Jump to content
porcupine

Garrison, Rob Weland's First Restaurant as Chef-Owner - on 8th Street SE, Barracks Row - Closed

Recommended Posts

Garrison has been open for just over a week now.  It's a handsome restaurant with a pleasant patio space in front.  The menu is vegetable-centric and apparently emphasizes seasonal produce.  Mr. P and I nibbled our way through a number of vegetable side dishes/appetizers and a pasta course.  Poppy seed gougères were excellent: very small and took awhile to come out, suggesting they were made to order.  Gougères are as much about texture as flavor, and these were spot-on.  Heirloom tomato salad was nicely composed, with a piece of burrata and mint rather than basil (a nice change of pace), and slivers of almond.  Fennel gratin was straightforward but intense, the flavor punched up with a splash of Pernod.  Squash blossoms with smoked provolone and Romesco sauce were outstanding, perfectly fried and not too much cheese, so the flavor of the blossoms wasn't overwhelmed.  Mr. P also had the roasted cauliflower; he liked it but said it was his least-favorite dish.  As I don't care for cauliflower I can't usefully describe the dish.  Sweet corn tortellini was a nice summery pasta dish, buttery but not overwhelmingly so.  The pasta was a tad overcooked but I'm so accustomed to that now it doesn't bother me.

We also ordered two of the three desserts, a chocolate terrine and buttermilk panna cotta, which were pleasant but unremarkable.  A nice way to end a meal, not too sweet, not too large, and blessedly not precious, either.

Coffee was adequate.  Would have liked to have half-and-half or cream with it rather than cold milk, but nope, not an option.

Service was genuinely friendly and polite but somewhat lacking in a few ways that aren't worth going into, because for a place open just over a week it was impressively good.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We enjoyed excellent food here for my husband's birthday dinner.  It took me a moment to register just how crowded it was, as I wasn't expecting such a full house on a Tuesday in August.  Service was fairly chaotic, even for a restaurant that hasn't been open very long.  Everyone was pleasant and our primary server provided generally good service, but the pieces of the system didn't seem to be working fully in sync yet.

To start, we went with the bison tartare, which I believe had a quail egg on it.  I didn't take notes.  There was one crisp element of the tartare mixture that I especially liked, but I couldn't figure out what it was. I hadn't had a meat tartare in quite a while, and this was a good choice.  The little half round of brioche that came with it was pretty but very small for the amount of meat, especially with two people sharing it, but our server was happy to get us another piece. The poppy gougeres were airy, cheesy, and wonderful.   (I tried using one of them as a scoop for the bison tartare and, eh, didn't work so well.)

From the vegetable section of the menu, we each ordered one thing and didn't really share, as we each ordered something the other person doesn't like. (Great strategy!)  My husband enjoyed the chef's version of a summer three bean salad, while I loved the fennel gratin.

I cannot recall the description of the ricotta ravioli I got, but it was different than the one on the online menu.  Nice fluffy pillows of pasta and creamy cheese.  My husband raved about the Arctic char.  I got one bite of that and wouldn't have minded ordering that myself.  He finished with the chocolate terrine for dessert.

Overall, we liked the food a lot.  They are having no trouble filling seats, so I'm glad we had a reservation.  I know I read that Gina Chersevani designed the cocktail menu and I think she might have been there helping out with the drinks.  (If not, it was someone who looked like her in my memory.)

