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Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge
Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner
1700 Tysons Boulevard, McLean
703-506-4300
Hours: light fare, daily 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m.; lunch, daily 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner, daily 6-10 p.m.
Price range: expensive
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/TysonsCorner/Dining/Entyse/Default.htm

Entyse works well for holiday dining, not just for the food, but for the ambiance. The Ritz Carlton knows how to do the holidays, and how to do them well.

The Ritz Carlton Tysons is no exception, with holiday decor at every turn, special, and elegant, afternoon teas for both children and adults, a pre-Christmas full-size gingerbread cottage and gingerbread decorating classes for the children, a lavish and extensive, also expensive ($105 per person) Christmas brunch, and special menus for Christmas and now for New Year's Eve.

Indeed, that New Year's Eve menu will pose some difficult choices for those who select the $125 special menu: To begin with, lobster bisque with brandy soaked poached lobster, seared foie gras and terrine of foie gras, fried or poached organic eggs and caviar, or tagliarini pasta with bacon foam; for the entree a whole poached lobster with truffle risotto, a duet of Wagyu beef strip loin and braised short ribs, or Dover sole; and to finish the meal either a decadent chocolate soufflé or an intriguing sounding pistachio tart.

Even without the holiday specials, Entyse scores well as a dining venue. Ambiance and decor is top notch, with dark woods, tasteful table settings, and a noise level suitable for easy conversation with live piano music in the background. Too, the service is knowledgeable and attentive without annoying hovering, but can be slow at peak hours.

Without sampling everything on the menu, it is impossible to give that kind of sweeping assessment to the food. As with most successful hotel restaurants, the menu is designed to offer something to appeal to every taste, which means the offerings are safe and predictable without being flamboyant or ultra-gourmet, which was not the case when name-brand chefs Michel Richard and Fabio Trabocchi headed restaurants at this hotel. Their meals were meant to provide a memorable dining experience .

But, even a safe menu can earn high marks when the dishes are well executed and the food is consistently good, and that seems to be the case with Entyse. "After all," commented a friend, "this is a Ritz Carlton. What else would you expect?"

An entree of grilled salmon and spinach with lemon butter sauce lived up to expectations. Cooked even a bit too long or at the wrong temperature, grilled salmon can be dry, but this one was cooked medium, as ordered, to perfection. If there were a complaint, it would be that the dish could have used more of the excellent lemon butter sauce. Pan-roasted flounder with lemon and caper sauce was tender and flaky, and also lived up to expectations. Lasagna, roast chicken, steak, and surf and turf complete the entree offerings.

But there's far more to the menu, including an impressive selection of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, and an even larger selection of "light fare" such as soups and salads, small plates, sandwiches and, of course, an Angus beef burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and fries.

For dessert you can have a warm chocolate chip cookie, triple chocolate cake, New York cheesecake, vanilla crème brulee, warm chocolate cake with passion fruit sorbet and coconut cream, or even a Georgetown cupcake if any are still available. To echo the friend, this is a Ritz Carlton. What else would you expect?