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By Ann Limpert, Anna Spiegel, Todd Kliman and Cynthia Hacinli

The debut of this Vienna restaurant was among the most feel-good stories of the year. It marked the return of local boy Jonathan Krinn, once the wunderkind chef at 2941. When Krinn left to open the glitzy Inox, in Tysons, he failed—and failed big: a victim of the times (Inox opened in 2008, when the market crashed) and his own bloated dreams. Clarity is a more modest venture, a neighborhood restaurant first and foremost. Ambition has shrunk, to be sure, but the classical chops are still there, and it’s not hard to see that Krinn, working with ex–Central chef Jason Maddens, is relaxed and cooking with passion.

Actually, you can taste it in dish after dish, from seared foie gras with blackberries to a rich two-patty burger that ought to come with four napkins. But among the most appealing aspects of the place are small flourishes—the freshly baked breads and happy-making desserts.

Don’t miss: mussels and Thai-style sausage; gnudi with fava beans; pork chop; fried quail; tarte Tatin; chocolate cake.