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Equinox, Farragut West - Executive Chef Todd Gray and Chef de Cuisine Colin McClimans Replaces Karen Nicolas

Downtown Farragut West American Southern Fine Dining

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#1 RaisaB

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 02:23 PM

How about Equinox? Who has been there and what were your thoughts? I have searched this forum and haven't seen mention of it.
(Edited for spelling)


Edited by DonRocks, 16 July 2013 - 02:04 PM.


#2 dinwiddie

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 02:57 PM

How about Equinox? Who has been there and what were your thoughts? I have searched this forum and haven't seen mention of it.
(Edited for spelling)

I've been to Equinox several times, both for dinner and lunch. My wine group had its first wine dinner there and we could not have been more pleased. The service was exceptional, the food outstanding and the room they gave us was great.

It isn't the cheapest place in town, but then it is one of those restaurants that have a lot of expense account diners. However, every time I have eaten there I have left very satisfied and never thought I did not get my money's worth.

They have an excellent wine list, not inexpensive, but extensive and some very good buys. They offer a three, four, or six course meal for a reasonable price, and the menu items are inventive, well presented, and delish. Service has always been first rate, and on occasion Chef Gray has sent us a little something to taste and has come out to talk with us on several occasions.

#3 JLK

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:02 PM

My +1 took me there for my birthday dinner last month. We had a really great meal and enjoyed the atmosphere - quiet, but not too. I have been meaning to post about it, but just haven't taken the time.

Jennifer


#4 LolaDC

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:28 PM

I'm a huge fan of Equinox. Have eaten there several times for lunch and dinner, and have never had a bad experience.

Although it's a bit early, if you're looking for ways to really impress someone on Valentine's Day, Equinox does a wonderful multi-course dinner with wine pairings. If you can't get some action after THAT meal, you may want to throw in the towel altogether. :lol:
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#5 lackadaisi

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:33 PM

I have enjoyed all of the meals that I have had at Equinox. They have been very accomodating when I have asked for gluten-free meals on a couple of occasions also (allergy of my dining companion). Additionally, I love thier catering; makes any boring lunch meeting better.

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#6 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 04:06 PM

We went for my birthday in January. It was a perfectly nice meal but I wasn't wowed or overwhelmed by it. I remember the rissoto with truffles that they forgot to put the truffles on--they came out after about 5 minutes to quickly shave some truffles on top. I remember that the server would adjust the fork and knive if I had moved them a quarter inch back to where they "belonged."

Beyond that I don't remember entrees or dessert which is quite rare for me...

(I was still suffering the effects of a terrible plane ride back from St. Louis that morning and general exhaustion from a whirlwind trip home.)

Jennifer

#7 Pat

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 09:04 AM

We went for my birthday in January.  It was a perfectly nice meal but I wasn't wowed or overwhelmed by it. 

That was my reaction when I went there earlier this year. Afterwards, I wondered if I was getting jaded, because it was basically a fine meal, but it didn't do much for me. The risotto was gummy, which detracted a little from the experience, but the food was good otherwise (as was the service). I remember liking the bread quite a bit.

My feeling was also that the three course tasting menu didn't provide enough food. I usually take food home from a restaurant, so it's unusual for me to think there's not enough food. (It's tasting menu only, or it was in the spring when we were there.) If I went back, I'd have to spring for more courses so I didn't need to eat when I got home.

#8 Joe Riley

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 10:17 PM

One of my very favorite restaurants in the city. I'm sure I've posted about it before. They are very inventive and creative. They don't rest on their laurels. Chef Gray has been nominated for James Beard awards several times, they've had some well-deserved RAMW accolades. The service is first-rate, the menus well thought out and intelligent, the wine list strives to be better than the predictable. I could go on about them for pages, having been a devoted diner there since they opened. Perhaps I will when I have more time!

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#9 starfish

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 05:48 PM

tony chittum, the exec. chef of notti bianche, and i had dinner at the bar at equinox last night. i am not going to pretend that our experience is even remotely akin to that of most guests that walk through the door at equinox - tony was the former chef de cuisine, and i know many members of the staff there as well. we looked over the menu and the wine list more for curiosity than for purpose. the current chef de cuisinse had already indicated that he wanted to "cook" for us.

we had 2 amuses followed by 4 very good courses each paired with highly complimentary wines. the dishes that stood out the most were...

- a blue point oyster that had been shucked and laid atop a bed of shredded cucumber and caviar before being placed back in its shell. it was accompanyed by a shot of chestnut soup with a bit of lamb suasage.
- seared fois gras served atop a peppered french toast and finished with a duck jus.
- roasted duck breast and duck confit. i recall that the other things on the plat were quite tasty but my memory fails in my ability to identify them.
- dessert was an exquisite cookie plate that featured an orange tweel, chocolate tweel, peanut butter truffles, and chocolate candied almonds. sweets are not an essential part of a meal for me - i usually repair with a bourbon and a cigar - this cookie plate may have turned me on this. the peanut butter truffles were insanely good. i don't recall having shared any of them.

thank you ethan, travis, tony, eunis, and the 'nox crew. it was a sublime evening.