Final note:  If none are offered, ask your server what specials there might be.  We had no idea there were any until, well through our meal, people were seated a few tables away and their server greeted them and began to talk about the specials.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Complied with your injunction, Don, and had a perfectly lovely meal at Garrison last night out on the patio.  The tomato salad and gougères were just as good as you describe (except that it was far from a "half-order" of burrata on the salad--closer to two bites).  Mushrooms were very good, too, as was their take on an Old Fashioned, and a delicious dish of fluke crudo with lemon and fennel.  The tortellini, too, were very good.  They were not even close to al dente, however -- more like ethereally soft, melt-on-one's-tongue.  Not sure if that's how they were supposed to be served, although it seemed quite deliberate.  The only catch, one you hint at in your post:  There are but eight very slight, delicate tortellini in a full order . . . for $23.  This main course was much, much less filling than most appetizers (including the tomato salad).  I'm confident Rob Weland and crew (great service, btw) are not trying to gouge the customer -- it's not that sort of place, and I'm sure the cost of the very high quality ingredients warrants the price tag.  Your analogy was the right one:  it's sorta like what you would get in a $23 order of excellent sashimi at Seki--a few luscious, delicate bites.  Much more on the order of a luxury appetizer, rather than a main course.  Perhaps they should advertise it as such, to avoid upended expectations.  I can well imagine many patrons ordering an appetizer and a pasta, and then fidgeting because they're still very hungry. The $30 bison hanger will look awfully tempting then -- I'm inclined to order it next time -- but you should just know that your bill here for a full meal will be considerably higher than at, say, Cork.

Don't get me wrong -- it was an excellent meal, and Garrison certainly has the potential to be one of the area's best.  For most diners, however, it'll be a special occasion place rather than an everyday, neighborhood joint.

Do I sound like I'm impressed with Garrison? Well, if I don't, that means I'm a terrible writer. I urge readers of this review to go *this week* and get both the heirloom tomato salad and the gougères, or at least some type of summer produce - the clock is ticking, and time is running out on the tomatoes. Rob told me, "We have a lot of work to do," but I warned him (after having tried the tomatoes) that I was going to be telling people to get the heck in there. Right. Now. What a display of local-and-seasonal cooking! I think the crowds - which are inevitable - are only going to harm this wonderful cooking, and I hope more than hope itself that I am completely wrong about this. Go to Garrison this week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Complied with your injunction, Don, and had a perfectly lovely meal at Garrison last night out on the patio.  The tomato salad and gougères were just as good as you describe (except that it was far from a "half-order" of burrata on the salad--closer to two bites).  Mushrooms were very good, too, as was their take on an Old Fashioned, and a delicious dish of fluke crudo with lemon and fennel.  The tortellini, too, were very good.  They were not even close to al dente, however -- more like ethereally soft, melt-on-one's-tongue.  Not sure if that's how they were supposed to be served, although it seemed quite deliberate.  The only catch, one you hint at in your post:  There are but eight very slight, delicate tortellini in a full order . . . for $23.  This main course was much, much less filling than most appetizers (including the tomato salad).  I'm confident Rob Weland and crew (great service, btw) are not trying to gouge the customer -- it's not that sort of place, and I'm sure the cost of the very high quality ingredients warrants the price tag.  Your analogy was the right one:  it's sorta like what you would get in a $23 order of excellent sashimi at Seki--a few luscious, delicate bites.  Much more on the order of a luxury appetizer, rather than a main course.  Perhaps they should advertise it as such, to avoid upended expectations.  I can well imagine many patrons ordering an appetizer and a pasta, and then fidgeting because they're still very hungry. The $30 bison hanger will look awfully tempting then -- I'm inclined to order it next time -- but you should just know that your bill here for a full meal will be considerably higher than at, say, Cork.

Don't get me wrong -- it was an excellent meal, and Garrison certainly has the potential to be one of the area's best.  For most diners, however, it'll be a special occasion place rather than an everyday, neighborhood joint.

Marty, this is why it's so important for restaurants not to give me larger portions without saying something - I quite innocently wrote about it as if it was the norm, but based on your description, it was Rob being nice to me. He wasn't trying to bribe me or anything; we talked for about five minutes, I hadn't seen him in at least a couple of years, and he seemed genuinely happy to see me, as a friend; not as a critic. I can't stress enough to restaurants how important it is that my courses are exactly the way they're served to others; either that, or tell me so I can write a disclaimer! Either way, please don't blame Rob - it was a gesture of friendship; not a bribe - of that, I am certain. But I'm pretty sure I got little more burrata than you did, and I got more than four tortellini in my half-order, which costs a bit more than half-price (I didn't want to say this, but I will now add: I had to leave because of an injury - I was in a lot of pain, and it showed ... Rob and Jessica genuinely felt sorry for me. Rob knew I was in a hurry, and may not have cooked the pasta as long as he normally would have.) I'm glad I left a good tip.

