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Adour, Saint-Regis Hotel - Chef Sébastien Rondier Replaces Julien Jouhannaud in a Branch of Alain Ducasse's New York City Restaurant - Closed May 31, 2013


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Congratulations to Ramon Narvaez, who has stepped down as sommelier at Marcel's, and will be moving on to Adour. There's very much of a shortage of competent sommeliers in this town, and filling the shoes of the talented Narvaez will be challenging for Marcel's.

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My parents were in town this weekend, and when I dropped them off at the hotel I saw the Adour sign in the lobby. Any word on if the design and wine focus will be the same as the (excellent) NY location? I'd assume so, but you never know...

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They've started doing friends and family soft opening for Adour. According to Open Table, the first date they are accepting internet reservations for is September 8th.

ETA: So far as I know, the restaurant won't be open on Sundays and Mondays, so the first date of availability really should be the 9th.

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I'm going to keep quiet about the food, but I will comment that my friend ordered just the vanilla ice cream for dessert on Friday. It came out with an enormous sort of comma shaped meringue on top, the placement of which gave us the giggles that echoed through the empty-at-the-time dining room. Let's just say that as suggestive as it was with three balls of ice cream, it would have been downright obscene with two.

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I'm going to keep quiet about the food, but I will comment that my friend ordered just the vanilla ice cream for dessert on Friday. It came out with an enormous sort of comma shaped meringue on top, the placement of which gave us the giggles that echoed through the empty-at-the-time dining room. Let's just say that as suggestive as it was with three balls of ice cream, it would have been downright obscene with two.
That´s gotta be right up there with Mikey in Season 2 of top chef´s challenge with the cheetos
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Had an exquisite meal at Adour last night. Greeted warmly by 3 front door lovelies and the charming and gracious GM - Mariana. Started with the tastiest gougeres. Among other early highlights shared by the 4 of us - a spectacular warm corn soup,a perfectly composed and dressed lobster salad, and a pristine plate of hamachi - all complimented by a 2007 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Cote (suggested by Ramon, as cordial and helpful as ever). The seared foie was slightly overcooked but still terrific with the 1991 Chateau D'Yquem that showed up. The gnocchi were unusual and wonderful, and strangey reminded me of my grandma's cheese blintzes. The filet /shortribs combo - fork-tender and very flavorful - was the perfect match for the regal 1998 Chateau Haut Brion that my friend/benefactor wisely insisted upon. Dessert was as fabulous as advertised. I liked both of the chocolate concoctions I tasted (slightly preferring the one with coffee granita), but the baba was my favorite of the 4 we sampled followed closely by a light and lovely grapefruit/meringue/rose blossom ice cream composition. The macaroons that followed - which I saw being made before leaving - were even better. The chocolate ones were amazing - by far the best I've ever had. But I'm still not sure they were as good as the raspberry gel filled dark chocolate truffle that ended this feast. Dining room is simply gorgeous - warm but chic, and the service and pacing were excellent. Playing to only a half filled dining room, but for day 3 a truly stellar performance. I'll be back.

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The baba presentation in Paris is an over the top E30 (US $48-50) presentation with a sterling silver cart and three different extraordinary rums which you choose from. Is it similar here? I should also note that dinner at Ducasse in Paris or Monaco approaches E 300 or US $450 prix fixe.

In Vegas Guy Savoy was US $350 for the tasting menu (+wine, tax and tip or about US $1000-1100 for two people; Ducasse in Paris can be more): these are not inexpensive meals. The Vegas restaurant sat almost empty on the several nights we were there recently.

To be honest with one night left before leaving we ate at In-n-out Burger instead. Extra spread, Neopolitan shakes and fries animal style to go along with our 4 x 4's. The difference in cost paid for the airfare for both of us going and coming and left enough to pay for the rental car for two days.

In-n-out makes a very good hamburger...

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The baba presentation in Paris is an over the top E30 (US $48-50) presentation with a sterling silver cart and three different extraordinary rums which you choose from. Is it similar here? I should also note that dinner at Ducasse in Paris or Monaco approaches E 300 or US $450 prix fixe.

