DC restaurant Cherry is worthy, but needs time to blossom

Former Vermilion chef William Morris now helms the W Hotel’s new restaurant.

A masterful mango panna cotta is a great way to end the night. (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Though the star attractions at the newly opened Cherry are a 15-foot wood-fired grill and a duo of wood-fired ovens, consider starting with something that likely never saw the grill: the earthy, bright and fresh chilled pea soup with a mound of huge crab chunks in the center of the bowl. It was a standout dish of the meal, and no worries if it’s out of season by the time you make it into the W Hotel’s new restaurant. Chef William Morris is a soup master, as evidenced by an equally beguiling garlic soup he once served at Alexandria’s Vermilion.

The tuna crudo is a tasty appetizer but would be better if it delivered on the promises made in the description. Charring the watermelon cubes doesn’t amplify the flavor, and we detect no spice despite the Thai chili oil. More importantly, the delicate main ingredient is nearly lost in a pool of coconut sauce.

An open kitchen shows off the hearth. (Photo by Rey Lopez)

This post originally appeared in our September 2019 issue. For more food stories, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Grilled rockfish receives raves from the server but turns up under-seasoned and slightly overcooked. With its companions of sauteed spinach and farro, it feels like health food rather than haute cuisine. On the other hand, shrimp and grits is alive with flavorful peppers, sausage and caper berries. The only thing we wished for were more grits, which were scant. While you’re at it, chef, how about a few more shrimp? At $30 a plate, five of the tasty crustaceans feels less than generous.

Drink Tip

The cocktails may be pricey and overwrought, but you are literally steps away from one of the most unbelievable views in the city. Take the elevator to the rooftop bar, POV, order a glass of wine, snap a selfie and take in one hell of a sunset.

Shrimp and grits are showered in microgreens. (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Desserts were equally mixed. Serious question: Can you call something a pie if there’s no bottom crust? Because the “just like Grandma’s cherry pie” flouted just about every definition of pie by arriving as tart and soupy topped with (undercooked) dough lattice—but no bottom crust. A better choice is the mango panna cotta topped with diced mango and kiwi, plus a sweet little candied puffed-grain baton.

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This here’s a head-scratcher because pie is supposed to be, well, easy as pie, but very few kitchens make a successful panna cotta. The texture is often off, with too much gelatin giving it a rubbery consistency or too little making it a DIY slime experiment. At Cherry, it’s silky and spot on—and like the soup and the shrimp, it imparts hope that with time and the care of a talented chef like Morris, the restaurant will eventually take root.

Notes: Cherry

Don’t-miss: Chilled English pea soup with crab; shrimp and grits; mango panna cotta

Scene: The newly revamped dining room gains vibrancy and buzz from pops of orange, soaring windows and glowing,
live-fire cooking.

515 15th St. NW, Washington, DC; 202-661-2400; Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch; Appetizers: $8-$20; Entrees: $26-$75

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