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#10 giant shrimp

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 11:15 AM

though the aircraft had landed safely after being jolted unremittingly by bucking winds from the west, with a thump and a shudder, i was half a wreck by the time we arrived at our saturday night restaurant week table for two at equinox, a model of composure, close to the white house, the renwick, breadline and stately parks whose benches are frequently soiled by animals, including humans. my internal white rabbit had fixated on the prospect of missing the reservation, but there was time to spare, our arrival was to the minute and our reward was seating in the sumptuous main dining room. this is a step up from the atrium, the front half of the restaurant and structurally a more capacious mirror of the glass front at the bland luigi's, to which diners hungry for an italian home-cooked meal are frequently misdirected. despite buffering by its ambient decor, the atrium at equinox is more on the sidewalk than we would care to be on a raw winter night when the season is attempting to reassert itself, and i suspect the culprit for those who leave here feeling that they were somehow never quite there. evidence of an aloof disposition can extend to the food, which sometimes meets the diner less than halfway, no matter how reliably well-prepared. you're wasting your time if you sleepwalk, or yak, through your lunch or dinner at equinox, but expending some effort delving into the subtleties on your plate can yield pleasant, even stirring, revelations. that said, even before reaching for napkins, the table of four seated across from us requested an outside table, and one was not available. also, it had been a while since we had eaten here, and equinox was making more of an effort to connect with its customers. among the night's suprises, the food was was more assertive than we had remembered it, even theatrical.

with local roots in the kitchens of robert greault at la colline and robert donna at galileo, in his rendering of contemporary american cuisine, chef todd gray appears equally divided in his loyalties to french and italian traditions, a fruitful marriage that actually does frequently attain the rare natural harmony suggested by the restaurant's name. equinox also publicizes itself as the kitchen where the chesapeake bay meets the blue ridge, and it is intriguing to imagine the chef unearthing and updating jeffersonian recipes and scouring the historical terrain for tastes peculiar to this region, at a moment when quirkiness can be considered a desirable response to a corporate-directed culture suffering from overexposure to sham versions of the real thing. maybe not much more so than dozens of local restaurants that have climbed onto this bandwagon, equinox does train its light on local bounty, even if its westward trek has settled in middleburg and its celebration of flora and fauna is expressed by bundles of hothouse lillies. there is limited availability at the farmer's market this time of year, which isn't apparent in the food that's set before you.

the first surprise of the evening: equinox has dropped out of restaurant week, we are informed by our waiter. it's an ironic moment, but work out the calculations. with a bottle or few glasses of wine, and adding the 30% or so for tax and tip, you wouldn't get out of a place like this for less than $130 or so anyway. equinox is expensive, but its transition to a tasting menu ($55 for three courses, $70 for four and $95 for all six) provides some flexibility in managing your tab while prolonging the display of the chef's talents. for all but the famished, four courses will be adequately filling and two of them you would customarily lump into the middle of the meal and two at the end: starters, pasta, fish, meat, cheese and dessert. two of the meats carried supplements of $5 and $10 and they can rise even higher for other items on the menu. (four glasses of wine, including two chardonnays, silverado and omrah, a pinot noir and a merlot total $50, just a tad higher than you can find them at other places.) we decide upon four courses, restaurant week be damned.

the meal begins with a wake-up call, the second surprise of the evening: two truffle-sized amuses, beet risotto suppes. you can't believe you have just eaten something this good, and there is not a trace of evidence left to verify that you have. there is no approximation on the regular menu.

the third surprise, almost a shock, comes with the soup, flecks of scallion, pork and herbs and a dollop of apple preserve stuck to the center of a bone-dry white bowl. for a second you wonder what you are looking at before the server comes rushing behind your back with a small pitcher of the vegetable puree. after being toyed with, you can settle into the seriousness of the soup. the flavor swirls around the apple, which has held its central position, and the interplay is compelling, unique, almost funky.

a macaroni gratin with veal and sausage is one from the hearth, dark and bubbling, food for the hunters of game. ricotta-filled pansolli, won-tonish in shape, demonstrates that todd gray is up to giving a masterful italian performance. these run out long before you would want to stop eating them, and by this point we would no longer be surpsied by anything emanating from this kitchen.

a bit hazy by now in my memory, red snapper was a good catch, accompanied by stellar fava-bean-sized gnocchi, so there are opportunities to enjoy one of the things that are done best here and skip the pasta course, not that i would recommend it. but steak with foie gras shavings, begged from my wife's plate, is an unforgettable experience. there is enough cheese in the accompanying scalloped potatoes to be able to skip the penultimate course without feeling entirely deprived, and they are prepared al-dente, which means crunch. i have found them this way here before, and while it is a small violation of my beliefs, this is something i can live with.

todd gray puts a great deal of attention into composing each plate, and this is where many of his ingredients meet for the first time, one of the characteristics of his approach.

a poached pear and chai bread pudding were up to the previous courses. lisa scruggs is the pastry chef.

in the service department, i'm not sure that equinox would win the refolding the crumpled napkin for the customer who has left the table contest, but i do think our waiter did a good job of sizing us up. service was helpful and friendly and nobody was breathing down our necks. if closer attention is what you require, you probably can get it.

one of the mantras of west coast environmental poet gary snyder is a reminder that we live in the natural world even when we are residents of cities that challenge its authority. equinox is commendable for providing a similar reminder at the dinner table. a couple of days after eating at equinox, waiting for a 30 bus at washington circle, my wife witnessed a peregrine falcon swoop down to retrieve a flattened pigeon from the street. she said the bird was gorgeous.

the quality of the cooking is ascending at equinox these days, and it is approaching the zenith of what you will find at any restaurant downtown.

the cost for two was about $290, but that can be scaled back by a third, and price shouldn't be an excuse for neglecting this place. i have already started saving up for my next meal.

