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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 11:00am–9:30pm
Fri 11:00am–10:30pm
Sat 5:00pm–10:30pm
Sun 5:00pm–9:30pm

Features Date-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Mt. Vernon Square
320 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Washington, DC
(202) 543-8030
Two Quail
A deliciously comforable place, where the focus is on the food, despite the lovely feel

This modest establishment doesn’t put up much fuss about itself. No photos of the celebrity chef are plastered on the walls, the menu is free of “foam,” “frappe,” and “fricassée” (in fact, “stuffed with” is the most common phrase), and the birthplace or pedigree of an ingredient is always left unspoken.

Even before you can be enchanted by the Quail’s cuisine, or by the demure waiters that flit about with menus and wine, you will be enchanted by the restaurant’s layout. The dining room is spread over the walk-up story of three connected Victorian rowhouses. Each table—and the accompanying pair of overstuffed parlor chairs—is situated in its own nook or cranny, and the whimsy of candles, curtains, and Victorian knick-knacks give the place an intimate, hushed air.

The restaurant’s signature dish is, not unexpectedly, an order of two quails, which are served rain, snow, or shine. When it snows, the birds might be filled with pumpkin and apple and braised in a Jack Daniels cider sauce, while the spring version might be topped with grapes and stuffed with boursin cheese. Either way, the quails are delightfully moist and flawlessly presented.

The golden trout stuffed with spinach and artichokes seems to be served across seasons: a thick fish is softened with just enough butter, cut in half, and filled with full, flavorful artichoke leaves that complement the trout without masking its texture or taste. In a rare misstep, most dishes come with matchstick vegetables and rather ordinary wild rice; Two Quail could go much further in pairing its main courses and sides.

The wine befits a place this refined, but the wine choices and prices, like the meals, are accessible. At lunch, the Quail draws a small crowd of Hill staffers for its “Senator’s Lunch,” a reasonably-priced soup-and-sandwich or pasta combination. The evening crowd is, as might be expected, couple-heavy. It goes without saying (and it’s no big secret) that Two Quail is a wonderfully romantic spot for a night out. Without the fuss.

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