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Corduroy, Fine Dining at the Convention Center - Chef Tom Power's Magnificent Cooking

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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.

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The steak was out of this world good. Someone mentioned elsewhere that it was in the same league as Ray's, and I agree.

But of course the piece de resistance was the company.

I'm still dumbfounded that there was no pork used in the preparation of that steak. We all were fooled. Who knew that grapeseed oil + great steak = rich pork flavor?

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[Posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

Ask the famous chefs in Washington to list the great underrated cooks in this town, ask them to count the top underpublicized talents on their fingers, and also ask them to stick one of their hands in a meat grinder before they do it: Tom Power of Corduroy will still make the list.

So many great things to say about this wonderful restaurant. Location be damned, I like the interior very much. The restaurant is chef-owned. The staff is honest and caring if a bit green. The wine list is excellently chosen and bargain-priced. The chef is not only in the restaurant, but also in the kitchen - the last time I was there, he was busting his ass on the line. From start-to-finish, this was one of the best meals I've had in a long, long time. Tom Power is a major talent. Nobody would accuse him of being a marketing genius, but can anyone out there say he can't deliver a fabulous meal on the plate?

Earth to everyone: Saturday night, there was one - and only one - cover served in the bar portion at Corduroy: me. A couple people were there drinking, but nobody was dining at all. Tired of overpriced, indifferent restaurants? Go to Corduroy. Sick of celebrity chefs that "work the room" but don't sweat it out by the stove? Go to Corduroy. Want multiple interesting small courses for under $15 each? Go to Corduroy. Want terrific wines for under $35 a bottle? Go to Corduroy. Corduroy is the most unsung fine-dining establishment in Washington DC. Think Palena falls under the radar? Lower your radar screen about 30 degrees and you'll see Corduroy flying that much lower. This place needs to be supported. It's brilliant I tell you, absolutely brilliant. If you go and sit at the bar, and order off the menu, and give the merest hint of caring about your meal, then you'll be treated like royalty. The food is terrific. It sickens me that on a Saturday night, I was the ONLY PERSON in the bar having dinner, and down the street, the Cheesecake Factory was filled with a bunch of indifferent, couch-dwelling, bon-bon-dropping, Wonderbread-buying mall-shopping minivan-driving hell-hags and rednecks who were spending THE SAME AMOUNT on their fettucine al Crisco that I was spending on my lobster carpaccio. This is a sin, and it sickens me that this city cannot support a restaurant with as much brilliance and talent as Corduroy.

Tom Power is a great technical cook, and he'll serve you a great meal if you go. Corduroy needs the support of people who care about food. The location is horrible and it's simply too good to be empty. Yes, I'm pumping this restaurant with this post, but it's for a reason: I want places like this to succeed, and you should too. Okay, I've said what I wanted to say, and here are the obligatory specifics which will undoubtedly be slightly different the evening you go ... and I hope you do go.

The carpaccio of lobster with mizuma and citrus is an impossibly thin, elegantly presented raw lobster with the barest hint of citrus and mizuma greens. Parsnip soup is overnight-roasted parsnips thickened with foie gras (!) and enlightened by tarragon. The veal cheeks are lovingly enhanced with tomatoes, thyme, orange peel, veal stock and celery. Two chocolate desserts are head-on, unabashed, temples of chocolate: the chocolate tart with caramelized banana is worthy of awe, and the caramelized banana is as brilliantly executed as any I've ever tried (with apologies to the brilliant version with foie gras at Nectar). Baked chocolate 'Sabayon' is another example of Tom Power's rock-solid ability to work this important medium: no kitchen in all of Washington is going to turn out two better chocolate desserts on any given evening than these brilliant testaments.

Cheers,

Rocks.

  • Thanks 1

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[Posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

My vote for Best Value For Any Single Food Item in all of Washington must go to Corduroy's Filipino Spring Rolls during Happy Hour. From 4-7 PM at the bar only, these things are FOUR DOLLARS, and even at the regular price of six dollars, it's Free Giveaway City. During lunch only, they offer two rolls for five dollars in the restaurant.