In Vegas Guy Savoy was US $350 for the tasting menu (+wine, tax and tip or about US $1000-1100 for two people; Ducasse in Paris can be more): these are not inexpensive meals.

The baba was priced like all desserts at $12. The prices at Adour were, IMO, very reasonable for the quality level. A 3-course meal, excluding wine, for $60-80. And I'm almost sure the 5 course tasting menu was $125 or less.

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The baba was priced like all desserts at $12. The prices at Adour were, IMO, very reasonable for the quality level. A 3-course meal, excluding wine, for $60-80. And I'm almost sure the 5 course tasting menu was $125 or less.

And it's actually with armagnac, rather than rum, a nod to Ducasse's southwestern upbringing, perhaps. At least it was on opening night.

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I had very good lunch at Adour today. It was flawless, but with a few notable exceptions, the food was a somewhat forgettable when compared to other restaunts in its class.

The meal started with some nice gougeres. For an appetizer I got the bluefin tuna tartare, which was rather assertively seasoned with ginger and soy and came with an avocado ice cream. It was tasty, but the heavy seasoning and finely chopped tuna seemed more a way to conceal mealy, bland fish than an innovation. For my main course I got Atlantic salmon with fennel, dill, and olives. It was a nice dish, and well prepared, but nothing about it stood out.

What did stand out, however, were (1) the setting, (2) the bread, and (3) the dessert. The refurbished hotel is beautiful and ornate (but includes some cheesy product placements) and the design of the restaurant itself aptly mixes sleek and modern with the traditional architecture. The room is also surprisingly light and it doesn't seem like there is a bad table in the place. The bread was also impressive, with three choices: an olive loaf, a traditional baguette, and (I think) a wheat baguette (which I did not try). Finally, dessert was exceptional, possibly the best I've had in the city this year (or longer). I had a strawberry and rhubarb panna cotta, which came with warm, soft, freshly-made biscotti and some sort of granitee. Everything worked so perfectly that, though not typically a dessert person, I would go back just to have it again.

All in all it was a good experience, and I'd return, but maybe not on my own dime. Lunch - with no wine - was $190 pre-tip. So with a decent tip it was over $75 per head. For lunch. By way of comparison, a similar lunch at the Oval room last week cost about $50 per head, and included some exceptionally daring, memorable food.

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The baba was priced like all desserts at $12. The prices at Adour were, IMO, very reasonable for the quality level. A 3-course meal, excluding wine, for $60-80. And I'm almost sure the 5 course tasting menu was $125 or less.

I have not been to this restaurant yet but I distinctly remember the dessert presentation in Paris which I noted above along with the presentation. I should also add that there were dollops of whipped cream from a chilled sterling silver bowl which was presented on ice on the cart. I seriously doubt that this has anything in common with what I was served several years ago. I also doubt that there is as much sterling silver in all of D. C. or New York as there was in the dining rooms in Paris or Monte Carlo. Or as much staff which was 1:1. Choosing the rum was also a production. Time was spent on the description of each of the three.

With all due respect to D. C. and New York Ducasse needs to be experienced overseas. He is as much about presentation as he is about what is on the plate. Waves of quiet, mechanical servers, a silver mine framing the dining room. I will visit Adour: but I don't expect it to have anything in common with what I've had in his restaurants in Europe although the chef may be extraordinarily gifted. It may even be a better experience; I just don't expect it to be a similarly over the top indulgent one.

Did I mention the cheese plate, it's sterling silver cart and the fifty or sixty cheeses to choose from on it?

I must confess: I'm laughing at the comments about price. Ducasse is an investment; anything less than this is a compromise. This is his menu with a la carte prices from Monte Carlo. Note the current exchange rate is US $1.44 to one Euro.

This is the menu with prices from Paris.

Now let's talk about "with a decent tip it was over $75 per head. For lunch."

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Now let's talk about "with a decent tip it was over $75 per head. For lunch."

