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Proof, Capital One Arena, Chef George Rodrigues Replaces Austin Fausett, Who Replaced Ben Schramm, Who Replaced Haidar Kharoum, Etc.

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I had a lovely dinner at Proof last night ... Gnocchi with roasted corn was another highlight.

Say hi next time. :angry:

Proof keeps getting better and better, and Tom Sietsema's review was well-written and paints an accurate picture of the restaurant. I don't assign stars, but if I did (hmm, lightbulb going on...), Proof would absolutely get three. Unfortunately, despite Tom's fairly glowing review, a lot of people are only going to remember the star rating, and this restaurant should not have gotten two and a half. It seems like such a small thing - half a star - but it's not. Not only does it have a devastating psychological impact on the restaurant staff, but it also means Proof is "lumped in" with a bunch of other places, when it deserves to stand out from that pack. I can see this being somewhat of a borderline call, but in this case I think you need to round up, not down.

A Roasted Flatbread ($12) with ricotta, olive oil, lemon thyme, baby arugula, and sea salt was expensive for its size, but was so perfectly executed that it was worth every penny. The combination of these ingredients was in absolute harmony, and at one point I even swooned to myself when I hit a piece of sea salt at just the right moment.

Just as good, perhaps even better, was the Yukon Gold Gnocchi ($21 for a full portion) with chanterelle mushrooms and roasted sweet corn. The gnocchi itself was great, but the chanterelles were the most exquisite versions I've had in recent memory. Everyone serves chanterelles, but not many people can cook them like Haidar Karoum. Was Haidar hovering over my dish? I don't know - they knew I was there - but one thing's for sure: At its best, this is a fantastic bowl of gnocchi.

Following Tom's lead, I also had a bottle of the fine 2005 Defaix Chablis 1er Cru ($38), which is worth every penny. An entry-level Chablis by Defaix is also on the menu for $30, and that wine should be almost as good.

At one point, Mark Kuller came over with a taste of 1990 Krug. Just enough for one small, fleeting sip, which nearly made me melt and flow into one of the cracks in the floor. He offered to pour me a glass, and I had to decline even though, at that moment, I wanted a glass of that wine more than anything in the world.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I don't assign stars, but if I did (hmm, lightbulb going on...), ... people are only going to remember the star rating ...Not only does it have a devastating psychological impact on the restaurant staff, but it also means Proof is "lumped in" with a bunch of other places,

Please don't start with the stars thing. You've just explained why it's a bad idea.

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Went last Saturday night. About as expected. Very impressed. Server was Anne and thought she was very good. I would definitely recommend trying to get a booth. I noticed some people in the middle tables holding up candles/lighters trying to read the menus as it was too dark. The charcuterie was excellent (loved the mustard, Anne said it's not made in house) as well as the heirloom salad and corn soup. I had the hanger steak and my gf had the lamb. The lamb seemed kind of mild which is interesting as lamb can be too intense on taste sometimes. The wines by the glass were awesome. That Napa Zin was impressive. I am a big fan of Tempranillo and Rioja and Proof did not dissapoint. I just think Spanish wines (even Albarino) are very underated and a great bargain at that.

Great to see Tom's review the next morning in the Post. I too was surprised at only 2.5 stars. OK, maybe you could make a case for 3 or 2.75 (if there is such a thing). The ambiance should get a 4 what with the bar area and bathroom design. Although, I have to mention the fruit flies. I visit 20-30 wineries a year and so I am very familiar with the whole fruit fly / wine attraction but some customers may not. 20 mins into the meal they wouldn't leave us alone. The fact we had several glasses of wine obviously didn't help....

Overall, Mark has a great place and we'll be back again soon with many friends.

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Enjoyed dinner at the bar at Proof on Wednesday night--the space is just gorgeous, and I liked the clever tie-ins to the National Portrait Gallery (my favorite of DC's museums).