Anyway, the upshot to readers is to read Marty's post, and to rely on that as your benchmark.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Don.  I want to make certain that you and I are not being misunderstood here, though.  It was hardly *inappropriate* for Rob and Jessica to give you, an old friend, more than what would be in an ordinary order (if that's indeed what happened, and I agree with you that it surely was); and the food was just as delicious as you describe.  It's merely important for readers to be aware of the sort of meal (fairly high-end) that they'll be enjoying!  (Having said that, Garrison is still a work in progress, and I imagine they might not yet be settled on portion size, prices, etc.)

Marty, this is why it's so important for restaurants not to give me larger portions without saying something - I quite innocently wrote about it as if it was the norm, but based on your description, it was Rob being nice to me. He wasn't trying to bribe me or anything; we talked for about five minutes, I hadn't seen him in at least a couple of years, and he seemed genuinely happy to see me, as a friend; not as a critic. I can't stress enough to restaurants how important it is that my courses are exactly the way they're served to others; either that, or tell me so I can write a disclaimer! Either way, please don't blame Rob - it was a gesture of friendship; not a bribe - of that, I am certain. But I'm pretty sure I got more burrata than you did, and I got more than four tortellini in my half-order (I didn't want to say this, but I will now add: I had to leave because of an injury - I was in a lot of pain, and it showed ... Rob and Jessica genuinely felt sorry for me.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were also at the Garrison on Saturday night, and had a wonderful meal. The Heirloom Tomato Salad was absolutely fantastic, although our experience was similar to Marty's on the volume of burrata. The gourgeres were ridiculously good, and we also really enjoyed the fluke crudo appetizer. On the mains it was really the vegetables that shined. The mashed potatoes with my wife's hake were incredible, as were the fennel gratin and roasted cauliflower side dishes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were also at the Garrison on Saturday night, and had a wonderful meal. The Heirloom Tomato Salad was absolutely fantastic, although our experience was similar to Marty's on the volume of burrata.

For what it's worth, and as a point of comparison, when I was there over a week ago the tomato salad had quite a lot of burrata - about half of one, I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the members of DR.com take the Garrison by storm, I thought I'd add my thoughts.

Regarding the 2 most discussed dishes: The tomato salad was fresh and wonderfull, with a nice amount of buratta.  I wouldn't describe it as being any more or less than it should be given the portion size of the entire dish.  The gougeres were delicious, and quickly devoured almost single handedly by the toddler at the table.

The tortellini were fantastic...delicate, sweet, and buttery.  The kid figured out he could dip bread in the butter, and thus was spent our brioche from the tartare.  The bison tartare was our only (mild) disappointment of the night.  It was a bit unbalanced - someone had a bit of a heavy hand with the salt.  The meat was not quite as finely chopped as I prefer, but that's a very nitpicky thing.  I really enjoyed the textural contrast with the bits of squash(?) that were mixed in.  Sqash blossoms were a family favorite - greaseless and crunchy from a "barely there" crust. I'm a sucker for romesco, and this was a great version.

The 3 of us were all still a bit hungry after the above, and ordered the cauliflower. I love cauliflower, and this was a fine dish.  It had some spice to it from green peppers (I think), and nuttiness from pine nuts and some nicely charred bits of the cauliflower itself.

Cocktails were great.  I had essentially a gin martini with pickled peaches, and my wife had a whimsical snow cone of a drink made with gin and Lillet rose.  (Note: there is no indication in the description of that drink that you'll be getting a giant pink snow cone, so caveat emptor.)  The glass of Triennes rose hit the spot, but also the wallet at $11 for a glass.  I believe the same bottle goes for $16 or so at Schneiders.  (Happy to be corrected if I'm wrong here.)

