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Mendocino Grille, 29th & M Streets in Georgetown


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Had a mini-HH last Friday with Shogun at Mendocino Grille. Although I desparately wanted to have the rack of lamb, Chef Drew kept bringing out some killer apps -- scamorza filled raviolli with ramps, risotto flecked with bits of speck and topped with jumbo gulf shrimp, and my wife had the tempura soft shell crabs. Got filled up and never got to an entree. The speck/risotto was most excellent - very unusual flavor. (Speck, a smoked Prosciutto from Trentino-Alto Adige in northeastern Italy.) We stayed til the place shut down. Can't wait for the new project to open on the Hill.

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Has Sietsema never reviewed Mendocino? I was surprised that no review came up on the Post website.

I'm thinking about going for lunch on Saturday (my first time), but I want to make sure that risotto is on the menu when I go. Any idea if it is on the lunch menu?

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Funjohnny: You forgot one of my favorites of the evening: The venison carpaccio! My other favorites of the evening included the aforementioned tempura soft shell (Who called it on the sauce? Mark it, dude). That was, in fact, my first fried soft shelled crab! :lol: My big favorite, and the one I'm going to need more of very soon was the boar sausage with bucatini. The sausage was a little spicy (I love spicy sausage, but people who don't probably wouldn't find it troublingly spicy), and very moist. Somebody really knows what they're doing with the sausage making! The bucatini was a great match: a lesser (that is, thinner) pasta simply wouldn't have done it.

Website: Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar

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Posted on eGullet - Feb 2005

Another wonderfully satisfying dinner at Mendocino. Take this from a genuine, formerly hamburger-hatin' Rude Euro - I say onto all of y'all red-blooded Americans that Mendocino's version with oregon truffles, smoked fontina (I think) and sweet pickled onions on toasted brioche can be legitimately branded a weapon of mass conversion for my kind. The way all the ingredients come together in your mouth in a juicy, satisfying, flavorful mass, is just a joy and delight. If anyone told me five years ago that I would willingly pay $22 for a burger, I would have called the cops...but not anymore.

Black bean and bacon soup did not disappoint, either. Finished up with the beatiful cranberry cobbler with cinnamon ice cream and went home very happy and tipsy - but forgot the important part about the half-price wine Sundays! We had a gorgeous Stuhlmuller Vineyards 2000 Cab sauvignon that was light, fragrant and incredibly tasty (what a childish way to describe wine, but "tasty" popped immediately in my mind when I took a swig, and I'm not holding it back.)

I can't wait to be back.

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Has Sietsema never reviewed Mendocino?  I was surprised that no review came up on the Post website.

I'm thinking about going for lunch on Saturday (my first time), but I want to make sure that risotto is on the menu when I go.  Any idea if it is on the lunch menu?

The risotto in question is indeed on the lunch menu as an entree'. It won't be on the menu you are given on Saturday, because we have a brunchy type menu that day, but ask for it by name or ask for me & I'll have someone whip one up for you.

See you Saturday,

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Has Sietsema never reviewed Mendocino?  I was surprised that no review came up on the Post website.

Sietsma, for some inexplicable reason, has chosen not to comment favorably about Mendocino. Hope that will change and that he also will have nice things to say when Sonoma opens.

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Had an excellent meal at Mendocino Grill on Saturday evening. The chicken liver pate was outstanding, as was the grouper with a corn flan (or was it corn panna cotta? I can't remember). The heirloom tomato salad was so perfect for a warm summer night. And Mendocino continues to have one of the more reasonable mark-ups on wine in the city. We enjoyed a 2002 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir. It wasn't quite the right temp when served, but our server was so nice about chilling it down for us.

Now, I just have to mention a humorous moment with our server. He was describing that evening's specials. The appetizer special that evening was a tamal, he said. Tamal? I'd never heard of that--what is it? Well, it is corn meal baked in a corn husk and topped with creme fraiche... Oh! You mean a tamale!!!

