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Found 88 results

  1. http://www.le-bernardin.com As a birthday present Hubby made us reservations to come to NYC and eat at Le Bernadin. Something I have really wanted to do because I really love seafood. Hubby isn't as big of a seafood person, but appreciates it from time to time. I am not sure what wine Hubby ordered, but it was light and fresh and complimented the food perfectly. The bread service was good with a choice of brioche, pretzel, sourdough, foccacio or a few other selections. Although Hubby commented that the sourdough just wasn't like what you could get in San Francisco. We had the following tasting menu: STRIPED BASS Wild Striped Bass Tartare; Baby Fennel, Zucchini Crispy Artichoke, Parmesan Sauce Vierge (This was really good, fresh, nice balance of acid.) CRAB Chilled Peekytoe Crab Salad; Baby Radish and Avocado Green Apple-Lemongrass Nage (The sauce really made this fresh and good, it made the flavors really pop.) SCALLOP Warm Scallop “Carpaccio”; Snowpeas and Shiitake Lime-Shiso Broth (My least favorite dish, although the broth was really well composed.) HALIBUT Poached Halibut; Glazed Baby Bok Choy,Bergamot-Basil Emulsion (Very nicely cooked, dense and perfectly flavored, really simple, and had a basil foam that was actually good and appropriately used to thicken the other basil sauce in a nice way.) MONKFISH Roasted Monkfish; Wilted Mustard Greens-Daikon “Sandwich” Adobo Sauce (Also perfectly cooked, the sauce on this dish was so good you could eat it as a broth.) STRAWBERRY Strawberry Sorbet, Mascarpone Cream, Basil (Fresh and a nice pop of flavor.) BLACK FOREST Dark Chocolate Cremeux, Kirsch Bavaroise, Belgian Kriek Beer Sorbet (Didn't prefer this dish at all, just didn't do it for me chocolate wise or otherwise.) Overall I thought the dishes were executed perfectly, although dessert was kind of a let down. The petit fours with the check were ok, but again would have expected better flavors, with the flavors overall being so well thought out. The sauces were absolute perfection. There wasn't any real wow, so don't necessarily expect that, and it certainly wasn't as playful as some more nouveau fine dining places, but everything was executed with a lot of precision and you didn't leave stuffed, but had eaten enough, which was a nice feeling. If the a la carte dishes are the same size, I might have left hungry with only four courses, but maybe the portions are bigger? I really liked the decor and the space between tables, it was more relaxing and peaceful than many restaurant experiences. I am glad I did it, would I go back- I am not sure. It was good, the sauces were just stellar and something you rarely see, the fish was cooked perfectly. There was just nothing I hold in my head except those perfect sauces that really caught me.
  2. Ericandblueboy

    Upscale Mexican

    I can get decent tacos at Bamba. Is there a high end interesting Mexican restaurant in DC (some place that isn't relying on fajitas, enchiladas, table side guac, or tacos to draw in business)? Some place that might actually draw non-gringos?
  3. [Posted on eGullet in July 2004...gee, almost a year ago...] One more voice in praise of Eve. Went with a friend last Saturday night. First, I have to say that getting a reservation is Hard Work - I honestly don't know many eateries here that you have to call on Tuesday to make sure you get in on a Saturday night in the middle of summer. But I sort of knew what I was in for, so no complaints from me! Now, I have to disclose that I work at the restaurant where Cathal ran the kitchen before he and Meshelle opened Eve, but in a very unimportant capacity (part-time hostess). I don't think this had any role in the quality of food, or the ambience, only in how we were treated First, I LOVED the decor. Very warm, homey but sophisticated, and soooo cozy. Bar is a bit crowded, but not in an annoying way. Unusual setup of bar with the counter and couches along the wall makes the place feel very social and home-like. Service was very nice. Now, I am not a high-maintenance diner and I generally like my servers as unnoticeable as possible - tell me about the special, deliver the food, answer a random question and bye-bye. Our guy was very good - on hand when I needed him (not often) and not hovering when I didn't. Now, the food. I understand now why legends of Cathal are still alive at places he used to work. It's awfully good. I have no claim to expertise in judging food except bits and pieces gleaned in the course of late-night tequila-shootin' with the sous, bu the man is seriously good. Appetizer was baby beets and goat cheese salad. Anyone who hails from Russia has ideas about beets, mainly about how to avoid it when mommy insists. But this dish was really very good, clean, great ingredients shining through with minimum fuss. I had my mind made up about entrees before going (I know I know..idle hands with Internet access...will have to think about something to put on timesheet) - pork belly for me. But the duck special sounded too good to pass, so I went for it. So good! Can one make duck medium rare and incredibly tender at the same time? Yes yes, that describes mine. Garnished with a very earthy, garlicky-tasting mushroom (something o'woods?) with no trace of garlick ON it, must be some clever basting technique at work. But now I have to come back for my pork! Dessert was chocolate mojito - brick-shaped thingie of mousse crossed with flourless cake structure encased in chocolate glaze with mint Jello scattered about. So good. My friend had a peach granita that was quite good, too, I am just not a white chocolate fan. I can't wait to try the tasting room! Meshelle told me they are going to start "Industry Nights" on Mondays in August - I am officially on a mission to get all kitchen folks from our place to go already. Oh, and she was so very gracious and wonderful to us - stopped by, like, three times in the middle of a Saturday night rush (I know what that's like!) Just a delight to be around. Face it, being cheerful can be very tiring when it's a part of your job description - we've all had these moments at the end of a busy night when you look at your guests and think, oh would y'all just go cluster!@#$ yourselves! But she was grace under pressure personified. Made for a great night for us.