All in all, a solid start and a very welcome addition to Capitol Hill.  I love what the chef is doing here.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chiming in -- was there last night. Had six dishes (for two), with drinks, which was enough but not a lot of food. Definitely pricey with small portions.

  • Gougeres were pretty good, but our batch was under-salted a bit.
  • The fluke dish was spectacular, one of the best things I've eaten in months.
  • The tomato salad was very good and fresh, but didn't really blow me away.
  • The tortellini were fantastic -- the corn, butter and chive sauce was outstanding. Great dish.
  • The salmon was fine, dominated by the dill sauce. Sorta clashed with the tortellini if you're alternating.
  • The buttermilk panna cotta was excellent.

Oh, and a prominent local critic was there -- expect to see a review soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Gougeres were pretty good, but our batch was under-salted a bit.

I noticed with the gougères that both the poppy seeds and the sea salt tended to fall towards the bottom of the cone, so I can see how the ones at the top might have shed some of their salt, much of which was superficial.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, and a prominent local critic was there -- expect to see a review soon.

Hmm, could this be the one who tweeted last night about a great happy hour spot on the same strip?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Went last night with a friend and had a really lovely dinner.  Would most definitely go back.

One small negative - they wouldn't seat me until she was there, and she had trouble finding street parking, so I was at the bar for a good fifteen minutes waiting.  However, the bartender made me a terrific mocktail - I told her anything but grapefruit or bitters, and she made me a drink with ginger, lime (I think), mint (with flowers on top, which I've never seen before - the flowers were sticking up out of the glass, so only the leaves were in the drink itself), and rose hip syrup.  I really appreciate a place that will go to the trouble to make a good mocktail, instead of saying 'we don't have any'.  The bartender also gave me a menu at my request, and later asked if there was anything particular I was looking forward to, and chatted with me about the food (she was very knowledgeable about it).

Also not a fan of the bathrooms - only two of them (it is a small place, though), frosted glass doors through which I could see people outside (not perfectly clearly, at least) and hoped they couldn't see me as well, and no hook to hang a purse.

Seating: wooden seats/benches are not super comfortable, but there are throw pillows on the benches and booths, which I appreciated.

Foodwise it was all wonderful.  I ordered the poppyseed gougeres as soon as we sat down, having read here that they're cooked to order and take 10-12 minutes.  The waiter then brought menus and told us about the specials (he was very personable and likeable and knew a lot about the food - on the other hand, he doesn't know how to read a room, because he went on for a very long time about the radish special - which had converted him from a radish hater - and didn't pick up that my companion had taken the specials menu and started looking at other items on it. His service overall was a little slow throughout the night, but no other issues.).  The specials last night were a local radish salad, a chicken/pork terrine, and artic char tartare in an edible cone with caviar and something else.  Not what either of us happened to want to eat, but they all sounded interesting.

We ordered:  the heirloom tomato salad, the whole roasted eggplant, half portions of both pastas (for me), and artic char entree (my friend).

The gougeres came, and they were ethereal and fantastic.  My friend has cooked gougeres before and she was very impressed with them.  I love Central's gougeres, but these were better.

The vegetables came, and my friend exclaimed at how fresh and herby everything smelled.  The heirloom tomato salad was very very good, but it wasn't a transcendent experience as Don had.  The tomatoes were great (a mix of large and grape-size, red and yellow), the burrata was a generous serving even when split in half between us (it's the second time lately, though, that I've had burrata without that creamy filling that I thought was a defining characteristic, but it was lovely tasting), and there was a little scoop of mint sorbet as well as regular mint. Didn't taste the vanilla much.

We both adored the whole roasted baby eggplant.  It came with yogurt, toasted hazelnuts, and dill, but the dill must have been light (which was fine by me as it's not my favorite herb). The combination was fantastic.  With both vegetable dishes, the produce was amazingly good.

