To celebrate my 26th birthday, I decided to do something a bit different and celebrate in Washington, DC. I am a fan of the show Real Housewives of Potomac that and on the very first episode, the ladies celebrated one of the women’s birthdays at a pretty cool restaurant in DC called Sax. Sax is an opulent restaurant and lounge that serves French-American cuisine while enjoying burlesque and other live entertainment. Other live entertainment include aerial performances, silhouette dances, and flapper dance performances with headbands and feathers! Performances are every 10 to 15 minutes to give you an opportunity to socialize and enjoy the show. The best way to describe it would be a present day Moulin Rouge or a cabaret. What a place! After 11pm, the restaurant turns into a lounge/nightclub with a DJ and has a cover charge for entrance. The late night music was more EDM style during my visit.
Many DC natives are familiar with the building being the old BET Soundstage as well as other venues but today it is the restaurant located at 734 11th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004. You really feel exclusive here because the restaurant is only open Wednesday, and Friday-Sunday. On that weekend (9/10 and 9/11), the restaurant was opening back up for their popular Sunday Brunch experience called Sir at Sax that is an ultra-fabulous male dancing show. My birthday was on a Saturday this year and I really wanted to have my dinner on my actual birthday but restaurant has a $75 food and drink minimum on Saturday nights which made it a hard sell to a few of my friends. Therefore, I opted for the Friday night before my birthday and spent a night in a hotel around the corner and had brunch in DC up the street from the hotel for my birthday. Since it was Friday, I made the reservation for 8pm to give people time to get off work, get dressed, and get to the restaurant. Just a warning, the day after my birthday, they started to enforce their Friday $50 food and drink minimums again. I think they may hold that policy during the summer months and normally pick back up in September. Just make sure to ask before you make a reservation so you know what to expect.
When you approach the restaurant from the street, there is a velvet robe and a bouncer outside of the restaurant. Valet parking is available and the restaurant is also just a quick walk from the Metro Center station. There are also several parking garages nearby for cheaper parking. After he welcomes you, he checks to ensure that you are over 21. You must be 21 to enter!! Once you enter two set of glass doors, you enter a dimly lit entrance area with a large counter to check in. There are entry ways on both side of the counter that led you into the large dining room and show area. The entry way had a red carpet but the main dining room floor had tile. The walls were lined with deep red velvet texture that was outlined with gold. And many of the accents in the restaurant were gold. It created a very sexy ambiance that made you feel fabulous just being there. The website shows a large, two level dining room with lots of red and gold accents. But to be there was even more exciting. http://www.saxwdc.com/
What was not disclosed to me at the time of my reservation was that the entire party had to be present in order to be seated. I had a table for 6 people and at the 8pm, only 3 of us were there. I understand that there is only a 2 hour limit on the table but, it is a bit frustrating when you cannot control the arrival of other people. Luckily the restaurant was not super busy and they were able to hold the table for 40 minutes until the last person arrived but I was pretty annoyed having to wait at in my birthday gown for my guests instead of enjoying the show from my table. My friends and I waited at the bar and I had an amazing cocktail called the Dream Walking ($14-$15) that was a basically a Vodka Mojito with mint, lime, and cucumber which I asked to be omitted. It was a delicious drink but was not made consistently. The one I ordered at the bar was perfectly sweet with a delicious addition of mint. However, the second glass at the table was much more watered down and less flavorful. I was only able to get a picture of the second glass. However, a few of my friends who ordered the specialty cocktail also really enjoyed their drinks. When I stayed for the lounge and nightclub transition after dinner, the drink was no longer available which I was a huge bummer. I ordered it and the lady looked at me like I was speaking a different language. I just ordered an expensive Ciroc vodka cranberry ($16) and moved on.
Once we were seated on the balcony level, all the way to the right of the stage, we were immediately served 3 bowls of popcorn! SOLD!!! I love popcorn. And this popcorn had a lot of butter and seasonings! It was wonderful! Each bowl was different with plain popcorn with salt, seasoned popcorn, and then a mix of both. Because the room was so dimly lit, the waitress brought over a light for the table to allow us to see the menu. Our table was against the wall so one side was a long cushioned bench that had sunk in and made us a bit lower than the table. The other half of the table had three chairs. Next to us was another party celebrating a 30th birthday and oddly enough, they were allowed to get to their table early to decorate and be seated without their full party present. Seems a bit unfair to me but I will let that go for now.
After going back and forth with the menu, I finally decided to start with the Grilled Shrimp Appetizer ($16) which included Espelette Pepper, Garlic Brown Butter Sauce, and Grilled Bread. One of my friends decided to also make this her entrée. We loved it! The shrimp was flavored wonderfully and cooked to perfection. The shrimp were tender while still sweet complimented with the savory butter. The bread was toasted perfectly and buttered so well, I had to give the bread away to not over eat! It was so good! My friend and I both agreed that we truly enjoyed that dish. Other friends ordered the Gorgonzola and Cheddar Fondue ($20) and the King Crab Mac and Cheese ($15).
My friend enjoyed the Gorgonzola and Cheddar Fondue which included both cheeses melted with bourbon, pieces of beef tenderloin and French baguette cubes. It was a pretty big order for one person so she shared a bit with me but I did not enjoy the cheese sauce at all. I found it have3 a bitter after taste that I did not appreciate. I first tried it with the bread and thought that maybe the flavors were from the bread but even with the beef, it was just an unpleasant linger taste. However, she loved it and took the rest home with her to enjoy later. My other friend absolutely loved her King Crab Mac and Cheese served with cheese blend of fontina, gruyere, cheddar, and smoked gouda! The dish had an element of char and smokiness that was out of this world. The dish has the perfect combination of cheese flavor that I wish would have been incorporated in the fondue appetizer. However, the King Crab mac and cheese is a hit!
