Debbie and I went to Momofuku with Florence and Peter on a Saturday night.
The main door of the restaurant is actually on 11th Avenue at the corner of 11th and “I” street. It shares an entrance with an ice cream specialty shop called Milk Bar. There is a closed street along the “I” Street side and there is an area for outdoor dining which was not being used the night we were there.
As you enter the restaurant, slightly off to the right is a square bar that has seats on three sides seating 6, 5 and 5 with wooden square stools. At each stool at the bar there is a hook for hanging a purse or whatever. Further to the right is the kitchen which has a second bar area looking directly into the kitchen with seating for 6 people from which you can watch the food preparation.
Once you move past the regular bar and into the restaurant, at the end of the room there is a slight incline which leads to a multi-table dining area that can be closed for private parties.
The main restaurant seats approximately 150 people exclusive of the bar. Another 60 people can be seated on the patio.
There are a variety of seating arrangements. There is a banquette with a number of two tops which of course can be moved together. There is a square table that seated two on each side the night we were there but could easily handle three on each side. And of course there are a variety of 2 tops, 4 tops and a 6 top.
The whole “I” street side of the restaurant is made of glass and we had a 4 top right at the window.
For libations before dinner, Florence and Debbie ordered Salt Plum Rickeys – gin, salt plum, lime, black current, soda; Peter ordered a gin and tonic and I had a specialty lemonade.
Another Michael, who had been at Momofuku a week earlier, recommended that we order the small plates (appetizers) and not order the main courses until the small plates were complete. His experience was that if you ordered them all together the main courses came well before you had finished the appetizers.
The small plates we ordered were delivered in phases.
Burrata – pine nuts, rhubarb; Maryland Blue Crab Dip – Old bay, parmesan, bread crumb; Curried Red Beets -peanuts, citrus, puffed rice; Peach & Lemon Cucumber Salad – labne, pistachio za’atar, cotija; Dry aged Beef and Lamb dumplings – scallion oil, dried chili.
For large plates we ordered – Whole Roasted Chicken – chicken fat basmati rice, green olives, cilantro yogurt, fried eggs (Menu say it serves 2 – really serves 4) and Grilled Lamb Leg – eggplant caponata, mint, carrot puree. We all agreed this was the single best dish of the evening.
One of our party did not like having fried eggs on top of the rice with the chicken dish. We asked that the fried eggs be removed. Two new dishes arrived…one with just rice and another new dish with three fried eggs.
For dessert Peter ordered a slice of chocolate malt cake from Milk Bar, Florence tried to order a Soft Serve – Chocolate covered pretzel also from the Milk Bar-but they were out and she did not want a substitute. I selected the Chocolate Coffee Custard – crème fraiche, almonds, mint from the restaurant menu.
The service overall was excellent.
As the evening went on it became pretty loud but not insufferable.
Lindsay is the general manager. She stopped by when we had the confusion with the rice dish. With Peter doing his usual questioning we learned that she had been in Washington managing this restaurant for about six weeks. We learned a lot about the restaurant and her personal history.
I had noticed that two of the bartenders at the U-shaped bar were women, which was a bit unusual. I subsequently learned from the manager, a woman, that there are many women in management positions in the company including the five general managers of the restaurant chain.
The restrooms are located at the end of the room near the ramp that goes to the upper level of the restaurant. The wall has large sign “WC”. There is a split drape printed with a large fruit that covers the entrance.
There were too many men in the men’s room to for me to do my usual which is to take photos so I have a little less detail than usual. At the end of the room there is a commode area which has a closed commode room that can readily accommodate someone in a wheel chair. Two wall hanging urinals are next with a small wall between them. Then there is a wall that separates the two urinals from a long rectangular shiny metal washbasin with dual faucets and a full mirror.
As we were leaving the restaurant, Peter engaged four women who were leaving at the same time and solicited their experience which they described as positive.
After our visit I emailed Lindsay, the manager, to say we had enjoyed our meal and to ask her why our coffees and espresso at the end of dinner were served in paper cups. I heard back from her rather quickly.
“Glad you enjoyed it! Currently we partner with Milk Bar for coffee service so everything is served Milk Bar style, which means paper cups. Early next year we are aiming to add our own in-house coffee program, but for the time being we are only serving Milk Bar coffee products. Lindsay”
We were able to find parking on the street.