I could not decide between the two pastas and got half-portions of both (which I think was a little more expensive than a whole portion of one, but I forgot to check).  They were fabulous.  I would give the slight edge to the corn tortellini, as the fresh sweet corn flavor was out of this world.  The ricotta and spinach (no longer nettle, as on the online menu) ravioli with (two) chanterelles were also marvelous. In both dishes, the pasta was incredibly delicate and perfectly textured (unless you really wanted al dente - with these pastas, I preferred the so-light-it-was-barely-there texture), and the fillings were fresh and wonderful tasting.  I wished for more chanterelles, because they were perfect (but it was a half-portion).  The sauces were lovely as well.  My friend was extremely happy with her arctic char, which came with ribbons of cucumber.

For dessert, we shared the buttermilk panna cotta with cherry jam and the stone fruits en papillote.  Both were wonderful, and I liked the combination (as the stone fruits alone, with their pour-your-own ricotta sauce but no other accompaniment, would not have quite satisfied my dessert jones).  The panna cotta was silky and tangy and the cherry jam (housemade, I think) was great. The plums, apricots and peaches were cooked beautifully and the thin ricotta sauce was a great complement.

Two housemade caramels (buttery and delicious) were delivered with the check.

While portions aren't huge and we were not stuffed, we certainly were full enough and didn't feel as though we hadn't had enough to eat.

The two things I'm sorry I didn't try were both vegetable sides:  the grilled trumpet mushrooms with avocado and jalapeno, and the roasted cauliflower, which the bartender said was her favorite, and which I am generally exceptionally fond of. But seasonwise, both seem like they would be great in fall (assuming they stay on the menu, which will change seasonally).

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enjoyed a wonderful vegetable-centric meal at Garrison last Thursday and can't wait to go back. It was a lovely evening so MichaelBDC and I opted to sit outside. I was a bit hungry so I put in an order of the poppyseed gougeres as soon as we sat down. The gougeres were as light and wonderful as everyone has said. Next we ordered the chicken liver parfait, heirloom tomato salad, grilled mushrooms, squash blossoms, and corn tortellini. We were still hungry so we finished the evening with the fluke crudo, which was a surprisingly perfect end to a delicious meal on a warm evening.

This is not at all descriptive but all I can say at this point is that all the plate were really really really good -- satisfying, perfectly thought out and executed, well seasoned, and beautiful plating. I am still thinking about the fluke and the grilled mushrooms, though everything was wonderful.

I am really glad to have Chef Weland back at a restaurant and doing what he does best on his own terms.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jason suggested Garrison for date night last night, since he tried it solo when I was in California (just after it opened).  We sat at the bar, and Jessica was wonderful.  We ordered all three of the top-of-menu treats (gougeres, Parker House rolls, and olives), which I thought were a steal for $15.  The gougeres in particular were really excellent, but the salty and buttery rolls were also the perfect carby bites to enjoy with drinks.  Speaking of, the Siamese Fireback (tequila, cilantro, lime, chili) was frickin' GREAT - incredibly smooth and balanced.  The only (minor) bummer about the early part of our meal was that it took a really long time for the food to arrive.  I knew the gougeres were made to order, so they'd take at least 10-12 minutes, but we waited far longer than that, to the point that Jessica started fussing at her manager because everyone around us had been served in the meantime.  We told her it really wasn't a big deal - we were enjoying drinks and each other's company - but it was nice that she noticed and was doing her best to rectify the problem.

I asked Jessica for a wine recommendation, telling her that I wanted a white wine by the glass that had a lot of minerality.  I wasn't sure where she was going to lead me, since there were a couple of options on the menu that might have fit the bill.  However, I was shocked when she offered a Basque white for $9 a glass - and I was even more shocked when it was delicious and exactly what I was looking for.  I don't know a ton about wine, but I know what I like, and I really liked this.

For dinner, we split the squash blossoms and the duck.  The squash blossoms were my least favorite part of the meal, which is not to say they were bad (they were not), but they just didn't stand out like the other dishes.  Jason's comment was that it could have been anything under the fried batter.  The romesco sauce, however, was very good.  And the duck?  WOW.  Perfectly cooked, impeccably seasoned, and absolutely delicious.  But, again, it took a really long time for our food to get to us - Jessica apologized and we told her it was no big deal, but clearly there are some pacing issues that need to be worked out.  We weren't bothered by it, but others might have been.

