Pool Boy

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About Pool Boy

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    DC Crüdite
  • Birthday 08/01/1967

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    Laurel, MD

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  1. I would have tried to do so, but my recent post is linking to the photos I had to upload elsewhere instead of the site allowing me to upload them directly. Sorry!
  2. It sounds like that was the case. The dish was perhaps not the most impressive looking, but as stated, I thought it was a very good dish. Not as good as the consomme for sure, but a very good dish. Well, as with all new restaurant opening, I would imagine things can often be less than perfect. Perhaps you'll consider trying Mirabelle at another time in the future.
  3. I found the seasoning throughout our dinner was spot on. While I am surprised about your comment about the spring soup, it is possible that the dish evolved from your experience to our experience. Curious, did you happen to mention to your server that you thought the dish was gross (thus providing the team the opportunity to correct the situation)?
  4. My wife and I went last night for our inaugural dinner at Mirabelle. In short - Wow. In shortish - Amazing space, great service, great food and drink. A place to linger and indulge. Not cheap. At all. But for me, worth it. And now for the long form review. Parking - It's a little tricky in that area. They have valet right out front, so you always have that option. Fortunately, we only spent a couple of minutes circline and we found a great spot less than two blocks away. The Space - They have outdoor seating, but it was not yet ready. They are apparently planning on installing large patio umbrella over the whole space as well. The main doors are twofold right at the corner of the building. There's an interior door and the host stand is immediately to your left at the head of the main walkway toward the bar. We were a little early but they were able to seat us immediately in a booth (yay!) - big enough for four, but most of the booths had two people in them. It was not crazy busy when we got there, but filled up during the course of the evening (we were there from 8 to midnight). It really is a beautiful space with a lot of attention to detail. The chairs, the bar chairs and the booth seating is at the same time beautiful, sumptuous and above all comfortable. I especially like that the bar seating has seat backs (note, they are still not serving the menu at the bar). Designs are echoed across elements as well - it's well thought out. And the bathrooms are on the way to the kitchen and that hallway is where a lot of wine is stored/displayed (similar to my experience at Tin Lung Heen). It was funny, I mentioned to my wife that the space was not technically authentic Parisian, because the tables were not close enough together (haha - just kidding, I love the spacing here!). The Service - What a treat. Warm, well-informed staff are thorough and engaging, and know very well how to be unobtrusive as needed. They almost all predicted things we'd want or need before we ourselves knew. Katy was our server, and we hope to be always be under her care on all of our future visits. Jaren and Jennifer kept us well taken care of with some half glass pairings for our first course. Jaren in particular helped, when we decided to go Rhone instead of Burgundy, not only nailed the selection, he did it in a way that made it work with a difficult to manage line-up of courses we'd picked. We saw some Palena alums there as well - glad to see them again. Though we did not really experience the tableside finally delivery from pan to plate (exception - our first course soups), we did see this happen quite a bit. Fun. And though we did not see the actually cheese trolley, we were seated right next to the trolley of brandies and other goodies. I found it quite wonderful to watch how the staff managed a demanding customer with grace and professionalism - ultimately addressing the customer's desires while maintaining perfect decorum. Lastly, I forgot to mention the cocktails. They have a fairly sizable list of their own creations/variations. We tried the Coda (really, really good) and the Paul's Spritz (a little weak as compared to the Coda, but interesting). The food. Frank and Aggie have been on their game, both of them, for years. At Palena, then at Grill Room and now here at Mirabelle. But I have to admit, I think it is possible that they have raised their game again. While I will miss the