with spicy Cajun tomato based sauce. Emphasis on spicy! It was more than satisfactory. They seemed amenable to accommodating special dietary needs, and to their credit have a chef's-choice vegetarian option available for all dinners. Our dinner for six was something like $250.00, not bad including drinks.

Meridian is located at 5832 Georgia Avenue. We took the H4 bus from Mount Pleasant to Georgia Ave, then the 70 bus, which drops you across the street from the restaurant. Its not Metro accessible.