Edited by giant shrimp, 21 January 2006 - 12:13 PM.


#11 Jlock

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 11:05 AM

Lackadaisi and I made Equinox our Friday night destination and we were quite happy with the decision. Although Equinox doesn't come up on our radar screen all that often - perhaps it should.

We had an excellent meal, fantastic service, nice champagne, and a really nice bottle of wine! I had the chestnut angalotti - savory chestnut in a soft pillow of pasta, the Pan Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast (an excellent match with the Archery Summit Pinot Noir), a lovely cheese course, and the trio of dark chocolate desserts. Lackadaisi's Lobster "Rusticci" was another winner.

We needed a quiet, romantic evening out and that is exactly what we found.
With so many new restaurants in DC to try, we musn't forget the ones that have been there all along! Todd Gray's focus on fresh ingredients is not to be missed!

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#12 snuffer

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 04:14 PM

Does anyone have any information on this [the Saint Patrick's Day dinner at Equinox]? Thanks.

#13 Principia

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 04:19 PM

Does anyone have any information on this?  Thanks.

http://www.equinoxre...om/calendar.php
Maths:

Five people are in a restaurant, and the bill comes to £112.48. If two people had starters but no wine, one person has had wine but no dessert, one person is moaning that they had the vegetarian and that was cheaper, another person had no starter or dessert, but ordered an extra bottle of wine without asking anyone else, calculate the number of different Switch/Visa/Carbon/Delta cards you can hand the waiter before they kill you.

#14 DonRocks

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 03:06 PM

If you stop in the bar tonight, make sure to ask Tony Allen what it feels like to be schooled in full-court one-on-one. Hey Tony, are you okay? I'm very concerned about you. You looked a little down when you were leaving today, and I was just wondering if it had anything to do with the fact that you got your ass handed to you. I've seen better shooters than you in a bar in Tijuana. If Equinox doesn't work out, you can always get a job as a mason: nobody could possibly throw up more bricks than you do. You dribble a lot, but only after you use the bathroom. The only thing you've ever dunked is a donut - you can't even get close enough to the rim to see what color it is. When I stole the ball from you and drove down the court, I thought I heard a stampede of cattle behind me. Then I pump-faked, looked up, and saw a weather balloon floating by. Hey Tony, the only difference between a champ and a chump is u. You said you were All-State in high school. Was All-State your insurance company or something? All-State in what publication? Mrs. Allen's All-State team? When you pulled up for a bank shot and shouted out "Lucas!" all I could think of was Lucas Tanner.

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#15 Anna Blume

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:38 PM

Todd Gray, his wife Ellen and their adorable, helpful son, Harrison, were featured in this morning's Chef Demo at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM market. Since the recipe was handed out and I am waiting for my oven to heat up, I thought it would be okay to post it here, especially since there are so many avid mushroom lovers in the membership. I only got a forkful, but as Spencer Tracy would say, it was choice!

GRILLED WILD MUSHROOM SALAD W/ FRISEE, TOASTED WALNUTS & MUSTARD SEED VINAIGRETTE
Serves 6

For the Vinaigrette:
1 T whole grain mustard
1/4 c sherry vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c grapeseed or canola oil
S & P to taste

For the Salad:
2 Oyster mushrooms clusters
2 Maitake mushroom clusters
12 Shitake mushrooms
1/2 c olive oil [it does say "good" but...]
S & P, to taste
2 c frisee
1/2 c red onion, finely sliced & pickled*
1/4 c toasted walnuts
12 pear tomatoes
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
6 roasted garlic cloves
1 T chives, minced
1/4 c parmeson, grated
1/4 c spring onions, sliced on diagonal

To Prepare Vinaigrette:
Place mustard & vinegar in small mixing bowl; whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in oils, creating an emulsion. Season & refrigerate.

To Prepare Salad: Toss mushrooms in olive oil, season, grill till just cooked, cool and cut off stems; combine mushrooms w all the other ingredients, season well. Mound salad in center of six large plates, drixxle additional dressing around and sprinkle with parmesan and spring onions. Serve immediately.

*Pickled Red Onions
1 quart water
1 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c salt
1 c sugar
1/4 c pickling spice
4 red onions, thinly sliced [his were quartered first]

Bring all ingredients EXCEPT for onions to a boil. Add onions and simmer until tender, approx. 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Refrigerate and store onoins in liquid for up to a month.


N.B. I overheard him telling the crowd SOMETHING about making sure the mushrooms were moist before tossing them on the grill---or in the cast iron skillet---to avoid charring them since they burn quickly. However, I did not catch whether or not he marinaded them (didn't seem to be) or if he just dumped them in water for a second.

Simple and incredibly delicious.

(And Giant Shrimp, that's a helluva review!)

