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One of my favorite places for a celebratory lunch in the city is Darlington House. It’s  conveniently located near the Dupont Circle Metro station and I’ve never had to wait for a table there. Multiple tasty vegetarian choices for each course on the menu make this a great choice if you’re looking for something a bit fancy for a special occasion. Yesterday was my co-worker’s birthday, so off we went.

dining room

The elegantly decorated upstairs dining room features comfortable upholstered chairs and hardwood floors, juxtaposed with funky modern art (you’ll recognize some of it from the first Obama presidential campaign). It bears no resemblance to the divey bar downstairs, so not to worry!

Pay attention when they tell you the soup of the day, since it’s usually excellent. Back in spring I had their smooth and delicious cream of asparagus soup with tender asparagus spears. Today’s selection was a creamless butternut squash soup, which was surprisingly creamy anyway and more savory for the lack of cream.

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The Insalata Mista is a delightful combination of local greens, apple, gorgonzola, paper-thin radish slices and a light balsamic vinaigrette. I would definitely order that again despite what I suspect was a tiny bit of sand in the greens. Try it and tell me I’m wrong, please.

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My co-worker ordered the Arucola salad of Bosc pear, Parmigiano Reggiano, and lemon. The pears were crisp, yet ripe, and complemented the peppery arugula and sharp cheese very well.

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For her entree, my coworker was hoping to see the mushroom risotto on the menu, but no luck. She had asked our server at the beginning of the meal if it was available, and he’d said he’d inquire. Lo and behold, they made it just for her and brought it out, which impressed us. To top it off, it’s vegetarian (no chicken stock), so I tried it out. The rice was perfectly cooked and each individual grain was firm and infused with rich mushroom flavor.

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I ordered my standby at Darlington, the pumpkin tortelloni. It’s a pretty, perfectly-sized portion, and there’s a lot of yummy pumpkin filling stuffed into that thin pasta. I find it lovely, if just a bit too sweet. I think there may have bee a candied nut meal or maybe even a brown sugar sprinkle on top, but I couldn’t quite tell.

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We were presented with dessert menus when the time came, but felt too full to take the plunge. I’ve actually been underwhelmed by Darlington’s desserts in the past, so for once I didn’t curse my small stomach capacity. If you do want dessert, though, excellent nearby options include Hello Cupcake and Dolcezza gelato.

Darlington House
1610 20th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 332-3722

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