sprinkling of Italian bits and pieces through Ruta's dishes, he just adapts to the situation and makes things fun. And, I am getting ahead of myself here, but Chin's desserts are exceptional. Truly. Bear in mind you will have two paths to follow on the menu - 1) a six course proposed meal (4 savory, 1 cheese, 1 dessert) with optional wine pairings and 2) picking from the regular menu (I So, without any further delay, here are the courses we selected-- Spring soup with buckwheat tempura walleye pike, tapioca with curry flavors and coconut. This dish was so good. The coconut and the curry were such great elements and the crisp of the tempura really held up in the soup and provided a nice textural contrast. Jaren helped us pair this with a 2015 Domaine Mardon 'Tre Vielles Vignes' Quincy (a sauvignon blanc I believe). Ruta's consomme is legendary. I crave this at the center of my being. I live for his endless variations of this dish and this one did not disappoint at all. Consomme...enveloping poached foie fras with chrysanthemum and spring radish. Hoo boy so good. And what a heady aroma. Anytime anythig with consomme or other brothy variants are on the dish, we have a standing rule that one of us needs to order it. Jaren suggested the pairing of a 2014 J. Fritsch 'Schlosserg'Riesling that I think was not only one of the best pairings I have ever had, but was also one of the best Rieslings I have ever had. Wow. Boudin blanc - cicken and foie fras sausage with house made lardons, spinach coulis and poached raisins. Clearly house made everything. The sausage was so fresh and perfectly prepared, it was almost quivering with glee as to got it in to your mouth. So damn good. And, while picking rankings of dishes is splitting hairs, this was on the bottom of the list of dishes we tried not for lack of being an excellent dish, but just because there was so much strong competition from the rest of the dishes we had at this meal. Tete du porc with baby leeks and truffle vinaigrette. I love all of the bits and parts of the meats I love so much and this, this is me on a dish in many ways.The mustard was clearly house made and provided the sharpness and mild sting to counter the richness of the planks of this pork. But there were also the lightly pickled carrots to help provide texture and zing. They event rolled up the carrots and stuffed it with a çarrot green top'on the one in the foreground. Too fun! I would order this again and again. We fell in love with beef tartare on our Alpine trip several years ago, liking perhaps the best the variants in Lucerne, Switzerland and Schladming, Austria (though the versions in Verona, Italy were amazing, though different). So we had to try this. This version is quite good. My wife liked it less than I, mainly because she pines for the more 'Germanic versions indicate above (the Germanic versions tend to only very lightly bind the meat, and leave all of the various pickled and other additions off to the side for you to endlessly experiment with combinations - sometimes even adding butter to the plate - note the butter in the background, but this was not served with the dish but the lovely breads we had earlier in the meal) - but I digress. I totally loved this dish. It's rich and decadent and wonderful - especially with the poached egg broken and leaked all over the lovely tartare. The brioche was a nice textural play and IIRC there were tiny potatoe strings spinkled on the top of the tartare that were tasty and provided more textural fun. The razor clams, I think, were added to the dish so as to cleanse your palate a bit between bites of the tartare. I didn't eat them that way as I slurped it all down before jumping in to the tartare. But I can see how and why it was added to the dish, I just personally think it was unnecessary. Squab nantua, the breast roasted with spices, the leg braised with morels, crayfish and spring asparagus. This was a spectacular dish. Perfectly cooked squab, well seasoned and just fantastic. The underpinning of the sauce (likely the braising liquid for the legs?) was the star of the show - it seemed almost ever so lightly goulash-y with a hint of light paprika and other mystery spices (maybe marjoram? no idea). So.Damn.Good. Order this. This paired really well with the 2014 Domaine Tunnel St. Joseph that we selected off the list with Jaren's help. It threaded the needle of fruitiness, but also a meatiness to it. Honeyed elements and a more thick viscosity revealed itself well after being open for a while. Yum. I went for this dish since we veered in to squab. It was a hard decision