ADDRESS: 915 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005
It’s winter Restaurant Week season again in D.C., so you know what that means: another golden opportunity for me to do a restaurant review! For Restaurant Week dinner, you pay a fixed price of $35 and select dishes for three courses: appetizer, entrée, and dessert. I like the concept because it’s an opportunity to sample more of a restaurant’s menu without having to break out the big bucks. The key is knowing which RW menu is worth the price, since sometimes the portions could be heavily scaled back. Lucky for us, the portions at Siroc were generous enough to leave us feeling satisfied by the end of the meal.
This past Saturday, I ventured into D.C. with my four friends Andy, Emily, Mark, and Sarah for a 7 p.m. seating at Siroc, located in the downtown neighborhood and only a block away from the McPherson Square metro station. The inside of the restaurant had a smaller dining room than I was expecting, but I think the table layout was good so that you never felt congested. There is also an outdoor café area in the front, which would be great to take advantage of during the warmer months.
If there was one word that I would use to describe the overall atmosphere, it would have to be “refined.” Smart casual is their dress code, so you wouldn’t be seeing any T-shirts or sneakers if you looked around. The lighting inside is dimmed down, providing more of an intimate setting. Almost all the walls are either painted or wallpapered in a neutral beige, with a few walls accented in a deep wine red.
Instead of the normal three-course RW menu, Siroc took it a step further and added a pasta course before your entrée (hey, you won’t see me complaining over here about more food). If anything, it was an opportunity to sample another item from the menu. Each course offered three different options, and it was really hard to make decisions because everything sounded pretty good. After our waitress swung by the second time to take our food orders, it was down to some game-time decisions.
Here’s what I went with for my four courses: pork & pecorino cheese sausage (starter), butternut cappellaci (pasta), lamb & eggplant lasagna (entrée), almond cake (dessert). Between the five of us, we almost covered all the menu choices, except for the chili spiced spaghetti in the pasta course and poached bosc pear in the dessert course. It wasn’t too long before the starter course came out, and everyone got to work sampling the different dishes.
I thought that the sausage dish was just okay; I couldn’t really taste any pecorino cheese while eating it. The bite-sized roasted potatoes in the fontina fonduta (Italian version of fondue) were pretty tasty, but needed that extra fresh-cracked pepper to bring out the depth of flavor. I was more impressed by the burrata mozzarella starter, which had a great creamy consistency and paired well with the sweet & sour eggplant and drizzled balsamic vinaigrette.
Our pasta dishes were up next, which meant the arrival of my cappellacci, or pasta dumplings. After setting the dish down, our waitress ground up some fresh black pepper over the dish and I moved in to take a bite.
It’s been a long time since I tried a dish and it left me speechless for a moment. But honestly, that single bite of the cappellacci was perfect. The flavors were all there: sweet (butternut squash and honey), savory (butter and ricotta), earthy (sage), spicy (black pepper). After that first bite, I was seriously considering flagging down our waitress to tell her to substitute my remaining two courses with the cappellacci. Every bite made me a little more sad, because I knew that meant there was less on the plate to enjoy. That pasta was far and away my favorite dish of the evening.
The runner-up for favorite was the next course: the lamb & eggplant lasagna. I wasn’t the only one at the table initially thinking that this lasagna dish was an odd offering to follow up the pasta course, but as it turns out, the eggplant functioned as the “lasagna noodles,” with the braised lamb in between. That lamb was cooked really well, packed with flavor and so tender it just broke apart from cutting the lasagna. The melted pecorino cheese on top added a little more of a savory element, and the red pepper sauce certainly added a kick to each bite.
Even though it had been a lot of food so far, I was pleasantly surprised that I still had room for dessert. The almond cake turned out to be a decent size and the consistency was a little dense, kind of like a biscuit almost. The subtle almond flavor in the cake matched well with the tartness provided by the blueberry topping. As a dessert that wasn’t overly rich, it was a nice way to finish off the meal.
In the grand scheme of things, I was very impressed by Siroc. Everything was clicking during our meal: the quality of the food was great, the service was well-paced, and the staff were friendly. Honestly, I would make the journey back out just to have some more of that butternut cappellacci! If you’re looking for some good Italian food in a quieter setting and a more polished ambiance, look no further than Siroc.
Let’s now take a look at the Siroc Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
Pork & Pecorino Cheese Sausage
Pork sausage stuffed with pecorino cheese, served with roasted potatoes in a fontina fonduta and an apple cider demiglaze garnish.
** Butternut Cappellacci **
Cappellacci filled with a blend of roasted butternut squash and mascarpone cheese served in a sage butter sauce, garnished with honey and ricotta salata.
** Lamb & Eggplant Lasagna **
Braised lamb shank layered between sautéed eggplant slices with a melted layer of pecorino cheese on top, served with a red pepper sauce and majoram garnish.
Warm Almond Cake
Round of almond cake plated with a cinnamon zabaglione base and fresh blueberry topping.
And finally, here are my rankings for Siroc:
Food: 4.75 / 5
For all the dishes that I sampled, everything tasted fresh. The diversity on the menu spans between fish, meats, pasta, and salads, giving diners plenty of choices. Despite the variety, I think the menu is still a good size to allow the restaurant to keep quality between dishes consistent.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
Like I mentioned above, my initial impression of the dining room was that it was a little packed in (which was true as I had to artfully weave between chairs to get to the restrooms). However, once we sat down, I felt like we were spaced enough that I wasn’t hearing conversations from the next table over. The lighting and decorations also helped to add to that overall sense of elegance in the dining room.
Service: 4.5 / 5
The courses were spaced out nicely that it never felt like we waited too long in between. Our waitress stopped by multiple times to refill our waters and ask how the food was.
Price: 4.5 / 5
This one is the hardest for me to gauge since I ate here during Restaurant Week. However, after looking over their normal menu, and comparing my impressions of various dishes’ quality, I would say that the prices are pretty reasonable. If the portions are even larger than what we got for RW dining, then definitely.