Here is the New York Times review of Adour in NYC. 3 Stars. Adour is the relaxed Alain Ducasse with wine emphasis. No 24 carat gold flatware (like Louis XV), no gigantic floral arrangements and 50 cheese cart (like Alain Ducasse Paris). It is what it is. That said, no one should go there looking for a bargain.

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In the summer of 2007, I was having dinner at Kaz Sushi Bistro, right in front of Kaz at the sushi bar. Two gentlemen walked in and took the seats on the far left. After a few minutes, one of them said something to me, we started chatting, and then Kaz introduced us. His name was Leo Marino, Chef de Cuisine at the soon-to-open West End Bistro. His dining companion was Robert Berry, and their dinner at Kaz that evening was an extension of Robert's interview for the job of Sous Chef. "I wanted to see how he ate," Leo later told me. By complete coincidence, my dining companion that evening had applied to be West End's AGM. The three of them would end up opening the restaurant.

There's largely a hush mentality in this city between restaurant writers. For example, when is the last time Tom Sietsema has written anything about Todd Kliman, and when is the last time Todd Kliman has written anything about Tom Sietsema? Everyone seems to go about their business, working in their own best interest, and professionally ignoring the existence of others. It may not be an accurate reporting of the Washington, DC dining scene, but it's safe, and in a very superficial way, it's "polite." However, I'm a big believer in checks and balances, and I think if you're going to dole it out, you need to be able to take it right back, and that goes for everyone including me.

Recently, The Washington Post wrote this piece about Marino's recent departure from West End Bistro (while, of course, not mentioning how they found out about the story to begin with - no surprise there). This is a largely inaccurate version of the situation which neglects to address the ongoing managerial problems endemic to the bureaucracy at Ritz-Carlton. To their credit, The Post appeared to have interviewed three parties in this hastily written piece (management, New York, and Marino), but Marino clearly opted out of the interview, and was incorrectly made into a scapegoat.

But if this tossed-off column about West End was involuntary manslaughter, then Washingtonian's Assault on Adour during their opening night of service was nothing less than premeditated murder. A known restaurant critic announces in advance that he's arriving at this ultra-luxe, fine-dining establishment, and will be tapping in a "review" ON HIS CELL PHONE during dinner. Meanwhile, two other tables of Washingtonian critics arrived in order to evaluate their meals. Waiting outside in the lobby was a team equipped with video cameras to interview diners on their way out.

This stunt - it can only be called a stunt - was a self-serving, in-your-face, blatant abuse of journalistic power - a display of bullying which served no purpose other than to degrade and demean a respectful business on the most exhausting and stressful night of its young existence. It took professional restaurant criticism to an absolute new low, and turned a beautiful, formal dining room into Washingtonian's private playground.

I've now had two full dinners at Adour, and am immensely impressed by what I've seen. The dining room itself is gorgeous, with a dramatic wooden ceiling which remains remarkably understated given its grandeur. The tables are well-spaced, and three beautiful circular booths line one of the walls.

It's time for Ramon Narvaez to be considered as one of the absolute top sommeliers in the Washington, DC area. He built Adour's wine list pretty much from scratch, and has instantly made it one of the finest in the area, with an excellent breadth of wines from around the world, all sorts of good bottles priced under $60, and many priced in the $30s. You can drink very well here without spending a fortune.

Unless, of course, you start off with two glasses of the "Cuvee Alain Ducasse" Champagne, which is selling for the cringe-worthy price of $29 a glass. It's a good Champagne, made specially for Ducasse's restaurants by Domaine Lanson, but factoring in tax and tip you're looking at $75 just for two people to start their meal. For me, a good glass of Champagne is mandatory to begin a meal at a restaurant such as this; fortunately, there are several glasses more gently priced on this excellent, well-chosen wine list.

Remember the name Ramon Narvaez - he's rock-star material.

