Cityzen is on the ground floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, which is slightly out of the centre of Washington D.C. Chef Eric Ziebold trained at the French Laundry from 1994 to 2002, before opening Cityzen in September 2002. The smartly decorated dining room seats 65 diners at capacity, and has an open kitchen. Four courses were priced at $90, and there was a six course tasting menu option at $120.
The wine list was extensive, with over 650 wines to choose from plus an unusually large selection of other size formats (halves, magnums etc). The prices ranged from $30 to $5,600, with a median price of $175 per bottle; moreover the mark-up levels averaged only around two and a half times the retail price, with kinder markups as you climb the list. We drank a rare bottle of the glorious 1990 (the best vintage in the Mosel in recent decades) J.J. Prum Spatlese Wehlehner Sonnenuhr, which was priced at $125 for a wine that retails at $89, if you could actually find it. Bread was made from scratch, and included a pleasant wheat bread and very good foccacia.
The meal began with a nibble of pumpkin panna cotta with raisin salad. This had good texture, and was pleasant enough, though pumpkin is a tricky thing to have as the highlight of a dish given its rather bland flavour (3/10). Better was mackerel sashimi was served with a citrus dressing. The fish was of good quality and the dressing had just the right amount of acidity to balance the oiliness of the mackerel (5/10).
Scallops were excellent, with good inherent sweetness of flavour and carefully timed (6/10). The only disappointment was my main course of minute steak, which was cooked properly but was distinctly gristly in texture. This was odd given the good ingredients apparent in the rest of the meal. The sauce and garnishes with the steak were fine but this particular piece of meat was not (2/10). By contrast, my dining companion's shoat (a young pig) was not only carefully cooked but had excellent flavour.
Ginger sorbet with apple and pear was a pleasant per-dessert, the ginger flavour coming through strongly (5/10). My dessert of chocolate and hazelnut cake was delicious, a rectangular slab of rich Valrhona chocolate and a layer of hazelnut giving a textural contrast to the chocolate (7/10). The bill came to $190 (£118) a head, with the fine Riesling and pre-dinner drinks. Service was very good indeed, attentive and friendly. Overall this was a very enjoyable meal, the poor quality steak the only real blemish throughout an otherwise excellent meal.