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CityZen, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel - 2008 James Beard Award Winner Eric Ziebold - Closed Dec 7, 2014

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What is the set up like for eating in the bar? That is, do they have tables in the bar, or ar you literally eating at the bar? I've been wanting to try CityZen, and am not sure whether to splurge for the dining room or go for the bar menu.

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What is the set up like for eating in the bar? That is, do they have tables in the bar, or ar you literally eating at the bar? I've been wanting to try CityZen, and am not sure whether to splurge for the dining room or go for the bar menu.

There is the bar of course, but there is also a bankette with tables along the opposite wall that is served by the bartenders. I don't recall if the tables are dining table height or lower coffee table height.

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What is the set up like for eating in the bar? That is, do they have tables in the bar, or ar you literally eating at the bar? I've been wanting to try CityZen, and am not sure whether to splurge for the dining room or go for the bar menu.
Dining at the bar is a great way to get a taste of Cityzen. Beau and I first tried the bar before venturing into the dining room and were very happy with it. The bar does have a limited menu but is a great deal with a prix fixe, 3-course tasting option. Consider ordering one of the rillettes as a starter. Doesn't matter which mammal you choose, they're all very good. Click here to see photos of the bar area. Scroll through the photos at the bottom to find the bar which is the 12th photo, I believe.

-Camille

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There is the bar of course, but there is also a bankette with tables along the opposite wall that is served by the bartenders. I don't recall if the tables are dining table height or lower coffee table height.

Despite the fact that they have other tables in the bar area, they only serve dinner at the bar itself.

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We had a great dinner at the bar last night. We originally were trying to go to Cork, but there was like a 1 1/2 hour wait at 9 PM, so we scooted over to Cityzen and snagged 2 seats at the bar. We had great service from the bartender and the food was excellent. We also got this awesome quote:

Me: "They don't serve the parker house rolls at the bar, do they?"

Bartender: "No, unfortunately they do not"

Me: " Yeah, I figured as much, no big deal..."

Bartender: "Yeah, the only people who get served parker house rolls at the bar are like Michel Richard and Don Rockwell."

My wife and I got a good chuckle out of that. Don, can we eat at the bar with you sometime? :mellow:

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Went to the bar at CityZen with the missus the other night and it was a fantastic first experience. The atmosphere, service and decor reminded us of a place you might find in NYC, but priced for DC. Anyway we had a watercress soup that had some kind of garlic flan in the middle, and was very good, understated, and incredibly green. It was about as green as I’d like my food to be. We also had ravioli stuffed with baby chicken (sorry, don’t remember the technical term), the scallops and Guinea Hen (alas, not baby Guinea hen, thus ending our infanticide), all of which were delicious with the hen being one of the best fowl dishes I’ve ever had – cooked to perfection with just the right amount of fatty skin. How many restaurants do you walk out of saying you’d go back for a chicken dish? Not many, I’m guessing. For dessert we had the cheese plate, including an excellent blue cheese (Crater Blue, iirc), and the grasshopper pie, which was good though neither of us are really fans of minty desserts.

For fear of sounding like a snob, as good as the food was, the highlight of the meal was actually listening to the guy next to us order cheese for his cheese plate. The bartender asks him what kinds of cheeses he prefers, and he responds that he would like “that wine cheese”. “Wine cheese?” “Yeah, you know, it’s yellow and orange and swirled together.” “I’m sorry but I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t know what wine cheese is.” The guy was asking for port wine cheese as part of his dessert plate. PORT WINE CHEESE! AT CITYZEN! We’re still laughing at that.

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Anybody ever try to go vegetarian at CZ? I have a friend with that odd disorder, and there's an off chance we'll be headed to the bar there at some point. I seem to recall them covering the protein-free side of things pretty well, but reassurance would be groovy.

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Anybody ever try to go vegetarian at CZ? I have a friend with that odd disorder, and there's an off chance we'll be headed to the bar there at some point. I seem to recall them covering the protein-free side of things pretty well, but reassurance would be groovy.

Look a few posts up, click. Granted this is not a bar meal, but I am sure that they would accommodate.

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What's on the bar menu these days, anyway? Hmm...maybe I'll have to swing by tonight to find out.

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In last night's parade of critters, veggies, and things from the sea, the skate, lobster, and wagyu stood out.

The large quantity of wine consumed during the five hour meal has left me a little foggy about the particulars of some of the other dishes, but those above will be burned into my memory for quite some while. I move to Atlanta in two weeks, and despite meals planned at other fine places between now and then, those tastes just might be the standard by which I judge my new city.

My last comment is about how well CityZen has always dealt with my not eating offal. Last night, when my companions were eating pig's face and foie, I quite enjoyed my rouget and rabbit. In too many other restaurants my non-offal substitutions have seemed like an afterthought. Not here.

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In the form of a tater tot, as an amuse-bouche, with a sauce gribiche?