  4. I hope this is the appropriate thread for the below post as Manresa is in Los Gatos. I believe the first time I heard of chef David Kinch was in the June 1996 Gourmet. In my opinion this was the first review were Gourmet did not just give a middle of the road description of a restaurant,but actually a review in the sense of the word. The first truly negative review they gave a restaurant was Atlas in NY, if I recall correctly. So this review of Sent Sovi [Reopened as Relish GastroLounge in 2016] sparked my interest in chef Kinch's work,and I recall calling the restaurant requesting a menu to review. Imagine my surprise when a few days later I found a whole press kit in my mailbox. This was almost ten years ago,and I have been reading all I can on the success of chef Kinch sense. So when I had the opportunity to visit the Napa Valley last weekend, I just had to fit in a visit to Manresa. The hours before our reservation were really kind of comical and for awhile seemed it was straight out of a sitcom. The ride down from Yountville went well as I never have seen a seven lane highway before. Something the east coast should consider. But we arrived a few hours early with some time to kill and dressed in shorts. And not knowing what kind of dress code Manresa had we were debating where we could change. Luckily we found a secluded parking lot at the edge of town were we attempted to change. Kind of gave the wife a wink and made a comment about being twenty years younger. We still had some time to waste so we walked around town a little bit. And I mentioned to my wife there seems something out of place here that I could not put my finger on. Like out of a Twilight Zone episode. After awhile I stopped in my tracks,looked at her and said I got it. There are no fat people here. All I saw was muscles and boobs! So I pulled in my gut and headed to the restaurant. I went in knowing I was going to enjoy this meal but after the first few courses I knew my expectations were exceeded. Chef Kinch's cuisine is bold and in your face, and makes you stop to take notice. I just love the dining room with it's well spaced tables and comfortable chairs. If there was one down fall in the evening it was we were pushed for time as we had to catch the Redeye out of SF airport. As each course was sat down, we likely finished it within minutes. And as I watched the dining room fill up I could not help but have a vision of chef Kinch yelling fire the next three courses for that S.O.B!! Maybe if I didn't work in kitchens all my life this would not have bothered me but I tend to work myself up as I know the efffort that must have been taken to keep the courses coming as smoothly as they did on a busy Saturday night. This is the menu we had: Amuses Petits fours red pepper-black olive Radis au beurre Santa rosa plum with hibiscus and strawberry Corn cromesquis Cioppino jelly Broccoli and foie gras royale Marinated fluke, local olive oil Strawberry gazpacho Crenshaw melon soup, almond tofu Dirty girl salad Rouget, anchovy and tomato sofrigit, lemon basil Abalone with pigs feet Cepes en papillote, slow egg Cranberry bean bouillon, foie gras, old rioja vinegar Sweetbreads, braised lettuce with corn pudding Roast farm poularde, delta crawfish Prime beef roasted in its own fat, foie gras Strawberries, raw cream, 30 year old balsamico Pain perdu, roast apricots and corn ice cream Chocolate marquis, condensed milk ice cream Petits fours chocolate-strawberry Again we had a wine pairing and again I failed to take notes. We started with a lovely champagne that my wife and I both felt was the best we tasted on our trip. Regarding the menu,there was not one dud in the entire dinner and I would be hard pressed to pick my favorites. But if I had to chose the roll back your eyes courses, it would have to be the Santa rosa plum with hibiscus and strawberry. Hands down the best amuse I ever had. A burst of flavor that just wakes up the palate. I looked at my wife and said I guess I never had plums before. They were also in the Dirty girl salad. Just wonderful!! The Rouget surrounded the table with a wonderful aroma the moment it was sat on the table. A terrific dish. The abalone with pigs feet was rich and succulent,and I was tempted to tell my wife halfway threw what it was and hope she would give me hers. The pain perdu was a wonderful dessert course. In closing, I wish I lived closer to this restaurant,as I know I would visit it regularly. I wish the best for chef Kinch and I truly think that if he was in the Napa Valley and not in a town with muscles and boobs it would have a two month waiting list. I met chef Kinch at the end of the meal and had a brief kitchen tour and conversation. And walking away I not only got the impression that he is immensely talented but also a down to earth great guy. The type of person that you are glad stepped into your life and entered your world
  5. i searched and to no avail, much to my chagrinning consternation. or perhaps my grasp of operating machinery lacks something, a certain finesse, predictedly ending in, how the french say, a certain cul de sac. enough of this tomfoolery. if for no other reason, go to tosca and order the tomato marmelade tart with ricotta basil gelato and basil syrup. the disc of pastry, baked to a golden hue recalling the skin tones of the snug decaying descendents of aristocrats who play their life away beneath the long dead still mediterreanean sun in nice and monaco, crackles at the slightest pressure, as your fork oozes through the tranquil carmine pond of tomato marmelade, marmelade whose very flavor completely obfuscates the taste buds: it is sweet, yes, but not sugar sweet, but still not raw sliced tomate sweet and anything but acidic; the verdant quenelle of gelato haunts with ricotta's fresh whey-ness yet tempers the aggressive and volatile source of this faintly sweet soft emerald gem, the basil. it is like no dessert and yet, it is the apotheosis of simple desserts: seasonal fruit tart, with an appropiate accoutrementing creaminess. ive not had my fix this year and this changes. this changes tonight. you owe it to yourself to have this dessert. really you do.