The by-the-glass selection is varied and fairly-priced, and I enjoyed the Alvarinho that the bartender picked out for me. Service at the bar was attentive without being cloying. I wish Mr. Zutant's dad hadn't called right after I sat down, as I would have loved to engage him in discussion. Ah, family! Next time, perhaps.

I opted for two "Firsts," the gnocchi and the sweetbreads. The former was absolutely divine--perfectly textured, intensely flavorful, and not distractingly heavy. I wish I had ordered the large portion. The sweetbreads were not quite as impressive--there was a little too much emphasis on the "sweet," with the occasional bite packing an overly salty wollup of bacon. It wasn't a total miss, but I'll opt for something else next time.

When I arrived at 5:30, the place was nearly empty (just me and a couple at the bar, with no one at any of the tables). When I departed at 6:30, there were people practially jumping over each other to secure my newly-emptied barstool. I can certainly see why the place has been such a success--I'll absolutely be back. Thanks for bringing great wine and food to the neighborhood--bravo!

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The slow-cooked pork panini is exactly what I'm looking for at lunch. Tasty, filling, and no more expensive than the crap down the street at McCormick's. The wine by the glass list is also outstanding, with winners in the Shiraz, Bordeaux, and Cabernet, with the only disappointment coming in the form of a dull Burgundy, which was promptly replaced at no charge. Great crowd and an awesome space, including the picture above the urinal closest to the door. That might be the most impressive thing I've seen all week. :blink:

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Tripewriter and I ate here again last night and had another lovely meal. We showed up early, thinking we'd sit at the bar and have a glass of vino, but they offered us a table, and we were sat immediately. We started off with the charcuterie board -- holy cow (pig, etc.)! It was huge. We did what damage we could to it -- which was considerable, as we hadn't eaten yet that day -- but we couldn't finish it. It was ginormous. And delicious :blink: My favorite bite was the grilled bread with a smear of mustard, a slice of bresola, and a sliver of pickle. I accompanied it with their by-the-glass Malbec, which was light and refreshing. Tripewriter had the gin rickey and said it was also refreshing. We split the tomato salad, as we were full of meat. In particular, some of the wee tomatoes -- one of the reds and the yellow -- just had amazing flavor. For the main, I had the halibut and Tripewriter had the chicken. We both enjoyed our respective dishes -- I, in particular, was totally enamored of the greens/lentils with mustard that were under my fish. I could have eaten a whole bowl of them (which is a rare thing for me!). We shared a bottle of Westrey pinot noir, which Tripewriter fell in love with :P It seems like every time we go out lately, we end up with a new case of wine on order...and I'm pretty sure last night won't be an exception. We finished with coffee and the chocolate bundt cake. If I had to pick a weaker portion of the meal, it would be the dessert, but I remember liking the sticky toffee pudding I had last time quite a lot, so I may just not have been in the right mood last night. We had a lovely, relaxing time -- for whatever reason, we really feel at home at Proof, and Sebastian and our waitress (who was great) certainly did nothing to disabuse us of the notion. We're already plotting our return...

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We started off with the charcuterie board -- holy cow (pig, etc.)! It was huge. We did what damage we could to it -- which was considerable, as we hadn't eaten yet that day -- but we couldn't finish it. It was ginormous. And delicious :blink: My favorite bite was the grilled bread with a smear of mustard, a slice of bresola, and a sliver of pickle.

Went there a couple of weeks ago with my wife and 4 other friends. We started with the charcuterie board as well and found it to be quite a satisfying portion for 6 of us! All in all, it was a fantastic meal (everyone loved their apps and entrees) and Matt and Sebastian made the night very memorable. (Ask for a taste of Sebastian's bacon vodka. Awesome...just awesome.)

Side note: Their host staff is well trained and extremely polite and accommodating as well. It's always nice to see a restaurant that takes the time to put more effort into the host staff than just planting a pretty face there.