#16 Demvtr

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:09 PM

Equinox is mentioned in passing in a New York Times article today. A Connecticut candidate may have endangered his standing with the caramelized banana tart fan voting demographic.

#17 DonRocks

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 10:21 PM

This evening I saw a ghost in my closet. I slammed the door and ran down the stairs, but I heard it coming out after me. I threw open the front door and sprinted down the driveway. As I slipped on the ice, I wheeled around and saw Todd Gray standing at the window. Just before hitting my head on the pavement, I saw him leaning forward and mouthing the words, "I'm back."

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#18 lackadaisi

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 10:33 PM

This evening I saw a ghost in my closet. I slammed the door and ran down the stairs, but I heard it coming out after me. I threw open the front door and sprinted down the driveway. As I slipped on the ice, I wheeled around and saw Todd Gray standing at the window. Just before hitting my head on the pavement, I saw him leaning forward and mouthing the words, "I'm back."

Good dinner? Or too many drinks?

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#19 dmwine

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 10:39 PM

This evening I saw a ghost in my closet. I slammed the door and ran down the stairs, but I heard it coming out after me. I threw open the front door and sprinted down the driveway. As I slipped on the ice, I wheeled around and saw Todd Gray standing at the window. Just before hitting my head on the pavement, I saw him leaning forward and mouthing the words, "I'm back."

So does this mean he's NOT the one Tom's teasing us about leaving town??? :lol:

The night of the BLT Steak launch party in November, my wife and I were so claustrophobic from the crowds and the long lines for the food that we slipped out and went to Equinox. We practically had the place to ourselves. Todd was very gracious, added a course of risotto w/truffles and exchanged pleasantries about the kids. We had an excellent dinner, even if we paid a considerable sum after expecting a freebie at the launch party. :unsure: We talked about how Tom S always disses the decor, which isn't anything fancy, to be sure, but isn't really bad either, except for the really conspicuous fire alarm on the pillar in the atrium.

Todd Gray isn't "back," because he was never "gone." We just were looking elsewhere at newer, more flirtatious conquests while he quietly plied his trade, confident that we would return. Maybe he isn't really innovative. Maybe he doesn't seduce us with popovers and marscapone-filled dates, or olive-oil marbles or whatever the hell Jose calls those things. But Todd is damn good. Always has been.

Eh. My 2 cents'. Time to go watch Jon Stewart trash the Bush speech ...

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#20 Waitman

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 10:56 PM

Todd Gray isn't "back," because he was never "gone." We just were looking elsewhere at newer, more flirtatious conquests while he quietly plied his trade, confident that we would return. Maybe he isn't really innovative. Maybe he doesn't seduce us with popovers and marscapone-filled dates, or olive-oil marbles or whatever the hell Jose calls those things. But Todd is damn good. Always has been.

Eh. My 2 cents'. Time to go watch Jon Stewart trash the Bush speech ...

I'm sure he's a good guy and everything, and he gets great notices from people far more important than me, but my thought would be that Equinox isn't "back" because it was never really here. The couple of times I've been there have been pretty uninspiring. The Oval Room is often rapped for selling competent corporate food to people who are far more interested in legislation than dinner; Equinox always struck me as being a slightly more impressive member of the very same league...well executed but sans zing.

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#21 Jonathan

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 11:07 PM

Todd Gray isn't "back," because he was never "gone." We just were looking elsewhere at newer, more flirtatious conquests while he quietly plied his trade, confident that we would return.

i didnt think todd gray "quietly" plied at his trade...his wife, ellen, is a PR machine. (not a value judgment, just a fact)

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#22 mame11

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:27 AM

Wow. That is a really harsh statement. I recently met Ellen and she was gracious and enthusiastic. Equinox is an important part of the restaurant community not just because of their quality of food, but their philosophy about food.

The meals I have had at Equinox have always been above par and the service exceeds expectations. Even at lunch they do little things to make everyone dining there feel special.

#23 Jonathan

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:30 AM

Wow. That is a really harsh statement. I recently met Ellen and she was gracious and enthusiastic. Equinox is an important part of the restaurant community not just because of their quality of food, but their philosophy about food.

The meals I have had at Equinox have always been above par and the service exceeds expectations. Even at lunch they do little things to make everyone dining there feel special.

i never said he or his wife werent nice...or gracious...or enthusiastic...my statement was not meant to be harsh in anyway.

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#24 Antonio Burrell

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:51 AM

i never said he or his wife werent nice...or gracious...or enthusiastic...my statement was not meant to be harsh in anyway.

Jonathan is right though, Ellen is a gracious host as is Todd but she does an amazing job of making sure that they are always in heavy rotation in the area pr outlets. It does't hurt either that Todd is a homegrown talent either.

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#25 chef4cook

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Posted 25 January 2007 - 12:27 PM

i didnt think todd gray "quietly" plied at his trade...his wife, ellen, is a PR machine. (not a value judgment, just a fact)

I would have to agree with Jonathan. I can't remember when I picked up a trade mag that didn't have something about Todd and Equinox in it. Ellen is a powerhouse at PR! I wish I had someone doing that for me. But, as far as Todd coming "Back", he never left! Todd always has his hand in something for food or charity, and it's well promoted. :lol:
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#26 EdSz

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 02:03 PM

Had lunch today at Equinox. The duck confit with grapefruit and shallots as a first course was quite nice with a very flavorful piece of meat over salad with a citrus touch. The rockfish entree seemed a bit fussy on the menu but the flavors of fish, grits, spinach and pumpkinseed vinaigrette combined well. Service seems to have improved as well.

