September 20, 2012 at 9:54 am EDT | by Jonathan Howard
Going Rogue
Rogue 24 interior

Rogue 24 offers a bounty of unexpected culinary delights. (Photo courtesy Rogue 24)

Every once in a while every diner should spoil himself with a special meal and Rogue 24 (922 N Street NW) proves a great option for the adventurous diner who is looking for an extravagant night full of delicious bites.

Rogue 24 lets the diner sit back and enjoy everything the restaurant has to offer. You don’t even need to make those pesky decisions about what to eat or drink. Simply make a reservation, decide how many courses you want and leave the rest up to the staff.

They offer a couple options for diners. My husband Greg and I opted for the eight courses on the “Evolution Menu” but there were also 16- and 24-course options available. Chef RJ Cooper did inform me that the eight course Evolution Menu is “evolving” into a 16-course seating this fall but that they will also be offering a four-course Prix Fix Menu. The changes are based on feedback Cooper says.

We were seated and the hostess said she hoped we would enjoy our dining experience; the emphasis was clearly on “experience.” And what an experience it was. Rogue 24 is not for an immature palate or a closed mind. Sometimes the flavors on your plate are subtle, and sometimes they are bold, but each and every plate that makes its way out of the “kitchen in the round” — that is the centerpiece of this raw and open space — is rich and well thought out. Even if you have the most adventurous palate you may not like every plate, but that’s part of the journey. When speaking with Cooper he offered some advice for patrons dining at Rogue — “ Keep an open mind.”

Rogue 24 is like Cooper says, “completely out of the box.” We dined on a variety of dishes starting with snapper with red pepper that warmed the back of your throat, followed by a cool cucumber gazpacho, and then a pungent course of parmesan cheese with artichokes.

The pacific moonfish was rich and delectable with olives and a touch of citrus; an interesting plate of peaches in a mole sauce with heart of palm followed. I was then introduced to escargot, not a plate that I was terribly fond of but the potato foam that it was served with was exquisite.

My favorite savory dish of the evening was the braised and fried ox tail that was both chewy and crispy; a creative play on textures. Part of the joy of these courses was you didn’t know what would be arriving next; each course was a complete surprise. I asked Cooper which of these many courses was his favorite but he couldn’t answer, “Because that would be like having a favorite child,” which shows how much passion he has for his food.

The desserts began arriving, starting with the passion fruit with coconut meringue and white chocolate. This was followed by the sweet decadence of the triple chocolate mousse. The plate had white, dark and milk chocolate mousse and crumbles on it, and I scraped my plate clean. The final dish was a plate of homemade candies, chocolates and mini cookies.

Every plate throughout the meal was paired with a cocktail or wine and each beverage revealed nuances in each dish. When service was over we weren’t quite prepared to end the night, so Greg ordered a port that he insisted tasted like “liquid trail mix complete with M&Ms” and I had quite possibly the most dynamic drink ever in the form of a scotch (neat of course) from India called Amrut.

As we sat and savored our drinks we quietly reviewed the meal. The service was impeccable, well choreographed and thoughtful, and the plates consisted of bites we will be talking about for years to come whether we loved them or not. Every employee in the restaurant gives 100 percent of their attention to the patrons whether in the kitchen or on the floor. While no two experiences at Rogue 24 will be the same especially since the menu is constantly changing, it is a worthwhile adventure at least once. So, my recommendation is to save up some cash (it is an expensive meal), shed your inhibitions about food and experience all that Rogue 24 has to offer.

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