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So, they have this thing where they form some cured white salmon into a little disk and surround it with fugu yuzu gelee and top it with crispy mushroom shreds and you take a bite and you trade it for a taste of your wife's fairly-spiffy-in-its-own-right neo-Low-Country shrimp 'n' rice soup and she doesn't give it back until you menace her with a fish knife, that's how good it is.

And Andy is increasingly unhinged and/or Germanic, serving -- among other things -- a German pink as a warmup. A veritable Qualitätsrosé mit Prädikat. Also a very tart and sparkly little Riesling.

He also gave a line I will repeat next time I'm in an appropriately elevated crowd drinking Rhone: "it smells of the garrigues."

PS: Sharon at the bar does not get the luv she deserves. She is talented and tolerant.

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The diner's koan: When every bite is transcendent, are any of them, truly?

Last night's dinner at the bar at Cityzen was, in fact, a transcendent experience. The three-course prix fixe lives up to its accolade as the best deal in town: $50 gets you three courses that a mere few feet away would cost you $30 more, plus an amuse and even a gratis aperitif.

Sadly, the online menus are not up to date and I can't recall everything perfectly, but I can at least attempt a brief rundown (I'd give the highlights but they were basically all highlights).

Terrine of lamb with mint pesto, beet jam, and watercress tasted wonderfully and purely of lamb, with a hint of gaminess that instead of being off-putting served as a lovely reminder that, yes, this really was a lamb terrine, and not anything else. A grenache blanc had a hint of smoky oak to it that -- surprisingly, at least to me and ktmightve -- paired perfectly with the lamb. Sweet corn chowder with crispy veal sweetbreads gave off the essence of that corn, bought at the farmers market that morning, but the just-crisp-enough sweetbreads sent this over the top, lending an earthiness that underscored the rich creaminess of the soup.

Sesame-crusted salmon with cucumber and kohlrabi salad and cucumber jus was so perfectly cooked that I was reminded why I so rarely order salmon out -- it's usually dry and tasteless, and I can do better at home; this, on the other hand, was tender and full of flavor, with the perfect amount of crispy, salty sesame to offset the creamy, sweet fish. The crunch of the kohlrabi and slightly softer cucumber gave the dish even more lightness and freshness; overall, this was a feast of summery flavor, balanced by a light Willamette valley pinot noir that came alive with the sesame in particular. Braised veal breast with crispy shallots and sautéed greens was similarly revelatory, the meltingly tender meat both more delicate and more flavorful than I can remember veal being, and yet not overly heavy or beefy despite the long-cooked preparation. The bites of fried shallot were perfect little onion rings (there was possibly a small scuffle over who got the last one, I can't lie). An easy-drinking Côtes du Ventoux grenache-syrah (a la carte) rounded out the course.

The desserts, a chocolate ganache with apricot sorbet and poached apricots, and the "Cake and Shake" black-almond milkshake and peach polenta cake, were both delicious. I would have gone for a cheese plate had one been offered, since I have less of a sweet tooth than some, but the polenta cake and the apricots were not overly sweet, capping the meal quite nicely (and I cannot recall what the dessert wines were).

Our foursome had the bar essentially to ourselves, so we had a lovely conversation with the eminently gracious Sal, who mixed us some fantastic cocktails to start and introduced durwoodx to Fernet Branca at the end of the night (that was awesome). Great company to match great food ... transcendent, indeed.

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Indeed transcendant, indeed. Anyone in DC who considers themselves a foodie and hasn't taken advantage of the Cityzen Lounge menu needs to put it at the very top of their list. I know it's been said about 80 times on this thread already, but bang for the buck this is absolutely the best deal in the city, hands down, not even close. Heck even if the meal was twice as much I would have felt ok about what I spent.

Just a few things to add to leleboo's post:

We were started with an amazing amuse bouche of a vichyssoise panna cotta with lobster meat piled in the middle of it. Imaginative and inspiring. Individual flavors (some of the best lobster meat I have ever had) and textures (panna cotta gooey goodness mmmmm) were distinctive and pronounced while still working together quite well.