-Ed

#27 kturkey88

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 06:03 PM

Our recent dinner at Equinox was outstanding - it was the first time in a long time I feel like we spent a lot of money on a place that was really worth it.
Four of us had the tasting menu with wine pairings and while I don't remember everything we tried - it was all excellent. The french onion soup was almost creamy with sweet onions, the agnolotti cooked perfectly, the rockfish moist and delicious...yum. The service was solid - professional and served at the perfect speed for five courses.

My only gripe might be that while all four of us tended to try different dishes for each course, at most two types of wine were brought to the table. I would have been really impressed if the dishes were all paired with a unique wine - if appropriate. (I'm sure there are cases where we'd see overlap, but I'd hope not in every case.)

I don't know what took us so long to try the place, but we will be back.

leave the gun, take the cannolis.


#28 joncephine

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 08:32 AM

We went to Equinox on Friday for E's birthday. The service was impeccable to start - not just staged perfectly like we saw at Central, but actually naturally, effortlessly impeccable. I did leave with a little bit of a mixed impression of the service, however. We opted for 4 courses and a bottle of wine:

The wine: Miss Harry's GSM - I forget the vineyard, somewhere in Australia, but we picked it for its funny name. Our waitress hadn't seen it on the winelist before but told us a bit about the wine's probable characteristics as they tried to dig it up out of the wine cellar (or wherever they keep their bottles). It was big and fruity, just as described, but we liked it.

Amuse - Roasted Red Pepper soup was great, but the risotto fritters with a black truffle cream were fantastic - and would be amazing bar food.

Course 1 - E had the Creamy Cauliflower Soup which was amazing and had us both licking the bowl. The presentation was also nice - the creamy soup was poured over vegetables at the table, allowing the vegetables to maintain a great texture without overcooking in the soup. I had the Salad of Grilled Wild Mushrooms with Black Truffle Vinaigrette which was fantastic - the pancetta was on the bottom and i do not remember the hazelnuts at all, but I do remember how much we enjoyed the salad.

Course 2 - E had the Whole Wheat Pappardelle Noodles with Beef Short Rib which was great - especially the short rib. I had (not on the menu anymore) a tagliatelle with the butter poached shrimp - which wasn't bad. The shrimp didn't add a whole lot to the dish (which could be just because I am coming later to fish and shellfish than other diners), but the sauce and noodles were fantastic. I let E take his first choice of dish since this was his birthday.

Course 3 - E had the Grilled Strip Loin of Beef with Red Swiss Chard which wasn't bad - the fattier part of the meat (I don't know if it was the cheek or what) was much more well done than the rest, and the dish was good, but not fantastic. That was actually my first choice, but afterwards I was very happy I went with the Moroccan Style Lamb Tasting with Minted Couscous. The lamb was tender, medium rare as requested, and melted in our mouths. The toasted almonds that were hiding in the sauce lent such a delightful texture contrast, and the sauce itself was divine when paired with the lamb or the couscous. It was difficult to figure out how to eat the little rack of lamb while trying to be conscious of table manners - as well as resisting the urge to lick the plate. We did persevere, and enjoyed every morsel of the lamb tasting.

Course 4 - E opted for a cheese course (the cow's milk) and I opted for the Hazelnut and Chocolate Mousse. We decided we wanted to eat one and then the other - the cheeses were nicely paired together, and the accompaniments - the toast, roasted nuts, date paste, and pickled vegetables - were nice vehicles for the cheese course but nothing great. Our waitress came over and saw my untouched dessert, and told us we could have told her we wanted our dishes staggered, but we are pretty easy-going, so we laughed it off. The terrine of mousse was fantastic. Close-your-eyes-and-lick-your-lips fantastic. Such a great end to the meal.

Sweets - We did get a little trio of updated passover candies with the check - a coconut macaroon that even E liked, a pear and cinnamon jelly candy, and a Kahlua truffle. We ate them in that order and all was right with the world.

Where I am left with not a bad taste in my mouth, but a persistent sense of disappointment - we were seated in the back corner of the restaurant. This was not a big deal at all - the host took my coat, and assured us he would seat no one at the table behind us so I didn't bump chairs with anyone - but I do not think they seated any other party of two at those small tables. Even though I had finished my wine and was considering (mentally) my options as dessert came out, no one asked if we wanted coffee or dessert wines (both of which I was considering). Again, not a big deal, just leaving me slightly unhappy. And finally, the chef made an appearance and chatted with (what seemed like) all of the other tables - except for ours. I'm only 25, and E is now 27 - we don't look like schlubs, I don't think - and this wouldn't resonate so much with me if it hadn't happened at all of the other nice dinners we've gone out to - the chef has come out of the kitchen and chatted with the tables, always leaving us out. That is why, probably above all of the other details, I appreciate the pair of Ray's so much - Michael Landrum doesn't know me from Eve, but he doesn't snub us because we look young. I'm sure it is just my overreaction combined with a series of small coincidences, but considering this stretches from Layalina all the way now to Equinox, it leaves me with a not-totally-satisfied feeling - which is too bad, because the food was excellent.
Kate
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My little brother: "Because you're out of wine?"