  6. Just wanted to get myself going. And what better way, than to sing the praises of my favorite spot. Thanks to Tom and his crew for a mgnificent evening of food and drink for our Rocks roast. That mushroom and crab(?) soup just added to my assertion that Chef Tom has the magic touch when it comes to that course. The steak was out of this world good. Someone mentioned elsewhere that it was in the same league as Ray's, and I agree. Spring rolls, Kit Kat bars and ice cream -- all excellent. But of course the piece de resistance was the company.
  7. Anyone been yet? I know they are only open for lunch so far, but the initial buzz seems quite good. I was never in doubt of course, but I think this could be something really special. We have ressies for the middle of next month for dinner, so I will be sure to report back but just curious to see if anyone has been there yet. Also....thoughts on parking? Mirabelle
  8. I was a bit surprised to see that there were no posts on this restaurant, as Fabio has historically been a figure that has sparked conversation on DR. My wife and I went last night to a mostly full restaurant that is styled very similarly to Fiola Mare, although this space is much larger than Fabio's place on the Georgetown waterfront. Our first observation is that there are a lot of people working on the floor at Del Mar. Including the 2 women working at the host stand, we interacted with 6 different people in our first 2 minutes after being seated. Some people find this style of service attentive; my wife and I feel smothered. My feeling is that if I haven't even opened my menu, any question other than the type of water that I would like is premature. Especially questions about wine from the sommelier before I have been given a wine list, but I digress. After the service staff dispersed, I delved into the menu, which was organized by rather short sections of 3-5 dishes by different types of raw and cold dishes, hot dishes/appetizers, mains, and plates to be shared. We kicked things off with 6 oysters from New Jersey that were described as "briny and succulent", which is right up my alley. Unfortunately, while the oysters were succulent, I would definitely not describe them as briny, as they were a bit flat and not woken up by the Escabeche Vinaigrette. Another sauce was also delivered with the oysters, described as an "aioli", which was interesting as I have never heard of anyone having a mayo-like dip with oysters. This sounded awful to me, but my curiosity was piqued, so I tried it to make sure I wasn't missing anything with one of my oysters, and it was just as poorly paired and bad as it sounds. I'm assuming the inclusion was a mistake, as I can't imagine anyone liking what I tried last night. Shame on me for not using my better judgment, I guess. From there we went to hot appetizers, where we chose the Sopa de Castana y Cangrejo and the Scallops, Sea Urchin, and Black Truffles. The soup was far and away the best dish of the night, exactly what we were looking for on a cold night. It felt vintage-Trabocchi, very rich and flavorful, extracting flavors from ingredients and appropriate spicing to deliver a rich, well-balanced dish. We wanted seconds. The scallops were also nice, well paired with the vibrant sea urchin, but this would have been a better warm weather dish as it was very cold and very light. For our main, we got the Arroz Negro de Calamares en su Tinta. I should note here that we have had paella and arroz negro many times on trips to Spain and at restaurants in the US. We have had a couple versions that we really liked, but we often feel underwhelmed by these types of dishes. Maybe we don't love paella (or Spanish food in general)? I'm not sure, but I figure that I would point this out before saying that we were massively disappointed in this dish. It came out and was plated well by our waiter into large portions along with a side of lemon and, yet again, aioli. I asked the waiter about the aioli, to see if there was a particular way to eat the arroz with it as I have never seen it presented this way. He said that it was how "everybody" ate the dish, which confused me because I have had paella in Mallorca and Barcelona and have never seen it come with any sort of mayo substance. Is this normal? Again, I took the bait and put a dab of it on the side of my plate, dipping a bit of calamari and black rice in to take a taste. No. I can't believe that "everybody" eats this dish this way, as it became gooey and added nothing to the flavor palate. I ignored it for the rest of the meal, but again I must not be getting it, because I found the arroz to be bland and rather uninteresting, even with a copious amount of lemon squirted on top. Also, the calamari was somehow grilled and very chewy on the outside, but slimy and wet on the inside, combining both ways that I don't like my calamari cooked into one bite somehow. We were starving, but both of us still left a lot on our plates, as this just did not work for us on so many levels. We were a bit disheartened after the arroz negro, so we decided to pass on dessert and get the bill. For 2 glasses of Cava Brut, a middle of the road bottle of Ribeiro ($65), and the food listed above, the bill came to $232 after tax. I had to look twice, as this was more money than we had spent on any meal since our last visit to Komi, and far from extravagant or particularly satisfying food. At this price point, I can't possibly see us coming back here, but again maybe we just don't like this style of cuisine or we could have ordered better (cold crudo on a 40 degree night, yes that's my bad). I'll be interested to see how this place does over the years, as it really is huge, very expensive, and in the hot new high-rent district of DC.