The corn chowder was one of the two best I have had in the city (the other being at Equinox two weeks ago.) The only thing pushing it over the top to the #1 position were the sweetbreads. I have had bad sweetbreads on a couple of occasions and was left wondering what the big deal was. Last night I found out why sweetbreads exist - lightly crispy on the outside without a hint of greasiness, the crunch yielded to little perfectly textured puffs of goodness.

The veal breast more closely resembled a short rib in appearance and texture than anything else I can think of, but with a lightness that no short rib could match. Fork tender, subtle and simply delicious.

Great service, great food, great fun.

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With discussion of the $50 bar prix fixe possibly expiring, then not, I was prompted to take advantage of the deal last week.

Olive oil custard with Espelette butter and chives (amuse) started the meal, and I much prefer it to the lobster panna cotta I had on my last visit. In fact, I'd much prefer a bowl of the former as an appetizer. Less is probably more in this case, but I'm willing to test that for myself.

Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crab tempura was a pleasant surprise -- only because I assumed that soft shells were off most menus at this point. Fried perfectly, with a barely-there coating, it was fitting that my last of the season would be the best. Additions of compressed cucumber and a yuzu vinaigrette were almost too acidic, but the "Tamari mousse" (aka soy sauce foam, aka the best use of foam ever) brought things back from the edge.

Braised Martin Ranch lamb shoulder reminded me of an elevated pot roast. The protein, formed into a perfect rectangle, shredded upon fork contact and was everything slow-cooked lamb should be. Surrounding it was an array of diced beans (pole, maybe some kidneys) and carrots, all tender but still retaining a freshly cooked bite. And the jus! Skimmed and strained to a near consommé clarity, this almost made me ask for a straw.

Degustation of late summer apples was a beautiful dessert: Gala apple genoise as the base, a circle of apple pearls forming the middle, and a razor-thin slice of crisped apple on top. Damn shame about the Calvados granite inside, however. An icy vein that overpowered the delicate apple flavors.

For me, this was the perfect option for indulging without making a special occasion commitment to the dining room. Enjoy it while it remains available.

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Olive oil custard with Espelette butter and chives (amuse) started the meal, and I much prefer it to the lobster panna cotta I had on my last visit. In fact, I'd much prefer a bowl of the former as an appetizer. Less is probably more in this case, but I'm willing to test that for myself.

Chesapeake Bay soft-shell crab tempura was a pleasant surprise -- only because I assumed that soft shells were off most menus at this point. Fried perfectly, with a barely-there coating, it was fitting that my last of the season would be the best. Additions of compressed cucumber and a yuzu vinaigrette were almost too acidic, but the "Tamari mousse" (aka soy sauce foam, aka the best use of foam ever) brought things back from the edge.

Braised Martin Ranch lamb shoulder reminded me of an elevated pot roast. The protein, formed into a perfect rectangle, shredded upon fork contact and was everything slow-cooked lamb should be. Surrounding it was an array of diced beans (pole, maybe some kidneys) and carrots, all tender but still retaining a freshly cooked bite. And the jus! Skimmed and strained to a near consommé clarity, this almost made me ask for a straw.

Degustation of late summer apples was a beautiful dessert: Gala apple genoise as the base, a circle of apple pearls forming the middle, and a razor-thin slice of crisped apple on top. Damn shame about the Calvados granite inside, however. An icy vein that overpowered the delicate apple flavors.

Sounds terrible.

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Does anyone have thoughts on a party of 4 trying to do the bar menu deal at 5:30 pm on a Saturday? We haven't been to CityZen in quite some time, and I don't quite recall if the setting would be conducive to a group of 4 trying to have a meal together, and also am wondering how crowded it might be at that time?

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Does anyone have thoughts on a party of 4 trying to do the bar menu deal at 5:30 pm on a Saturday? We haven't been to CityZen in quite some time, and I don't quite recall if the setting would be conducive to a group of 4 trying to have a meal together, and also am wondering how crowded it might be at that time?