The food at Adour is elegant, refined, and understated, and is complemented by what is arguably the very best bread served in the Washington, DC area right now. There are salt and pepper mills on the table for a good reason: By design, the dishes here are not heavily seasoned in order to enhance the subtle flavors, and it's up to the diner to adjust accordingly. I found myself using a small twist of salt and pepper for several of the dishes, and just that little kick-start is all they needed to come into full bloom.

I've had four appetizers:

Tender Ricotta Gnocchi ($17), Sauteed lettuce, crispy prosciutto, and wild mushrooms.

Cucumber Marinated Hamachi ($19), Green apple mustard and espelette piment.

Pressed Foie Gras and Organic Chicken ($25), Black truffle condiment

Chilled Maine Lobster Medallions ($26), Wild Greens, vegetables, coral vinaigrette

three main courses:

Baked Striped Bass ($29), Duo of tomatoes confit, lemon zest, capers

Veal Sweetbread ($36), Green and white Swiss chard, veal jus

Classic Squab Breast, Seared Foie Gras ($39), Yukon potatoes, salmis sauce

a cheese course ($15) and two desserts:

Dark Chocolate Sorbet ($12), Coffee granite, caramelized croutons

Our Baba ($12), Armagnac, light whipped cream

Every single dish was at least very good, and some were exceptional. The pressed foie gras and chicken is a perfect example of a dish that wakes up with a little salt and pepper. Standouts for me were the bread, the actual gnocchi themselves, the sashimi-like hamachi, the incredible Chilled Maine Lobster Medallions which is one of the greatest salads I've had this year, the squab with foie gras, and both desserts.

The first time I dined at Adour, I dined alone. As I was waiting for my cheese course, a young couple came in and sat at the table next to me. It was Leo Marino, who was taking his charming wife Melissa out for her birthday dinner. I hadn't seen Leo outside of West End Bistro since the night I met him at Kaz. We looked at each other, without needing to say a word, and gave each other a hug.

"Tell everyone that I'm doing just fine," he said.

Leo and Melissa moved back to New York City three days ago, and have no plans to return to Washington, DC. Goodbye for now, Leo - it's been a pleasure knowing you, and we'll miss your work here very much.

And welcome to you, Chef Jouhannaud.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Don, This is the best post that I have ever read by you. It seems, sometimes that, when a restaurant opens there are those out there that set out to see how badly they can bash it on opening night. I think this is unfair. What ever happened to a giving a place a chance to gain it's footing? Thank you for the insight into Adour.

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But if this tossed-off column about West End was involuntary manslaughter, then Washingtonian's Assault on Adour during their opening night of service was nothing less than premeditated murder. A known restaurant critic announces in advance that he's arriving at this ultra-luxe, fine-dining establishment, and will be tapping in a "review" ON HIS CELL PHONE during dinner. Meanwhile, two other tables of Washingtonian critics arrived in order to evaluate their meals. Waiting outside in the lobby was a team equipped with video cameras to interview diners on their way out.

So, it's fine to cover a play on opening night, write about a presidential candidate's announcement speech, and critique a ball-teams prospects after the first week, but one is prohibited from saying anything about a major new restaurant by the world's most famous chef until when -- two weeks? three months? a year after it opens? Yes, writing the "review of record" based on something like that would be illegitimate, as are plainly vicious and mean-spritied comments. But a relatively lightweight first impression? Why not?

Disagreeing with Sietsema's (alleged, but quite possible) overstarring of a restaurant is one thing, but demanding radio silence until a celebrity chef gives the go-ahead is a little much. I though the Washingtonian thing was a little cutesy, but what the hell. Alain Ducasse can handle it. And, as a potential customer, I want to know what's up. I'm smart enough to understand that it's just the first night, and Kliman & Crew are, too. "The scorecards, mind you, aren’t intended to be final judgments, merely a snapshot of a moment in time. And, not least, a little peek into our world as critics." I thought the criticisms were gentle and appropriate, some of the praise effusive. And I think they're doing their job.

