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One Block West, Chef Ed Matthews' Modern American in Winchester - Closed Aug 5, 2017

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One Block West -

A wonderful dining experience.  While the service had some hiccups and the wine pairing pours were barely enough to scrape through the course, I would absolutely return and do the tasting menu again.  It was $65 plus $45 for the pairings. 

First: salmon three ways - tartar, smoked and roe.  A little over olive oily.  I do not eat sushi but ate the tartar and smoked pieces nonetheless.  Quite tasty.

Second: drum over crisp razor thin bean slices with a sweet potato puree.  OMG this was phenomenal.  The whole combo just worked wonderfully.

Third: Rabbit wrapped in prosciutto with feta and spinach over squash puree.  Not a big feta fan, thought it was a bit overwhelming, but this was also very good.

Fourth: Sausage with a sauerkraut eggroll.  It really wasn't an eggroll, but it was wrapped in cabbage.  (My wonderful german mother who fed us pork and saurkraut every new years day as what I thought was punishment for coming home drunk the night before would flip if she heard me say this)  The saurkraut was amazing!  It was not vinegary, which is how I grew up hating, I mean eating, it, but very sweet.  Went tremendously well with the sausage. (edited to add this correct description of the dish)

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Fifth: Bourbon sorbet.  Yum, yum, yum. 

Sixth: Lamb.  Tender, flavorful, delicious. 

Seventh: Dessert.  I didn't write it down, so I don't remember.   I do remember eating the whole thing and being pissed b/c it was so good but I was full but I couldn't stop eating it.  (edited again - clearly should have looked at the website before I wrote this. This was f-ing awesome. 

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This place is absolutely worth the trip from DC.  We stayed at the Wyndham right there in town.  2 blocks from the walking district, very convenient and only about 120 bucks.  (although based on the aforementioned pairing pour sizes, I certainly would not have been nervous about driving back if it was required).  I read great things about One Block West and am happy to report that the food was incredibly good.  Oh, they had a person playing accoustic guitar in the dining room during dinner, which was quite nice.  I wish this place was closer to home.   

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We also walked around and stopped into the pub (Union something I think).  Friendly people and staff, excellent beer selection and wines by the glass.   

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I thought I'd written about the absolutely amazing dinner Grover and I had with some friends of ours at One Block West.  Seven (more or less) courses prepared by Chef Ed and served by the chef and his excellent wait-staff.  From the amuse bouche to the final glass of wine, a totally wonderful experience.  If food is served in Heaven (if there is a Heaven) it will taste like this.  Every course built on the previous one and finished with dessert (unfortunately, I was in a food fog by then and didn't remember anything, but there was rabbit and fish and more and it was all excellent).  The wine pairings were selected by the chef and totally complemented every course.  All in all, a dinner worth way more than the final cost.

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On 10/19/2013 at 7:43 PM, lggl said:

One Block West -

A wonderful dining experience.  While the service had some hiccups and the wine pairing pours were barely enough to scrape through the course, I would absolutely return and do the tasting menu again.  It was $65 plus $45 for the pairings. 

I rarely reply to posts here about the restaurant, but know that I lurk and I appreciate all the comments, even the negative ones. Sorry about the wine pours. We aren't trying to be cheap at all. We're trying to do about a four-ounce pour so that you get enough wine and yet aren't so blotto by the end of the meal that you don't remember what you ate! ;) Plus we do worry about getting you where you need to be after you dine with us. That said, if you were getting low on your wine, the server should have poured a bit more for you. If you don't mind, drop me a private email here, so I can understand this and the service hiccups and get that dealt with. Thank you and everyone else on this thread for your support. The crew and I really appreciate it.

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On 10/22/2013 at 3:21 PM, B.A.R. said:

^ That's excellent. Cara and I might need to take a little trip.

Well worth the time (about 2 hours from Alexandria).  If you drop the chef a note with the number of courses you'd like, he'd probably do amazing things with the food he's purchased fresh that day. 

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On 10/22/2013 at 1:07 PM, Tweaked said:

Interesting...while poking around the One Block West website I found this:

Cooking with Fresh Herbs:  A Primer from the One Block west Kitchen

Nice one chef!

Grilled Mojo-Marinated Shrimp

A mojo is a traditional Cuban marinade used for a variety of meatsand seafood. Every cook's mojo is slightly different. I use sour orSeville oranges when I have them"”they taste like orange, lime, anda touch of tangerine. Otherwise, for every three sour oranges,I substitute two sweet oranges and one lime.

juice of 3 sour oranges, about 5 fluid ounces

zest of one sour orange

½ cup (4 fluid ounces) extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely minced

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

salt and black pepper, to taste

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on

Place all ingredients except for the shrimp in a bowl and mix well. Toss the mojo with the shrimp and let stand for 10-15 minutes (much longer than this and you are going to have shrimp seviche). Grill the shrimp until just done.Serves four.

I like to serve this in a big soup plate with a very smooth purée of black bean soup in the well of the plate and a tostí³n (twice-fried green plantain) on top of that. Next I spoon a fruit salsa such as myPersimmon Salsa on top of the tostí³n and arrange several grilled shrimp around that, tail up and out towards the rim of the plate. While the shrimp is grilling, I will reduce a bit of the mojo in a sauce pan and then spoon it over the shrimp once plated. A big sprig of fresh oregano in the center completes the garnish.

________Incredible how good this sounds!_________

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On 11/4/2013 at 7:04 PM, DonRocks said:

Jeff, have you been to any other restaurants in non-NoVa VA, and if so, which ones would you compare this to favorably? I'm pretty sure my next trip to Winchester will involve a trip to One Block West, but "eM" sounds like it could complete a weekend excursion there.