Remember, the bar menu is for the bar only, not the lounge area. Thus, you're sitting in a line, and diner #1 can go an entire evening without speaking with diner #4. Getting seats at 5:30 on a Saturday would be easy, but unless you're trying to separate two people at odds, it's probably not the best venue.

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Remember, the bar menu is for the bar only, not the lounge area. Thus, you're sitting in a line, and diner #1 can go an entire evening without speaking with diner #4. Getting seats at 5:30 on a Saturday would be easy, but unless you're trying to separate two people at odds, it's probably not the best venue.

Alas, that was what I feared--wasn't sure whether the bar literally meant the bar itself or included what I remembered to be behind it. Many thanks.

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Dinner at the CityZen bar this past weekend before a show. We were four. Hoping to be helpful to others who'll go soon, report below including Planning for the Bar (with a bit of a dilemma), SERVICE, FOOD and VALUE.

PLANNING A TRIP TO THE CITYZEN BAR

I'd read this thread carefully before going. Because we were four and the bar only seats 8, we had to get half the seats when they opened since our show time would make any Plan B difficult. So we got there at around 4:45, 45 minutes before opening, and took a table in the Mandarin's lounge for drinks. When we saw four people queue right at CZ's entrance at around 5:05 or so, we took our spots on line. So we were 5th through 8th. Within 10 more minutes, there were at least 6 more on line behind us; no doubt some of those not realizing that only 8 seats were available.

The 'what would have you have done?' dilemma: Just as CZ opened its door, two new people who hadn't been on the line swept in, welcomed by the 3rd and 4th who'd been on line. I quickly realized this would be a problem since, with suddenly 6 rather than 4 in front of us, our party wouldn't all get seats. Of course, the 3rd and 4th line holders couldn't have been more indifferently pretentious and showed no sign whatsoever that their move would mean two who'd been waiting half an hour would be turned away. I was ready with a plan to deal with this but, luckily, the first two on line weren't waiting for the bar. And, of course, the two behind our party who were turned away had no idea what had happened. Curious if others have views on this--what's the right way to handle? Especially if those first two had been seated at the bar?

Anyway, bottom line on planning is to plan to arrive early and wait right by the CZ door. Of course, you never know from one day to the next but if you're trying to do this on a Friday or Saturday and have somewhere to be afterward, probably makes sense to get there by 5 and wait right by the door to CZ, especially if you're a group of more than 2. Our one mistake, which luckily ended up not mattering, was to arrive early enough but then not wait right at the door even though we were directly in sight of it maybe 30 feet away.

SERVICE

Really outstanding as I guess one would expect anywhere at CityZen. Sal was running the bar and couldn't have delivered more wonderful service with a casual but ultra professional approach. A couple of diet restrictions, late notice that we had to be out by a certain time to make our show...none of it phased Sal. All courses were served by at least 3 servers for a mostly French type service approach despite being at a bar. And, we had nice attention from two sommeliers. Really impressive--what service should be but rarely is. And at a bar no less. Albeit a CityZen bar with it's high glass shelves full of interesting bottles backed by a dramatic curved wall of flame and prep area visible through the shelves behind the bar.

One other note sort of related to venue more than service. There is some discussion upthread about the drawback of doing this with a group of more than two since the seating is side by side. We didn't have too much trouble as a group of four. Since the first seating ended up being two groups of four, we were able to move our chairs back and forward a bit to make conversation easier at least until the starters appeared when people got quieter.

FOOD

Mostly outstanding with one exception which was still good. For the $50 fixed price, we had 2 of the 3 starters on offer, all three of the mains and both desserts.

Starters

Puree of Savoy Cabbage Soup w/ Maine lobster, black trumpet mushrooms and pickled mustard seeds. I was very torn between this and the starter I ended up ordering. So, while I didn't try this, it looked fabulous with a big piece of tender, perfectly cooked lobster and several nice sized mushrooms. Our friend who ordered this LOVED it.