So, Chef Trautmann, if you didn't sell too many tamale appetizer specials that evening, mispronunciation may be the cause!! :P

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Sonoma will also be closed August 21-25 for some renovations. As for the tamal/tamale question, my chef de cuisine is from Guatemala and it is his aunt's recipe for Tamal de elote which is different than a masa tamale. It is made almost exclusively with a fresh corn puree with just a touch of corn meal to bind it. They are steamed over the corn cobs, to further enhance their cornliciousness.

regards,

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Mendocino is veering towards France on its menu, and this merits a big, fat oui!

I didn't know what sauce gribiche was before tonight, but gribiche sounded sufficiently close to ribbit so that I ordered the crispy frog legs which, according to Drew, are sourced from a farm in the Florida Everglades which also sources Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud. Three lispy creepers (as opposed to crispy leapers) are $10 - expensive, but who was I to jump beyond this?

I really liked the Salt Cod Brandade for $7. It was a great brandade, served with pickled onions (that compliment, not confuse) and a few slices of toast to be used as dipping vehicles. I recommend it highly, and it's best ordered after the terrific fried frogs legs despite it reading more like a pre-Kermit thing.

Choucroute Garni ($25) is maybe the best choucroute I've had in this area. It would have been so easy to botch this (refer to L'Auberge Chez Francois), but whoever was manning the Choucroute Station tonight was kicking some serious sausage. Duck confit was perfectly crisped, perfectly enough where I'm worried that it can't be repeated consistently. (Drew, do you think you can pull this off on a regular basis?) Smoked pork was almost unnaturally smoked, to the point of me raising my eyebrows, but I found out they smoke it right in the kitchen, throwing wood chips into a little smoking thing. And the bratwurst was loosely packed and a perfect textural complement to the crispy duck and dense pork. The sauerkraut (invariably too salty or acidic) was blessedly mild, allowing the meat to take center stage in this fine dish.

A very good showing for Mendocino tonight. Looking around the room throughout the evening - the other plates I saw coming out, even the ones served late into the evening, all looked spot-on.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Went to Mendocino earlier hoping to have some lunch. Grabbed and tugged at front door. Wouldn't budge. Peered inside -- no living soul visible. Looked at note next to menu posted in window next to doorway: Mendocino will be closed for lunch in order to perform renovations starting November 14. ARGGGHHH!

Edited by FunnyJohn
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Is it true that Mendocino has no bread in house? Not even by request? 

Our server told us that Mendocino has stoped serving bread forever. Seems harsh.

You are correct and it does seem a bit harsh. Bringing this up is going to get mktye all wound up. :lol:

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You are correct and it does seem a bit harsh.  Bringing this up is going to get mktye all wound up.  :lol:

Bread is not served at Mendocino. Maybe Sonoma, but not Mendocino. At least not for the past two years..........this is nothing new to get wound up about.

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If anyone is disturbed about the lack of bread, they may always request a hamburger bun ( assuming burgers are still on the menu). Made from house-made(?) brioche. :lol:

[still would like to know if anyone can say when Mendocino will resume lunch service]

Edited by FunnyJohn
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If anyone is disturbed about the lack of bread, they may always request a hamburger bun ( assuming burgers are still on the menu).  Made from house-made(?) brioche. :lol:

[still would like to know if anyone can say when Mendocino will resume lunch service]

They probably aren't advertising a lunch re-opening date yet since contractors and renovations are involved. Seems like a safe way to go.

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What do servers say when customers ask about bread?

Cheese is usually paired with crostini, fruit compote, honey.....you get the picture. Olives are served before the meal. I eat there a couple times a week, and honestly, bread is just not an issue. No one seems offended.

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as a man who is about to embark on a stretch where i will work about a zillion hours in a week, i decided that i deserved a pre-restaurant-week evening out. i chose mendocino grille for dinner because of it's proximity to blues alley. after my first meal there in a few years, i have a whole host of reasons to keep choosing this charming and cozy restaurant.

i started at the bar with a woodford manhattan that was expertly blended. and i was amazed to find that they use really cherries rather than the chemical nastiness that is the maraschino. (note to self - go get some real cherries for notti bianche).

when my guest arrived we were led to a corner table in the alcove. i started with the lobster bisque which was creamy with just a hint of spice and very good. my guest had the soup du jour - i wish i could tell you more about it, but i was only allowed one spoonful. entree's were a rack of venison and a wagyu ribeye each cooked a shade over medium rare as requested. both were simply outstanding - better than all but the best steakhouse in this city.

the service was friendly, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic.

thank you, drew, eli and the whole mendocino crew.

edited to add: mose allison is playing at blues alley through the weekend and puts on a very nice show

Edited by starfish
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...they use real cherries rather than the chemical nastiness that is the maraschino.  (note to self - go get some real cherries for notti bianche).