  9. Tapas are also very good at Taberna del Alabardero. I was there a few nights ago again. The tapas still stand strong, although they aren't much better than Jaleo's and cost slightly more per plate (unless you get there for half price tapas between 3 and 5 p.m. weekdays, I think). The wine by the glass and the sangria were outstanding values (and not many over $10 a glass).
  10. "L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon may be the world’s most expensive restaurant chain." Ouch. I don't know what stings more - that line or the two star rating. "A New Link in the World's Most Expensive Restaurant Chain" by Pete Wells on nytimes.com
  11. The new name of the new fine dining restaurant from Aaron Silverman will be Pineapple and Pearls: "Rose's Luxury's Sister Restaurant Has a Name: 'Pineapple and Pearls'" by Jessica Sidman on washingtoncitypaper.com Café/coffee/sandwich shop in the mornings and fine dining (with reservations accepted!) in the evenings. They're only going to be open 4 nights a week and no weekends. A very bare bones website is up too: PineappleAndPearls.com
  12. So I did not see this (Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse) listing and figured it may help those when planning a visit to the area. Reservations here non-existent two weeks out so we did the next best thing and got there about 4:45 (they open at 5 PM), and scored a table in the bar area. If you are OK eating in a "lounge" type environment it is fine; chairs are cushy and tables are low. The wait staff was attentive, but not overbearing and knowledgeable. My only gripe was it took about 30 minutes to get our drinks (mixed and wine, so nothing complicated) when we got there, but after that the food from salad and apps to dinner was timed properly without issue. Caesar Salad (interesting twist with the anchovy hushpuppies) Beefsteak Tomato Heart Salad Oysters Rockefeller - Since they were green the presentation was inspiring, but flavor was excellent) Parker House Rolls and Cheddar Biscuits - if you remember the Parker House rolls from CitiZen, they are not that good, but good in their own right. Filets - Wagyu beef was very flavorful. Scalloped Potatos We did not have dessert as we were catching a show and ran short on time. I would go back, when we have more time - plan on spending ~$100/person with a drink.
  13. For $30 pp, Geranio has a 4 course menu offering right now. I recieved a notice via mail, but the dates are confllicting, so I'd call to be sure if you're going after August. The notice states on one side, that the 4 course fixed price menu will be offered throughout the month of August. On the other side it says it's available Aug. 1 thru Sept. 30. Choice of: Loster Bisque with Tarragon Fried Calamari with Lemon Caper Sauce Choice of: Salad of Vine Ripened Tomato and Mozzerella with Prosciutto and Field Greens Field Greens with Herb Mustard Vinaigrette, Gorgonzola and Walnuts Choice of: Veal Scaloppini with Braised Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic Fingerling Potatoes and Marsala Reduction Grilled Atlantic Salmon with Mashed Potatoes, Pancetta and Roasted Garlic and Shallots, Red Wine Sauce Choice of: Tiramisu Homemade Ice Creams and Sherberts http://www.geranio.net
  14. I think I'm going to like the concept. An accomplished foreign chef, like Jose Andres (or Jacques Pepin) comes to America and falls in love with our regional ingredients and traditions, and then gives them center stage with a slight uplifting from his culinary heritage. I'm going to like this a lot....