CityZen Wagyu Fried Rice w/ wagyu tataki and garlic chips ($15 supplement). Seems like elevated fried rice is a Big Current Trend* in the city's higher-end, non-asian restaurants, which I didn't realize when I ordered this. It was wonderful. I meant to ask what type of rice they were using. It was incredibly light and fine like a shorter grain jasmine but clearly not jasmine by smell. Plenty of wagyu chunks and just very satisfying. Maybe not the value of just going with the soup but no regrets here.

Mains

Herb-Roasted Prime Midwestern Beef w/ sauteed moulard duck foie gras, potato pancake, cream of spinach and veal jus poured when served. One of our friends ordered this. It looked amazing. The friend raved about it. And that's all I can really say.

A Lamb Dish that I didn't capture details about. Like the beef, thoroughly enjoyed by our other friend.

Poached Filet of Maine Fluke w/ roasted sunchoke, melted Belgian endive, ruby red grapefruit and nicoise olive. My +1 and I both ordered this. It was good but, relative to everything else, the only thing that can really be called a miss; at least relative to any reasonable CityZen standard. Very surprisingly the fish was a bit overcooked and something (maybe the way the olives, which were dry bits atop the fish, were prepared) imparted an odd bitterness to the dish. Aside from the distracting bitterness, which wasn't too severe, the dish's design was nice, sophisticated, and sensible. I did have to ask what "melted" meant (just braised and thus wilted). Maybe just a tad more simplification on this dish would raise it to the exceptional level.

Desserts

CityZen Chess Pie w/ buttermilk panna cotta, meyer lemon mousse and heirloom cornmeal tuile. Three of us ordered this and it was excellent. Very interesting and, most importantly, very good. The tuile was left flat rather than curved to form a light crispy top through which to 'crack' to get to the panna cotta and mousse below. Definitely reminiscent of the traditional chess pie but not as sweet and without a flour crust. Much better than any chess pie I've had but, then again, not having been raised in the South, I'm probably not so qualified to say that.

Valrhona Chocolate and Coffee Brioche w/ salted caramel ice cream. As wonderful as the Chess Pie was, this was the winner. I regretted not ordering it as soon as it arrived and our one friend smart enough to get this finished every bit.

Wine

We didn't do anything too interesting here, going with two bottles of relatively inexpensive 2009 Catena Malbec at $75 and I ordered a glass of a 2009 Hiedler, Gruner Veltliner to pair with my fish which was nice (I think $12?).

VALUE

Not sure about the wine markups here but know this to be one of the more interesting and varied wine lists in the city in a way we didn't at all exploit. From a food perspective, I'd have to agree this is one of (if not the) best values to be had in super high-end dining in our city at $50 before any up-charges, wine, tax and tip.

* See current (March, 2012) issue of Washingtonian, where Ann Limpert's piece "Not Just Any Fried Rice" on pg 204 mentions the duck jerky version at R24 and the "complicated" and "super-finely diced potato" version at Citronelle served with a lobster dish. Others, like Ripple, are doing this too. Elevated fried rice and meyer lemon mousse/custard/pannacotta/pudding/gelato/ice cream--those are our two Big Trends for early 2012 I guess.

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CityZen Wagyu Fried Rice w/ wagyu tataki and garlic chips ($15 supplement). Seems like elevated fried rice is a Big Current Trend* in the city's higher-end, non-asian restaurants, which I didn't realize when I ordered this. It was wonderful. I meant to ask what type of rice they were using. It was incredibly light and fine like a shorter grain jasmine but clearly not jasmine by smell. Plenty of wagyu chunks and just very satisfying. Maybe not the value of just going with the soup but no regrets here.

Not sure about the wine markups here but know this to be one of the more interesting and varied wine lists in the city in a way we didn't at all exploit. From a food perspective, I'd have to agree this is one of (if not the) best values to be had in super high-end dining in our city at $50 before any up-charges, wine, tax and tip.