We weren't going to order dessert, but then the chocolate terrine just arrived - a gift from Jessica for all of the food delays.  It had a great texture, and it was very tasty and well-executed (if somewhat predictable).  I should also note that Jessica refilled my wine gratis once or twice while we were waiting for our dinner.  We certainly didn't need the freebies, but it was really nice to see problems being handled proactively.

Garrison is pricy, but I really enjoyed it - I can see us going back for future date nights.  In all of the mediocrity of 8th Street SE, it's nice to have a gem.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Poste, Cork, or Garrison, great Chef and a great neighbor, Chef Weland a does an excellent job in feeding us every time we visit. And every time we visit, we end up asking ourselves why it's been this long since our last visit. I appreciate how clean and nice Garrison feels and I really appreciate how Chef Weland is there every time we visit. There is something about a team with it's captain always being present. So what's in a name? How many of us can remember what was in this space before Garrison opened without using a search engine? It's the people that make the name of a place matter and if it is Chef Weland's kitchen and it's his food, you are guaranteed to enjoy it. Also, I may not have another opportunity to type the following with the right context, so here it goes: Gougeres on Gougeres  on Gougeres. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Poste, Cork, or Garrison, great Chef and a great neighbor, Chef Weland a does an excellent job in feeding us every time we visit. And every time we visit, we end up asking ourselves why it's been this long since our last visit. I appreciate how clean and nice Garrison feels and I really appreciate how Chef Weland is there every time we visit. There is something about a team with it's captain always being present. So what's in a name? How many of us can remember what was in this space before Garrison opened without using a search engine? It's the people that make the name of a place matter and if it is Chef Weland's kitchen and it's his food, you are guaranteed to enjoy it. Also, I may not have another opportunity to type the following with the right context, so here it goes: Gougeres on Gougeres  on Gougeres. 

Three consecutive orders?

Perfectly valid - especially with an open bottle of Champagne -  just seeking clarification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Three consecutive orders?

Perfectly valid - especially with an open bottle of Champagne -  just seeking clarification.

Yes, indeed three consecutive orders. Plus it's a way to express my eater spirit with a reference from the hip hop culture. (see: stacks on stacks on stacks  :)  )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, indeed three consecutive orders. Plus it's a way to express my eater spirit with a reference from the hip hop culture. (see: stacks on stacks on stacks  :)

Baller.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend was back in town visiting and we made last-minute plans to get together for dinner with her and some of her friends yesterday.  Fortunately, we were able to be flexible on time and Garrison was quite accommodating at getting us a table.  We ordered a lot of food and shared most of it around the table, enjoying quite a pleasant evening of food and drink.   Service was very good, and they were wonderful at seating the party as individual people arrived..

The out-of-town guests were impressed with the restaurant and really raved about the gougeres and rolls.    We ordered one round of all three bites (the two breads and the olives) and an extra order of the Parker House rolls.  We covered a good deal of the menu, also ordering two specials (a duck egg appetizer with asparagus that my husband got and the fried soft shell crab main that I ordered -- yes, we also somehow managed to split those up!). The only section of the menu we didn't hit was the pasta.  A couple of people split the chocolate ganache for dessert, but I passed on that.  

The fresh vegetables were (of course) beautifully prepared. I resisted the temptation to get the fennel gratin again (though I got a delicious bite or two when someone else ordered it) and went with the cauliflower instead, which was a nicely balanced composition.  I didn't try the bresaola salad or any of the bison hanger steaks but my husband's arctic char was again (he got that last time too) a bite I enjoyed. Maybe I should order it myself next time since I seem to like it so much;).

I didn't expect the house made keffir butter with the radishes to be completely liquid (rather than just soft) and managed to spill some of it at the outset.  There was still enough left for the portion, but that could come with a warning.  There was one dish I don't recall that someone had that she thought could use more salt, but they gave us such an ample portion of salt with the radishes that she was able to use that to correct the item to her taste. That's about it for the complaints!