  15. I guess you could call it hallowed ground, that space at 239 West Broadway, where some 30 years ago Drew Nieporent, along with a youthful (weren't we all?) David Bouley, opened Montrachet, their ode to fine French cuisine and, of course, fine wine. At the time, I was living in the San Francisco Bay area, toiling away in Silicon Valley, barbecuing and grilling in my backyard, and heading to Jeremiah Tower's Stars and Berkeley's gourmet ghetto whenever I got the chance. Montrachet had a fine run, followed in the same space by Corton, with its esteemed chef Paul Liebrandt. When PL left (after 5 years) to open The Elm in Williamsburg last summer, Nieporent was cagey about what would happen next with this space that has been a destination for 30 years. Fast forward to May, 2014 and now we know; happily, Significant Eater and I got a taste of it this past weekend. Along with co-conspirators John Winterman (late of Daniel) and Chef Markus Glocker (late of Gordon Ramsey at The London), Drew and the rest of his team appear to have another winner on their hands. My wet Plymouth Martini was well made and served in a beautiful (though unchilled) glass - I hope the $17 tariff will cover breakage, and Sig Eater's Aviation was just right. Menus are offered in 2, 3 or 4 courses... And surprise, surprise...this kitchen can actually figure out how to parse your order, unlike (too) many places that open these days, where the dishes come out of the kitchen when they're ready, not you. You want 3 savory courses? No problem. One of you wants to order 3 courses and one wants 4? They can do that - I know because that's what we did; they handled it well, but then again these guys are pros. Sig Eater's first course was the English pea soup... Simple, right? And just about perfect; the creamy texture of the soup makes those crispy, organ-y sweetbreads even better. Tiny pea tendrils and a salsify crumble add bite and crunch. Lobster and asparagus make a fine combo, no? Indeed, here they do, with the chunks of delicate lobster accompanied by stuffed zucchini blossoms and an expertly fried quail egg. The kitchen was kind enough (and once again, pro enough) to split my second savory onto two plates, so we didn't have to battle each other for that last spoonful of the insanely rich Parmesan risotto. Beware - if you order and eat a whole portion of this, your appetite will wane, even with the nettles, ramps and sunchokes doing their best to help ward off the gout. Sig Eater decided to have beef for her main course... The tender strip was fine, but the braised cheek really brought the beef. Served with a cauliflower puree, baumkuchen (go ahead, look it up), and Romanesco, this ought to satisfy one's cow craving for a while. And my main? Rabbit, "Flavors of Bouillabaisse," of course. I had already heard about how good the rabbit was, but I still was knocked out by the tenderness of the bunny. And the fabulous saffron ravioli didn't hurt either. Take a look at the little ribs served along with the chunks of rabbit... Just a fabulous dish. Dessert, or rather cheese, beckoned, and we shared our order of Époisses, because eating a whole order would have been, well, decadent. And then, since the kitchen was out of the Key Lime pie, we were comped the Black Forest, which satisfied Sig Eater's chocolate craving (for the night, at least). I ordered the poached stone fruits, which was fine to counter my guilt for eating like a pig, though you'd really have to convince me to order lemon thyme ice cream if any other flavors are available. And what to drink with all this food? Well, I'm a wine neophyte, but the by the glass list seems to go along with a broad swath of the menu... A pet peeve? Sure. When I asked which wine might go nicely with the lobster, I was poured the most expensive glass of white, and then again with my rabbit. And when Sig Eater asked the same question about her beef, you got it - the most expensive red got poured. And then the 2nd most expensive red for a second glass. So be aware - our wine bill was $111, and the 2 cocktails added another $31. It's not a complaint, just a pet peeve - and a caveat emptor - because I could've just as easily ordered a glass by name. I did that with the risotto course, and enjoyed my choice of the New York Riesling with the rich rice. As I've mentioned in some previous blog posts, Sig Eater and I are celebrating some big-deal birthdays this year, and we're treating ourselves well. But even if it wasn't a big birthday year, we'll happily return to Bátard. For a one-week old restaurant, and a first visit, the food and service were fine indeed. Bátard 239 West Broadway, NYC (212) 219-2777
  16. The return of Eric Ziebold The short version - two dining rooms. Kinship will be a more casual mix and match menu concept with four different menus focusing on four different concept - ingredients, craft, history and decadence. 80 seats. The yet unnamed second space will be in the basement. A "jewel box" salon for fine dining $150 (or so) tasting menu format. 36 seats, dinner only. Parker House Rolls? A chef's gotta have some secrets. No doubt a lot more will be forthcoming in the months to come. 1015 Seventh St. NW
