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Osteria Elisir (Formerly Elisir), Downtown on 11th and E Streets NW - Chef Enzo Fargione Comes from Teatro Goldoni - Closed


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Does this seem expensive to anyone else? Unless I'm reading the dinner menu wrong, app+pasta+meat/fish will run you about $85 and you don't get dessert. Three courses plus dessert at Palena is $75. Four courses a la carte at Vidalia (app+app+meat/fish+dessert) is less than $75 or you can get the five course tasting menu for $78. Assuming the food at Elisir is very, very good, these will still need to be pretty substantial portions if this balloon is going to float. And even then I'm not so sure.

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Does this seem expensive to anyone else? Unless I'm reading the dinner menu wrong, app+pasta+meat/fish will run you about $85 and you don't get dessert. Three courses plus dessert at Palena is $75. Four courses a la carte at Vidalia (app+app+meat/fish+dessert) is less than $75 or you can get the five course tasting menu for $78. Assuming the food at Elisir is very, very good, these will still need to be pretty substantial portions if this balloon is going to float. And even then I'm not so sure.

I wouldn't read too much into opening prices - this is a very difficult market to judge right now, and I suspect there is wiggle room built into the game plan.

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I wouldn't read too much into opening prices - this is a very difficult market to judge right now, and I suspect there is wiggle room built into the game plan.

Let's hope so. Because you ainna gonna git* $100 for a four course dinner.**

* Imagine a bad, overly-stereotypical Italian accent from a 1950s movie . . . now imagine me apologizing for doing it.

** See Galileo III, whose problem--I'm sorry to say--wasn't bad publicity or poor management (though I'm sure the latter didn't help).

ETA: Cityzen's four course menu is $90, so you could, in theory, get close.

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Does this seem expensive to anyone else? Unless I'm reading the dinner menu wrong, app+pasta+meat/fish will run you about $85 and you don't get dessert. Three courses plus dessert at Palena is $75. Four courses a la carte at Vidalia (app+app+meat/fish+dessert) is less than $75 or you can get the five course tasting menu for $78. Assuming the food at Elisir is very, very good, these will still need to be pretty substantial portions if this balloon is going to float. And even then I'm not so sure.

I think there's a fundamental flaw in this argument. Absent any more data than a web posting price/course ratio is an imperfect measure at best. Otherwise Rogue 24 (or maybe Komi) would be the best value in town while the one of those geezer 3-course, $50 things owuld be, by definition, like lighting twenties on fire for warmth. Best to wait and see what's actually served up.

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Watergate, it would appear, is over.

http://www.washingto...ites/22164.html

Could this be the end of it?

Am I wrong, or is this about the 5th time that an area restaurant has charged for filtered water?

Was this really a news item? Here's a story from 2.5 years ago dealing with the same subject.

Advice to restaurateurs: charge a dollar next time and it will be a non-issue. This has weird echos of Rogue 24 being lambasted for taking credit cards for reservations when several other area restaurants are doing the exact same thing.

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Don,

Charge a dollar?

I thought I was doing a very nice thing by charging only 0.29 cents per person for unlimited consumption of water.

Can you imagine charging a whole dollar?

At Elisir we stand behind our decision and we will offer purified flat and sparkling mineral water for free with a big smile on our faces as our mission is to make our guests happy, genuinely.

Other establishments are currently charging up to $9 per bottle for the exact same water with the exact same water filtering machine by Vivreau....

I rest my peace...and I shut my mouth...

Amen!!!

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Chef Enzo,

I cannot wait to try your new restaurant, and would be glad to pay a whole $0.29 for water. Simply because I wouldn't be ordering the water, as that would interfere with my wine consumption.

Just under 3 years ago, you prepared one of the top two meals I have ever had (In my life) at your previous restaurant of employment during my anniversary dinner. Very much looking forward to your cuisine in the near future.

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Watergate, it would appear, is over.

Does your conscience bother you?

1, 2, 3,

Turn it up!

Sweet Tome Al Lobe Ham, Uh ...

Wear Thus Kaisers Sew Blues

Wheat Ho Malo Bama

Lore Dime Cum Ming Home Two Ewe

blip

PS I'd say that this:

"We think our guests will appreciate getting a top-quality product free of charge,” Fargione wrote, “and it’s our pleasure to offer that for them indefinitely.”

sounds about the exact opposite of being "chastened." Do you feel chastened, Enzo? :lol:

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We headed to Elisir this past weekend with two other couples and had a fantastic time. The space is very attractive, and it was a pleasure to see Chef Fargione at the front of his open kitchen.