I decided to order the Kona Crusted Ribeye Steak ($38) for my birthday meal served with roasted shiitake mushrooms, potatoes Anna (which is a classic French dish of thinly sliced potato that are layered and covered in a large amount of melted butter, formed in a casserole). The steak was also covered in a porchini butter to add additional flavor. I was unaware of how the butter would be served. I recognize that some people enjoy melted butter with their steak but I just feel that it came be a bit overwhelming. I enjoy the outer crust of the steak from being cooked and was anticipated an even crispier crust due to kona crust but the steak came out a bit soggy because of the melting butter. Through the sogginess, the flavor of the steak was spectacular! I so enjoyed the well-seasoned meat! Another highlight was the amazing addition of the roasted shiitake mushrooms which are one of my favorites. There is something about good mushrooms and steak that just go together so well. The potatoes Anna resembled the potatoes dish I enjoyed at Villa Serena in Cabo San Lucas. The potatoes were good but not as flavorful as they could have been. I enjoyed a few bites but focused my efforts on the steak and mushrooms.
In several previous posts, I mentioned my love for Brussels sprouts and how several Baltimore restaurants include their version of roasted or fried Brussels sprouts on their menu. So I got excited when I saw The Fried Brussels sprouts ($12) side order on the Sax menu. A friend and I both ordered the side of ourselves. The price should have been the first clue that it was definitely going to be a lot of one person. The dish included Caesar dressing and grated parmesan cheese. While at the time, I did not pick up on the Caesar dressing flavor, I could tell that I was heavily covered in a creamy-salty sauce. The dressing was so overwhelming, it made the sprouts really soggy. The flavors were still good, the covering of cheese was ok but a bit much, but the fried crunch I was expecting in the dish was not there. My friend also said that it was too rich for her and I ended up taking her leftover sprouts home with mine.
Two of my friends ordered the New York Strip Steak Oscar Style ($42) served with asparagus and crabmeat covered in Hollandaise Sauce. This was a pretty standard dish but they both enjoyed. However, one of my friends had to send her meat back because it was severely undercooked for her taste. She specified that she wanted her meat very well-done and her meat was served medium. The other friend did not have the same issue. After a 7-10 minute wait, her steak return and she requested it. She was then able to enjoy her meal.
My friend who ordered the shrimp appetizer as her entrée, ordered the creamed spinach ($10) as her side dish. She was immediately disappointed and it was overly watery and lacked good flavors. I tried it and felt that it was just too much cream which happens to be a common theme within a lot of the meals. My friend agreed and ended up on eating a few bites of it. What disappointment.
Finally, one of my friends ordered the Lamb Chops ($34) served with spatzel (a kind of soft egg noddle found in cuisines of Southern Germany), wild mushrooms, fava beans and peach jus. Another friend ordered the Stuffed Lobster ($27) included blue crab, roasted shiitake mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and bread crumbs. Both presentations of the meal were outstanding. My friend enjoyed her lamb chops calling them tender and juicy. Much of it she took home for later but there was not much of a compliant. The stuffed lobster was delicious but needed a side dish. It was served in a half lobster shell but was not enough food to be considered a meal so she ordered the Brussel sprouts to compensate. She very much enjoyed the stuffed lobster but found the meal to be a bit rich for her taste. Unfortunately, she was sick with food poisoning for more than a week after the dinner. She was the only person to have the stuffed lobster and everything else she had was eaten by others at the table. Not sure if it was the seafood or again the high level butter and cream that caused the discomfort but it was definitely something worth sharing.
After the meal ended, the waitress came to our table and asked if we were interested in dessert. She was informed that I was celebrating my birthday at the restaurant and never mentioned that the restaurant did something special for birthdays. So, I just ordered the Le Chocolat ($13) to enjoy for my birthday which was a chocolate mousse and a hazelnut biscuit with strawberries. About a few bites into the dessert, the waitress then walked about to the table with a beautiful mini red velvet cake and a candle! The cake was a delicious moist red velvet cake with a delicious sugary icing that I loved! They apparently make the cake in house complimentary for birthdays only. They do not sell them so I guess you need to lie and say it is your birthday to have the experience. Or just go on your birthday. But they should totally put that cake or a smaller version on the menu!! But the cake was probably one of the best red velvet cakes I’ve ever eaten.
As if group dining could not get more complicated, the restaurant does not split the checks! It took a long time for us to get our bill after it was requested. The table next to us seemed to be getting the best of the service. Once it arrived, my group had to pretend to be CPAs to figure out each individual total. I was still pretty annoyed that I had to pay for a dessert when a complimentary one was going to be provided. A simple hint of what to come would have been helpful! Because of our complicated calculation, I can only tell you that I spent $126.77 on my meal which included the second drink, shrimp, steak, Brussel sprouts, and dessert. The restaurant includes a service charge to the bill for the entertainment which is understandable. Not too shabby for a 3 course meal and a show. Customer service was a bit lacking here due to poor communication. The following is my Seven Mac Score for the restaurant:
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Please look out for my next post as I share more of my birthday weekend dining experiences in DC and one of my favorite new addictions found in both DC and Maryland. Also, you can find me on Instagram @finediningdiva and twitter @moderndaybeauty. Also, if you would like to follow my blog to receive notification when a new blog is posted, please send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And remember: It’s a BIG world and we are going to eat our way through it!