  17. A'ight kids, put yer reading caps on Friday was our 7th wedding anniversary. That means its been 7 years since some generous friends took us to a meal at the Inn at Little Washington as a wedding present. Our gustatory urges had been slowly awakening over the previous year, driven in part by our release from the penury of graduate school into gainful employment, and we had wined and dined ourselves at Obelisk, Cashions and DC Coast to name but a few. Fine restaurants all. But "The Inn" was the big kahuna. Remember that in DC in 1998, there was no Maestro, no Laboratorio, no CityZen, no Eve, a reminder of how spoiled we are for fine dining options now (I think Citronelle was there but for some inexplicable reason we have yet to dine there). The passage of time, the loss of brain cells and a couple of years of sleep deprivation have taken their toll, and memories of the meal are hazy, but we remember literally being *blown away* by the whole experience. The setting, the service, and most importantly the food were all superlative - we had never experienced anything like it - I remember a sublime molten Valrhona chocolate cake before it had become a tired cliche. Two years later we returned, flush with the proceeds of a Harry Potter arbitrage scheme on eBay, and left wondering whether The Inn had changed or had we changed. Were our expectations too high after our first visit? Had we become more discerning as diners? Or was The Inn standing in place, content to serve a menu eerily similar to two years beforehand to those willing (and there were still many of them) to make the two hour trek from metropolitan DC, or even further afield? Some of the dishes were very good, but lacked the wow factor of our previous visit, and the service seemed a little detached and rote. As we left, the prevailing sense was that for $120+ per person BEFORE wine, tax or tip was it just wasn't good enough. Based on the comments on several other food sites it seemed as if we were not alone in this opinion. Time passed and we concentrated our fine dining adventures closer to DC, enjoying spectacular meals at Maestro, Laboratorio, and Eve, or overseas (Arzak, McNean Bistro). Last Christmas, my sister, remembering our raves from our first visit generously gave us a gift certificate for The Inn. While grateful for the gift, we honestly were not that jazzed about going back to The Inn and sat on the gift cert for a while (and in the "We do it because we can" category, shame on The Inn for voiding gift certs after ONE year). We finally decided to go in late-September and turn it into an anniversary celebration both for us, and my parents who would be visiting. My mother has a garlic allergy which can make dining out a difficult process so I mentioned it as I made reservations, and was assured it would not be a problem. Then the day of the meal, our babysitting fell through and I called The Inn to find out if it would be ok to add a 4-year old to our reservation. Again, they said it was not a problem (to be honest I was surprised at this, as an ultra high-end restauranteur, adding a 4 year old into a dining room full of boomers spending $200+ per person seems to have lots of downside). We arrived just in time for our 6.30 reservation and were shown to a circular table overlooking the courtyard (the same table as our first time there, maybe a coincidence, maybe not). Our amuse bouche arrived quickly, with about 8 for the non-garlic allergites (is that a word?) on one place and 3 or 4 on a separate plate for my mother which I thought was a nice touch. The amuse bouche included a mini-BLT (still on the menu after all these years) a red wine risotto filled ball, parmesan crisps, a rabbit turnover, a mini-ham sandwich and one or two others which I have forgotten. In general the amuse were good but not earth shattering. In ordering for the rest of our meal, our waiter took scrupulous care in accommodating the garlic allergy, to the extend of tweaking the making and presentation of dishes to ensure there would be no garlic but that my mother could still order just about whatever she wanted. I was very impressed. After the amuse came a complimentary cup of chilled watermelon soup with a hint of tequila. The soup was excellent - creamy, yet light, tasting of summer, and with the tequila giving its just the slightest kick. They even brought a cup of the soup (minus the tequila!) for our daughter, which she loved. For the first course proper, me and my mother had Prawns and Charred Onions with Mango Mint Salsa, while my wife and dad had Maryland Crabcakes Sandwiched between Fried Green Tomatoes with Silver Queen Corn Salsa. In general both dishes were excellent, but I think the prawns shaded it. Three large, succulent prawns paired nicely with the sweetness of the charred onion and the salsa. In another nice touch, they brought our daughter some macaroni (penne pasta to be precise) and cheese between our first and second courses so we could concentrate on feeding her and still be able to eat ourselves. This was seriously tasty and I'm guessing they used several different cheeses in its preparation. For the second course, I had A Marriage of Hot and Cold Foie Gras with Homemad Quince Preserves, my mom had a Morel Dusted Diver Scallop on a Cauliflower Puree, my wife had A Fricassee of Maine Lobster with Potato Gnocchi and Curried Walnuts, and my dad had A Warm Salad of Stone Church Farms Seared Duck Breast with Baby Arugula, Pine Nuts and Parmesan. In general, I adore foie gras and ordered this dish mainly for the seared foie with aged balsamic and it did not disappoint, but was pleasantly surprised at the "Cold" part of the dish, which was a delicious pate served with a small piece of toasted bread. For our main course, myself and my dad Medallions of Rabbit Loin Wrapped in House Cured Pancetta Surrounding a Lilliputian (!!) Rabbit Rib Roast Resting on a Pillow of Pea Puree, my mom had Prime Angus Tenderloin of Beef on Silver Queen Corn Saute with Wilted Baby Spinach, and my wife had Sesame-Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with Silver Queen Corn Succotash. I don't think I'd really eaten rabbit before and it was excellent. The pancetta added a good deal of flavor and it was surprisingly tender. The sea bass was also good, and the corn succotash was very flavorful. For dessert I had cheese, my wife had a trio of chocolate desserts (Black Forest Mousee Bombe, Chocolate Creme Brulee, and Bitter Chocolate Souffle), my father had the "Seven Deadly Sins", and my mother had a trio of peach desserts (Peach Melba, Peach-Champagne Sorbet and Peach Cobbler). In general I thought the desserts were good but not outstanding, although I think I was