The pre-tax alcohol total wasn't even that bad: $87 for 4 glasses of wine, 3 beers, and 2 martinis. I was expecting that to be higher. It was an expensive splurge, but it had been 7 years+ since we'd seen our friend, and this was a wonderful way to catch up.

 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

had brunch there last weekend and as everyone has said, the gougeres are amazing. i am still somewhat regretting not getting a second order. we had the grilled cheese with clothbound cheddar (delicious, the cheese makes all the difference), and the grilled artichokes which were also very good. However, for me the standout was the carmelized fennel, which i'd never had before. often when i braise fennel, or even roast it, the flavor is diminished. in contrast, this seemed to concentrate the sweet licorice flavor. since then i've looked online at recipes for carmelized fennel and they seem to say you just slow cook it in a pan with oil or butter and the magic happens. if anyone has carmelized fennel at home, and also had the garrison version, and could offer some advice on how i can make this magic happen at home, it would be appreciated. 

our waitress was lovely and a number of people had children with them, and the staff seemed to dote on them, which was sweet. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had dinner at Garrison with my husband this week, and he loved it, which made me happy since I think it's terrific. My first time back since last summer, but I will not let that much time go by again before we go back.

The two little things I didn't like last time have both been changed: they seated me right away instead of making me wait at the bar till the rest of my party arrived, and there is now a hook in the ladies' room for a purse. :) Also, last time they made me a wonderful mocktail, but now they have specific mocktails on a list (though they would also make me something else if I requested it), which I am always glad to see.  The mocktails aren't on the website, but I had something called "The Other Side" which included pineapple-cardamom soda (I think housemade but am not certain) and mint. Delicious. My husband had a housemade ginger beer.

They brought us an amuse bouche "to celebrate my second time there," which was very classy and reminded me that I need to go there significantly more often. It was served on top of an upside-down squat mason jar, which meant we lost a few delicious bits.  Not sure exactly what it was other than that it involved beets (which I usually don't like but did this time), and small bits of cauliflower, radish, and herbs.  The freshest produce available, touched up with a sprightly light dressing or acidic topping. Beautiful.

We started with the gougeres, which were as ethereal as last time.  Followed with the caramelized fennel with goat cheese - man, that was good. And the roasted cauliflower, which was very good, but became exceptional when combined with the crumbs of parmesan and pine nuts and slightly spicy peppers.

I got half-orders of the two pastas - sweet corn tortellini with stracchino, chives, and nasturtiums, and toasted farro and fresh ricotta ravioli, with quail egg, garden greens, and fontina. Both were great; the freshness of the corn in the tortellini was wonderful, and that was my preferred pasta - the flavor was a little more multi-layered and the pasta was more delicate. The ravioli was great, but heartier, which I didn't so much need after the gougeres :) . All the produce was amazing per usual at Garrison. My husband had the bison hanger steak with heirloom tomatoes and blue cheese, and he liked the combination very very much.

We ended by sharing the blueberry buckle and the stone fruit papillote. Loved the buckle (the little biscuit in it was so good too). We were a little disappointed in the papillote, which to me was not as jazzy as what I had last time (maybe because it was all one fruit - nectarine, I think - and more variation in flavor would have been good since the dessert is just grilled fruit and ricotta sauce). Husband wished he'd gotten the ganache after all (I placed the order too quickly, based on earlier discussion). 

Then they brought us two house-made caramels which were soft and buttery and delicious. 