Thanks for the kind words Danny, and best of luck during RW.

For anyone interested, here's the info on the cherries we use at Mendocino:

Les Parisiennes (Product of France) - wild cherries, sugar, kirsch.

Address: Toques de France, 24200 Sarlat

Local Vendor: International Gourmet

Warning! These things are GOOD and you might quickly devour a handful or more...

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RW week report from January 2006:

I rarely dine in Georgetown, but it may be time to do some re-thinking. Mendocino is a place that matches the charm of this neighborhood. And for Restaurant Week, their entire menu is yours for the sampling. I can't tell you how much higher I think of the establishments that don't place any restrictions on what you can order. The only even remotely negative thing I'll say in this review is that there were (minor) upcharges on a higher percentage of the items than I usually like to see, but I knew this going in and it's still a deal, since Mendocino's not an inexpensive place. And besides, I comfortably stuck to the $30.06 options and from here on out I have nothing but praise.

I started with the warm spinach salad featuring a vinaigrette with smoked bacon and a poached egg. This was a dish greater than the sum of its simple parts. The truffle risotto one of my friends had was perfectly done and was praised with just about every bite.

The choucroute garni is probably the most interesting main course item on the menu, and since Don praised it earlier in this thread I knew I'd be in safe territory. That was some good kraut. There was so much of it that I didn't finish every last bite, but it wasn't a problem since my companions saw nothing wrong with repeatedly helping themselves to the leftovers. Of the three meats that came with the dish (bratwurst, duck confit, and smoked pork), I have to say the bratwirst was my favorite. While each of the flavors was so distinct that I'm clearly remembering them today, this sausage was so far above the quality of your run of the mill link that I'll have trouble ever forgetting it. Based on my server's recommendation, I paired it with a (Andrew Rich?) Coup D'etat blended wine, which really went well with this rich and wintry choucroute. As for what else was at the table, the potato gnocchi were done perfectly and the bouillabaisse's tomato saffron broth could stand as a dish on its own.

I'd also like to give props to our dessert options, since we could choose any dessert or two-cheese plate. My vanilla panna cotta was fantastic by itself, but the orange syrup it was nestled in was the perfect compliment. Also of note was the ice cream that accompanied the apple dumpling. It was an intensely flavored cinnamon-maple.

Thanks to Drew, Elias, and crew for creating a memorable dining experience for us.

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I'm just back from my first every RW experience and I am very pleased with Mendecino Grill. Great menu, great service, great atmosphere.

We arrived about 20 minutes early for an 8:30 rez and iwith no room to sit at the bar, they had a table ready for us in 5 minutes.

My wife had the pheasant pate app. It was served with a grainy mustard, excellent marinated chanterelles and toast. The pate itself was flavorful without the fattiness I find in many pates, a meaty perhaps hint of smokiness (hard to tell as I only got one bite !). I had the black truffle risotto (4 dollar upcharge). Delicious, creamy, earthy truffle flavor with what seemed to me a slight delicious cheese flavor in there. I cleaned the plate.

For main courses my wife had the steak with I believe a potato gratin. I won't say the steak was a disappointment but she found it average in a good restaurant kind of way ( 7 dollar upcharge ). The real problem was that a few weeks ago she had the steak entree at Restaurant Eve and no offense to the excellent Mendocino Grill, but she was very spoiled from that Eve steak. For my entree I had the bouillabaisse. One word, SUPERB ! I would recommend this dish to all. It was a beautiful marriage of flavors. The shrimp, mussels, scallop, clams, and firm white fish all held their own ground against the perfect accompanying tomato saffron broth. Extreme compliments to the chef on this one ! No one flavor dominated but the dish was like a symphony.