more in the mood for savory than sweet that night. Our daughter had a scoop of mint ice cream (that was as good as 2 Amy's and that's saying something) with chocolate ribbons. At The Inn, the cheese is served from the back of "Faira", a wheeled cow that must be (somewhat arkwardly) manouevered around the dining room - its cute, kind-of, but let me tell you when you're a 4-year old nearing the end of a 3 hour meal and its an hour after your normal bedtime, it's the coolest thing in the world! I had a nice back and forth with the cheese guy (earning a "you know your cheese" by the end of it all), and ended up picking a Montenbro, a crumbly blue from the Asturias region of Spain, a wonderfully ripe Tallegio, an even more wonderfully ripe Epoisses, a pungent cheese from Switzerland whose name escapes me and an award-winning American cheese that, much to my chagrin, I had never heard of. Now we were really starting to wind down, and Reinhardt Lynch came by and asked if we wanted the doors opening out onto the courtyard to be opened. Again, a great idea for a rapidly tiring 4-year old, and while we enjoyed coffee, tea and cookies, we took turns peering into the courtyards coy-filled ponds with her - several other tables were enjoying their desserts outside. After dinner, we had a quick tour of the kitchen and observed those willing to pony up the addition $300 ($450 on weekends) for the chef's table, exchanged pleasantries with Chef O'Connell (always easy when you have a cute kid), and made our way into the night air for the drive back to DC. Total bill for 4 people, a nice but inexpensive bottle Pinot, and a "kids meal" plus tax and tip was $775. The regular menu is $128 per person, our wine was $60, and our daughters meal was $28 (note that the tasting menu is $168 and the tasting menu with wine pairings is $243!!). We tipped 20% on the total bill including tax because the service was exemplary. Neil is a true professional, always there when we needed him, sensitive to the particular demands of our table, friendly, and good with our daughter. So, was it worth it? I would have to say yes. Its not the kind of place where you should go all the time, and it may not even be the place where you go for groundbreaking cuisine, but for a special occasion, the combination of ambience, service and food is hard to beat. I think they deserve credit for regaining their focus and maintaining a general level of excellence as they enter their 28th year in business. A final note on our superstar daughter. Yes, she's used to being taken out to restaurants, but she excelled herself this time around. By the end of the night, complete strangers were coming up to talk to her, clearly awed but her ability not to ruin their evenings! A final, FINAL note on the one teeny-tiny sour note for the evening. A young female member of staff loudly chastised my wife for reading one of Patrick O'Connells cookbooks that had apparently been already purchased by someone else but left on a table in the common area directly outside the kitchen. Honey, she wasn't trying to steal it, she didn't know it belonged to someone else, and your tone was not appreciated.
  18. Introducing Roberto's 4 Challenge your palate with 12 or more of Chef's imaginative samplings "Roberto's 4" are four coveted seats at Al Dente Restaurant next to Chef Roberto Donna. He will create a 12+ course tasting menu for those with adventurous spirits in food and drink. It will be offered for $85 with a $45 Wine Pairing. This menu will be available to four guests on evenings designated by Chef, beginning February 20, 2013. There will be one seating at 7:00PM Reservation requests can be made through
  19. So I'm sitting at Teatro Goldoni the other evening, watching someone eat the largest cheeseburger I've ever seen, and in walk couple-about-town Fellato Riminovich and Putana Harlotski. They ordered some bruschetta, wolfed it down hungrily, blew some air kisses, and then disappeared into the night. And I thought about a conversation I once had. "You're too much of a foodie," my friend once told me, shortly before heading to her shift at Cafe Milano. "I am not," I protested. "I just don't like things that suck." "Cafe Milano doesn't suck." "It does suck." "You need to understand: bars and restaurants aren't always about food." "How can a restaurant not be about food?" "It's no Tosca, but people enjoy it." "People enjoy Cheesecake Factory too." <glare> "Look: the customers at Cafe Milano might not know anything about food, but they know what they like." And I sat there, blinking. Then I came back into the moment, my thoughts turning toward the pizza in front of me at Teatro Goldoni, the uneaten pizza, the undercooked piece of dough with harsh dried herbs sprayed on top of it, seemingly from a firehose, and wondering to myself if I should just try and enjoy the pizza for what it was. And then I left and went to Palena.
  20. The Dining Guide does not contain an entry for Bonaroti's, so it appears. Yet, here is some of the finest 'burbs Italian around, ranking with Zeffirelli's in Herndon, Da Domenico's in Tysons, and A La Lucia in Old Town. It has the charm and visual appeal of Cafe Renaissance down the street, a deep connection to the community (with "Chris Cooley's Bresaola" and Spaghetti "Chris Cooley" on the dinner menu), walls of pictures of friends and local dignitaries, and a menu that really warms the Italian heart beating in all of us. I had the veal osso buco for lunch yesterday and I was blown away. The large pieces of veal were fall-off-the-bone tender, and it was covered with a thick, brown almost stew-like sauce, and accompanied by risotto that was cooked to perfection. It was delectable. This is a hearty lunch, ruining my New Year's resolution on, like, day 3. I had been here many times in the past and then I sort of forgot about it, but after yesterday, it's going into my rather spare McLean-Tyson's-Vienna-Fairfax Rt. 123 rotation.