because there were other significantly tempting other mains to consider (the chicken, the bouillabaisse, the turbot, and more). But I went here and was not disappointed. Angus beef sirloin, dauphin potatoes, with beef tongue, bone marrow glazed carrots and spring onions, sauce bordelaise. I reallynot need to say anything more about this dish, right? The spring onions under there seemed to have been first grilled or seared, and then lightly braised. Wow. Again, a role player basically stealing the show again. And this on a plate of spectacular food. It's what Ruta does all the damn time. The Domaine Tunnel St. Joseph also paired well with this. Strawberry 'mille feuille' - buckwheat puff pastry, vanilla fromage blanc, strawberries, toasted buckwheat ice cream Where Chin got these strawberries this early in the season is curious, but they delivered for sure. And the buckwheat elements to this dish were lovely. It makes us want to experiment with this in the kitchen when strawberry season is in full swing as well. Matcha Rhubarb Roulade, matcha cake, yuzu cream, rhubarb compote, rhubarb sorbet. We have decided that if Chin has a dessert on the menu that involves anything on the tea spectrum, one of us needs to order it. I fell in love with and still dream about her 'Spot of Tea'dish she came up with while at Grill Room. This is a worthy successor in that line of thinking. I mean, this was the piece de resistance. A triumph. A masterpiece in flavor, subtle sweetness and amazing texture and flavor interplay. Wrapping things up on things I forgot to mention - they had three breads offered up for service - a pumpernickel, a baguette and something else. We tried the two I mentioned and enjoyed them a lot. The butter is whipped and the proper temperature and seasoning. If you got some off of the serving dish on to your knife, you were left with a peaked swirl on the butter still on the serving dish. Amazing! The cheese was excellent and they had maybe 12 to 15 to choose from. Katy offered to have us come look at the trolley to view them, but we were too lazy and ordered off of the list instead. Much to explore there. Enjoyed a 1975 Calvet-Thunevin GRenache 'Maury' Vin Doux Naturale from Roussillon, France with dessert. And then one of the Absinthes at a 3-to-1 ratio that we doctored up with a little more ice and water to probably the 4-to-1 ratio. Interesting to try but not my thing. I'll explore the brandies the next time. The thing is, it was almost unbearable that we did not order the proposed menu, because there was so much amazing stuff on that list that we knew we were passing on, but hey we will just have to come back. One thing to remember, you cannot currently order anything off of the proposed menu as an a la carte item. Yet, anyway. However, if one person in your party wants to the proposed menu, and others do not, they will happily accommodate you. Oh and you also get tasty petit fours at the end! All in all, I was very pleased with our first experience there. Dinner will often be our main experiences there, though lunch I am sure will be excellent as will the coming breakfast. Not sure if they are ever doing brunch, but you never know. It is expensive, I will admit. But the attention to detail here on not just the food front, but the service and the beverage program, not to mention the space and everything else that goes in to the experience, is, in my opinion, worth it. Plus, it is relatively easy to keep a lid on costs - we ordered a lot - cocktails, a couple of half glasses of wine, a total of 5 appetizers, a nice bottle of wine, two mains, a cheese course, two deserts, a dessert wine, a try at the absinthe and the petit fours at the end. You could easily omit several of these things and be full, satisfied, and drop a lot fewer dollars there as a result. And to experience the food elsewise, there is always lunch and the coming breakfast to allow you other opportunities to get back more often. And now...I'm hungry for more.
  5. What's the corkage fee? I was there at a wine dinner maybe 6 to 8 months ago and it was a challenge to do it there since we had 5 bottles for one table (I think we ended up opening 7) and they made a one-time exception for us because I begged.
  6. Cannot really help, but the Haier unit I got from Home Depot maybe 10 years ago was $150 and, while not perfect, holds about 30-40 bottles. It is not under counter though. Are you really tied to having it under counter? Just for convenience? If you remove that restriction there are loads of units out there for reasonable prices that do an adequate job.