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I have to tell you guys something, I have wanted to go to Proof since it opened months ago, but I didn't get around to it until last night. Various plans to go there have been cancelled, but even though the Yankees were playing last night, I still made a point to go anyway. And, it met all of my expectations...almost.

Got there right when the doors opened at 5:30 PM, it is a beautiful space. For whatever reason, that is my style of restaurant, I like it. Especially enjoyed the bathroom, not enough to hang out in there for a while, but it was still nice to have a cool bathroom. Overall, decor was an A+.

Sitting at the bar was easy at 5:30, but when we left about 8:00, it sure wasn't easy anymore, even on a Monday night. To say that this place is popular is an understatement. Our bartender (Jimmy?) was very good, great guy, very nice. When we sat at a table in the bar later on, our waitress was great as well, she had some good tips and wasn't afraid to tell us about them. She wasn't wishy-washy, which is what I like in a server. Service was only a B+ though because they couldn't transfer our three drinks at the bar over to our bill at the table. Since our table was in the bar, I'm not sure why it was a big deal. And, really, it wasn't a big deal, but to fight my way through that bar to pay another bill when I just wanted to go home and watch baseball wasn't so much fun.

The wine list was wonderful, I liked the selection of wines by the glass and the option of different sized pours, added a lot to the experience. I also felt that the prices were pretty reasonable. When I order wine by the glass, which isn't often, I tend to be disappointed in the pricing, but not at Proof. Yeah, it was pricey, but at least the list was well thought out and good, I would rather pay $10 for a glass of good wine than $10 for a glass of crappy wine. Yes, I know that is obvious, but you know what I mean. Started with the Aviation, not a bad drink, but $11 was too much. Had the Sauv Blanc and Vermentino at the bar, liked them both. Had the Barbera d'Asti, Malbec, Tempranillo and something else at the table, can't believe I can't remember the last wine we had. Anyway, they were good enough for an A- on the drink side.

The food, on the other hand, fell a bit short for me. Now, I loved everything that we had, I really did, but I did feel that it was a bit pricey. I almost never complain about price, but I did feel that everything on the menu was a few dollars pricier than it should have been. Started with the prosciutto ($12) and the riccota, olive oil, lemon thyme, baby arugula and sea salt flatbread ($12). The food, as I said before, was great, but the portions were small, especially the flatbread. We liked the flatbread more than the prosciutto, but both were excellent. Same with the glazed sablefish, potato purée, pea shoots, wild mushrooms with miso sauce ($24). It reminded me somewhat of the black cod that they serve at Morimoto and Nobu, great fish. The potatoes could have been better, but I liked the pea shoots and the mushrooms. Again though, the portion was pretty small. For dessert we had the toffee pudding cake ($9) which was tiny. When I end a meal, I just want a few bites, but this was simply too small. And, you know what, it was just average, a little bit dry, we should have gone for the goat cheesecake. I give the food a solid B, but if they put a few more ounces on each dish or lower the prices a few bucks, it is easily an A.

Overall, great experience and I will forever kick myself for not going there sooner. And, it made an otherwise miserable night of baseball watching turn out to not be that bad afterall.

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I was there last night too. I love Proof (and I'd say that even if I weren't friends with hmmboy).

When I entered around 8 pm, my first thought was "where are all the people?" jiveturk21, if you thought it was crowded last night, you definitely don't want to show up at 8 pm on a Friday! There were people present; it just wasn't the zoo it has been on my last few visits.

I do agree, though, that meals tend to be a bit pricey for the portions involved. Still, I really love the food offered so I continue to return.

While we waited for our table, my two friends and I ordered a selection of three cheeses. Not a clunker in the bunch; I'd just suggest offering more bread to go with said cheeses. We asked for, and received, more.

Last night was my first time trying the ricotta flatbread which a friend ordered. It was nicely flavored with flecks of salt dotting the creamy cheese. We really enjoyed this as well as my other friend's meatballs and my half portion of gnocchi which are presently offered with leeks and chanterelles. Awesome! My friends were fighting me for the last bits of sauce.

