I had the opportunity to visit Todd Grey’s Watershed Restaurant with @jennasail for their soft opening today. The restaurant is located at the Hilton Garden Inn at 1225 First Street, NE. Decorations are contemporary, but the ambiance is also warm and friendly. The bar area has beautiful velvet couches.
We started with non-alcoholic cocktails. Sima, Watershed’s mixologist, treated us to a non-alcoholic drink that consisted of strawberry and rhubarb juices with rose-water. It was divine, light, refreshing, and slightly tart with the right amount of sweetness. I want this by the pitcher! I love that you can have a non-alcoholic drink offering that does not come from a pre-packaged juice mix. And this is great for the lunch crowd who may not want to have a drink if they have to go back to work. I’m sure he can transform this into an alcoholic beverage if you ask.
For appetizers, we had the grilled sourdough crostini, with wild mushrooms and crispy onions. The bread was beautifully charred, and the mushrooms were buttery, topped with the super crispy fried onions. The east coast seafood gumbo with Virginia oysters, sausage and rock shrimp was by far my favorite dish. It really is the best gumbo I’ve tasted in DC. I’ve looked and looked for the perfect bowl of gumbo, and I’m happy to have found a place that I can come back to. The gumbo had chunks of browned sausage, plentiful pieces of rock shrimp, and beautifully plump and tender oysters. The broth had a smooth texture, good body, with a little bit of a spicy kick to tantalize your palate.
For the entrée, we both had the sautéed crab cake sandwich with tomato fondue and aioli on a toasted, soft brioche bun. The crab cake was large, moist, and flavorful. The tomato fondue and aioli were creamy, a textural complement to the toasted brioche bun.
We shared two desserts, the pecan pie Sunday and the dark chocolate pudding. The pecan pie Sunday was ice cream topped with a shortbread cookie crumble, a caramel pecan sauce, sumptuous brandied cherries, and a soft and fluffy vanilla bean whipped cream. This was our favorite. The dark chocolate pudding was topped with a chocolate cookie crumble and banana ice cream. I wished the chocolate pudding had a little bit more bitterness to it.
I have no complaints, we could tell that the servers were still learning the menu but they were attentive, helpful, and fulfilled our every request. The menu is centered on seafood, but there are meat and vegetarian offerings. Desserts are not an afterthought, they all well crafted and there are plenty of options to please everyone. The restaurant has a gorgeous outdoor patio and several private dinning rooms. I’m sure the patio will become a favorite hang out during the summer months. If you visit Watershed, make sure to try their gumbo. I will be going back for more. Watershed opens tomorrow.