For dessert I had the apple dumpling maple cinnamon ice cream dish, it was a fine dessert. My wife had the molten chocolate cake and pistachio ice cream. This dish is a triumph. Rich, rich creamy chocolate paired with a pistachio ice cream that was remarkable. The ice cream was not overly sweet at all and was redolent of the pistachio flavor, along with many nuts.

All in all we would definitely return to this restaurant and most likely will since we work in Georgetown. With a glass of chardonnay with wife's app, upcharges, coffee with dessert and a generous tip to the great waiter and DC's ridiculous tax the bill came to $110. A great night out after a tough week.

BD

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Went to Mendocino last night and as usual a stellar meal was had. I think I found one of my favorite wine pairings....Kosta Brown Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir and Mendocino's Steelhead Trout. The steelheads won't be around forever so I would give this a go soon. The trout was perfectly cooked good fat content seriously rich, just awesome....and the funny part was this wasn't even my dish. The little lady was nice enough to give a couple tastes. I had the pan braised rabit which was outstanding as well. The nicest part was the fact that for a busy small restaurant we were not rushed at all. Our waiter seemed to realize that we were not in the quick meal mood and didn't hoover push nothing. He kind of took his ques from us and let us sit as long as we wanted. They definetly didn't turn our table last night. Great meal.

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I'm heading to Mendocino on a date tonight -- and have never been (although I love Sonoma). Any recommendations on what to eat? Unfortunately, I'm limited tonight by the fact that I keep sort-of kosher for Passover -- so I'll eat out, but avoid bread, rice, corn, legumes, etc. I know this is a tough one, but if anyone has been there recently and has suggestions, I'd definitely appreciate it! I'm bummed my first Mendocino experience will be with these limits, but I'll just have to go back after the holiday's over!

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You should be fine, just speak with your waiter and they will point you in the right direction. I'm sure the kitchen is aware that many diners are going to have requests tonight that are similar to yours. Now for suggestions. I was there a little while ago and the steel head trout was awesome, as was the rabbit.

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I'm debtaing trying Mendocino or Bistro Lepic tonight for a romantic dinner with my gf.  I haven't been to either, but have heard great things about both, I would greatly appreicate any input to help make my indecisiveness less a factor.  Thanks

I haven't been to Lepic, but I thought Mendocino Grille was really nice for a date... the food was excellent, the atmosphere intimate. And the service was excellent -- our waiter allowed us to set the pace of the evening, and we never felt rushed.

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I vote for Mendocino.

I had dinner late on Friday night at Mendocino. It was, for the price, one of the best meals I've had lately. The scallops were sublime, the Lobster Newburg very tasty and even the salad was surprizingly good.

-Ed

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Dinner with my parents last night at Mendocino was delicious and delightful. Overall I'd say it was one of the best dining experiences I've had in Washington (or elsewhere for that matter) in the past year. Although I eat at its sibling Sonoma far more often than I should, I had never been to Mendocino except for dinner at the bar over a year ago.

The parsnip soup with shaved Burgundy truffles was one of those unctuous and complex soups that keep you guessing at the precise proportions of the ingredients, everything was so well integrated and well balanced. It was the perfect introduction to what proved to be a series of nearly perfect dishes. The rabbit paté was dense and rich, but with a lightness of texture in the mouth that showed that real thought had been devoted to the type of binder used with the meats in order to achieve this masterful effect. A little gaggle of pickled mushrooms, along with violet mustard, pistachios and grilled bread highlighted the taste and texture of the paté beautifully and had also been prepared with genuine care and skill.

Meanwhile, my parents enjoyed a cesar-esque grilled romaine salad with egg, boquerone, pine nuts and preserved lemon citronette. The romaine was half of a small, whole head that had been wilted briefly on the grill, then served simply with its garnishes. I didn't try it myself, but my parents kept raving about the simplicity and careful flavoring of this dish.

The taste memory of the pan-seared halibut with baby bok choy, beets, orange and kohlrabi purée is still with me. The fish, though just a touch overcooked, was of such freshness and quality that this slip was barely noticeable. What shone through was the succulent, briny flavor of the fish and its absolutely fresh and well chosen accompaniments, which also happened to look beautiful on the plate. Although I can't comment on it personally, my mom thoroughly enjoyed her potato gnocchi with forest mushrooms, baby arugula, grana padano and pan sauce.