Chef Zieblod has been famous for his fried rice (among many other dishes) for some time - as I recall, he made fried rice to accompany the DR.com Waygu tasting at Vidalia back in the day <edit: went back through the archives - it was in 2007 - what a fantastic event, btw> No argument re: the quality of CityZen's wine list, however regarding markups - '09 Catena Malbec may be readily had at retail for between $17-$22 depending on location.

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The 'what would have you have done?' dilemma: Just as CZ opened its door, two new people who hadn't been on the line swept in, welcomed by the 3rd and 4th who'd been on line. I quickly realized this would be a problem since, with suddenly 6 rather than 4 in front of us, our party wouldn't all get seats. Of course, the 3rd and 4th line holders couldn't have been more indifferently pretentious and showed no sign whatsoever that their move would mean two who'd been waiting half an hour would be turned away. I was ready with a plan to deal with this but, luckily, the first two on line weren't waiting for the bar. And, of course, the two behind our party who were turned away had no idea what had happened. Curious if others have views on this--what's the right way to handle? Especially if those first two had been seated at the bar?

In my view, if two people are in line and the remainder of their party joins them after the line is forming but before the doors open, that's fully legit. There's no reason that everyone has to hang with their hands in their pockets. If CityZen had a system where you put your name on the list and then did whatever you wanted until the appropriate time, it would never occur to demand that the whole party be there to sign up.

What night did you go?

Seems like elevated fried rice is a Big Current Trend

They were serving it at Rogue 24 when we were there, as well.

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In my view, if two people are in line and the remainder of their party joins them after the line is forming but before the doors open, that's fully legit. There's no reason that everyone has to hang with their hands in their pockets. If CityZen had a system where you put your name on the list and then did whatever you wanted until the appropriate time, it would never occur to demand that the whole party be there to sign up.

What night did you go?

It's a tough call. CityZen probably should institute some type of sign up given the aggressiveness that can happen. On the one hand, I totally hear you about hands in pockets, etc. We would have been first on line since we were the first in the immediate area but, since we initially camped at a hotel lounge table 30 feet from CZ's door, we were lucky to see what was happening and get over there to occupy the 5th-8th spots. So we had hands in pockets for better part of half an hour by necessity. On the other hand, the last minute appearance of some negates the 30 minutes or more that others had been waiting and that doesn't seem so right. Classic line issue. Solution is to just get there early and probably always better during the week than weekend; also better odds with a party of 2 than something bigger.

We were there Saturday.

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"Parker House Roll in the Form of Pac-Man"

Chomping Its Way Toward My Rockfish

Attributed to Eric Ziebold, 2012

Crack on Ceramic

CityZen Collection

post-2-0-75070200-1334452798_thumb.jpg

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Given your surname, we're lucky that the phrase "chomping its way toward my rockfish" was accompanied by a picture of fish.

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I suspect Eric is half-kidding here, but I also suspect he's not. The quality of the picture is terrible, and does no justice at all to the dish. But I looked down at my plate, and "saw" Pac-Man, and thought it was so funny looking that I couldn't *not* take it. I'd like to add that not only was this a wonderful dish, but last night I had perhaps my two best dishes so far of 2012 (I say "perhaps" because of the magnificent Mollie Arugula Salad with White Asparagus, Quail Egg Toast, Anchovies, and Foie Gras that I was fortunate enough to try the other evening at Fiola - after, I will add, attending Nationals opening day sitting in the Owner's Suite (where, believe it or not, they serve Hebrew National hot dogs and Dippin' Dots, and thank you to Mr. Lerner and Mr. Cohen for the gracious hospitality)). In a year of austerity, this has been a precious few days of abundance ... back to reality now.

Wow, fine food and live baseball...! Two of my three favorite empirical pleasures. I would complete the trifecta for you but I believe this site has a PG-13 rating....

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Wow, fine food and live baseball...! Two of my three favorite empirical pleasures. I would complete the trifecta for you but I believe this site has a PG-13 rating....

Regardless of the rating, I think I'd have to take a pass on the trifecta. :o:rolleyes:

More jock than rock (and if you're not Facebook friends with me, friend me).