General Manager Rissa Pagsibigan is the impetus behind these spring rolls: it's her mom's own recipe, executed at the hands of the master Tom Power. Rissa told me that her mom comes in periodically and berates Tom if things aren't exactly as they're supposed to be ('You need to chop the water chestnuts a bit smaller!'). Between Rissa and Ferhat (our own fero style), Corduroy's FOH is becoming a huge strength. Next time you go in, congratulate Rissa on being one of only eight women to be invited in 2004 to join the Washington chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier.

We've all had spring rolls a million times, but I'll go out on a bamboo shoot and say that I don't think I've ever had any that are better than these.

Cheers!

Rocks.

P.S. Try the pistachio bread pudding, made with brioche!

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Joe, you forgot to mention the scallops. I had the entree version and am still dreaming of them. Soft, buttery, melt in your mouth with lentils to add a bit of texture. Mmmmmmmm

Combined with the steak it makes an excellent surf and turf :lol:

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I'm still dumbfounded that there was no pork used in the preparation of that steak.  We all were fooled.  Who knew that grapeseed oil + great steak = rich pork flavor?

Please explain this 'pork flavored' steak for me.

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Joe, you forgot to mention the scallops. I had the entree version and am still dreaming of them. Soft, buttery, melt in your mouth with lentils to add a bit of texture. Mmmmmmmm

Combined with the steak it makes an excellent surf and turf wink.gif

No I did not forget. They are the opiate of the masses and I refused to have my revolutionary spirit crushed by any of those shelled mud-sucking sea animals.

PS - For those who may not know already, I abhor shellfish. They make me gag. I'm sure that Chef Tom's are great, but the fact remains for me that they are still shellfish.

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Please explain this 'pork flavored' steak for me.

When Rocks finally started sharing his steak Thursday night he said it was cooked in pork. After one bite, we all agreed. The steak tasted like it had been seared in bacon. Later in the evening we asked Chef Power and he told us that there was no pork fat used just grapeseed oil.

No I did not forget. They are the opiate of the masses and I refused to have my revolutionary spirit crushed by any of those shelled mud-sucking sea animals.

PS - For those who may not know already, I abhor shellfish. They make me gag. I'm sure that Chef Tom's are great, but the fact remains for me that they are still shellfish. smile.gif

Sorry, I forgot how I have benefited for the small flaw in your character smile.gif

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Please explain this 'pork flavored' steak for me.

I wish we could! I don't know if this is a great example of your brain influencing your sense of taste and the power of suggestion (after the first person said it tasted like pork, we all tried it and tasted the pork) or if there is some wonderful but strange chemical reaction between steak and grapeseed oil that mimics the taste of being cooked in pork fat. Besides curiosity about being able to recreate this at home, I'm not sure I care to know. Anything is possible in the world of illusion and all that.

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I wish we could!  I don't know if this is a great example of your brain influencing your sense of taste and the power of suggestion (after the first person said it tasted like pork, we all tried it and tasted the pork) or if there is some wonderful but strange chemical reaction between steak and grapeseed oil that mimics the taste of being cooked in pork fat.  Besides curiosity about being able to recreate this at home, I'm not sure I care to know.  Anything is possible in the world of illusion and all that.

Looks like we all have a weekend 'homework' assignment!

Edited to say that I finally did not double space after the quote. :lol:

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Looks like we all have a weekend 'homework' assignment!

Edited to say that I finally did not double space after the quote. :lol:

The ageing of the Wagyu meat gives it a great nutty flavor. I am glad it was so appreciated.

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Looks like we all have a weekend 'homework' assignment!

Define homework? Do you mean trying to recreate at home or do you mean getting over to Corduroy to sample said steak? If the latter, I could get on that bandwagon.

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E-mail from Corduroy.

