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The Mark Washington, D.C. At first blush, The Mark is a swank destination, a trendy watering hole serving fashionable drinks like the Blue Moon Martini and the Go Van Gogh in crooked-stem martini glasses. It exudes exactly the right vibe in its desolate, downtown corner with lavender, blue, and red rooms; aqua banquettes; and artistically hewn light fixtures. You would expect to be served something that cries out minimalist chic, with attitude, like “fusion” or the ubiquitous “tapas” and “wraps.” But then you’d gasp at the precious corn muffins that magically appeared at your tiny little cocktail table. They’re so small, you think, they can’t possibly have too many calories. You’d be tempted to lounge longer at the bar and inhale more muffins, but the maitre d’ beckons and shows you to your seat. A person would have to be crazy or much too thin to resist the temptation of The Mark’s epicurean beneficence, as John Warden of Los Angeles-based Sullivan & Cromwell and his colleagues discovered during the Microsoft trial. Everything on the menu is rich and served in abundance. In an era of profits and market share, we are pleased to see a restaurant enjoying the luxury of doing good. At The Mark, chef Alison Swope satisfies her passion for fresh herbs and goat cheese by cultivating relationships with local farmers and co-ops. Her menus evolve to accommodate nature’s bounty, at times resulting in unpondered side dishes. And she laughingly acknowledges her reputation for portion largess, saying, “I guess it’s my generous nature. I love to feed people.” Her appetizers can be decadent, like the roasted portabella, walnut, and chevre cheese baklava, or the Oregon morels saut�ed in garlic butter and served on soft polenta and asiago cheese. The tempura-fried calamari in red chili aioli has a pleasingly light taste. On the other hand, sometimes more is less: While the duck pate is the size of a small laptop, and therefore deserves more than three toast points, it may not be for everyone — the duck meat marinated with ginger-garlic has the consistency of meatloaf, and the sauce has an unexpected pinkish hue. The creamy chicken and andouille sausage soup, laced with corn and peppers, is an exotic twist on a comfort food. There are other flavorful stews, like the spicy Moroccan lamb and Thai curry chicken. Sharing a Caesar salad topped with aged jack cheese and herbed croutons is a better choice than ordering the enormous, but bland, chopped salad, which on a recent night included jicama, baby carrots, grilled chicken, and yellow squash with a watery dressing. The Mark is seafood heaven. The roasted rockfish is otherwordly, sumptuously paired with risotto and a roasted tomato salsa. Swope spares no expense with the plush caramelized scallops, offering six to seven pieces seared and served with grilled eggplant, bok choy, and carrots. For carnivores, there is the Angus New York strip steak, veal, and spice-cured pork tenderloin. The wine list is creative, inviting the patron to try many first-rate choices from three continents. The California stars include La Crema and Acacia chardonnays and cabernets like Corison and the reputable “Brenda Block” Reserve from Murphy-Goode. Indeed, the wine steward has gone out of his way to get you to sample something other than your typical vino bianco. If you’re willing to rise to that challenge, then go on a Monday or Saturday evening and reap the benefit of the half-price wine special. Finish with a slice of the white chocolate cheesecake baked in an Oreo cookie crust and topped with a berry drizzle and say, “Isn’t life rich?” Elisabeth Frater, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer and writer, is co-author of “Darkwoman,” a serial mystery at www.darkwoman.com. Restaurant: The Mark Location: 401 7th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Reservations: (202) 783-3133 Dinner Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Price Range: Appetizers run $4.75 to $8.50; large salads, $11 to $14; lunch entrees, $12 to $14; sandwiches, $7.25 to $ 9.50; Dinner entrees, $16 to $28; Lunch for two, $20 to $30; dinner for two (excluding drinks), $75 to $85.

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