Oh no, no, no. In the form of a fat, crispy round - two of them, actually - served over some braised endive and olives with a bit of piperade sauce on the side. There's a deadly but delicious poached quail egg on top of one of the rounds, too. Yu'uuu'u'u'm.

Quite a heady dish. ;)

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Oh no, no, no. In the form of a fat, crispy round - two of them, actually - served over some braised endive and olives with a bit of piperade sauce on the side. There's a deadly but delicious poached quail egg on top of one of the rounds, too. Yu'uuu'u'u'm.

Quite a heady dish. ;)

I recommend that you follow the sauteed tete de cochon with the braised shoat. Trust me.

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I recommend that you follow the sauteed tete de cochon with the braised shoat. Trust me.

Oh man! Can either of these be had on the bar menu? It's been a while since I've been, do I remember correctly that the bar menu doesn't offer choices or are there a couple options for each course?

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The crispy tete is on the bar menu right now, but the shoat has been bumped for a spring lamb dish that, too, is really, really, really delicious.

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Going to CityZen for the first time next week and I'm curious how long should I expect to be there if we order a tasting menu? I think we'll be getting the vegetarian tasting, which I can't wait to try out and see how creative their chefs are without meat!

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Going to CityZen for the first time next week and I'm curious how long should I expect to be there if we order a tasting menu? I think we'll be getting the vegetarian tasting, which I can't wait to try out and see how creative their chefs are without meat!

We did it a few months back and I want to say 3 hours or so (my memory is a bit foggy after the cocktails and the pairings). I did the regular menu but as I don't eat pork, they subsituted one of the courses for a veg. course (olive oil flan) and it was one of the stand-outs of the night for me. Have a wonderful time!!!

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Shad roe porridge! Mmmmmmmmmm.

Todd Kliman wrote about it a few years ago:

The chef claims his French Laundry– derived interpretation—in which he slits open the egg sac, forces the eggs through a strainer, brines them overnight, and warms them gently over a low flame to create a porridge—emphasizes the nature of the dish. “We’re not hiding it with bacon. This is what it is. It’s roe. It’s caviar."

It's insanely good. Funny thing: It wasn't even the featured ingredient in the dish I had, but it's the only thing I keep thinking about. Sadly, I don't even remember what kind of fish it was served with. The server described it as Ziebold's take on fish-n-chips, only with the porridge instead of chips.

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Todd Kliman wrote about it a few years ago:

The chef claims his French Laundry– derived interpretation—in which he slits open the egg sac, forces the eggs through a strainer, brines them overnight, and warms them gently over a low flame to create a porridge—emphasizes the nature of the dish. “We’re not hiding it with bacon. This is what it is. It’s roe. It’s caviar."

It's insanely good. Funny thing: It wasn't even the featured ingredient in the dish I had, but it's the only thing I keep thinking about. Sadly, I don't even remember what kind of fish it was served with. The server described it as Ziebold's take on fish-n-chips, only with the porridge instead of chips.

Wow that sounds ridiculously good.

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We did it a few months back and I want to say 3 hours or so (my memory is a bit foggy after the cocktails and the pairings). I did the regular menu but as I don't eat pork, they subsituted one of the courses for a veg. course (olive oil flan) and it was one of the stand-outs of the night for me. Have a wonderful time!!!
I'm happy to report that the birthday dinner we had last night was wonderful and almost 4 hours, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Michael the waiter-captain who took care of us was great - gracious, friendly, and very knowledgable about the wine list and the cheese cart. 3 of us had the vegetarian tasting menu with one dessert substitution.

The meal started with 2 amuses from the chef. First a tiny mushroom fritter with a creamy, mushroom sauce - sauce was better than the fritter. Second, a small dish of cauliflower panna cotta with a bit of cooked or spiced (sugar, salt, hard to tell) golden raisins. This dish didn't work for us - very salty and very strong cauliflower flavor that isn't one of my favs. Luckily, this was one of the few complaints. Then we had the first course seared carrot cake which was awesome. Great flavors and probably most creative thing we ate. It is a flat disc of soft carrot cake that was seared topped with tiny carrots that were cooked in 2 ways, some pickled and some sweet. Also on top were cooked dates and croutons of spice bread that blended well. Also on the edges of the plate were some type of special pink/orange salt to dip the sweet cake in to get an even more complex flavor.

Next, we had 2 types of plantains coated in a crunchy crust on top of a bed of avocado slices and cilantro vinagrette and bit of radish salad. This dish was pretty good except one type of plantain did not work at all. The sweet plaintains were tasty, but the starchy ones when coated in the crust tasted like a stale knish and were so dry the rest of the dishes' creaminess and sauce couldn't save it.

Then, we had a wonderful soft-boiled egg dish with very fresh cooked spinach in a shallot sauce with roasted garlic crepes (more like thin triangles of garlic-flavored pita). All of the flavors worked really well together. The eggs were so big to with bright yolks - delicious.