Highlights were:

CARPACCIO DI BRANZINO AFFUMICATO NELLA SCATOLA DEL SIGARO AL TAVOLO

- I remember a similar preparation from Goldoni, and I was lucky to steal a bite of this from my wife. The branzino was excellent, and the blood oranges balanced out the smoke perfectly.

POLPO AL BURRO E POLENTA CRUDA

- Almost any octopus dish will draw my interest - this version was excellent. A baby octopus in four portions, spread along an incredible raw polenta sauce.

As we opted not to try a tasting menu, we had a few orders of the risotto for a pasta course.

RISOTTO ALLO ZAFFERANO CON GUANCIE DI VITELLO BRASATE AL PORTO

- Wonderfully rich with veal cheeks and shot through with saffron, this is easily the best risotto I have had in the past year. The entire table loved this dish, and I would happily order it as a main course on any given night.

Mains for my wife and I were another pasta, and another branzino:

AGNOLOTTO GIGANTE DI RICOTTA E SPINACI CON L’UOVO CHE CORRE

- Giant is an understatement - an enormous angolotto, which disappeared from my wife's plate before I could ask for a bite.

BRANZINO DEL CILE AL FORNO, STUDIO DI FINOCCHIO AL BRODETTO DI ZAFFERANO

- While the fish was cooked perfectly, the "aromatic broth" was the star of this dish. Absolutely incredible aromas of fennel and anise contrasted by the very lightly smoked potatoes.

Elisir has not been open very long, but if our meal is any indication - the restaurant has already found its form and is moving full speed ahead. Next time we will opt for the tasting menu (if you want three courses a la carte, there is really no reason not to opt for the 7 course tasting, price-wise). Service was friendly and extremely knowledgeable with both the menu and the wines, particularly wrt a spot on chenin blanc suggestion later in our meal.

Two VERY small suggestions: for a restaurant with some more formal flourishes (each purse had a footstool), shaving the truffles over the risotto tableside would be a nice touch, and both magnums and half bottles on the wine list would be appreciated. I know our group of six would have loved both options.

All in all, a wonderful evening. We can't wait to return.

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Six of us did our best to lay proper waste to a ten course tasting menu at Elisir last night: http://elisirrestaur...gMenusFinal.pdf All of us are "veterans" of serious, lengthy multiple hour dinners of excess: we all agreed-this was an outstanding dining experience. For myself it brought back memories of Maestro, Laboratorio and several Michelin starred dinners in Italy.

Unfortunately none of us took notes although the courses are linked above. Several of them including the cigar box (same as at Goldoni) were showstoppers. Perhaps three, four were absolute "Great Dishes." This was an almost four hour adventure with literal china that represented much of Fortessa's catalogue. (A "deconstructed" apple pie had five different tastes in a rectangular plate that had five compartments.) Absolutely beautiful presentations of creative, perhaps interpretive modern Italian that was extremely labor intensive to prepare and plate. Outstanding, professional, attentive service. Truly a special dinner.

Elisir as noted in the link can also be a la carte as well as with luncheon specials. It does not have to be a prix fixe indulgence; in fact I would guess that only a third of the room sampled one of the two tasting menus. I should also mention that the ten course is $95. Yes, that's a lot. But we all thought it was a very real bargain for what we experienced.

Elisir has not been "formally" reviewed yet but my expectation is that they will agree with us. I also believe the prices will necessarily go up-they have to! Right now the ten course at Elisir is only a few dollars more than Obelisk-a comparative steal. For anyone reading this I would give serious consideration to a visit. Elisir does not have to be a prix fixe destination-it can be far more economical. But for a serious dining adventure Elisir is already among the best.

Bravo, Chef!

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That's great to hear, Joe, as I was very disappointed with my lunch there during Restaurant Week. The menu was very safe and uninteresting and I found nothing that would bring me back. I didn't post as I assumed it was just your typical RW performance out of an overburdened restaurant, so with your endoresment I will give Enzo another shot some time in the near future.

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I stopped by last night to have a drink/snack at the bar before meeting a friend at PS7 to use an expiring Rue La La coupon.

I was a little sad to see the cocktail list was different from the website. There was no sparkling Negroni or the barrel aged "elixir," so I went with a take on the dark and stormy. It's not on their website, but I do remember it having barrel aged rum, housemade ginger beer and a couple of other ingredients. It was the perfect drink for a warmer day, refreshing, strong, and served with a metal straw!

I ordered the tempura artichoke hearts, expecting a snack to graze on but was pleasently surprised with the composed plate that came out. One one side of the plate was a fairly large portion of eggplant caponata salad, topped with three perfectly fried artichoke hearts. The other side was an onioni speared with a cracker (which provided some additional texture to the caponata), and a smear of pesto ran across the plate. If I wasn't so hungry, this probably could've been my dinner for the night.

