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Ericandblueboy

Reverie, Chef Johnny Spero's Modern American in Georgetown

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1 hour ago, DonRocks said:

Hmm, I've seen this quite often (everytime you order an omakase, for example).

Don with all due respect, I think that is different. With omakase, you're trusting the chef to give you his best stuff, but you know generally what the dishes will look like. With a menu like this, you're trusting that the named ingredients, some rather unusual, are put together in a way that you will enjoy, and you have really no idea what you will be getting. There is trust in both situations but in the former it seem to require less of a leap of faith. JMHO.

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50 minutes ago, Bob Wells said:

Don with all due respect, I think that is different. With omakase, you're trusting the chef to give you his best stuff, but you know generally what the dishes will look like. With a menu like this, you're trusting that the named ingredients, some rather unusual, are put together in a way that you will enjoy, and you have really no idea what you will be getting. There is trust in both situations but in the former it seem to require less of a leap of faith. JMHO.

Breakfast at Citronelle. There are countless examples of this!

I mean, I'm not saying you guys are wrong (there's no right or wrong here), but Johnny Spero is influenced by places like El Bulli and Alinea - who knows what you're going to get there if you order "Chicken under a Brick?" You might get a chocolate squiggle of someone cowering in fear, with an almond tuile on top.

I know that Eric Ziebold used to put dish names in quotes if he deviated too far from the norm.

This conversation will surely get back to the restaurant, and will be noted, so I wouldn't worry about your voices being quashed.

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To get back to the food, my wife and I returned on Saturday and the duck was even better this round.  I retract my previous statement; I remember the late Mark Kuller (RIP) once tell me when I was complaining about the food prices at The Source that you could boil down most things in life to their simplest form (clothing, wine, art, etc) and pick any luxury thing apart as not being worth the things that made it up, but that's not what you're paying for at the top end; you're paying for the talent of the person creating it.  We all know this, but it's good to remind yourself of it sometimes, and the thought, effort, and creativity combined with ingredient costs are certainly worth every penny of the $100 that you pay for it.  The skin is tacky from the beet juice and licorice that the duck is brined in, giving it a lovely stick to go with that fatty and unctuous flavor that we enjoy so much.  The medium rare (bordering on rare) meat on the breast is brimming with flavor, bolstered by the nice layer of fat surrounding it.  This combined with the 96 Volnay that we brought were enough to leave smiles plastered on our faces on a cold, wet night.

The other dishes that we had, however, did not hit on the same notes.  The Mushroom dish didn't resonate at all with me, it was somewhat devoid of flavor outside of a hint of smoke and sweetness of the egg yolk "fudge".  I didn't get the appeal or thinking behind this dish, and the same went for the Beef Tartare, which was nicely chopped and plated but the whole dish was overwhelmed by the farro tamari sauce that was dotted throughout the plate, again sweet and not to my taste.

I have been twice now, and while I love chatting with Johnny and really enjoy the vibe at the counter, I can't say that I have loved any of the other dishes I have tried apart from the duck.

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Ever since trying Johnny Spero's short lived Suna, I've been excited to see when he would again open his own place.  (FWIW, I liked the Suna concept and had some good food there, but thought the dishes were high variance and not all enjoyable).  I enjoyed his run at Minibar and Columbia Room, but obviously not the same as creating his own menu.  After several mixed reviews, we kept delaying our plan to try Reverie.  But when friends had to cancel plans elsewhere at the last minute, we dropped by. 

While Reverie is probably not for everyone, we really enjoyed it.  It veers in the new-nordic direction, with the occasional dollop of obvious Spanish influence -- a mashup of foodie favorites.  The space is lovely, and the service is great.  The staff accommodated with grace our walking in without a reservation on Saturday night.  A host and a back waiter appeared to remember us from meals at other restaurants -- a sign of good staff.  And our waitress gave great advice in guiding us through the menu and selecting a bottle of wine that was a perfect fit for the food and our quirky wine tastes.  As for the food, it ranged from good to great.  And in contrast to my take on most restaurants, the food got better as the meal went on, i.e., the desserts were exceptional and the entrees were better than the appetizers.  We started with a scallop crudo with buttermilk and dill (very nordic and solid); a seeded, dark nordic bread served with seed miso and cheesey butter that was cultured with epoisses (the gf would have preferred a different type of bread, but we both loved the butter and miso); and peas with verbena, fresh cheese, seaweed, and I think some kind of vinegar gel (probably the best of the three).  For entrees, we had a grilled kanpachi collar with peanut miso, kosho mayo, and herbs, and an agnolotti that was effectively filled with cooked fish roe and in a cream sauce with more roe.  Both were great.  Overall, the kanpachi was probably just a bit tastier.  The gf described it as the perfect, sophisticated barbecue.  But the agnolotti was delicious -- like a mix of taramasalata and stuffed, al dente pasta -- and the more creative of the two.  The wine list steers in the natural direction and seemed to be fairly priced, based on a few reference points I recognized.   We tried all three desserts, and they were spectacular.  A birch ice cream (surprisingly smokey); a chocolate and sunchoke dish with olive oil that evoked cocoa pebbles; and a cherry granita with marshmallow and berries.  This kind of food isn't for everyone.  And don't expect it to be Noma or Amass.  But this is an exciting addition to the DC food scene.  I'd be pleased to go back, and I look forward to watching this restaurant grow.