I'm a sucker for the hanger steak, medium rare. My friends took my menu suggestions of the chicken and the sablefish. All of the plates went back to the kitchen empty.

Desserts are not my favorite part of meals at Proof, to be honest. We were pretty full anyway so we passed on this course.

The pre-tip bill was, I believe, $160 which didn't include the cheese or our first round of wine in the bar area (another $50 plus tip). We are just medium rollers, I guess, so this is somewhat of splurge unless expense accounts come into play.

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Very much enjoyed my first trip to Proof over the weekend.

The champagne cart is a fun way to start the meal and has options for big and not-so-big spenders alike (3 sparkling wines for under $10 a glass ).

As others have noted, the gnocchi and sablefish are real standouts. My girlfriend and I share whatever we order as a matter of course, but for the first time in years she refused to hand over the gnocchi. I wasn't the least bit disappointed to keep the sablefish which was delightfully rich. While it wasn't a large piece of fish, Sablefish is an expensive protein and I thought for the price ($24) and with the sizeable accompaniments (mashed potatoes, baby bok choi) I thought it was a good and sufficiently-filling value.

The Chablis that Sietsema & Don both recommended is somehow still available and paired well with our mains.

Cheese course comes with a nice spread of yummy toasts, figs, honey, and applesauce.

I was impressed to see a spot which could easily fill every table all night long exercising some discretion and managing to not overbook themselves so as to avoid leaving folks waiting for their tables or jamming the kitchen with orders. They are clearly working hard to make their guests happy here - our server was very quick to offer the champagne cart and to offer to replenish the bread for the cheese course. Kudos!

I'll be back next time I can find a reservation or will order at the bar, which was full, but not as slammed as I'd expect it to be given the restaurant's wild popularity.

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Bottle: Floris Whit Blanche, Hedonism Red ale (double ipa), Egginberg Pils, Hitachino Red rice and Ginger Brew, Orval Trappist, Kasteel cherry, Delerium Tremens (only for 1/2 and 1/2 Pink elephant)

Keg: La Chouffe, Weyerbacher Merry Monks ale, Old Chub Scottish ale, and Kostrizer Schwarzbier.

Be aware the kegs change ALL THE TIME~~~ I can only carry 1/6th kegs, so I gotta keep changin. The bottles are pretty steady, Ill be changing them soon enough for the comming winter. Oh YEAH, I just got Gouden Carolous Noel.

K, there it is.

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Bottle: Floris Whit Blanche, Hedonism Red ale (double ipa), Egginberg Pils, Hitachino Red rice and Ginger Brew, Orval Trappist, Kasteel cherry, Delerium Tremens (only for 1/2 and 1/2 Pink elephant)

Keg: La Chouffe, Weyerbacher Merry Monks ale, Old Chub Scottish ale, and Kostrizer Schwarzbier.

Be aware the kegs change ALL THE TIME~~~ I can only carry 1/6th kegs, so I gotta keep changin. The bottles are pretty steady, Ill be changing them soon enough for the comming winter. Oh YEAH, I just got Gouden Carolous Noel.

K, there it is.

Wow, nice. That was not at all the answer I expected. I'll be visiting soon.

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I noticed some people in the middle tables holding up candles/lighters trying to read the menus as it was too dark.

That was me! In fact, we asked for more candles just so we could read the menu!

In the plus column: Proof is open for after-theater drinks and food.

