Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.

McCormick & Schmick's, Washington, D.C.

McCormick & Schmick’s (Washington, D.C.)

The bar at McCormick & Schmick’s was hopping with politcos and their entourages when I arrived just after the end of the workday. The hostess escorted me past two well-dressed men (blue suits, red ties) getting their shoes shined in a corner, to my table in the emptier part of the restaurant, which filled up fairly quickly soon after I arrived. As I took my seat under large lighting fixtures that look like molecular configurations, I spied the private booths down a darker little passageway opposite me, where opaque curtains could seal off the booths from prying eyes — perfect for a philandering Congressman involved in an illicit affair, or a lobbyist bribing a Senator.

After I made my selection, I kept myself amused by eavesdropping on the conversations on either side of me. To the right, a young woman who kept referring to herself as an “inland girl” was having trouble understanding the seafood options, which the waiter patiently explained; to the left, two well-dressed female senior citizens were discussing the convoluted plots of General Hospital, as if the characters were real people in their lives, before turning their attention to me, convinced I was a spy when they observed that I wasn’t preoccupied with a book, a Kindle, or a smartphone, and that I was just watching everything around me. This unexpected bit of entertainment primed me for a meal that proved to be just as rewarding.

Fork and KnifeTry This: If you’re in D.C. on a typically muggy summer day, a great starter is the salad of mixed greens, candied walnuts, and blue cheese crumbles with a balsamic vinaigrette; if you’re here on an unseasonably cold spring day when you’re attacked by snow, sleet, and rain, like I was, the Maryland-style crab soup fits the bill. For the main course, I loved the almond-crusted rainbow trout with lemon butter, served with butternut squash orzo and green beans, which I supplemented with a side of wild mushroom spinach sauté, although the cashew-crusted tilapia with Jamaican rum butter and sweet potato couscous sounded intriguing. Chocolate is the choice for dessert, whether it’s the chocolate silk pie served with fresh berries and raspberry sauce, or the chocolate bag, a shell of chocolate in the shape of a little shopping bag, filled with chocolate mousse, fresh berries, and whipped cream.