Restaurant: Imperfecto

Amy, Peter, Debbie, and I went to Imperfecto for dinner on a Saturday night. The restaurant first opened on March 19, 2021. Amy made a reservation for a week earlier which we had to cancel but when Amy called to cancel that reservation, the restaurant offered a new reservation for the same time a week later.

There is an outdoor seating area, called the Patio, through which you walk when approaching the front door of the restaurant.

As you enter the restaurant, the ceiling of which is two stories high, the greeter station is straight ahead. To the right is a bar with 8 high-backed stools.

There is a corridor between the bar and the greeting station but more on that later.
To the left of the entry is a chef’s table that seats up to 12 people and has a station at the end where the chef works. The special chef’s table menu is only available on Friday and Saturday nights.

The balance of the restaurant is in two sections. The smaller section includes the chef’s table and a banquette that runs along the floor-to-ceiling partial wall that separates the two sections. There are tables and chairs facing the banquette that can be arranged to accommodate parties of 2, 4, or 6. There are a series of separate tables in this first section of the restaurant.

On the far wall of the second and larger section of the restaurant there are several alcoves of different sizes which accommodate tables of 2 or 4 people. And within this second section, the evening we were there, a table for 10 people was created. In order to accommodate this larger group, one of the tables for 4 that already had folks seated were asked to move to another table in the smaller section.

We were seated at a table facing the blue banquette in the smaller section with Amy and Debbie seated on the banquette.

There is seating for about 70 diners inside and 30-50 outside. The age of the diners ranged from the early 20s to the 80s. The restaurant is noisy when it is full.

In addition to the greeters who also seat you, a variety of people will be involved in your visit. There are servers, all of whom are men dressed in coat and tie. There is a group of men and women who are server assistants, dressed in black and white uniforms. They clear tables and refill basic beverages. Then there are the food runners who deliver food from the kitchen to be placed on tables by the servers. There are two or three women who simply move around the room asking guests how things are going and helping out wherever necessary, for example in adjusting the size of tables. And, finally, there are two men, casually dressed who appeared to be in charge.

Our server first handed us a list of specialty cocktails and mocktails that are available in addition to regular bar service.

Debbie ordered a gin and tonic. Amy, Peter, and I ordered mocktails.

Amy and Peter ordered “Mr. Berry” – Apple juice, lemon, fresh berries, soda water, elderflower syrup. I ordered a “Blue Marea” – Pineapple juice, blue marea, lime, simple syrup, orange. (Note – this drink is served in a very heavy blue glass fish shaped container which I was not able to hold with one hand and so it got a bit awkward. The drink itself was excellent and if I order it again, I will ask for it in a regular glass.)

The dinner menu has three sections but we each ordered two dishes and it turned out there was a “negotiation” over what each of us would order with our respective spouses.

Amy ordered Tuna Tartare (Bluefin tuna) and Braised Lamb Terrine while Peter ordered Falafel and Lubina (Pan-seared Branzino fillet).

Debbie ordered Moussaka Cigar (Crispy phyllo dough, smoked eggplant etc)
and Pork Tenderloin. I ordered Egyptian KFC (Crispy cauliflower) and Octopus.

For dessert Peter ordered Epicurious Cacao (White chocolate ice cream, milk chocolate custard), Amy ordered Sweet Forbidden Rice (pudding custard), Debbie selected the Imperfecto Éclair, and I chose Seven Sorbets.

Before our first dishes arrived, the restaurant served an Amuse Bouche; a small cup of warm, creamy mushroom soup.

On the corridor between the greeters’ station and the bar, there are three gender neutral restrooms. The first and third are also handicapped accessible.

Each of the restrooms is set up to be used by one person at a time. However, there is plenty of room for a second person if neither person is concerned about a lack of privacy. There is a floor based white ceramic commode and a white ceramic wall hanging washbasin. The handicapped versions have a variety of silver metal wall attached handles and bars.

The floor and the walls to waist height are covered with dark brown 3”x 3” square tiles. The upper parts of the walls are covered by a dark color with an attached design which WW finds it hard to describe.

Regular reservations at the restaurant require a $25/person deposit which is applied to your final check. Reservations may be made for parties of 1 to 8.

Reservations may be canceled 24 hours in advance. After that, the deposit is not refundable. There is also a $3 credit card processing fee. These deposits and credit card processing fees are not something that WW has previously experienced. All of this information appears on Imperfecto’s website.

You can make a reservation for seating on the Patio or in the restaurant.

A reservation on the Patio comes with the following caveat, “Please be aware that in the event of inclement weather we cannot guarantee inside seating. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

There is a steady stream of emergency vehicles that cruise 23rd Street with lights flashing but sirens muted.

The building in which Imperfecto is located runs all along L Street from 24th Street NW to 23rd Street NW, and a substantial distance up 23rd and 24th Streets. The bulk of the building houses the Westlight Condos and Apartments, but it also includes a branch of the DC Public Library and a Bluestone Lane Café (located at the corner of 23rd and L and has a substantial number of outside tables with large umbrellas).

Imperfecto is located on the end of 23rd Street that is closest to M Street.

1124 23rd St NW
Washington DC 20037