(For all of you who don't know pizzler, he has a palate, for sure - that's why I'm asking for clarification.)

(PS Why are you called pizzler?)

If you call One Block West before you go and ask for a 4 or 5 course tasting menu, you will be amazed by the food.  Everything is bought the morning of your reservation and fresh.  Four of us had a tasting menu there and what was supposed to be 4 courses turned out to be six or seven courses and everyone was extraordinary.  The wine pairings not only complemented the food but also stood alone as a course itself.  A truly excellent dinner.

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Another amazing tasting dinner at One Block West.  I cannot believe this place does not get more press.  Chef is still firing on all cylinders.  We had salmon tartar, tile fish, an amazing mushroom pastry, duck liver, and quail.  The pairings were spot on as was the wonderful service.  Even though it is absolutely 100% worth the drive, I so wish this place was closer.   

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I wasn't expecting this gut punch on a Wednesday afternoon.  That stinks.  Best of luck to Chef Ed and thank you for many, many wonderful meals.  

While other visits were amazing, the tasting we did back in 2013 is still probably the best meal I have ever had.  (no offense to the Tarver/Neal combo in their Ashby Inn heyday)  

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Along with The Inn at Little Washington and The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, I know of no restaurant in Northwestern Virginia equal to Ed Matthews' One Block West, which is sadly closing on Aug 5, 2017. When I heard that One Block West was closing, and knew that I hadn't yet even been there, I realized that it was because of people like me that it was closing - I always knew in the back of my mind that this was a great restaurant, based on feedback I received from trusted diners, but I'd never experienced it for myself, and I never quite knew *how* great it was - Winchester, VA is losing a culinary treasure.

Chef Ed wrote me after our meal, and told me that the menu that evening was "inspired in large part by a stroll through my home garden Saturday morning before coming to work." That sounds like the boatload of BS many restaurants feed diners as a marketing tactic, but in this case, it was the absolute truth - it was obvious that basil was an important part of this meal, and the link that tied together all of the first courses.

I could rave, poke, prod, and urge everyone to get out to One Block West this week, but it won't do any good, because neither hell nor high water could stop Ed from moving out to Oregon later this month. I reminded him that the total eclipse would be passing through his new home, and he seemed happy at having it as a bonus, but when I urged him not to leave the culinary field, he put his finger on his throat, made a cutting motion, and said, "I'm done," adding that every restaurant in Portland had called him when they heard he was moving out that way. It's their loss, it's our loss - the only person who's going to be happier because of this is Ed Matthews, who will finally have a chance to live the life he deserves. "I hope you become a realtor and make a fortune," I told him, when I realized that he Really. Is. Done.

Before I went out to One Block West, I asked Ed what the tasting menu would be, and he said he wasn't doing any more tasting menus, but when I arrived, he told me that he cobbled one together, and was offering it to others in the restaurant as well. What a meal this was - a meal which I'll never forget, and a reminder that words alone do not support a business.

This post is a profound, albeit inadequate, show of my respect and gratitude towards Chef Ed Matthews: one of the great culinary geniuses ever to have graced the Washington, DC region.

The wines we had were perhaps my two favorite Virginia whites: one bottle each of Thibault-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay Sparkling Wine, and Glen Manor Sauvignon Blanc. With dessert, we each had a wonderful glass of Calvados (what else should you have with a Clafoutis?)

Note: I asked Ed to take pictures of each dish before sending them out, so I wouldn't have to fumble around with my iPhone during dinner - he was gracious enough to email them to me so I could use a copy. These are the actual dishes we were served:

Scallop Crudo - Scallop, Sweet Corn, Tomato, Basil Oil, JQ Dickinson Salt, Basil:


Wahoo Napoleon - Tomato, Half-Grilled Wahoo, Tomato Vinaigrette, Cilantro Aioli:


Insalata Caprese - House-Made Mozzarella, Pesto Oil, Balsamic-Marinated Cherry Tomatoes, Basil:


Thai Lamb Salad - Cold-Sliced Grilled Lamb (Lamb Marinated in Thai Basil, Mint, and Lemon Balm), Greens, Cilantro, Thai Basil, Cilantro, Cucumber, Carrot, Peanuts, Thai Lime-Fish Sauce Dressing:

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Peach-Thai Basil Sorbet


Duck - Grilled Moulard Duck, Flageolets, Caramelized Tomatoes:


Cherry Clafoutis - Clafoutis, Blueberry Mascarpone, Crème Anglaise,  Blueberries, Pickled Blueberries:

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When we waved the white flag, we were told that only one course remained: the Clafoutis. I joked with our server that I was a Clafoutis snob, and that a true Clafoutis should always be served with unpitted cherries, knowing full-well that in a restaurant, that's not the reality. We were, of course, served our Clafoutis with our cherries having been pitted. Until my final bite - that son-of-a-bitch somehow managed to sneak *one* unpitted cherry into the back of my dessert, just because he could. Hilarious and remarkable!

I'm raising One Block West to Bold in the Virginia Dining Guide, and that is how it shall be retired.

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When I heard Ed was closing One Block West, I wrote and told him how much we enjoyed his food and his very pleasant company.  We were one of a number of first-week-of-business diners at One Block West.  Every dinner there was unique and amazing.  We took some friends from Maryland for dinner and Ed not only cooked every course, but selected the wines and served.  A more gracious and warmhearted owner/chef will be difficult to find.  Good-bye Ed, I'll miss you.

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Don, thanks for your very kind words. To all of your readers who have supported us over the past 15 years, a hearty thank you as well. I'm very sad to be moving on and very happy at the same time. I think I am at the top of my game and that is the perfect time to walk out the door. My best to all of you.

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