  7. Well those are good points. One of the things I hate to see happen is when a place gets redeveloped in to a modern mixed use thing and then the chains come in. Boring! And with the rents being so sky high, it gets harder and harder for restaurants to make it in this metro area. However, if you extend your definition of this metro area to include points a bit south, east, west and north (like Baltimore), there are plenty of options with good food that is a better value and may even be closer to where you live potentially. Grace Garden in Odenton is a good example. So is Curry Leaf in Laurel, MD. Ren's Ramen in Wheaton. Many, many options for Peruvian Chicken based on your own preferences. But I do, indeed, hear you about having a really good overall experience that delivers the goods on good, interesting food, with a nice atmosphere and service and maybe a decent wine list/beer program/cocktail program is, in general, a bit harder to find in even the expanded idea of this metro area. I like a lot of interesting places in Baltimore, too (Peter's Inn comes to mind, as does Fork & Wrench, and plenty of other options, too). The adventure continues.
  8. And it is a travesty of the two that I am aware of are no longer in the DC Metro area because they are both completely and utterly amazingly talented folks. I miss them not being here in the DC Metro dining scene for sure. A lot.
  9. That is your opinion and you are certainly welcome to believe it and state it as such. No worries whatsoever. Food and the dining experience is such a subjective thing. Some people love one thing, others another. I was talking to a coworker the other day. She and her husband had been to Komi in the past few months. They left and her husband said to her that 'I'd have been just as happy eating a bunch of Chick-fil-a.' So....see what I mean? From my experience with Ruta and his food as compared to many, many, many other places I have dined over the past 15-16 years, well, his stuff is top notch and the experiences I have had at Palena and Grill Room have been quite, quite good. For you maybe....not so much? No big deal. I have my own issues with some places like we all do (like Rose's Luxury - I am sure the food is wonderful there, and the service as well, and now I hear you can book a rooftop table if you all do a tasting menu - but I will probably never go there (because 1) I don't have 6 other people I want to go experience a tasting menu there with so I can get a reservation and 2) I cannot otherwise get a reservation - my loss I am sure), and we all deal. Well, you know that is impossible. It's kind of like the analogy to software development - you can make software potentially good, fast and/or cheap. Out of those three things, you can only pick two - good and cheap (not fast), cheap and fast (but not good), or fast and good, but not cheap. I am sure there is some trinity or similar that applies to dining out. That all being said, you can get some awfully good food out there, you just need to pick some things that you are unwilling to sacrifice on and deal with the rest. Hot Doug's in Chicago (gone, dang it) was a place where you got really excellent hot dogs and sausages, for pretty darn good prices for pretty cheap, but you often had to wait an hour or two in line to get it (we waited 45 minutes - an anomaly for me - I utterly hate waiting).
  10. I recently bought a bottle of Pikesville to try. It's pretty good and possibly a little overkill for cocktails. I need to try it on its own for a full measure one of these days.
  11. Went here last night as a way to branch out more in the Ballston area since I am working there now. So my wife metroed over and we met friends who have been there several times before and enjoyed it. Good and interesting Russian (and other European) beer selections. The smoked fish starter is delicious though enormous - it should really be shared for two people. The Fish Under Coat was tasty but I thought the herring was too much in the background of the dish - plus this starter, too, is also very large from an appetizer perspective. The blinis I am told are quite good. The plov seems like a dish that should totally work, but I think was a smidge bland given the ingredients list. The beef stroganoff was quite delicious. The vegetables that went along with it were perfectly cooked, but had not one iota of seasoning on them whatsoever (maybe you were meant to paid some of the beef with the veg?). It was a satisfying dinner, and the service was good. If/when I got back again, I will take in to consideration portion sizes, maybe skip the beer for something less filling and sample some other parts of the menu for something a little lighter (or consider sharing). I will not be in a huge rush to get back, as I think I still have plenty to explore, but I think the smoked fish platter, alone, would be great on a summer day with a glass of wine, for lunch.
  12. It seems like they are taking a phased approach to expanding their service. Lunch, then dinner. Eventually dining at the bar, and breakfast (IIRC). They'll eventually do everything they want and establish a flow and cadence to their operations.
  13. Not my picture but this is what it is -- "...Foie gras poached in consommé with radish and chrysanthemum. Said consommé poured at the table...." OMG. Want.