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Fyve, in the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City - Chef Frederic Chartier Replaces Amy Brandwein


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The following two paragraphs are paraphrased from a detailed letter Amy sent me yesterday. I realize it sounds a touch "press-releasey," but since it's from the chef herself, it carries plenty of weight and significance. Congratulations on your new position, Chef Brandwein - we'll all be pulling for you! Cheers, Rocks.

Amy will be the opening chef at Fyve, a new restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, currently scheduled to open in early March, pending final construction. Decor will be vibrant red, orange, and cool patterns with hardwood floors and no tablecloths. There will be an intimate dining room with an adjacent lounge.

The staff at the Ritz has given Amy total creative control over the menu, which will reflect modern-American cuisine. She'll be doing some traditional dishes such as ribs, pork belly, collard greens, baby chicken, but twisting them in a different way. There will be southern-Italian influences, but also some nods to Tunisia, Morocco, and Turkey. "Inclusive and diverse menus that will look towards how all of these countries are similar in their ingredients and techniques, but using them in different ways with different spicing," she told me. Ginger, curry, saffron, turmeric, and garlic will all be used in various dishes, which will be cooked with ingredients sourced locally and from small east-coast farms whenever possible.

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Any discussion of Fyve needs to begin by saluting the outstanding bartender, Robert Taylor, who has worked this bar for the past twelve years.

Robert urged me to try the appetizer called A Little Luxury ($13), a long, rectangular plate chock full of tiny, fresh, Nantucket Bar scallops - there must have been at least fifteen of them - arranged with some grapefruit-caviar sauce. This was a fine appetizer that was worth every penny, especially when washed down with a glass of Trimbach Riesling ($9).

I hesitate to criticize a chef's signature dish (especially when it's an excellent chef such as Amy Brandwein), but I'm not a huge fan of Amy's Purse ($24), mainly because of the presentation in carta fata. The dish itself is successfully aromatic, and the flavors are all there, but I can't cozy up to eating out of a piece of plastic - I felt the same way about David Craig's aluminum foil "papillote," and I'm willing to chalk this up to personal preference. For whatever reason, it bothers me less to eat from parchment.

From the lounge menu, an expensive but tasty indulgence is the Trio of Short Rib Sliders ($15) - saucy, long-cooked short ribs, each served on a perfectly toasted bun. As I write this, I find myself craving these primally appealing sandwiches.

For those who haven't been to Fyve, it is not an intimidating restaurant. It's more casual than you might think, and it's at a more gentle price point than several of the other upscale restaurants in Northern Virginia.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Hi Don and Co!

Prices just got even more reasonable - all items on our new bar/lounge menu below are $5, every day, all the time.

Plus, every Friday, we have a terrific jazz trio from 7-11.

Hope to see you soon,

Amy Brandwein, chef at fyve

$5 each

Antipasto

Serrano Ham, Mozzarella, Bruschetta

Cacciatorini Salami, Mozzarella, Bruschetta

Soppressata Piccante Mozzarella, Bruschetta

Local Artisan Cheese Plate

Herbs Provence (Sheep), Everona Farms, Rapidan, VA

Mountaineer (Cow), Meadow Creek Dairy, Galax, VA

Merry Go Round (Goat), Firefly Farms, Bittinger, Maryland

Snacks

Crostini of the Day

Marinated Spicy Olives, Bruschetta

Parmesan-Parsley Risotto Balls, Tomato Sauce

Homemade Pizza

Margherita, Tomato, Basil

*Italian Spicy Sausage, Artichoke, Arugula

Crispy and Tasty

Grilled Mozzarella Skewer, Pesto

*Grilled Wings, Blue Cheese Celery Dip

Crispy Calamari, Remoulade Sauce

Bistro Style Herbed Yukon Fries

Mini Sandwiches

*Mini Black Angus Beef Slider

Grilled Cheese, Bacon, Tomato

*Homemade Italian Meat Ball Sub, Provolone

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Jim and I went to Fyve last night and all I have to say is "WHY HAVEN'T WE BEEN SOONER!" The dining room is small but comfortable. The only negative is that it's open to the bar area which is also open to a hallway on the hotel's main floor. Occasionally you'd near someone in the hallway shouting for someone else. If they added doors to the bar and dining area, it would help.

The food was excellent. As was the wine we chose, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier. A basket of assorted breads and crackers along with butter and a dip (parmesan and olive oil?) arrived at the table as soon as we were settled in. The dip could be habit forming.

We started out with the crostini fyve ways. I wish I'd written down what each one was but I think I can remember. There was a mushroom one (my fav), one that had roasted red peppers, one had tuna, one with fig and goat cheese and one that I just cannot recall.

For our entree's, Jim chose the veal piccata and I opted for the Caesar salad and a half order of the Fettuccine. The veal was just about the best we've ever had and paired exceptionally well with the wine. My salad was larger than it looked and very tasty. The dressing was well balanced and there was just the right amount on the lettuce. The fettuccine intrigued me because I had just read an article in the May 2009 issue of Saveur about making the real thing and not the stuff that's saturated with cream. The real deal is just fettuccine, butter and Parmesan which is how it was described on the menu. And it did not disappoint. While it was indulgently rich, it was not heavy. I could see why some call this comfort food. And the half order was just the right size.

