Finally got to try celebrity Chef Art Smith’s restaurant “Art and Soul”. He was the personal chef to Jeb Bush, Bill Graham, and most notably Oprah for years. He has a handful of restaurants around the country that specialize in modern southern food. Like all his restaurants, Art and Soul in DC that is all locally sourced, organic ingredients, and of course everything is made from scratch. The food was delicious and you could most definitely taste the freshness and quality of the ingredients. They have a seasonal menu that changes frequently so you really get the best of the season. We went with a group of people, so it was great to be able to try a few different dishes. I’m vegetarian, so my choices in a southern soul food restaurant were less than the carnivores. But none the less, I did try a few amazing dishes. I was able to get pictures of some of the, but some of them were devoured before I could capture them.
We started out the meal with a cheese board and a meat board. The chesses were all local and mostly French. They were al amazing, and were served with toasted breaded and spiced nuts. Both perfect accompaniments. The meat board had good reviews from the meat eaters. All the items were of high quality and made in house. It was served with pickles, toasted bread, and jalapenos.
We shared some first courses for the table. There was a dirty risotto that got great reviews. There were also two amazing salads that the waiter recommend. The first was a kale salad with a curry yogurts dressing, roasted chickpeas, and was topped off with little fried noodles. This was just so flavorful and earthy. I could have easily eaten the curry dressing as sauce with a main course. It had an amazing balance of flavors. And again the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients just came through.
Also tried the poached peach salad with roasted hazelnuts and blue cheese. I usually don’t like fruit in my salad and I don’t like peaches at all, but the poaching technique they used, just caramelized the sugars and turned it into an amazingly delicious light flavor. And the hazelnuts and blue cheese worked well together. I think the salads were my favorite part of the meal. They were very unique in flavor and just amazing ingredients.
Moving on to the main course. They only had one vegetarian entrée on the list was a pumpkin and ricotta ravioli in a brown sage butter with pickled apples and grana padana. I’m not a big pumpkin fan, and I don’t like sweet entries. Despite that, I enjoyed it. It was very well prepared. The raviolis were light pillows and the pasta was extremely fresh. The delicateness of the brown sage butter was a perfect compliment.
There were a few sides with dinner that we shared family style. I got a couple of pictures up front, but once the feasting started, I didn’t stop for a photo op. Any good southern place has to have an amazing mac and cheese, and this place does. It was gooey and creamy and crispy on the top. A hint o nutmeg in the sauce. It was that warm hug of comfort you get from a dish like this. Simple, warm, yumminess. We also ordered a side of mushrooms, that I didn’t try, since there were so many other things to try. The roasted root veggies were good, but my favorite was the creamed geechie boy grits. I’ve spent some time in the south, and these were probably the best grits I’ve every tasted. Perfectly seasoned with fresh herbs and slightly cheesy.
And finally, last but not least the dessert. I was fairly full but this point, but who needs to be hungrily for dessert? For dessert I shared the baby cakes. The carrot cake and the coconut / chocolate cake were amazing. The rest were a little dry. Also had a trio of homemade ice cream on the side – vanilla, bourbon, and strawberry (eaten before pic). The strawberry was inane sanely good – the texture was a little over frozen, but the still whole pieces of fresh strawberry just made this flavor. This is going to sound strange, but vanilla ice cream was really good. Sometimes capturing great flavors for a simple dish is harder than something more complicate, and they did an amazing job of brining out simple flavors. The bourbon was good, but I liked the other two ice cream flavors better.
I’m so grateful got to try this restaurant after years of wanting to go. And so happy I went with a group so I could try out a few things. Another restaurant checked off the list!