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The service at the bar last night was great! I was a little nervous about trying to score bar seats on a Thursday night, but we got lucky and there seemed to be a seat for almost everyone there last night. Some places take serving meals at the bar more seriously than others. Proof seems to fall clearly in the camp of those who treat bar-based diners with the same level of respect as those in the dining room. We didn't order that large a meal, but had a great time chatting with the bartenders about the wines by the glass and were pleased with the several reds we tried. Over the course of two and a half hours, three different folks behind the bar made a point of treating us with the level of respect you'd be pleased to have in any dining room. We never had to ask for a water refill, were offered pre-meal crackers & spread (Proof's pre-meal bread & butter), never struggled to get someone's attention for another glass of something or a recommendation for something new, and had our grilled bread accompaniment to the charcuterie replenished without hassle. I know, this isn't an exciting post, but it was some of the most noteworthy service I've had anywhere in quite some time and I thought it was worth giving kudos where they are due. Thanks to the bar staff at Proof! I will not hesitate to seek a seat here the next time I'm looking for a meal and some wine at the bar.

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I think it is a noteworthy post, youngfood, and I agree with everything said. It is rare to find a staff as committed, from Mark down to the waitstaff, to the happiness of the people eating in the restaurant. Proof was a real welcome addition to this neighborhood, and not just because of the great wine and food!

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I love Proof, just everything about the place. When I dined there last night with two friends, I returned to some old favorites like the gnocchi, but did order the new (?) wagyu beef sashimi. I have no idea if it was the 'real deal' but man, that was rich and delicious. I'll definitely order it again.

The cheese program continues to be fantastic. We had six and they were all enjoyable, however the standout was a pecorino tartufo studded with truffles. Divine.

Another highlight was the sparkling rose I drank. Mark - details please??

Our server was an interesting guy. At first, I found him to be a bit aloof (which is fine), however when we engaged him in discussion regarding the cheese selection and later dessert wines, he spoke very passionately on the subjects.

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I love Proof, just everything about the place.

Proof is fast becoming one of my favorite spots as well. I think Hillvalley coined the term 'medium roller' and I'd like to note that while Proof has plenty of potential to run up an enormous tab, a medium roller can do quite well for a reasonable price here. Two sparkling flutes, a bottle of red, three small plates, a large plate, and a dessert ran us about $135 pre-tip and was a plenty indulgent celebration for us.

The excellent Gnocchi has been well documented and still features chanterelles, now with leeks where before there was corn. New to the menu was a Crudo of White Tuna with foie gras essence. Four glistening, thinly sliced, but fairly large two-bite pieces of fish in a lovely intense foie sauce were delightful. I don't know if I can order crudo at Hook again after that! The Tuna Tartar is the only nonsushi restaurant-based tuna fix, I've enjoyed in years. Placed above and below nori tempura chips of sorts, the tuna is well dressed with wasabi-soy emulsion and hess avacado bits.

Desserts here haven't gotten much attention, but the goat's cheesecake deserves some love from anyone who's into that sort of thing. It's a fun play on the idea. Our server warned us that it was less traditional (read not as thick) than most, but we loved the strong goat cheese flavor. It's served in a glass with the graham cracker crust and a tart fruit flavor layer on the top and gooey goat cheesecake below. Once you get a spoon or so in, you can mash the various components together to produce a well balanced bite.

And no post about Proof would be complete without some love for their wine program. Their lengthy list is a fun read even if I'm limited to the small roller side of it. Although the list offers many high end options, Proof deserves much credit for many affordable by the glass options, and a decent number of affordable bottles. I wasn't familiar with most of what I saw, so I asked for help. Sebastian landed us with a 2003 Cote des Fees, which was amazing. A blend of grenache, syrah, mouvedre, and carnigan, this was served from a bottle that was cold to touch, in some gorgeous huge stems, and was about the most stunning wine I've ever tasted. The wine was a deep dark hue and the second you smelled it, you knew it was going to knock your socks off. It was more fruit-forward than I expected from an old world wine, but no where near enough to suggest that it came from this side of the pond. I wish I had more to say about this, but while I know what I like when it comes to wine, I'm still working on figuring out how to describe it. I can say that this bottle made an otherwise delicious and fantastic meal special. And it elevated Proof from a spot where I thought you could have a couple delicious courses and some good wine, to a major player in the medium roller big night out category.