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"chomping its way toward my rockfish"

I dunno, it give me visions of Isaac Hayes on the Rockford Files.

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We ate at the bar at CityZen on Friday night. I had a wonderful scrapple and hen egg starter that was something Chris Cosentino would have swooned over. Really well made scrapple, that after I broke my egg was surrounded by rich oozy egg yolk goodness. So good I mopped every drop up with bread. I then had beef cheeks with black eyed peas, kale and rice- a really nice modern Southern dish with some of the best black eyed peas I've ever had. Certainly better than what my Mom and Grandad canned.

I stole some bites of Hubby's fish which did not include pac man, but a really good leek accompaniment and his starter which was great, but I forget completely what it was. For dessert he had an incredible chocolate biscuit with soft pretzel ice cream that was heaven. I had a really interesting version of chess pie. A crisp tuille with lemon whipped cream and dense bits of something- pie crust??? It was really good, although I liked Hubby's better.

We also had a walnut custard as an amuse bouche that was very good. The bartender was so nice, with so much DC info. He gave the couple next door to us some really great ideas for dinners and I sat there thinking to myself that I hopped they listened to him that they would be in for some really good meals.

We also had the wine pairings which were quite nice, I can't remember the names, but I thought they did a good job of having varied interesting selections that they chose based on dish and individual. (Our dining neighbors not from VA got a VA wine for one course we got Italian selections I believe.)

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We ate at the bar at CityZen on Friday night. I had a wonderful scrapple and hen egg starter that was something Chris Cosentino would have swooned over. Really well made scrapple, that after I broke my egg was surrounded by rich oozy egg yolk goodness. So good I mopped every drop up with bread.

This is my favorite dish of 2012 so far. I urge anyone and everyone to RUN, not walk, to CityZen Bar and order it this week! I hope it's still on the menu.

I stole some bites of Hubby's fish which did not include pac man, but a really good leek accompaniment

It was actually made with garlic tops (although they had a pronounced leek-like flavor).

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Stellar pappardelle with black trumpet mushrooms. Simply sublime. Very nice perfectly prepared fish main. The pea soup was almost as good as mine ^_^ . The service was flawless (as it usually always is) and I had a terrific time with Waitman for a kind of "on a whim" dinner. One note, I love love love the custard amuse but I think it is an awfully rich way to begin a meal, at least for me. I wish it were about 1/2 the size that it is. Except now, I could eat a bowl full. (cue Wednesday in Addams Family "NOW")

Very nice Santorini white made me a happy camper and an introduction to a new amaro made everything just right to end the night.

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Anyone been lately?

No, but it's still the exact same format: 3 courses for $50 (enjoy this while you can) - the exact same things offered on the dining room menu, but a limited subset to choose from. Of note: In ten years, this menu has only gone up in price by $5.

Eric mentioned recently that it seems almost random which nights will be empty, and which nights will be crowded - he was unable to discern a pattern as to why.

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My wife, daughter, and I went a few weeks ago. We arrived early to ensure a seat at the bar. Still $50. It's $75 with wine pairing. Exceptional and probably the best deal in town. Three courses plus an amuse bouche. Four wines plus a splash of Champagne. The offerings included a choice of three appetizers, two entrees and two desserts. With three of us dining, we were able to sample each of the offerings. The sommelier asked about wine preferences and then masterfully paired based on our desire for amount of oak or fruit. Fabulous meal, exemplary wines, and elegant but casual service. How many more weeks do I have before they close?

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My wife, daughter, and I went a few weeks ago. We arrived early to ensure a seat at the bar. Still $50. It's $75 with wine pairing. Exceptional and probably the best deal in town. Three courses plus an amuse bouche. Four wines plus a splash of Champagne. The offerings included a choice of three appetizers, two entrees and two desserts. With three of us dining, we were able to sample each of the offerings. The sommelier asked about wine preferences and then masterfully paired based on our desire for amount of oak or fruit. Fabulous meal, exemplary wines, and elegant but casual service. How many more weeks do I have before they close?

They're closing December 6th.

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