SAVE THE DATE

May 15, 2005

Corduroy will be hosting an exciting Clarendon Hills Wine Dinner with proprietor, Roman Bratasivk, one of Australia's top wine makers. The six-course dinner will feature single-vineyard selections of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. This dinner is $115 per person inclusive of tax and gratuity. Reception starts at 6:00 pm followed by dinner at 6:30pm. Please call (202) 589-0699 for reservations.

Also don't forget, Mother's Day is Sunday, May 8th. Celebrate Mother's Day with seasonal New American Cuisine prepared by Chef Tom Power. The three-course menu is $40 per person (excludes beverages, tax and gratuity) and will be offered from 12 noon to 2:30 pm and 5:00 to 10:30 pm.

MOTHER'S DAY MENU

(Choose One Per Course)

First Course

Red Snapper Bisque

Hearts of Romaine Caesar Salad

Asparagus Salad with Frisee and Chervil

Salad of Beets, Baby Carrots and Goat Cheese

Seared Barnegat Light Sea Scallops with Mizuna

Crspy Soft Shell Crab with Wilted Greens and Ver Jus

Second Course

Wild King Salmon with Fava Beans and Local Shiitake Mushrooms

Alaskan Halibut with Potato-Leek Broth

Roast Whole Baby Chicken with Arugula and Shallots

Roast Lamb Top Sirloin with Garlic Creamed Spinach

Ridgefield Farms Beef Tenderloin with Shallot Sauce

Desserts

Fresh Fruit Sorbets

Selection of Homemade Ice Creams

Seasonal Berries with Creme Anglaise

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

Chocolate Sabayon

Chocolate Tart with Caramelized Banana

Strawberry Tart

Chef and Owner Tom Power

Reservations must be confirmed with a credit card (VISA, American Express, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club). $15 per person will be charged for cancellations made after 5:00 pm, Friday, May 6, 2005.

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It's a cold and rainy Friday. Soup weather. I knew I was heading to Corduroy for dinner and planned on warming up with a bowl of the wonderful shitake and onion soup. Last week it was perfect, light, a combination I would have never thought of but worked.

Then I saw the Red Snapper Bisque on the menu. For those of you who were fortunate enough to try the Red Pumpkin Soup: remember that first spoon full. The creaminess, the smooth texture and unbelievable flavor. How does he do this, you ask yourself?

Well, once again Chef Power has created another amazing work of art in a bowl, only this time it involves seafood. Lobster stock, Red Snapper Stock and cream blended to perfection. It was exactly what I was looking for. I had to share, much to my chagrin, but this soup is too good to keep to yourself. Go, share it with loved ones, and savor every spoonful.

The scallops too lived up to expectations as did the steak. But the soup. Oh that soup. It will keep me warm until the sun returns.

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Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed Corduroy and that I am not trying to knock it. However, my wife and I went there for Christmas dinner and were not blown away by the cooking. The decor/atmosphere was better than I expected considering he (Tom Powers) was dealing with a hotel but the food (although very good) did not seem to live up to the hype in the eGullet forum. I suspect that this was because it was over Christmas and so maybe not in top form. Does anyone have any thoughts. I certainly would like to try it again.

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Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed Corduroy and that I am not trying to knock it.  However, my wife and I went there for Christmas dinner and were not blown away by the cooking.  The decor/atmosphere was better than I expected considering he (Tom Powers) was dealing with a hotel but the food (although very good) did not seem to live up to the hype in the eGullet forum.  I suspect that this was because it was over Christmas and so maybe not in top form.  Does anyone have any thoughts.  I certainly would like to try it again.

Possibly it was Christmas, possibly it was simply an errant evening, but it's hard to say from what you wrote. Can you describe the food that was good but not up to hype?

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I paid my third visit to Corduroy on Friday night. I have quickly become a fan. It's a little strange to have to walk through the Four Points lobby and then up the stairs, but I don't find the decor as boring as some make it out to be. On the bright side, being a little out of the way at 12th and K makes for easy on-street parking!
I started with the Red Snapper Bisque. The waiter described the bisque as more of a lobster bisque and he was right. Very nice.

