The allure of Asian exoticism can be fleeting, as with Thailand backpacking adventures that start off full of wonder, only to culminate in a homesick longing for mom, baseball, apple pie, and the ability to distinguish between genders. Foregoing exoticism for down-homeyness, Sou'Wester.
Opening today in the Mandarin Oriental space that formerly housed bamboo-chic, Asian-fusion Cafe MoZU, 'Wester's a relaxed Southern-inspired mess hall, where rustic darkwood tables are set with china fit for a farmhouse, tall windows look out on handsomely crafted Washington Marina boats, and tall mirrors reflect your handsomely crafted food-in-teeth. The grub will Southern-charm you into obesity, from lunch items like Sauteed Pork Belly w/ Pickled Watermelon Rind and Shoat Rillette w/ Pickled Green Tomatoes, to dinners like Blackened Bluefish w/ Cajun Rice, Fried Chicken w/ Coleslaw, and Poached Egg w/ Creamed Grits & Sweetbreads; or, go for a prix-fixe at the 12-seat "community table", available by reservation or open seating, with the main-dish carved tableside -- distracting you from the awkwardness of dining with 11 ravenous strangers. Because Southern charm mostly derives from booze, the cocktail list goes strong and deep, with "Nectars" like the Aviation Gin/Dolin Blanc/Grand Marnier/rhubarb-orange twist "A Bronx Tale", and the Earl Grey-infused Maker's/vermouth/peach bitters "The Peche Mode"; plus less fruity 'tails like the Remy/Busnel Calvados/Cointreau "The Tantris Sidecar", and the 10 Cane/Coconut Grains of Paradise Elixir/pineapple juice "Tropic Thunder", named after the powerful concoction used to seduce movie exec's to keep making Ben Stiller films.
Instead of the typical "happy hour", the 'Wester'll be shaving 3 bucks off all drinks during its daily 3-5pm "Country Time" -- an adventure that'll start off full of wonder, but culminate with your inability to distinguish between benders.