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I ate a lot of delicious food at Proof tonight, but I had a few bites of a new tasty thing: ham risotto. That isn't, of course, how the menu describes it exactly, but the rice, simmered with ham hocks, tastes so purely of not just pork, but ham. It was my mother's first trip to Proof so I tried not to hog (pun intended) her dish, which also included pork tenderloin. She also ate every last bite of her cauliflower soup which I didn't try.

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By nature, I am very Type-A (which is polite-speak for "anal retentive"). So, when I made a reservation at Proof to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday, I started planning. "I'm definitely gonna have the sablefish," I thought. "And the meatballs to start! And some cheese! And Jason will probably have venison or hanger steak! Hooray!" All of my planning was for naught, however, as we were derailed from the moment we opened our menus. And that was a VERY good thing!

I started with a lovely, refreshing glass of prosecco, and Jason had a gimlet. Since he doesn't like mushrooms (I know, it's really hard to make our relationship work), my preferred starter--the delicious gnocchi--was out. But, no matter--as soon as Jason saw the charcuterie selections, it was all over. We were having MEAT, dammit, and that was final! The board was HUGE, and it was really tasty and well-put together. We had so much fun deciding which meat was our favorite! I, for one, really enjoyed the jamon serrano and the homemade pate, but Jason liked the speck best of all.

While we waited for the onset of the "meat sweats," we ordered another round of wine (by telling our server to surprise us). Jason ended up with a lovely tempranillo, and I had an Austrian white that was dry and delicious. Even though we both had main dishes that we wanted to try, we admitted that the charcuterie board had defeated us and that we'd never make it through two entrees (especially if they were beef- or pork-related). So, we decided to split the cauliflower soup with crispy oysters from the "firsts" menu and the seared scallops from the "seconds" menu. While the scallops were perfectly cooked and very well-complimented by the accompanying turnip puree, it was the soup that really wowed us. The flavor was simple but intense, and the texture was terrific. Jason really loved the cornmeal batter on the oysters, but I could have done without it as it was almost too heavy and crunchy for the soup.

While we pondered dessert (what, you thought I was going to leave without something sweet? Yeah, right...), we each had a glass of the albarino, which remains one of my favorite wines on Proof's by-the-glass list. Jason decided to try the sticky toffee pudding cake, and I went for the goat's cheesecake. Despite the fact that we were stuffed, both plates were empty in a matter of minutes--the former was delectably sweet without being cloying, and the latter was just frickin' amazing. Texture? Awesome (incredibly smooth, but with the great crunch of the crust "crumbles" on top). Flavor? Awesome (loved the tang from the passion fruit).

While Jason sipped his 30-year tawny, we talked about how wonderful our server, Anna, had been. I asked her where she had worked before Proof, and she said Komi--so I guess she's the one you've all been raving about! I can see why--she was phenomenal. Knowledgable, approachable, funny, great with pacing--she really knew how to read our table.

I could go on and on about the little details that make Proof fantastic, but hopefully you all already know how great it is. If you haven't been, GO! I'll be packing in as many return trips as possible between now and when I leave DC in May. Bravo to the entire Proof crew!

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Last night I sat and wondered why Proof removes all of the glorious fat from the Prosciutto San Danielle.

The white tuna crudo is one of the finest fish dishes I have had in the city. Impeccably fresh white tuna, with just a hint of lime, and the Maldron salt crystals stayed crunchy from the first piece to the last.

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Last night, a friend and I were looking for a good, but budget-friendly dinner. I'm facing my first mortgage payment and buying a new car (eek, all at the same time) and she's a freelancer who is doing lots of home improvement at the moment. Adding to the list of "needs" is the fact that my friend's a somewhat picky vegetarian who does not eat fish.