The Wagyu beef was quite good. I'm not sure I share the opinion that it tastes like it's been cooked in pork fat, but it was clearly a fine cut piece of beef and was cooked to a perfect medium rare. In the past I've had the scallops and the roast chicken. Both were excellent.

I tried the pistachio bread pudding (I love a good bread pudding) and it caught me a little by surprise. It was presented as a cake with layers of nuts = it looked like a doberge, really. My grandmother's bread pudding is still the best, but this definitely ranked up there.

I wouldn't characterize the food at Corduroy as amazing. But it is clear that thought was put into the menu and everything I have had has been precisely prepared using top-quality ingredients. The staff still seems a bit green, but are sincere and I'm sure the very minor service issues will eventually work themselves out. What truly makes the place wonderful is that DC is lacking restaurants of such high quality and a good value for the money. It is a rarity in these parts and I plan to do my best to support it and others like it! I look forward to seeing more spring/summer dishes on the menu on future visits.

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I wish we could!  I don't know if this is a great example of your brain influencing your sense of taste and the power of suggestion (after the first person said it tasted like pork, we all tried it and tasted the pork) or if there is some wonderful but strange chemical reaction between steak and grapeseed oil that mimics the taste of being cooked in pork fat.  Besides curiosity about being able to recreate this at home, I'm not sure I care to know.  Anything is possible in the world of illusion and all that.

I am not sure what cut of steak you all had (I will be conducting field research soon), but I pan seard a Sunnyside flat iron with grapeseed oil and tasted only beefy goodness.

Looks like the aging is the key. So Chef Power, how long do you age your steaks?

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Corduroy got a few new converts from my office last night (the lamb sirloin with goat cheese ravioli and the tuna with hajiki won them over). I had the wagyu steak because I had to see if now knowing there was no pork fat involved if my brain would kill the pork flavor cues. It was definitely less pronounced but still rich, nutty, and wonderfully flavorful.

As always, the staff graciously accommodated our motley bunch who swept in and took over their lounge. There were whisperings of needing to go there more instead of the lesser places closer to the office. I could definitely get behind that.

For those looking to enjoy the start of softshell crab season, they're showcasing them here.

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Showcasing softshells? Oh my... oh dear..... I must make a reservation!

Welcome Edhead707!

Maybe this deserves to be a new topic, but what is the fascination with softshell crabs? To me it seems that people go a bit crazy to get them. Is is the limited availability? Are they really so good that people?

I enjoy them when available, but do not find them that so good as to go out of my way. That being said, I would love to see what Chef Power is doing with them. Hmmm, tomorrow night???

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After visiting 21P and the little duck mishap I decided to grab dinner in the lounge at Corduroy.

I had Chef Power's version of softshell crab and it was delicious. Light and crispy on the outside that complimented the soft and sweet crab meat. The body was wrapped in the "shredded phyllo" from the mozzerella porcupine and was served on a bed of greens with verjus.

I had the striploin for dinner, which enough has been said about, but can say that I did not taste any pork flavor. I could have eaten a plate more of the herbed turnip gratin that was served on the side.

I had the pineapple tart for dessert as was recommended and did not leave unhappy. A nicely carmelized pineapple upside down cake with a portion of pistachio ice cream with a pineapple chip on top.

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After visiting 21P and the little duck mishap I decided to grab dinner in the lounge at Corduroy.

Did I miss the "duck mishap"?

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We had a great meal at Corduroy last night. I had the tuna tartare, which was fabulous, and the wagyu steak with turnip gratin. The jus/sauce for the steak was delicious, and the turnip gratin was wonderful as well. It never occurred to me that you could make a potato-type gratin with turnip, but there you go. The steak was more than I could finish, so it will be served sliced on top of mixed greens tonight as part of our dinner. My husband had the Caesar salad, which was wonderful--the anchovy flavor was just right--and the seared tuna with hajiki, which is what I usually get.

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