#29 nashman1975

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 08:40 AM

Did Equinox for RW last nite. Fabulous dinner and good chance to experience a normally expensive restaurant on the cheap. They did something that seemed unique to me that I haven't seen in my past years of RW's. They had a wine pairing for $18 on top of the $30 price. We all got 3 wines matched to the dish and the pours were very generous.

Is anyone else doing this during RW? I think this is a great way to also start introducing people to wine with their meals as well.
"If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do." - Warren Miller

#30 kturkey88

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 05:21 PM

Did Equinox for RW last nite. Fabulous dinner and good chance to experience a normally expensive restaurant on the cheap. They did something that seemed unique to me that I haven't seen in my past years of RW's. They had a wine pairing for $18 on top of the $30 price. We all got 3 wines matched to the dish and the pours were very generous.

Is anyone else doing this during RW? I think this is a great way to also start introducing people to wine with their meals as well.

What - I didn't get an invite??
(We did it on Friday.)

leave the gun, take the cannolis.


#31 braisedshortrib

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 09:21 PM

equinox is a bit underrated these days, if you ask me. always a good meal to be had there.

#32 DonRocks

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 08:49 PM

The kitchen at Equinox recently lost Chef de Cuisine Ethan McKee to the Mazza Galerie Rock Creek, but whoever was running the show last Thursday sure did a bang-up job with my Fines Herbs Gnocchi ($15), served with Rappahannock zucchini, late-summer squash, carrot pearls, and crispy sage. The gnocchi itself was very granular and potato-y, not pillowy, and was finished in a sautee pan. Someone came to work early and did a fantastic job pre-prepping the zucchini, squash, and carrots, all honed to the size of little peas, but shaped more like spaceships (yes, I know this isn't knife-work, but still, it was a nice job). The two little pieces of sage retained their interest throughout the dish which is uncommon given that they were relatively heavily breaded, and that sometimes gets gunky. This gnocchi wasn't Equinox in tip-top form, but it was a good dish that I'd recommend and happily order again.

One thing I love about Equinox is that you always get an amuse-gueule, and the last few times I've been it has been a non-trivial trio of interesting little bites - this time around my favorite was a little glass cup of cream-of-mushroom soup, just two or three sips. Equinox's amuses go beyond being mere tokens; they're interesting first courses in their own right. Also, you'll get mignardises before the check, the ones on this visit were also a trio of different, little things, my favorite of which was the best little chocolate-chip cookie I've had in awhile.

Equinox isn't cheap, but the service is always wonderful here. If I could make only one recommendation, it would be to implore Todd Gray to source better bread - it has been consistently bad here for a long time, and a restaurant of this caliber merits having good bread. I wish I could say this is a nitpick, but it's actually a fairly big deal to me. Despite this, my "consecutive-good-meals" streak at Equinox is now running up around a half-dozen.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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#33 cleveland park

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 11:56 AM

I'm thinking of taking my girlfriend to equinox on 11/24 for her birthday. Being that I'm a procrastinator the door has closed for Citronelle (my first option), but I really want to make sure that it's good and I need to one up her after she took me to Komi (alpha male competitive side kicking in). Whats the latest on Equinox? Should I be looking somewhere else? Proof? Palena? Should this question even be on the Equinox thread? I'm confused

#34 kturkey88

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 12:19 PM

I'm thinking of taking my girlfriend to equinox on 11/24 for her birthday. Being that I'm a procrastinator the door has closed for Citronelle (my first option), but I really want to make sure that it's good and I need to one up her after she took me to Komi (alpha male competitive side kicking in). Whats the latest on Equinox? Should I be looking somewhere else? Proof? Palena? Should this question even be on the Equinox thread? I'm confused

Equinox has been the bday spot for both my and my bf's in the past. We've only had great meals there and the tasting menu was one of our all-time favorites. I'm not sure about Palena (since I've only eaten in the front), but I'd say it's in a different league than Proof. If you're looking to stay along the lines of the Komi experience, I'd suggest Equinox between those two choices.

leave the gun, take the cannolis.


#35 Waitman

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 12:28 PM

I'm thinking of taking my girlfriend to equinox on 11/24 for her birthday. Being that I'm a procrastinator the door has closed for Citronelle (my first option), but I really want to make sure that it's good and I need to one up her after she took me to Komi (alpha male competitive side kicking in). Whats the latest on Equinox? Should I be looking somewhere else? Proof? Palena? Should this question even be on the Equinox thread? I'm confused

I've never been a big fan of Equinox. Also, the decor and service are a little humdrum. Not bad, mind you, but if you're trying to get all alpha male, you get crushed compared to Komi. Try Marcel's. Also, last time I called, CityZen had reservations for 24th if you go early or late.

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#36 DonRocks

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 09:49 PM

Here's a fun piece by Kate Fiore published online at corkandknife.com.

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#37 Joe Riley

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 12:49 PM

I've never been a big fan of Equinox. Also, the decor and service are a little humdrum.