We both like Zaytinya so off we went only to find, upon arriving at 8:30, that the place was at least 3x as packed as either of us had ever seen. We put in our names thinking we'd try to wait the 90 minutes quoted for a table, and then decamped to Proof which is my favorite, but not the favorite of my wallet's given that I like to order three courses and a cheese plate plus wine! I get greedy here.

Suffice to say, we stayed at Proof, dining in the front lounge booth. We snacked on lots of good stuff including my favorite, the wagyu sashimi, but also trying the white tuna crudo. It's funny learning new things and trying new tastes as I try to shed my own pickiness. Although I still can't imagine ordering cooked food, I can definitely see myself ordering the crudo here again. It was amazing with the flecks of sea salt and foie gras emulsion.

Mark shared some incredible wines with us (thank you!!) which really rounded out the wonderful evening. Chef Karoum is doing great stuff here.

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I definitely agree with the previous poster--while the wine selections at Proof are undeniably fab, the food is also a great draw. Last Friday night, highlights were the meatballs (tender and tangy), the sablefish (PERFECTLY seasoned and cooked, with some great baby bok choy and mushrooms), and, of course, the oft-revered gnocchi (the person who ordered this is not even a fan of mushrooms, but he pretty much licked his plate clean). The pork dish was also a hit with our table, though it was a little overpoweringly "hammy" for my personal taste.

Proof keeps giving me reasons to come back--which I will do, without hesitation!

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My wedding diet was derailed once again by a really damn good steak and cheese at Proof today. Not the type you are seeing at Majestic and other mid-to-upscale places these days, who are serving their versions of the sandwich with large chunks of sirloin as opposed to the Philly style shredded beef. Proof does a great job of giving me the version I'm used to from home without making me feel like I just stood in line for a big sloppy, greasy steak at Jim's.

You probably won't believe me, but it goes pretty damn well with a tall glass of Chandon as well. :mellow:

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I heard a recent news report about revelers flocking to whatever city hosts the Super Bowl - not to actually attend the game, but just to be there, for the parties, the excitement, and the overall vibe.

For this reason alone, I went to Proof last Saturday night: There was a Barry Manilow concert at Verizon Center, and I wanted to ... just ... be there.

Haidar Karoum's game statistics: Five attempts, five completions, quarterback rating 158.3.

White Tuna Crudo ($13) with aged tamari, shiso, foie gras essence, and Maldon sea salt is expensive for four pieces of white tuna, but the two-bite pieces are so druggingly tasty, it doesn't matter. Treat the little pile of daikon and shiso leaf as you would ginger, taking a bit in between bites as a palate cleanser.

Haidar surpringly chose to send the Crispy Pork Belly Confit ($11) second, four morsels of hauntingly crisp pork belly, each with a proprietary dab of horseradish mustard emulsion, and each sitting atop its own hash of cabbage, carrot, and red onion (the menu said cabbage and fuji apple). These thoughtfully-cut pieces should be knifed into strips so that the dark-colored and light-colored portions are enjoyed in every single bite.

I thought Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Oysters ($11) was going to arrive second, but this is why Haidar is the chef and I'm not: It worked perfectly post-porcine. The soup itself was in a bowl, solo, with the mini-pile of corn-mealy oysters on the side, and it would be a mistake to simply pop an occasional oyster into your mouth between bites of soup; the oysters are best cut into thirds, dunked with your spoon, and enjoyed with a blast of this piping-hot cauliflower essence.

The Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras ($17) was masterful. Served atop a little piece of brioche-y french toast with some poached Asian pear, almond puree, and cider reduction, it's one of the most skillful sears of high-quality foie you'll find anywhere. I fear I might have gotten a "friends of the house portion," but if not, then this was also a terrific value.

Dessert was a wonderful tarte, and I'd love to go into great detail about it, waxing poetic about all the superb ingredients and execution; unfortunately I cannot, and the fault rests entirely with sommelier Sebastian Zutant, who went five-for-five with his wine selections as well. :mellow:

Cheers,

Rocks.

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