Till now, the service was very good with frequent offers of 3 types of bread - country white, guiness rye, and bacon and cheese and 2 types of butter (one salted and one unsalted). I only tried the first two which were good crusty breads which were good, but nothing special and the butters both tasted pretty similar to me. But then, we were told with the next course, it was our main course so they brought out the tiny box of parker house rolls that I heard so many raves about. 2 weird things about this, the egg course really seemed to be the main course vs. the fennel bulb they brought out now and the rolls were nothing to rave about. The rolls were good and segmented into tiny bites and sprinkled with good seat salt. However, these are basically egg, dinner rolls that taste like challah. If anyone wants to easily replicate, get yourself some good challah on the sweet side and add some salt on the top - no need to pine for CityZen's tiny offering.

The next "main course" was a fennel bulb with too few orange slices and boiled peanuts. This was the other clunker of the night. Some of us thought it'd be better with more oranges, but I thought it was just a dud. Basically a big chunk of braised fennel without much flavor.

Next was the cheese plates from the trolley, which was fun. I had never had choices from a cheese cart before and so it was a treat. Michael explained the selections pretty well and we chose 12 different selections for a wide variety. The cheeses were very good - some similar to ones we'd had and some very new ones. One of standout was the "flower of the underbrush" (sorry don't remember the french name) which was semi-soft with a very woodsy, ashed rind that providing multi-layered flavor. The plates came with 2 very good "jams" of apricot and spiced fruit, good raisin nut bread, and small piles of chili-spicy almonds. Good, but not the best cheese plate, but one with some of the most options (probably 20-30).

Then another tiny amuse arrived that was stellar - extra creamy, white chocolate sorbet and pineapple granita. Great flavor and texture contrasts.

Then the dessert course. The set menu called for a meyer lemon souffle with juniper ice cream and bit of candied lemon peel, which was very lusicious. (note this is different from what is currently shown on the website) Although the ice cream tasted more like vanilla with a small hint of juniper. The one dessert sub was the "brownie sundae" which was excellent. Fudge striped plate with rich brownie roll with berry ice cream and draped in ganache and and peanut brittle disk. Really good.

Michael helped us pick a nice riesling and threw in a bottle of muscat d'asti dessert wine called "Leo Peorone" (or something similar) that was great with a beautiful bouquet. Also there was an extra plate of mini desserts to celebrate the birthday - a raspberry gelee (good) and 2 others that weren't very memorable.

Great meal, good service, but pricey. Probably won't go back for a long time, but it was fun to try at least once.

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Michael helped us pick a nice riesling and threw in a bottle of muscat d'asti dessert wine called "Leo Peorone" (or something similar) that was great with a beautiful bouquet.

I think this was probably Elio Perrone, who makes a dandy Barbera d'Asti as well..

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Till now, the service was very good with frequent offers of 3 types of bread - country white, guiness rye, and bacon and cheese and 2 types of butter (one salted and one unsalted). I only tried the first two which were good crusty breads which were good, but nothing special and the butters both tasted pretty similar to me.
The bread always seems like it wandered in from some other, inferior restaurant.

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I think this was probably Elio Perrone, who makes a dandy Barbera d'Asti as well..
I checked and you are probably right, but I can't confirm because the dessert wine we had is not on their wine list at least on the web.

We also enjoyed the slightly fruity and crisp 2006 Carl Loewen, Detzemer, Spätlese Feinherb "Dry(ish)" Riesling, which went well with the vegetarian tasting menu.

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Oh no, no, no. In the form of a fat, crispy round - two of them, actually - served over some braised endive and olives with a bit of piperade sauce on the side. There's a deadly but delicious poached quail egg on top of one of the rounds, too. Yu'uuu'u'u'm.

Quite a heady dish. ;)

Awesome...
The crispy tete is on the bar menu right now, but the shoat has been bumped for a spring lamb dish that, too, is really, really, really delicious.
Also really, truly awesome... falling apart tender, really fun sicillian cousous, sunhoke, tiny english cucumber balls, and preserved meyer lemon all around it.

And How has no one mentioned that the japanese wagyu with the fried rice that we had at the wagyu tasting is on the bar menu!?!?!? Well worth the $15 supplement. The rice was even better than I remembered. I didn't ask to determine the exact grade on the beef, so it may not have been identical to what we had at the tasting, but it was from Kagoshima (was that what we had at Vidalia?) and it was great.

Seriously, these were three of the best bites I've had this year. Awesome stuff on the bar menu right now. Go and enjoy. It was down right tragic to have the entire bar to ourselves tonight...

(ETA, oops, I mean to stick this in the Cityzen Lounge thread...)

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Thursday dinner, CityZen for GMiller's birthday. Great to catch up with Sal. The food was a transcendental experience; cream of horseradish soup with corned beef and blue sweet potato crutons, roasted shoulder and loin of shoat with gnocchi and spring peas, fava, baby fennel and asparagus in a fresh tarragon spiked jus and a chai panna cotta. Completely insane, and wildly delicious.

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