The decor a little humdrum? That statement is almost indefensible because they change the decor frequently. I don't know how often exactly, but I'd say anywhere from every six months to a year or so. I know that they want to keep the atmosphere fresh, which is nice. I know that some restaurants find a decor that works and stick with it, but I like that Equinox keeps it lively. I'm sure that some of us have seen restaurants whose decor is almost ossified.

As for the service, Waitman, I'll bear in mind that you are a pro at this, so your perspective is important, but your statement runs contrary to my experiences at Equinox over the last 8 years. I've seen them get absolutely slammed - for example, when a previous dining room manager accidentally overbooked them one Saturday night (I'm a little fuzzy on the details, it was years ago). Well, people seemed to be 4 deep at the bar, the waitstaff was flying all over the restaurant attending to every diner. It wasn't chaos, there were no histrionics, no yelling and screaming, just an ultra-efficient response to an overwhelming problem. Anyone kept waiting got drinks gratis, I believe. Diners were not rushed to finish their meals. I heard no complaints (I was at the bar the entire time, happily eating and drinking). At the end of the night, the staff seemed both exhausted, yet also somewhat invigorated, pleased that they'd weathered such an onslaught of customers with grace and aplomb.

Not sure how many times you've dined there, but you of all people should know that every restaurant has nights when they are not 100% in terms of service energy. But I'll take them at less-than-full strength over a lot of other places on any given night.

Of course, I love those folks, so my statements need to be taken with that in mind. Sorry if I sound defensive. :(

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#38 ulysses

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 02:08 PM

"You can connect any cook, chef or dining room attendant in Washington back to Gray and his eight-year-old restaurant in less than six (usually only two) steps and regularly through multiple channels."
They forgot Jennifer Lucy. I think she was there five(maybe four)years. She pwns the dining room at Central.

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#39 EdSz

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 04:40 PM

Last Thursday we had our office holiday party at Equinox, in their atrium area out front. They did an amazing job in getting the cocktails and passed canapes around to 35 people without delay. For the lunch we were allowed three choices for each course from the regular menu. The food was a hit with everyone. I especially enjoyed the egg fettucine with white truffle butter and have been dreaming about it since. My complements to Todd and his staff for a tasty, well-run event.

-Ed

#40 brettashley01

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 10:46 AM

Todd Gray's crab cake recipe featured on Today show website

ETA: The past few entries of this "Steal This Recipe" series have been DC-centric.. does Phil Lempert live/lurk around here?

#41 JLK

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 02:10 PM

According to "The List: Are You On It" Equinox has done away with the Chef's tasting menu in favor of a "market table menu." Discuss.

Jennifer


#42 derekmbrown

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 11:39 AM

According to "The List: Are You On It" Equinox has done away with the Chef's tasting menu in favor of a "market table menu." Discuss.

I just had dinner at Equinox for the first time. The food was outstanding--thank you so much Todd--but it was something else that caught my attention, that made the experience so memorable. I felt like a diner. It's hard to convey to non-pros how this works but so often when you go in to a restaurant, as a fellow restaurant employee, you can't let go. You notice stupid things like the table next to you having a hole in the table cloth on the lower right corner or the waiter arguing with the dining manager about going home early. You compare this chef's gnocchi to Frank's gnocchi and wonder why they chose patterned flatware when it so obviously clashes with the decor. Yet you feel helpless to say anything. You know how it feels when someone complains to you, or offers polite "suggestions," so you're quiet but your mind is anything but quiet.

At Equinox, I let that all go and felt like a diner. I felt supremely confident in the service and it was perfect. Everything was the way it should be, nothing hip or overdone; nothing to worry about, nothing to fret. Dining there is a straightforward luxury with warm and confidence-inspiring service. I now know why Equinox is such a D.C. institution. Big thanks to Todd, Ellen and the staff.

#43 DonRocks

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 12:52 PM

I just had dinner at Equinox for the first time. The food was outstanding--thank you so much Todd--but it was something else that caught my attention, that made the experience so memorable. I felt like a diner. It's hard to convey to non-pros how this works but so often when you go in to a restaurant, as a fellow restaurant employee, you can't let go. You notice stupid things like the table next to you having a hole in the table cloth on the lower right corner or the waiter arguing with the dining manager about going home early. You compare this chef's gnocchi to Frank's gnocchi and wonder why they chose patterned flatware when it so obviously clashes with the decor. Yet you feel helpless to say anything. You know how it feels when someone complains to you, or offers polite "suggestions," so you're quiet but your mind is anything but quiet.

At Equinox, I let that all go and felt like a diner. I felt supremely confident in the service and it was perfect. Everything was the way it should be, nothing hip or overdone; nothing to worry about, nothing to fret. Dining there is a straightforward luxury with warm and confidence-inspiring service. I now know why Equinox is such a D.C. institution. Big thanks to Todd, Ellen and the staff.

THANK YOU.

I had a long rant with a knowledgeable friend the other week, and this is how we wrapped it up:

'You can take all the critics' ratings, and slice them and dice them any way you want, but at the end of the day, Equinox is a much better restaurant than Thai Square.'

