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Equinox, Owner Todd Gray and Executive Chef Colin McClimans near Farragut West Metro Downtown

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

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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

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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.

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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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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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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

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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!

Jeff (Jlock)

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

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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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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!)

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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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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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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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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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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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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.

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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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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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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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