There is a difference between good food and sublime food. Restaurant Nora serves the latter. Hint: President Obama brought Mrs. Obama here for her birthday a few months ago. Chef / Owner Nora Pouillon, a hero to the slow food movement, started her restaurant 30 years ago and has supported the best local organic agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic region ever since. Restaurant Nora was the first certified organic restaurant in the US in 1999, and 95% of what the restaurant serves is organic. The elegant menu reflects a moving feast of our local harvest.
A recent dinner provided 3 hours of uninterrupted bliss. The atmosphere of the restaurant, with it’s perfect acoustics (you can actually hear your dinner companion speak), charming mixture of Amish and Mennonite crib quilts and architectural garden sculptures on the walls, and a large skylight in the ceiling of the dining room, is both cheerful and soothing. The wait staff is outstanding– informative, friendly, never intrusive. And, the food– cooked that evening by Ben Lambert, Chef de Cuisine–was utterly, divinely delicious. There’s nothing I like better than expertly prepared vegetables, and Ben provided an unforgettable feast for a gluten-free vegan, starting with the roasted asparagus salad in the picture below. My husband enjoyed the chilled asparagus soup, a salad of mesclun greens with roasted pear and pecans, wild Alaskan salmon, rhubarb pie and fresh strawberry ice cream… I’d never seen the man eat so much in his life!
Light softly falling from the skylight slowly faded and the warm lighting in the restaurant increased gently as one course gracefully followed another. It was a dinner and an evening to remember.
Thank you to Nora, who for many years has served on the Advisory Board
for Food As Medicine. Thank you to Ben, the kitchen and the wait staff for a lovely experience.
And very special thanks to my dear colleagues, who made this beautiful
anniversary celebration possible for us.
Visiting Washington, DC? The best cafeteria on the Mall, hands down, is the Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Mitsitam means “Let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. True to its name, the cafe is a celebration of fresh foods, offering an array of traditional and contemporary dishes at serving stations named Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Mesoamerica, and the Great Plains.
The atmosphere is peaceful, providing a respite from museum cruising, with views of waterfalls and seating at private or long wooden communal tables where you can make friends if you are dining alone. There are seasonal fresh soups, and loads of options for vegetarian, omnivore and gluten-free eaters. Lunch isn’t cheap, but the museums are free. And if you like whole foods, you’ll think you’re in heaven.
After eating lunch there on Sunday, my youngest son and I reflected on the fact that he felt “stuffed” (his tray included fry bread) and I felt, having eaten every bite of what you see in the photo …fabulous! Ready for adventures on the Mall. There insued a discussion of how different foods make you feel; how some give you energy, and some seem to take it away.
After lingering to savor the flavors, atmosphere and discussion, we departed for a journey through the solar system— the Voyage exhibit, a one-to-10 billion scale model of the solar system stretching 2,000 feet down the sidewalk between the National Air & Space Museum and the Smithsonian Castle. We made it all the way to Pluto, no sweat.
Do you have a favorite, really awesome, not-to-be-missed fresh food restaurant to recommend?