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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 11:30am–2:00pm
Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10:00pm
Fri 11:30am–2:00pm
Fri 5:30pm–11:00pm
Sat 5:30pm–11:00pm

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


Penn Quarter
575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 637-6100
The Source
CEOs chillin’ California-style at this high-end eatery

Wolfgang Puck’s first foray into DC is a far cry from the chain nouvelle-pizza places and airport food-court stalls that have, with some exceptions, defined the last phase of his career. This is the good old ambitious side of the first true celebrity chef (in the Hollywood sense of celebrity), and the ingredients and meticulous techniques showcased here are nothing if not ambitious. It is pricier than you would expect, with ambitious ingredients meticulously presented. It’s inside the gleaming modern Newseum—the museum devoted to the history of the (transitional) news industry—and as such, it’s bigger and cleaner in its sleek design than the usual club-chair DC fine dining. From the glass paneled stairway and dining areas to the stainless-steel accents, it feels almost too chic and glossy to be DC. The clientele is heavy on the corporate-expense type, all nice suits and loud voices preening and basking amongst their flocks.

Waiters at The Source are as competent and self-assured as the clientele. They are the sort who recommend the best temperature for meat and fold your napkin when you leave the table. The timing of service is impeccable. Food arrives at the table at precisely the right temperature.

Dishes bounce around the globe, but they all seem to have entered the country through Southern California. Pizza (still a Puck signature) and hummus live easily next to dumplings and roast duck. Small bites at the bar are thoughtfully executed, and offer a better value than their larger counterparts. Tiny crab cakes are a dainty mouthful, as if designed for the company cocktail party. They’re rich with thick strips of loosely packed crabmeat bound together magically by air. A tiny dab of tangy mayo is a finely balanced counterpoint to the meat. Pork-belly soup dumplings are liquid and oozy, gushing hot liquid and paired with a surprisingly authentic, pungent, and vinegary dipping sauce.

Some dishes seem like they contain too many elements. Kobe beef short ribs seem to have gotten rather ropy after their long bath, and their beef flavor is obscured with a thick, overly tangy sauce. A 15-layer mocha cake has the soft density of the spongy rolls at Asian bakeries. And though it does have all 15 layers (count ‘em), the fancy sauces that accompany it are artful smudges that are too meager to lift off the plate.

If your wallet is similarly meagerly supplied, you may find that the Source is above your pay grade. If you can swing it, it’s definitely worth trying once. Otherwise, you can always try Puck at the airport, we suppose.

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