Seems to me that a lot of the on-line food resources in this town are in the tank -- as Steve Schmidt might put it -- for the restaurant industry. Friends in the business, free drinks and extra courses sent over, those nice PR free dinners where the chef is at their finest, good gossip...who wants to screw up a good thing? And there's a place for pure information [it's Spanish wine month!] and outright boosterism [We have Ducasse!]. But, while I don't always agree Tom or Todd or Tim, it seems that the old media types are the only ones who aren't afraid to take an honest shot when they think they need to, as well, and I value that quite a bit. Guess i'll have to live with newsprint on my fingers for a few more years.

I think we should leave gaming the refs to the politicians and the jocks and accept that -- like every other public performer -- chefs are legitimate subjects of legitimate, public criticism. Even on opening nights.

[This should not be taken as an opnion on either Et Voila, Adour, or H2M, or an opinion of the opinions expressed about them (Joe -- i was just giving you a hard time because, well, it just happened. H2M sounds cool and it's no secret that i'm an elitist pig. :lol: )]

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A known restaurant critic announces in advance that he's arriving at this ultra-luxe, fine-dining establishment, and will be tapping in a "review" ON HIS CELL PHONE during dinner. Meanwhile, two other tables of Washingtonian critics arrived in order to evaluate their meals. Waiting outside in the lobby was a team equipped with video cameras to interview diners on their way out.

I don't know, after the shame and ridicule that purse-ottomans, a choice of Montblanc pens to sign the check, and personal table-side Bichon Frise fluffers brought to the industry at Ducasse (all droolingly reported upon here locally as the ne plus ultra of sophistication); and the slavish, fawning pre-press these moguls uncritically receive when another gold (plate maybe?) link is added to the chain; I found the twittering experiment by Todd to be refreshingly appropriate and a welcome tethering to the au courrant of today.

Both the glossy, centerfold cum-shots of purse-ottomans for Birkin bags at Ducasse, and the use of a populist, devaluing, instant media to introduce the quivering public to Adour, which is, after all, a media-driven chain restaurant (regardless of its quality and luxe-ness) fronted by the media-created branding of its figurehead--both of these things capture(d) perfectly the times that M. Ducasse's restaurants represent(ed) and hope(d) to profit from.

I also think that the too-accessible opening night coverage was a perfect response by Todd to the inaccessibility of M. Ducasse obvious in the on-line interview the day before. Say what you will about the dignity and respect due M. Ducasse by the press, but without the media, he would be a chef with one mind-blowingly terrific restaurant (and the culinary and gastronomic world might just be a better place with all of his talents focused on just that one place).

I only wish that Todd had found the opportunity to paraphrase M. Humbert at any point in his session by saying, "I am twittering (twinking, in the original) happy thoughts into my tiddle cup," or to point out how poshlost Van Veen would have found it all, especially with the lack of Antiterral orchids for decoration and authenticity.

Of course, my point of view my be prejudiced by my long-standing and continuing annoyance at Adour for making parking in front of Archibald's (my own Villa Venus) impossible (if you look closely, you can see me in the video, drunkenly trying to hail a cab with my "lady" friend in the background) and how maddeningly and unknowingly, or perhaps pretendingly, evocative the name "Adour" is of a portmanteau of "Ada" and "Ardor".

Of course, too, I may just be jealous at someone else getting slavishly fawning press.

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I had a sensational dinner at Adour last week. I worked at the hotel many, many years ago and am familiar with the layout of the space. The re-design is very stylish and attractive. The wonderful dark inlaid ceiling beams are contrasted with light colored furniture and tablecloths. Very comfortable leather seating. The effect is substantial. You know you are in a special place. The staff could not have been more attentive. From the gougeres as apéritif, salmon rillettes as amuse to the macarons at the end, everything was visually stunning, perfectly prepared and delicious. The standouts for me were the hamachi appetizer - cut thick and of pristine freshness, and the squab with foie gras and Salmis (puréed foie gras). The wine list covers all the bases, and surprisingly, offers great value at the lower to mid end. They are unfortunately closed on my days off, but I can't wait to return. This is an important restaurant for Washington.