Even though we were too full for dessert, we still looked over the dessert menu and commented that we would plan better next time. There was room though for coffee. We got the large French press but would get the small next time as there was more than we could possible drink, albeit very good.

In all, we had a very relaxing dinner. We never felt rushed, the pace of the meal was perfect. And, of course. the food, the food! It was great. There will be more trips to Fyve in our future.

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Hi Don and Co!

Prices just got even more reasonable - all items on our new bar/lounge menu below are $5, every day, all the time.

Plus, every Friday, we have a terrific jazz trio from 7-11.

Hope to see you soon,

Amy Brandwein, chef at fyve

Jim and I ventured back to Fyve last night to try the bar menu. Now I'm going to have trouble choosing between sitting at the bar or heading to the dining room. Between the food and the live Jazz, we had a wonderfully relaxing evening.

We started out with the grilled octopus from the dining room menu and the Parmesan-Parsley Risotto Balls, Tomato Sauce from the bar menu. While octopus is not something I usually gravitate to when it's on a menu, I would happily get this dish again. Tender little tentacles with some char on the tips nestled on a place with tiny potato chunks, olives and sundried tomatoes topped with a drizzle of olive oil. Jim's lucky he got as much of it as he did (and it was his dish). The risotto balls were decadent and bursting with flavor and arrived at the bar sitting atop tomato sauce. I would have licked the sauce off the plate if I was at home and not sitting in a public place.

For our next round we chose the Crispy Calamari, Remoulade Sauce, the Mini Black Angus Beef Slider and the Homemade Italian Meat Ball Sub with Provolone. The calamari was good, but nothing special which isn't a bad thing. Calamari cooked correctly is delish and the kitchen here cooked it perfectly. It also paired well with the grenache on the wine by the glass menu.

Then there were the sliders, oh my, the nummy nummy sliders. Having spent my younger years living just outside NYC, I am somewhat a pizza and meatball sub snob. And I've had my fair share of good to iffy to horrid meatball subs in the years since leaving NY. The one I had last night was by far the best I've had in decades (aside from my own homemade subs). The bread tasted like it was lightly grilled with some oil or butter, adding a nice rich and crunchy texture. The meatballs were tender and moist and topped with provolone and was accompanied by a small salad . I could have eaten a bunch of these. The hamburger slider was also outstanding, probably the best hamburger slider in the DC. The burger itself was tender and very juicy. It came topped with onion, lettuce, tomato and cheese and came with a little shotglass of fries. This was probably Jim's favorite of the two sliders which was fine with me since I loved the meatballs.

Our tab, including Jim's two scotches, my Commander in Chief cocktail and a glass of Grenache, came to $90. Not the cheapest meal in town but certainly worth it when you consider the quality of the food, the excellent bar tender (Robert) and the live jazz. We opted for dessert at home only due to me having just baked a blackberry pie the night before but one of these trips we will have dessert there and I'm looking forward to it.

Thanks again to Amy for another wonderful meal.

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Highly recommend the bar-lounge menu "$5 at Fyve" deal..we have been there 5 times to square the deal so to speak..highlights....excellent mini-pizza (more like Turkish Pidas in shape) with blistered crust and quality toppings (this crust is an upper echelon crust by DC area standards..smoky, crispy, lightly chewy but much more ethereal than most)..two or three of these minis makes a nice meal..also the risotto balls with an excellent tomato sauce and mini meatball sub on chiabbata are first rate bar food...in short, this is the bar menu Bebo could never master or retain...edible jello shot cocktails make a nice dessert...and yes the slider is great, also.

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Highly recommend the bar-lounge menu "$5 at Fyve" deal..we have been there 5 times to square the deal so to speak..highlights....excellent mini-pizza (more like Turkish Pidas in shape) with blistered crust and quality toppings (this crust is an upper echelon crust by DC area standards..smoky, crispy, lightly chewy but much more ethereal than most)..two or three of these minis makes a nice meal..also the risotto balls with an excellent tomato sauce and mini meatball sub on chiabbata are first rate bar food...

I'm just going to agree with what TomA said - the pizza is great, as is the whole $5 menu*. The +1 and and I stopped in last week for a bite and a drink and were very satisfied. In addition to the spicy sausage pizza and meatball sub, we tried the fries - and they were really good, too - crispy and salty. The dinner menu looked very interesting and we plan to head back and try it out (were happy to see half-portions of pastas available). The lounge area has been updated a bit and looks a little more 'lively' than it did with the old furnishings.

*Well, I can't say I tried everything on the menu, but the choices are all interesting and we enjoyed what we ordered.

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For $5 in the lounge, you'll get the meatiest, juiciest five Buffalo-style chicken wings around. These puppies are really big, and are grilled rather than deep fried...nice grill marks and a bit of char on the skin. The Buffalo sauce has a lot of heat, which I like, and the blue cheese dipping sauce is more pungent and blue-cheesy than the usual stuff. They are a bit messy though, I felt a tad out of place eating them in the upscale lounge with live jazz.

