Chef/owner (CIA graduate and James Beard Award Winner) Jeffrey Buben is the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at Vidalia. One of The Foodie's very few regrets over moving to Rehoboth Beach is the number of miles between him and Vidalia's impossibly fresh (want seconds? You have to wait for it to come out of the oven) Onion Focaccia, delivered to the table with a darkly sweet Onion Marmalade. Vidalia has been revving-up taste buds with that stuff since 1993.
Seems only right to start with the 5-Onion Soup (constructed with Duck Broth, Duck Dumplings and Cornbread Croutons). Another star of the appetizer show is the Grilled Lobster Salad with apples, mache (an expensive, velvety leaf also called Lamb's Lettuce), celery root and…wait for it…Lobster Caramel. It's well worth the time it takes to find a decent parking spot down there at 20th and M.
The Shrimp and Grits entree will not soon be forgotten (<<<sigh>>>). Tasso Ham and Vidalia Onion (of course) garnish the dish. No, the Frogmore Stew does not have frogs in it, but it does have Rockfish, Shrimp, Crab, Sausage, Potatoes Confit and a mild nage of Shellfish. Another Foodie Favorite is the wrapped-in-bacon Carpetbagger Steak, with fried oysters, leeks, spinach and an oyster-potato cream. The menu varies with the season, and these are just suggestions. The regional (Southern) bent of the menu is evident in just about every dish. By the way, if the stars are aligned correctly and you happen to get a lunch menu that offers the Southern Fried Chicken drizzled in Black pepper Cream Gravy, just order it and ask questions later.
Vidalia is at 1990 M St. N.W. You have to walk down a few steps to get there, but think of the calories you'll burn walking back up. Reservations are a must (202) 659-1990. (L., D., Bar). Click here for a sample dinner menu. Price range: Expensive +.