the source, a multi-story modern beauty housed on pennsylvania ave at the back of the newseum, is wolfgang puck's first dc restaurant. on the ground floor is the bar and lounge, which features really tasty izakaya-style pan asian fare at a fairly moderate price...if you come during the week for the 4 to 6pm happy hour, however, the food's actually a great price: you can score three excellent plates for $20, making it one of the best food deals in the city. as an added bonus, if you visit the bar and lounge on a tuesday, thursday, or friday night, you can meet the fabulous bartender kenon, who mixes a mean cocktail and makes great menu recommendations. upstairs you'll find the dining room and a seasonally open patio, as well as a menu that offers some gorgeous -- but very expensive -- asian fusion. despite it's potentially steep price tag, the source packs a crowd. and i know i'll be back as well; each plate of food i had was Worth Writing Home About (with a capital WWHA), and the cocktails, although pricey, are divine.
the source's sleek, modern interior is dominated by straight lines, glass, and a black/white/grey color palette -- it has the feel of a space plucked from gattaca's storyboards. i was glad to visit in a black dress. it also has a seriously impressive two-story, temperature-controlled, glass-encased wine vault that houses over two thousand bottles of wine. i attempted to get a good picture of it from my seat at the bar, but only semi-succeeded. kenon informed me reds are stored on the upper floor and whites on the lower.
pictured to the right is the incredibly tasty and dangerously drinkable monroe's passion, which is a perfecly balanced sweet and sour combination of passion fruit rum, bacardi 151 rum, ginger, passion fruit, orange, and cranberry juices. these go down so easily that it's mind-boggling they pack as much alcohol as they do, and i could've easily (and quite quickly) downed many before i felt their effects. as it was, i had several. and did so happily. dc is sort of renowned for its exhoribitant [but usually interesting and unique] craft cocktails, and this is one of the few i've had that i'll say is worth its steep price tag. (though clearly if you're not a fruit fan, you should order something else -- there are many tasty looking options to explore)
since i usually do quite a bit of research before staking out a new restaurant, i knew about the source's impressive happy hour and took full advantage of the three-plates-for-$20 deal. pictured to the left is my nagi-hama roll: yellowtail, scallion, and lemon. beautiful, clean flavors, though not quite as crack-like and freakishly addictive as the below left [a kenon recommendation], the dragon roll: unagi, cucumber, avocado, and eel sauce. as i chopsticked piece after piece into my mouth, complete -- no doubt -- with a drugged-like look on my face, kenon said with a smirk on his face "best sushi chef in the city". as of yet, i can't disagree. it's some good stuff.
to the above right is the mini banh mi, which is a sinfully indulgent small bite of perfectly fatty berkshire pork coupled with pickled jalapeno aioli. there are also meatballs involved. as i happily sipped my cocktail and munched on the buttered, well-crisped bun, it occurred to me that the portioning of many of these plates make them great for sharing with another food-loving buddy, which would not only save you some money, but some calories as well. (though seriously...who worries about calories when you're eating food like this? i certainly don't...)
and finally, to the right, probably my favorite plate of food, the pork belly bao buns with kochujan aioli and house-made hoisin. yes, i got four plates instead of three. yes, it was totally worth it. the buns are pillowy and perfect, and though i'm already a serious pork belly fan, i found the source's rendition to be particularly tasty. i could've easily eaten a dozen.