Where better to dine on our first night in DC than in the city’s oldest restaurant, a stone’s throw from the White House? We were certainly very glad to have reserved our spot: even on a Sunday night, the (enormous) place was absolutely rammed, and we had to wait a couple of minutes before we could be seated.

We had been attracted to the place’s history, enticing menu, and the possibility of spotting eminent political figures, and after a long walk between the city’s main monuments (how does the White House, Washington Monument, Presidents’ Memorials and back again – a round trip of about 5 miles – grab you?), the comfortable seats were welcome too.

Given the size of the place (at least 100 covers), the servers needed to be supremely organised, and did not disappoint in this regard. One guy, who’d been assigned to the water jugs, was there to regularly fill up without being obtrusive, and our waitress was friendly, unflappable and completely on the ball. Having tried and failed a few times at making cannelloni at home, my appreciation of the dish is strong, so I was very happy to order their house cannelloni, which was creamy, cheesy, packed with spinach, and in no way bland. The rockfish also went down well on the other side of the table.

These dishes also proved to be very filling,but my love of dessert prevailed, and again I wasn’t let down by the standard of the ingredients: a blood orange crème brûlée (which I did share, I promise!) combined sharpness, sweetiness and velvetiness in one enormous dish (it would have been fine if it had been half the size, but then again this is America).

To accompany all of this we had chosen two local wines (which are now no longer on the venue’s wine list, which changes frequently). While the wines we’d selected weren’t outstanding, the list does seem to cover a good range of familiar and less well-known wines, mixing Old World and New World – so perhaps we just got unlucky. Prices are honest, too.

Even though we each had an espresso, it was a forgettable experience (I know I say it often, but these things happen when you have a machine at home that grinds the beans for you. One day I should just write a post extolling the virtues of my machine and be done with it.).

Overall, the food was good, the atmosphere was lively without intruding on our own experience, and the bill was reasonable: $75.24 for two people, including tax. We would definitely visit again – even though we know now that DC provides tough competition in terms of the wide range of restaurants it has to offer.

675 15th Street NW, Washington DC 20005