The complementary snacks (smoked paprika almonds, corn nuts, and another spicy-salty mix of nuts and stuff) were a nice touch. And the rice balls were terrific, as others upthread have mentioned. The contrast of texture between the crust on the outside and the cheesy rice on the inside was just delicious, I could have eaten a dozen!

The downside was the service, unfortunately. For 3/4ths of our time in the lounge we thought our runner/buswoman was our server. She gave us menus, took our orders, and brought our drinks. Only when I had to flag her down for another round of drinks did she tell us that she wasn't our server - who eventually showed up to give us the bill. It wasn't a big deal though...

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Just had lynch at Fyve today. Happened to order from the Restaurant Week menu. Service was welcoming and attentive. You can't eat it, of course, but the free wi-fi here is also a boon, serves the entire lobby level of the hotel.

Gazpacho was a show-stopper. Presented via carafe and poured over beet ice (yes, been done before, but so seasonal!). The texture was masterfully smooth, the soup balanced with acidity, with just a tad lingering of zesty heat.

I'd bathe in it? Yes.

Next up was salmon over basil purée with shaved fennel and a roasted tomato. Oh, how I wanted to love this inviting stack of loopy tendrils in a pool of pea-colored harmony. But it was not n0m at first bite. The fish tasted farm raised (server confirmed this), and the fennel picked a week or two before peak anise complexity. Two points for what was certainly a locally procured bulb, but minus points for an underdeveloped vegetable. The tomato was a happy little slice of an heirloom, well seasoned and appropriately temperatured.

Desserts are not "my thing", so I was not enamored with the peanut butter crunch pie. An attractive, crunchy texture of the crust, but a waxen, muted cocoa layer on top. The accompanying berry ice cream scoop was outstanding, though. I should have asked if that was also made in house, simply bursting with ripe berry flavor.

Small note about the beverage service. Iced tea came served with simple syrup rather than sugar packets. Love that.

Now I need to remember to make it to happy hour there. I'm in the neighborhood often, just keep forgetting to duck in.

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Just had lynch at Fyve today...You can't eat it, of course, but the free wi-fi here is also a boon, serves the entire lobby level of the hotel..

Nix that.

Wound up having lunch at Fyve again recently and discovered the wireless network now requires registration via the front desk.

Lunch was decent, but iced tea has gone up to $4.95 a glass (!). I wasn't paying, but still.

Hrmph.

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Plus, every Friday, we have a terrific jazz trio from 7-11.

If you want to sample a bit of a throwback era, then I would highly take Chef Amy Brandwein's advice and visit on a Friday night, especially if the night is dark and cloudy, much like the gangster eras of the bootlegging days. Short of a lounge singer, my friend and I felt transported back in time, especially if you entered from the mall side, where its entry sign mysteriously states to "push the button and wait a few minutes before opening the [locked] door." Perhaps our experiences were a bit enhanced by an exploding billfold on the floor of that secret door, with its owner rushing in behind us with a great BIG sigh of relief when he and his missus realized he dropped his wallet somewhere after enjoying their meal here, but I would venture more along the lines that the great jazz trio is what really made this place sizzle with vibe.

Like many others up-thread, the $5 chicken wings are a can't miss. An $8 glass of Norton Torontes paired well to cool the spicy kick that these generous-portioned wings gave, but it also paired well with some of the smooth cheeses offered. The bacon helped revive an otherwise-nice-sized portion of the Turkey Club ($15), which was enough to share for two women-folk.

Coupled with its warm decor, it really is quite enchanting, bathed in the notes from the ivories.

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Came here for brunch for our office's holiday party today. There's an all-you-can eat buffet of salads, a few sushi offerings, breakfast meats, pate, salmon and a few other choices, plus a AYCE dessert table, in addition to which you order a cooked-to-order entree from a selection of about 9 different offerings, with AYCD champagne and OJ. Across the board, our group mostly loved it -- the main complaint was one gal who doesn't know cuts of meat at all and expects all steaks to taste like ribeye, cut like filet mignon, and look like a 1.5" thick NY strip. She ordered steak & eggs (which I did also), which came with a 6 oz sirloin and ordered it medium-well - and then complained that it was tough (insert eyeroll here). Of the entrees, the crabcakes benedict looked the best, but the cod on cannelini with chorizo cream was a close second. All the varieties of eggs ordered at the table were done perfectly -- the poached eggs and my over-medium eggs all had a thick, unctuous but still liquid yolk, and the scrambled eggs were soft, creamy and a little fluffy. The buffett bar's offerings included a very nice pate, lightly grilled tomato-mozz "sandwiches" with a balsamic drizzle, a selection of olives and cheeses, along with good quality link sausage, potatoes gratin, bacon, london broil with horseradish, shrimp, crab claws, etc. On the dessert bar, my favorite was a Bailey's irish cream chocolate mousse, and they had cheesecake, pumpkin creme brulee, bread pudding, a flourless chocolate cake with peppermint icing, eclairs, layer cake, and several others. It's pricey at $55 pp, but for big appetites and big champagne drinkers, it's reasonable. And if you use valet, they validate parking

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