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Not been moved to write anything here for quite some time, I'm afraid, but this place is an inspiration.

I'm enough of an old fart to get sentimental for the great meals I had at Lespinasse when it was in that room - and feel pretty ambivalent about the retro 70's disco acoutrements that now tart up the bar as well as the dining room.

But with the charmingly unaffected staff and sensational food & hooch and all is soon well in the world. With a lunch menu heavy on salads and sandwiches and a sommelier that talked me down from the bottle of Condrieu we were initially looking at to a funky Spanish white Rias Baixas Granbazan at half the price(!) the place provided rather less sticker shock than I had been bracing for.

The gnocchi/short ribs app is pretty awesome - on par with the cloud-like puffs of ricotta at Charlie Palmers (my favorite anywhere) and the short ribs reminiscent of Bouchon. Plates of hot gugere cheese puffs, olive bread cigars, strawberry and chocolate macaroons all thrown in gratis help take the edge off for cheap bastards like myself. And the Baba for desert really is pretty wonderful. I had haddock for my main course. Naturally it tasted like it was right off the boat and cooked not a moment too long.

Can't wait to go back and peruse more of both the menu and a wine list that that you could cozy up with like a good book.

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I returned to Adour yesterday to give it another try. I had liked it the first time, but left feeling like the best parts of the place were the desserts, the bread, and the room, and that it wasn't quite worth the expense. My appetizer and entree just weren't that special. But everything I had today was exceptional. I started with an appetizer of "Delicate Thin-sliced Chilled Veal Loin with Mesculin Salad and Fresh Herb Condiment" that was very good and surprising, in that it was not the carpaccio I was expecting, but instead nice pate like medallions with a creamy herbed cheese. For an entree, I had "Guinea Fowl with Red/White Pearl Onion Condiment," which included perfectly juicy, thin slices of meat atop a rich, slightly sweet brown sauce with pearl onions. It was exceptional, and came with a good side of couscous. The dessert was as good as I remembered; this time I had "Bitter Grapefruit with Raspberry Custard and Rose Blossom Ice Cream," which was a great sour sweet combination with a noticeable rose flavor from the ice cream. Rounding out the meal were the same great bread, polished service, and a few nice extras like gougeres and macaroons. It was still $190 (pre tip) for three people, but this time it was definitely worth it.

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We stopped in for a drink in the bar last night and actually found the decor to be offputting. The floor doesn't match the ceiling, which may have been done on purpose, but it looked more to us like someone had moved into an old building (complete with high ceilings and old-fashioned archwork) and put in new wood walls, a dark bar, and some modern low to the ground tables and seats, but only in 75% of the space. Nothing wrong with either of these themes on their own, but we didn't care for the mix.

Service was pushy. Our waitress gave us two menus; one with food and wine and the other with cocktails and liquor. What seemed like 20 seconds later, she came back to take our order. We informed her that we had not yet traded menus and were still choosing. She told us that they were short on menus (bar was only half full) and that she needed them back to give to another table. Seriously? You're charging these prices and I don't even get a chance to get a good look at the menu? We probably should have left, but we wanted a drink and we quickly ordered a glass of Bordeaux and a Pur Sang, which sounded delicious (Bordeaux St. Emilion, Eau de Vie, Fresh Muddled Fruits, and Fresh Lime). The Bordeaux was fine, but the Pur Sang would have made Adam Bernbach cry. A $16 sugary disaster in a fancy wine glass. The best comparison I could make is Hawaiian Punch. We would have sent it back, but we were in no mood to stay and, god forbid, try to get a hold of a menu again. We paid our bill ($35 after tax and tip!) and strolled out.

We will give the dining room a try one of these days, although I think I will need time to convince my wife to walk back after last night's expensive disappointment.