Also worth noting was the small bite offered before the plate came out. Unfortunately, I don't remember the details, but I think there was duck liver involved, and some interesting textures.

You +1'd this publicly. Undo

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Had a very, very nice dinner there last night. This should be a busier restaurant! Service was terrific. Food was stellar. Even Chef Enzo came to chat with us a few times.

Elisir is a superb restaurant that deserves far more exposure and "buzz" than it receives.

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Far be it from me to make an "I can't wait to eat here!" post, but....well, I took one look at those photos and thanked the stars that I had the foresight to make my birthday dinner reservations over a month ago. This is the kind of culinary artistry that DC deserves. I'm betting that those dishes taste as spectacular as they look.

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$19 for lunch is more than I can typically spend on my government drone salary, but I would happily return for the pre fixe bar lunch at Elisir. The spinach / ricotta cannelone was full of creamy goodness, but nicely complemented by the mushroom ragu, which added some body and kept it from being too rich. Well it was still a bit too rich for me to finish, but that was only because I was saving room for the mini almond cake with a melon ball size scoop of mascarpone gelato. My lunch companions had the salmon with mustard sauce and the saffron fettucine, and both really liked their dishes as well.

I guess if I had to find a flaw, it was that the cake was a touch too dry and crumbly, but I've never had zuccotto before, so maybe that's what it's supposed to be like. Since there was a nutella-like sauce on the plate, it wasn't a fatal flaw.

Also, a big thank you for having three (!) items on the menu that are suitable for vegetarians, as they say in the UK. Not often that we have more than one choice on a menu, especially a fixed menu. (PS - If there's beef broth or something in the cannelone, don't tell me, I don't wanna know. ;) )

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Eaten here recently once for lunch at the bar once for dinner.

I can echo Sacrilicious' favorable comments on the $19 bar lunch menu. What impressed me most was the range of entree options. There were a dozen or so different items, running the range of the kitchen's options. I had a fettucine ragu, standard Italian kitchen stuff, and they did it very, very nicely. Two dessert items, I chose a chocolate cake which I didn't really care for - technically it was good but it was in a deconstructed presentation and struck me as a little bit too busy. I definitely will be back to check out the other entrees on the list.

As for dinner - we constructed a little impromptu tasting menu, and of it I must say that I don't remember a whole lot because we were considerably inebriated with pre-dinner bar and cocktail hopping (ha ha ha). I remember enough to say that we liked it a lot (two dishes I can specifically recall - sweetbreads and the ribeye). Perhaps most memorable, given the liquor consumption of the evening, was a nice Lamole Chianti Classico Barrique on the menu for $48. I shall have to dine in the evening again whilst sober, in order to appreciate the kitchen's specific qualities.

Service and ambience very positive, on both visits.

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Wonderful dinner at Elisir last night. Both wife and I enjoyed the tasting menu (which we both thought was a good value), with a few exceptional dishes (foie gras custard; squash/amaretti soup) and otherwise everything very good. Excellent wine pairings as well. Found the service polished and attentive, but not overbearing, and very personable. I thought the tv's were a bit much, and at least from where we were sitting didn't add much b/c they're inadequate to be able to figure out what you're looking at; just seemed an unnecessary affectation and distraction. Overall, a great experience all around, though quite struck by the dress of many of the guests -- blue jeans, untucked shirts, one guy in leather pants and a motorcycle-themed t-shirt. Is this really where we're at now? Worried I'm starting to sound like my parents, but just seemed insulting to the chef and the restaurant (and obviously bugged me as well) that people can't see fit to clean it up a bit for a Saturday night out at what I would probably consider one of the top 10 or so fine dining destinations in DC at the moment.

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Had the tasting menu last Saturday night. When I saw the tasting menu had a soft shell crab dish on it, I started resigning myself to a la carte (not that that would have been a major sacrifice) but was pleasantly surprised when the waiter clarified that the chef could substitute a dish (tuna loin) for me because of an allergy. Made it no big deal, which I appreciated. Throughout the evening, the service really enhanced our experience: informative but not stiff or pretentious descriptions of dishes, water glasses filled at right times unobtrusively, excellent pacing of meal, friendlybut not intrusive staff, helpful wine suggestions. I won't go through each dish because the menu is on the website, but my favorite was the goose liver "creme brûlée" with a black pepper tuile and red wine poached pear. Mmm. Silky and earthy. And the tart-sweet onion on tuna loin with caviar and a caper cracker was gorgeous. Mouth watering now thinking about it. And I usually don't love squab, but it was my and my husband's favorite of the protein courses. My only complaint was that the dessert courses were both cream-centric. Looking forward to returning.

