Set inside one of the ByWard Market’s grandest buildings, Eighteen’s soaring ceilings, walk-in hearth, and luxurious black-and-silver interior make an elegant setting for enjoying refined food with creative flair.
Executive chef David Godsoe is busy producing the classic surf and turf: steak and seafood. Serving nostalgia well while carrying the torch forward, he presents the traditional — a deep-tasting demi-glace for the beef tenderloin, a creamy sauce américaine for the lobster. But he also introduces twists — roasted duck breast is tarted up with a sweet-sour juniper agrodolce and accompanied by a sensuous rillette fritter, its crispy shell giving way to a tender interior.
Though Godsoe has a sharp focus on the mains, accompaniments aren’t overlooked: spicy mayonnaise and tiny sweet, zesty Peruvian peppers called sweet drops. Small plates like melt-in-the-mouth pink beef carpaccio are perfect with pickled shallots and deep-fried capers — you could eat only that and be content if there weren’t so many other enticing offerings. Eighteen’s meaty dish of tagliatelle and roasted king oyster mushrooms, for instance, which is enriched with nutritional yeast and cashew butter. Likewise, a crème brûlée for dessert could be dismissed as conventional if it weren’t for its orangey creaminess and the crunch of caramelized crust.
The pleasure of the food is enhanced by the refreshing professionalism shown by the wait staff — doubly important when navigating Eighteen’s extensive wine list.
With opulent dishes, luxurious but tasteful decor, and sophisticated service, Eighteen is a dining experience almost unparalleled in the city.