Whaley's Raw Bar and Restaurant is the newest addition to the Navy Yard neighborhood in DC. An area that once only had one small restaurant now boasts a robust selection of cuisine. And you won't find fresher seafood in DC than at Whaley's.
A friend and I decided to check out Whaley's the second week of July. This restaurant had not been open long, but the service was firing on all cylinders, and I couldn't be happier. Being a raw bar (you can see people working with fresh fish on ice in the freakin' restaurant in the picture before the jump), I knew I had to try one of their raw offerings. We ended up trying the raw scallops.
It was fantastic. The tiny grapes were a nice touch. I am generally a fan of fennel, so the addition of fennel pollen added a nice earthy note. The scallops were sliced thinly, and the texture was great. Frankly, given what I had heard about Whaley's, this type of dish was what I had come to expect.
In addition to the scallops, we also ordered crispy squash blossoms with shrimp and a ginger aioli. Squash blossoms are solid on their own, and you can't go wrong stuffing anything with shrimp. The aioli was the standout, and it's definitely an appetizer I recommend.
The main course was the stunner. We got a full order of seafood risotto; the seafood in the risotto changes depending on what is freshly available. So much of the seafood tasted like it was just out of the water. And being a relatively practiced home cook myself, I know how hard it can be to make a dish with a number of different proteins, all of which with different cook times. It can be especially challenging with seafood, but the chefs here handled that challenge expertly. The portion was meant for two, but being totally honest here (and I can be up front on the internet, right? Right.), I definitely could have eaten all of it by myself.
The seafood in the risotto were mussels, shrimp, scallops, and striped sea bass. It also included Thai basil, coconut milk, and Fresno chilies, which added nice notes of creaminess, spice, and Asian flavors. Honestly, thinking about it makes me want to eat it again.
And let's not forget the cocktails. I had one glass of Pinot Gris, which was refreshing and pairs well with fresh seafood. I also had the #2: Botanica Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, tarragon, cucumber, and lemon. It is as refreshing as it sounds (hint: very).
Bottom line: you will be hard-pressed to find a restaurant in DC that focuses so singularly on seafood and that does it so well.