You’ve probably walked past this townhouse on L street near Thomas Circle many a time, without knowing that some seriously upscale and creative un-cooking was going on inside. Mostly a catering company, Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is open on Fridays for two dinner seatings and occasionally on other days for special events.
We went for the first time a few months ago for a special Thursday Meat-Free Week dinner. The evening started well with a friendly bartender and cacao pear cocktails at the beautiful, intimate first floor bar (there’s a larger dining room upstairs as well).
The night’s menu featured five small plates and a dessert. We began with “Crab” cakes made of shredded trumpet mushrooms and served with a creamy Old Bay aioli. While delicate and well-garnished, the cake itself could have used more flavor.
Tacos were delicious, with how-did-they-do-that tortillas (something about soaking and pounding various grains and seeds) and a crunchy, spicy vegetable filling.
Fried “oysters” (shouldn’t the “fried” also be in quotation marks?) were also made of trumpet mushrooms, covered in Elizabeth’s signature crispy kale and served with horseradish cream and red pepper sauce. This dish was outstanding and easily our favorite.
At this point in the meal, there were a couple more small plates that we hadn’t tried – a flatbread and grape leaves – but we had already spent a bit more than expected and were curious about dessert. A strawberry cake made of coconut, macadamia, and zucchini wasn’t noteworthy but the lemon buttercream on top was perfect: tart and creamy yet light in a way that only something raw and vegan could be.
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw pushes the limits of what you might expect from raw food. We continually found ourselves wondering how various textures (tenderness and crispiness) and flavors (how does this not taste raw?) were achieved without cooking. We left agreeing that it’s worth a visit for the magic trick factor alone. The food really is a feat and the proprietors are clearly passionate about their craft. The ambiance and service are also lovely.
The major problem is that it’s hard to leave with a satisfied belly. Because you’re mostly eating raw mushrooms and vegetables that are high in water and low in calories, you might not feel full even after ordering the entire menu and spending a good bit. So our advice is: go, but 1) find a date who really appreciates culinary creativity and 2) maybe eat a snack before. It’ll be the most unindulgent indulgence you’ve experienced.
1341 L Street NW