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Finally got around to dining here.  Really enjoyed the meal and think I'd head back again in the future - certainly to try the duck and burger that everyone raved about.  We shared:

Scallop crudo - similar to the above comments.  Enjoyed the dish - particularly the little garnishes that hit the tongue with little bits of lime.  Not sure if these are natural or made by the kitchen, but I enjoyed them.

Clam and crisped rice salad - This was just ok.  Definitely the least favorite dish of the night.  The lemon sort of overpowered all the other flavors except the dairy.

The bread - It's dark multi grain bread, but we enjoyed it enough that we almost ordered a second.

Agnolotti - Lotus125 described this well.  It had a cream sauce but ate fairly light.  The fish flavor was there but the roe didn't overpower anything.

Lamb - This was the favorite dish of the night.  Really well cooked rare lamb that ate almost like a pastrami - that tender.  So, so good.

Cherry Granita - This was over something that I can't recall right now but served as a very tasty end to the meal.  

We migrated through wine glasses with the meal, trying a sparkling rose from Spain, California Chardonnay, and the Brouilly.  All were solid choices.  The service staff were excellent.  Casual but welcoming.

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3 hours ago, curiouskitkatt said:

Inkind dining credit has launched at Reverie. As far as I understand this is a frequent diner program in which diners prepay, and is  powered through InKind. Is this the new trend for dining?

I wonder if they offer refunds if a place closes on short notice?

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FYI they stopped free corkage here and are now charging $50/bottle, making this a considerably more expensive experience for someone who prefers to bring their own bottle in like myself.

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Came here early with my wife for a 5pm seating at the chef's table. We opted for the tasting menu and all the courses were spot on. With that said, we were seated by the meat station and as we were wrapping up our entrees, you could see the line cooks artfully grilling & fanning a gigantic rib and whole smoked duck. It was then that we realized that we needed to make a follow-up visit to try their large format meats. Fortunately, the cook could see our longing gazes and offered us a pair of duck 'burnt ends' that were rendered fat and smoke flavor bombs. 

With all that said, the real reason that i wanted to comment was to talk about a simple, yet striking display of humanity that we had witnessed that night. Towards the end of our meal, a tall man had walked in. He was clearly a dear friend/family member to the staff, and one by one, several crew members (to include the chef) shared very very long embraces with this man. It was obvious that he had experienced a recent tragedy or loss. What had initially appeared almost awkward/uncomfortable quickly gave way to a thought - these people clearly care deeply about each other. As cliched as it sounds, I really could feel the love in the room that evening and it was nice to witness something so touching on our anniversary. (My wife joked that she wanted a hug too afterwards). 

In any case, we'll return some day for the meats, which were clearly cooked with love, as witnessed by all that evening. 

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I saw Johnny Spero this afternoon, making a delivery to a car - he said they'll be doing this until this Saturday, and will then reevaluate at that point (in no way did he imply he'd stop; merely reevaluate the rapidly changing situation). 

While you're picking up your carryout, stop by Georgetown Butcher (run by some former employees of the excellent (and unaffiliated) Organic Butcher in McLean). I recommend trying the "Georgetown Wagyu" cut - the two businesses are a fifteen-second walk from each other, and if you go early afternoon, you can get one of the precious few parking spaces on Grace Street.

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We picked up a few burgers (really good) and an order of rugbrod. It was an easy transaction and worked out great for us. We'll be back for more.

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46 minutes ago, seanvtaylor said:

We picked up a few burgers (really good) and an order of rugbrod. It was an easy transaction and worked out great for us. We'll be back for more.

Sean, how did Reverie's burgers travel/reheat?

Have you tried the duck?

The Rugbrød sounds like a must-have, but you're doubling-up on the bread - what, exactly, was it?

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On 3/22/2020 at 12:02 AM, DonRocks said:

Sean, how did Reverie's burgers travel/reheat?

Have you tried the duck?

The Rugbrød sounds like a must-have, but you're doubling-up on the bread - what, exactly, was it?

The burgers made it home with no problem, and were still a bit warm so we didn't worry about reheating them (and once we sat them on our plates, they were gone very fast...)

We've had the duck at the restaurant, and would have ordered it as well but it was sold out for the day.

The Rugbrød was three nice slices of dense rye bread, served with a brown miso spread and a butter (maybe flavored?). I thought that we would have them at breakfast the next day, perhaps underneath some poached eggs, but the rugbrod didn't survive the night. 😏 My wife loves this bread, and for us any order from Reverie will automatically include this if it is available.

For me, you could make an amazing meal out of the duck, rugbrod, and the Caesar salad.

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