Proof, Washington, D.C.
Concierge.com's insider take:
This earthy wine bar and restaurant supplies a bit of informal cheer to its preening neighbors in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. The look is New World meets Old, with contemporary furniture, leather booths, hammered-copper mirrors, and exposed-brick walls. The wine program follows suit, with classic Bordeaux sitting alongside California cult favorites and reds from Down Under. Wine director Sebastian Zutant encourages exploration from behind a vintage Champagne trolley whose offerings range from budget Proseccos to splurge-worthy Krugs. You can also taste your way through 32 wines by the glass. If that's not enough, Zutant will be happy to open any bottle under $300 and pour you a couple glasses for about half its price on the wine list. In another person's hands, the sheer range of choices could be overwhelming, but Zutant's enthusiasm is infectious and his guidance masterful, whether you're a neophyte or a seasoned oenophile. The menu itself also encourages exploration. Though standard-size entrées are on offer, most diners graze on cheese, charcuterie, and seasonal small plates like pumpkin gnocchi; goat cheese agnolotti with bite-size meatballs; and a modern Peking duck with hazelnut and pomegranate accents. The focus on small plates makes for a social dining experience (and the Champagne doesn't hurt either); this is a place for a lively group night out rather than an intimate tête-à-tête.
Restaurant open Mondays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5 to 9:30 pm. Bar open Mondays through Wednesdays 5:30 pm to 1 am, Thursdays through Saturdays 5:30 pm to 2 am, Sundays 5 pm to midnight.
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