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#44 qwertyy

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 10:06 AM

I'm really looking forward to my meal here tomorrow night. Can anyone recommend any knock-out dishes?

#45 qwertyy

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:11 PM

We got the tasting menu at Equinox this weekend, and the food was impressive. Our unanimous favorite was the first course of potato-crusted scallop on greens with bacon on a carrot puree. (The menu said spinach, but both mom and I felt reasonably convinced that it was another kind of green. But that may just be us.) I also utterly swooned over the dessert of a "corn donut" with gingered fig soup. The donut was made of locally sourced grits and was a revelation in texture--light and crisp on the outside, creamy and flavorful on the inside--but also, since it was made with grits, the texture was just so much more interesting than most of the local "donuts" I've found at restaurants lately.

Our server was very kind and friendly, so it was unfortunate that the service was just ... off. While I felt we were obvious in our desire for a slow, measured dinner, we weren't being exceptionally slow in finishing our generous wine pours. After the second course was quickly delivered while we still had half our wine from the first course left, I asked if we could slow the pace a bit, but that seemed to throw things off more. We had every course served while we were still finishing our wine from the previous course, and the new wine was often served halfway through the course it was to be paired with. Later in the meal, he started pouring our next wine before we'd finished our previous one, but for at least one course, we got our food when there was no wine or silverware on the table and it took a few minutes to get it all resolved.

Yes it was a Friday, but the service just seemed to add some unnecessary hiccups to our special occasion, which was otherwise well served by the lovely food and the new, spiffy atmosphere.

(They also may want to have more than one stall in the ladies' room if they're going to have bar happy hours.)

#46 jpbloom

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 09:28 AM

After having been to Equinox a couple of times for lunch, my wife and I went for dinner for the first time the other night. I have to say we were very disappointed. It's not that anything was bad (except the service, which was weak), but it was all just so average. At those prices and with its reputation, I expected better.

We got the tasting menu. Unlike qwertyy, I was very unimpressed with the potato crusted scallop. It was quite rubbery, and the dish had very little flavor. The mustard greens were tough and tangled and difficult to deal with. (In contrast, two days earlier I had scallops to die for at 112 Eatery in Minneapolis - definitely go there if you're in that town.)

The pasta with duck confit again had no real flavor, and tasted like a chewy mush. My wife placed the thin duck bone she found on the side of the plate to try to point it out to the waiter, but since he didn't come by any time near when the course was served, she forgot to mention it.

The tuna was the only stand out course. Seared perhaps a little more than I would have preferred, it was still very tasty and the shrimp and sausage in the sauce added some very nice flavors.

The biggest disappointment was the venison. I love venison, and am continually disappointed at all of the restaurants using the flavorless New Zealand farm raised venison that seems to be everywhere lately. Without the gaminess, it's just red meat. In light of Equinox's use of local products, I had hoped for something with a bit more flavor, but it was the most bland venison I've had in a long time.

Finally, the banana caramel bread pudding. It sounds a lot better than it tasted. It looked and had the consistency of my mother's old potato kugel (which might be expected with banana bread pudding), but the various flavors didn't really come together well and the crispy honey tuille was a distraction.

I might have been more forgiving if the service was better. We were there at 6:30 on a Wednesday evening. This was not a crowded time, yet we barely saw the waiter. We had 1 1/2 bottles of wine and poured most of it ourselves (fortunately the bottles were in easy reach). With a tasting menu, I tend to expect some description of each course as it's served, but when we got any, it was mumbled and not understandable. As noted, the duck bone didn't get mentioned because the waiter was not around.

Sorry if this sounds too negative, but I really look forward to trying new (to me) places with good reputations, and this was a let-down.

#47 Sthitch

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 09:40 AM

The biggest disappointment was the venison. I love venison, and am continually disappointed at all of the restaurants using the flavorless New Zealand farm raised venison that seems to be everywhere lately. Without the gaminess, it's just red meat. In light of Equinox's use of local products, I had hoped for something with a bit more flavor, but it was the most bland venison I've had in a long time.

During the course of the Vidella Bird Dinner, RJ Cooper discussed one of the issues with venison. He said that there are only two farms in the entire country that produce venison (EDIT to correct the locations: Broken Arrow in Texas and Underhill in Kansas), all the rest comes from New Zealand and Australia (he seemed dismissive of the imported products). He also said that the American produced venison was prohibitively expensive. So that may explain why most restaurants that choose to serve Venison use the imported product.

#48 jpbloom

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 10:36 AM

During the course of the Vidella Bird Dinner, RJ Cooper discussed one of the issues with venison. He said that there are only two farms in the entire country that produce venison (EDIT to correct the locations: Broken Arrow in Texas and Underhill in Kansas), all the rest comes from New Zealand and Australia (he seemed dismissive of the imported products). He also said that the American produced venison was prohibitively expensive. So that may explain why most restaurants that choose to serve Venison use the imported product.

That's what I had heard elsewhere, and was hoping Todd Gray had somehow found a good local source. I think it's time for me to stop ordering venison.

#49 flygirl

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 04:23 PM

I went Saturday night with AGM and NQD. I'm still full - it's Monday. Delish.

#50 goldenticket

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 01:11 PM

Wow - nice evening for Equinox (and their special guests)!

Jackie B.

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