We left the wines in Troy's always capable hands. Knowing my parents were visiting from my native Washington State, he brought out a Yakima Valley Lemberger from Shooting Star to go with the paté. The last time I had this varietal was at least twenty years ago on family trips to Kiona vineyard. Troy's idea combined the charm of the geographical association with a wine that accompanied the paté just as well as a first-class Pinot Noir. Troy's other selections were equally spot on. He is a thoughtful sommelier.

For dessert I had a recent addition to the menu, a pumpkin flan served with peanut brittle. I matched this perfectly crafted little treat with a twenty-year-old Dow's tawny and was immediately transported to dessert heaven, where this match must have been made. My parents had a selection of cheeses that were immaculately aged and kept.

Despite what eventually became a full house in the course of the evening, our service was easygoing and unfailingly attentive. It was a pleasure seeing Troy and other members of the staff whom previously I had known only from my visits to Sonoma.

Throughout the evening my parents and I kept discussing what it was that made the food at Mendocino so appealing to us--and in some ways preferable to experiences at Palena and Eve during their previous visits. I suppose it could be summed up in one word: simplicity. With all the thought and skill that goes into preparing these delightful dishes, the ingredients are always front and center stage. The result is highly sophisticated combinations of flavors and textures that nevertheless are sincere and unfussy. We couldn't help but compare the evening with our experience at Compass in Manhattan less than a week before, where the food was mostly effortful (and more expensive) and things just did not come together.

Chef Barry Koslow introduced himself to us later in the evening, and it was a pleasure to congratulate him on the delightful experience we had. He started at Mendocino only recently, but judging from our dinner last night, he is already well on the way to making Mendocino one of the best restaurants in Washington.

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second the opinion of banco & john. had dinner mon and it was great! imho, this

is a restaurant/chef worth $upporting.

sincerely, barry's mom [no, just kidding. :) ]

p.s. but seriously, the level of sophistication of the food was very impressive.

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Two stars for Mendocino.
Given that Barry was at Mendocino's helm only 3 weeks when we were, um, "visited," we're happy with the flattering review of his skills and commitment to seasonal cuisine using naturally raised/ organic ingredients and local suppliers.

While, as TS noted, Barry's pedigree is impressive, it's his combination of technical skill with a down-to-earth approach that excites us....like Sunday's "Swine and Wine" - Barry receives a fresh suckling pig from one of our Pennsylvania suppliers, prepares it for Sunday (only), the same night as our 1/2 price bottle night.

It's an open neighborhood secret, and we hope you can make it over sometime.

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Given that Barry was at Mendocino's helm only 3 weeks when we were, um, "visited," we're happy with the flattering review of his skills and commitment to seasonal cuisine using naturally raised/ organic ingredients and local suppliers.

While, as TS noted, Barry's pedigree is impressive, it's his combination of technical skill with a down-to-earth approach that excites us....like Sunday's "Swine and Wine" - Barry receives a fresh suckling pig from one of our Pennsylvania suppliers, prepares it for Sunday (only), the same night as our 1/2 price bottle night.

It's an open neighborhood secret, and we hope you can make it over sometime.

This is every Sunday?! :) Going to opentable right now...

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I got in from a trip last night at Union Station and needed a place to eat. It being a Sunday and late, Mendocino was one of the few places open.

I have probably walked or driven in front of this restaurant countless times, but have never stopped, probably because very few rave about it. Stupid me! My meal there last night was one of the best meals I have had in a long, long time. The friendly and prompt greeting at the door to the modern and subtle décor, the warm olives, and the fabulous wine (at half price on Sundays) were all good, but the food was outstanding.

We started out with the Beet Salad with Pipe Dreams goat cheese and the Rabbit Pate. The pate had a spice (juniper?) which I couldn't quite place, but it was one of the best pates I have had in years. It came with pickled mushrooms and onion relish, pistachios and violet mustard which complimented it perfectly.