  21. I had a wonderful dinner yesterday evening with a couple of other Rockweilers at Marcel's. I don't know whether to begin with the food or the service or the ambiance. All were impeccable. We dined in the bar area so I can't comment on what the regular dining room is like. The bar area is light and airy with high ceilings and a glass front that looks out onto Penn. Ave. The decor is traditional yet modern. The package puts you at ease as you either sit at the bar or one of the tables in the bar area. The service was unobtrusive, professional and efficient, not a single mistake that I noticed. When it became apparent that the 3 of us sitting at the bar intended to dine, they asked us if we would like a table. When we gave an affirmative response, we were escorted to a nearby table and our drinks transported without the bat or roll of an eye. One of our party brought a couple bottles of wine and they were promptly taken away for chilling. The efficient food and wine service were so unobtrusive and efficient as to be almost invisible. I give the service an "A." I only perused the wines by the glass list and we had wine that one of our party brought so I can't comment on the wine list. I had a white burgundy and it was exactly as it should be. The food also was excellent. I started off with the boudin blanc, which apparently is their "signature" dish. The sausage came out with a perfectly browned skin, the crispiness of which contrasted nicely with the almost flan-like texture of the inside which had a light, delicate flavor. It sat atop a pool of what this morning I recall to be polenta. The whole thing was drizzled with some really good sauce. "A" For the entrée, I had the fillet of black sea bass with ratatouille. Damn, was this good. I ordered it primarily because of the ratatouille and because the others had already ordered what I thought was all the good stuff. The fish came out perfectly cooked and atop some pommes mouselline with the ratatouille around the sides of the plate. The mildness of the fish was offset by the tanginess of the ratatouille. "A" For dessert, I had the cheese course. The only thing I can recall was this one cheese that had so much flavor that I think my taste buds were out of commission for about 10 minutes. One bite of it was all I could handle. It was a real stinker. I give the cheese course a "B." The others had "regular"dessert which I now believe are the way to go. They have a soufflé dessert that takes about 20 minutes; if you are interested, put in your order when your entrée arrives (their failure to tell us about this might constitute a "mistake" by the service). Between the entrées and the desserts the "habitué" came over and sat down and chatted with us for a while. Altogether, an "A+" evening. This restaurant belongs on what has been described as the "short list," along with places such as Eve, Palena, Corduroy, Ray's and Firefly. I don't think it would be possible to have a mediocre dining experience at this establishment.
  22. Was there last night!! We were seated in the main dining room...very romantic. We used the coupon, although most of us ended up eating the rack of lamb and filet so we had to pay an extra $10...which was definitely worth it!! The appetizers we ordered were: Scallop margarita: I thought it was the best ceviche I have had in DC. Way better than ceiba. Mussels: garlicy and finger linking good... Steak tartare: good but we didn't see the arugula mentioned on the menu. Just a mix of mache or baby greens. Escargot: good Softshell crabs: If you think you like Corduroy's version, try the ones at 1789. The citrus sauce drizzled on the top was amazing!! I didn't care for the tempura dipping sauce because it was good as is!!! Main courses: Filet: I had this dish. The beef was cooked to perfection...good...but not like Ray's...can't wait until I get by Ray fixings tomorrow!! I didn't understand what the eggs were supposed to do. Rack of Lamb: Some of you may think it is gross...but I stole the bones from my husband and nibbled on it...all four of them!! Sorry, but that's the best part!! Pork Chop: good. Desserts: Cheese plate Chocolate tarte Lemon something... Sorbet I encourage all of you to try it.
  23. Recently, I had a very bad experience with a professional group dinner at Ristorante La Perla of Washington. Despite repeated attempts to address the issues during dinner, there was poor to simply inadequate service. We had pre-set menus. In theory, everything should have been seamless. However, it was miserable! Some people received salads; some people didn't. A bread basket was placed on only one side of a very large table when there should have been one bread basket on each side of a round table. Servers were surly at best and seemed as though our party was an after thought despite the fact that our dinner had been planned months in advance. Oh, and the worst of all, a guest at one of our tables was a mindful eater. Rather than ask if the guest was finished with their plate, the server picked up the guest's plate - still half full of food - and promptly placed another plate on top mashing the food down. This act prevented the guest from asking for a 'doggie bag'. The first time my organization had a group dinner at Ristorante La Perla of Washington, all aspects of the dinner from service to food were outstanding. Therefore, we made plans to return a few months later. Needless to say, we will not be booking a group dinner at Ristorante La Perla again and will definitely advise others not to think of dining there. Does anyone know if there is a problem between the FOH and the Chef/Owner? It seems as though there are signs of a major calamity in progress. The decline in service, in less than 6 months time, is stunning. There are many other options, but we like to develop a rapport with restaurants and become regular customers. The location of La Perla is very convenient, but we will travel to experience good service and food. Washington has plenty of Italian restaurants to choose from and we are giving up on this old guard restaurant. Does anyone have recommendations for Italian restaurants in DC where group dining is a wonderful experience? Thanks for all recommendations.
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