Definitely going back before long.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wanted to take a good friend out for a meal over the holidays. She hadn't previously been to Garrison, and I hadn't been back in too long, so I made a dinner reservation for two  As we approached the front door, I was already anticipating the  puffy bread decadence of the gougeres and Parker House rolls and all kinds of beautifully prepared vegetables.  I'm predictable and tend to order the same things over and over, with a few new things thrown in for variety.  Well, my expectations going into last night's dinner were upended as soon as my friend and I were shown to our seats. That wasn't really a bad thing but not entirely a good thing either; glass half empty, half-full, or let's focus on the quality of what's in the glass.  I'm going with that last one.*

Now, I don't know if my reservation got us a table right up front by the door on a night that was to turn from cold to brutally cold (I've never been seated anywhere but the back, and I always make the reservations), or if it was being two middle-aged women entering the restaurant that won us that lottery.  My friend suggested asking for another table, which probably was the right thing to do, but I didn't feel a strong pull to move, and, in the end, it was surprisingly not all that cold at our table close to the far wall, right by the bar.

The main thing that prompted me to stay was the shiny fondue pot on our table, just waiting to be used.  OK, I'm suggestible.  A few other tables nearby had them too.  (Throughout the evening, I asked several employees why only a few tables had the fondue pots, and no one knew.  Really. No one could tell me. Maybe because the tables were near the door and it's winter?  That was my guess. Who knows. There were also blankets neatly folded over the backs of our chairs.  I availed myself of mine, trying to keep it covered with the napkin in my lap so I didn't spill food on it.)  

Neither of us had partaken of fondue in some time and it seemed like a fun and festive thing to do, so we ordered fondue.  At $18 per person (recorded as "Fondue Dinner" on the receipt), it was probably supposed to be our main course. We started with it and a bag of bread cubes, that were more torn bread than carefully cut cubes.  Torn was fine, so long as I could spear the pieces. More rustic that way. Our server said that it came with olives. It came with caper berries. Close, but no cigar (though I love caper berries). We asked about the olives and they were brought (+$4 on the bill; no up charge for our second bag of bread, however).

I found the menu of items to go with the fondue a bit confusing. It seemed to be a small subset of the regular menu, including gougeres, etc. It was dark enough I was having trouble reading and maybe it didn't make sense because of me being brain dead, or maybe this is something just being rolled out and more clarity will emerge. (Or both?)  We also ordered the roasted Easter Egg radishes (seasoned with honey, pepper, and vinegar) at around the same time.  So we ate delightfully cheese-soaked pieces of bread--and caper berries, olives, and radishes--and chatted.  

That should have been filling enough, but we decided to order more food. Friend's porchetta ($30) came from the specials menu, as I believe did my rabbit pappardelle ($28).  My dish was rustic and homey and fit nicely with the Swiss ski chalet on Barracks Row theme.  The handcut noodles seemed maybe just a little too roughly and irregularly cut, but it was delicious and I have no real complaints. Of course, I couldn't finish this. I also tried some of friend's porchetta (also unfinished) and liked that as well. That came with what I assumed in the dark were potatoes.  Whatever they were, they dunked nicely into cheese.

We had kept the fondue on the table through our meal, so we could continue to nosh a bit.  This posed quite a problem with the need for other plates on the table. Finally a server who was not our server but whom we know from another restaurant, suggested pushing the adjacent empty 2-top over against ours so we could fit plates on the table.  I had been reluctant to take up extra space since the restaurant was filling up, but the fondue pot takes up a chunk of real estate on a little table for two, so I was glad for her decisiveness.  

She also came closest to knowing what cheeses were in the fondue. The first person we had asked (who seemed like he might be management) said "emmentaler," but it tasted as though there must be something else. She knew that there were two other cheeses in addition to that, one of which was a specific type of cheddar.  The third...we still don't know.  So, if they're just rolling this whole fondue thing out, they've got great possibilities. If they've been doing this for a while, things should be rolling along more smoothly, though everyone who came by the table was pleasant and tried to be helpful.

While I missed the puffy gougeres and (most of) the lovely vegetables, it's good to get pushed out of your comfort zone--or maybe that's just a rut--sometimes.

*We had Elliot Ness Amber Lager to drink.

 

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome dish alert: I forget what they called it, but it's two large sage leaves sandwiching house-made sausage, the whole thing batter-dipped and fried like tempura. It's been on the specials menu for a week now iirc. Apparently I was not the first person to have enthusiastically asked for it to become a regular menu item.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×