My husband had the Beer Braised Wild Boar with hand cut parpadalle, rapini, kalamatas and shaved parmesan. The boar melted on your tongue while the parpadalle had just the right bite and perfect seasonings. I had the Baby Pennsylvania Lamb with Spinach Gnocchi. It was served to my specification (medium-rare). The gnocchi would have been delicious as a stand alone entrée with its accompanying garlic lamb jus.

You would have though we would stop before desserts, but things had been going well so I ordered the Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Passion Fruit Puree (only to see if they could follow through with their desserts, mind you). It was incredible. Not cloyingly sweet, but creamy and sweet enough to go perfectly with the tart sorbet. My husband had two of the Spanish cheeses, which were perfectly ripe and perfect with the fig puree.

All in all, it was a wonderful visit. I am sorry I had not dined here previously. Chefs Koslow and Trautmann have done a wonderful job with the cuisine here. I hope my sophomore visit, which will be soon, will be just as exciting

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Really enjoyed our trip to Mendocino last Thursday night. The entrees (steelhead and steak) were nicely cooked and - wonder of wonders - so were the accompanying vegetables, including a fantastic potato mousseline. A nice glass of red wine, a great cheese plate (including an awe-inspiring French blue), and more than competent service. The only downside was the noise level, which isn't helped by the closeness of the tables and the obscenely loud couples that happened to be seated next to us. Ah well, Georgetown.... but good one Mendocino.

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I attended a small celebration last night at Mendocino to observe the installation of Barry Koslow as Executive Chef. Barry has been running the kitchen there since last September and has kept it at the same level as Drew Trautmann, who remains in charge at Sonoma and is busy supervising the preparations for two new spots in Bethesda and 14th St. There is additional news that is at present classified TS/ORCON so I am not at liberty to disclose it, but it will amaze and delight fans of Hengst/Rager enterprises when it becomes public in a short while.

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I get so sick of garlic in dishes, mainly because it's either crummy garlic or people don't know how to cook with it. At Mendocino Grille, the Tuscarora Spring Garlic Soup ($8) is a piping hot bowl of the most delicate, ethereal broth, probably made with chicken stock which stayed in the background and allowed the nuances of this superior garlic to present itself in a hearty backdrop. The mussels and tiny brioche cubes in the bowl lent two additional textures, the brioche providing just the right amount of salt. This soup was healthy, intense, and satisfying while remaining light on its feet.

I had originally ordered a Tasmanian sea trout, but saw my neighbor's plate of Palmetto Farms Poussin ($26), and quickly changed my order. Four small pieces of absolutely first-rate poussin, two of them with foie gras guanciale stuffing tucked under the skin, bathing in a tomato-based stew of artichokes, favas, and cippolinis. Laugh if you will, but I love Chicken Cacciatore, and this reminded me of a version they might serve atop Mount Olympus. I don't know how long it has been since I've enjoyed a chicken dish this much - I fondly remember RJ Cooper's ridiculous fried poussin at Vidalia, and of course there's Frank Ruta's roasted chicken at Palena, but I'll tell you: This was right up there at the top. I want to go back today and get it again!

This is a long-overdue make-up call that I've wanted to make for months. I know very well the heights that Barry Koslow can hit, and he certainly hit them here: Mendocino Grille was on fire last night.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Sunday's "Swine and Wine" - Barry receives a fresh suckling pig from one of our Pennsylvania suppliers, prepares it for Sunday (only), the same night as our 1/2 price bottle night.
Are both these things still happening on Sundays?
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Are both these things still happening on Sundays?

don't recall seeing the pork, but the wine was half price a couple of sundays ago. got a well-balanced, flavorfully refreshing split of papapietro pinot noir for $30, not sure of the vintage year. following a tip, i ordered the poussin, which was delicious, not too heavy. a special venison carpaccio special was good, though served too cold, as if straight out of the ice box, which was also the case with an asparagus salad. rubarb cobbler is served in three dollhouse iron skillets, not sure exactly why. all in all, i was surprised how good this place is. if i were younger, this is one of the restaurants i would choose when my parents were in town -- provided they were picking up the check. it's on the pricey side. ($210 for a full meal for two)

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