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B. Smith’s Washington, D.C. The urban renewal that returned Union Station to its original glory also made it possible for a number of restaurants located in the station to provide patrons with a dramatic dining experience. At the far end of the station (next to the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judicial Building), B. Smith’s has, since 1994, occupied one of the best of these locations, with a magnificent high-ceilinged main dining room and a sunlit room off to its side. It is elegant without being pretentious. The menu, which has a generally Southern taste, but also includes a variety of newer, nontraditional dishes, offers a similar balance. (Smith, a model during the 1970s, who has since produced a number of cookbooks, opened her first restaurant in New York in the mid-’80s. It continues today to maintain a broader selection than the Washington, D.C., location.) Patrons are greeted at their tables with a basket of fresh, warm rolls, corn bread, and biscuits, as well as a pitcher of water. Appetizers range from an unusual creole quesadilla, stuffed with shrimp, jambalaya, and cheeses, to the more traditional catfish fingers, deep-fried catfish strips carmelized in onion-tarter sauce. The red beans and rice, which sounds light, is packed with ham hocks and sausage. We tried the fried green tomatoes. Unlike other versions of this southern favorite, the tomatoes were completely breaded and deep-fried, then sprinkled with ricotta cheese and covered with roasted-pepper dressing. They are tasty and served with a deliciously spicy corn-based cole slaw. But they are extremely filling; you’ll want to split the order of four. The Louisiana she-crab chowder was delicious, very creamy without being too heavy, and chock full of vegetables, crabmeat, and tiny squares of andouille sausage. The main menu is not particularly diverse, but boasts entrees that include the Swamp Thing, a mix of seafood over greens in a sauce, as well as traditional St. Louis-style barbeque ribs and the Cajun chicken Maque Choux, battered breast of chicken with a Creole sauce, corn, tomatoes, jalapenos, and shrimp, served over Louisiana rice. The lemon-pepper catfish is served either as a hearty sandwich or as an entree topped with stewed tomatoes and okra and comes with macaroni and cheese and Southern-style greens. As a sandwich, it is a tasty deep-fried treat that is not too heavy but could have benefited from a little more seasoning. The roasted vegetarian penne pasta’s light Creole tomato sauce was spiced just right, and had a consistency somewhere between a soup broth and chili. Unfortunately, the Reggiano cheese topping was so thick, it was almost impossible to find the vegetables and pasta. Happily, the cheese was able to be surgically removed en masse. A similar, but better choice (from the dinner menu) is the Linguini Garden, which strikes a more favorable balance between cheese, sauce, vegetables, and pasta. The best luncheon meals, in terms of not being overfilling, overmessy, or overpriced, were the Cajun turkey burger, which was extremely moist and had mushrooms and carmelized onions cooked into it, and the salade ni�oise, served with a generous piece of grilled tuna and a number of fresh vegetables, including tomatoes, asparagus, and potatoes. The chicken strawberry salad was also enjoyable, and comes with grilled chicken breast, fresh spinach, pickled onions, and a poppy seed dressing. The strawberries sliced onto the salad add a nice taste, but the dish proves not as unusual as its name implies. The restaurant might also want to try something a little fancier than the plain french fries it serves with sandwiches; perhaps seasoning or curly fries. It’s worth leaving at least a little room for the desserts — from the sweet, rich taste of the cr�me br�l�e, to the deliciously light sweet-potato pecan pie, to the best of them all, the Bourbon Street bread pudding, with its perfect combination of a crusty outside, soft inside, and cream topping. Make time for a nap. Restaurant: B. Smith’s Location: 50 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. Reservations: (202) 289-6188 Price Range: Appetizers, $7 to $9; sandwiches, $13 to $14; entrees, $14 to $21. Lunch or dinner for two (not including drinks): $45 to $70. Washington, D.C.-based lawyer and writer Alexander Wohl is a frequent contributor to Legal Times.

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