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The a la carte menu on the website wasn't up to date. Thus I was disappointed that the razor clam pasta dish was no longer available. Instead, we went with the 7 course dinner tasting, which is accurately described as of today on the website - chilled soup with lobster, liver brulee, hand cut spaghetti, angolotti, halibut, pheasant roll, and panna cotta. Unfortunately for the restaurant, we were the only table from 5:30 to maybe 7; however, every dish we received was perfectly executed. My personal favorites were the two pasta dishes. The spaghetti might be described as deconstructed - pasta served on top of crumbled sauce, then you pour some pasta water over the whole dish, mixed the whole thing up and you get a perfectly al dente hand made spaghetti dish! I know it's a little gimmicky but even so, it's the best simple pasta dish I've tasted in DC in the last couple of years. The angolotti was also fabulous. A word to heavy eaters - there's nothing to stuff you. If you want to stuff yourself, eat more bread with the olive oil sea salt tasting (which comes with the tasting menu, plus a couple of amuses). At $75, it's a bargain.

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At $75, it's a bargain.

When it comes to long pastas, I am generally averse to fresh made pasta. Too many cooks take too delicate a hand with the dough and never form the proper amount of gluten to give it the wonderfully chewy texture that you can find with even grocery store pasta. With this in mind, I was not expecting much from the spaghetti dish. When it arrived it was not very attractive, other than the raw parsley glob on top of the noodles, the rest of the dish ranged from white to off white to grey. With the addition of the pasta water and mixing it became even less visually appealing. Thankfully this dish is not about visual appeal, it is about showing off the pasta. The simple sauce highlighted the wonderful texture of the perfectly made pasta as opposed to being a delivery device for the sauce. I cannot think of another pasta dish that that I have ever eaten that surpassed this one. Texturally the angolotti was on par with what I have had at Flour + Water; but every element of Elisier’s was far more complex.

Service was professional while at the same time not detached – you will be very well served if you end up with the young Korean gentleman as your waiter.

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The team of Elisir will be going to the James beard House in New York to cook a fantastic 6 courses dinner for one night only on Tuesday July 24

We are doing a partnership with CityEats to promote the very same menu at Elisir for one week only to give everyone the opportunity to sample it

Log on for details on Menu to http://www.jamesbear...-italian-072412

Reservations open after Wednesday July 25 2012

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Anyone been lately? Would be interested in any recent reports.

I suspect this menu changes like the wind, but Enzo is always Enzo, so reports may not help you much.

There is a bar area where you can order with less formality and commitment. Does that help?

I had the hand-cut spaghetti dish that Ericandblueboy and Sthitch raved about a couple of posts above, and while I thought it was "gimmicky," I also loved it - it might have been my favorite dish of the meal, and thanks for reminding me I need to get back in.

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I suspect this menu changes like the wind, but Enzo is always Enzo, so reports may not help you much.

There is a bar area where you can order with less formality and commitment. Does that help?

I had the hand-cut spaghetti dish that Ericandblueboy and Sthitch raved about a couple of posts above, and while I thought it was "gimmicky," I also loved it - it might have been my favorite dish of the meal, and thanks for reminding me I need to get back in.

Thanks, Don. Heading back this Saturday eve to celebrate our anniversary. You can be damn sure I won't be reporting back on this board this time with any comments on our fellow diners' attire.

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Some brief thoughts on my dinner at Elisir from a couple weeks ago --

Intrigued by the various reports here, I ordered the hand-cut spaghetti. The noodles were ever so delicate, and the flavors of the dish subtle and refined. A gimmicky preparation, perhaps, but here, modernist technique serves old-fashioned ends: clarity of tastes and perfection of texture. An immensely satisfying dish.

Alas, my main course was a disappointment. The pheasant roulade felt like it came from an French restaurant in England stuck in a 1970s time warp. The pheasant itself was better cooked than you'd find in such a restaurant (it was moist and not overdone), but the overall preparation was stodgy and French-ified. The gravy was heavy and salty, and the brussel sprout/pancetta/corn accompaniment supremely unimaginative. I expected better from the chef who gave us the "cigar box" carpaccio.

The olive oil and sea salts tasting is more than a curiosity, but the accompanying breads should be much better.

I found the service to be an odd mix of studied informality and a somewhat cloying, and clumsy, fussiness. Yet it was earnest, and its heart was in the right place.

I only wish Enzo would more consistently hit the highs that he's capable of.

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Another small data point that reinforces my report above:

I ordered the charred grilled spiced octopus with mashed potatoes and mushroom ragout off of the lunch bar menu. The octopus itself was everything it should have been: tender, but still with a nice chew, and tasty. But the mashed potatoes and mushrooms tamed and weighed down the dish, bringing it into another, less interesting country, with a lone, fried basil leaf standing forlornly as a token gesture to what might have been.

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