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Had a terrific - if pricey - dinner at Adour last night. It didn't start out very promising. My wife and I were escorted to a small back room that felt like Siberia and had the music turned up - possibly to mask the commotion coming from the kitchen. The staff was incredibly gracious and moved us into the main room and from there on everything was either excellent or very good. Excellent: the gougeres, the bread, the gnocchi, the duck breast, the desserts. Very good: the corn soup, the roasted lobster. Also must mention the sommelier. My wife and I are not wine people and he was incredibly gracious and accommodating. We gave him our price/taste preferences - we asked for under $75 a bottle - and he decanted a bottle that was well under budget and was just right. Overall, this is a really fine restaurant. The technique is top-notch - eg, the crisp-skinned duck breast is perfectly rosy and as meaty as a steak. If it were a bit cheaper (or if someone else were paying) I would be back sooner rather than later.

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We had reservations for four at 7:00pm last night (Friday). At 6:50, stuck in gridlock caused by the G20 summit, and ten blocks from the restaurant, we called to say that we'd be late. They said "No problem. We'll be glad to see you when you arrive". It took us forty minutes to go the ten blocks. Our guests took 45 minutes to get there from the St. Regis.

I got caught in this traffic too, and by the time I got to Co Co Sala, I was 45 minutes late, the place was jammed, and my table was understandably given away.

So while your guests came from the St. Regis, I went to the St. Regis. The street in front of it was blocked off. There were delegations having dinner inside Adour, and it was very crowded - full of people dressed in suits and dinner jackets, and here I was dressed for Co Co Sala.

There was an overall sense of unease at the restaurant yesterday, though I can't quite put my finger on why - I think it's because there was so much security, although having just battled traffic, it may have just been me. Ramon and Didier (who came from Belga Cafe) were both extremely busy, but managed to somehow lend a sense of ease to an otherwise hectic evening.

Curiously, the two dishes I had before (Chilled Maine Lobster Medallions ($26) and Classic Squab Breast with Seared Foie Gras ($39)) were both off in execution last night. The incredibly good lobster was completely lost underneath a mountain of vegetables, some of which were interesting little treasures, but others being large, uncut, leafy greens that seem out of place in a $26 appetizer. My guess is that Adour is afraid to present the tiny portion of lobster without something to make the dish look bigger, but the mound of greens doesn't work since it becomes the center of attention. The squab and foie gras weren't perfectly cooked, the foie gras in particular being overcooked, and the whole dish was swimming in the salmis sauce.

Adour can do better than that, and in fact, they did with two new items on the menu: Sunchoke Parmentier Soup ($9) with bacon foam could have come straight from Tom Power, although as I type this, I'm reminded that one of the reasons Power's soups are so satisfying is because they're generally piping hot (contrast with Yannick Cam who prefers them barely warm - this fine bowl of soup from Adour fell somewhere in the middle).

Seared Striped Bass ($29) is served with an outstanding citrus confit, cilantro, and tiny towers of hearts of palm. This is yet another delicate dish from Adour that benefits from a bit of salt. Several times with this dish, I almost thought 'gosh, this is a touch overcooked,' before checking myself each time and thinking, 'nah, it's just fine the way it is.'

A dessert composition of Bitter Grapefruit, Raspberry Custard, and Rose Blossom Ice Cream ($12) was absolutely inspired, and pastry chef Fabrice Bendano showed me once again that he's one of the very, very best in town.

As the table was cleared for dessert, the salt and pepper mills were removed. I thought this was unusual, and also a clear statement that Adour intends for them to be used during the meal.

My friend said to me, "You know, you might not love this restaurant as much as you do if it weren't for the great wine program." I thought there was a lot of merit to that statement. Wine can easily double the cost of a meal, and being able to drink cheaply and well at Adour makes me want to return there, even when the food isn't perfect, because I know I'm not going to get ripped off buying wine.

Cheers,

Rocks

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We arrived early for our Saturday reservations and decided to grab a glass of Champagne in the bar. We were met with indifferent and aloof service, we were worried that this is what we might get when we sat down for dinner, but who would have thought that 15 feet would make a world of difference in the level of service one gets at Adour. Gone was the indifference, and the aloofness was no where to be seen. What we received was hands down the best service we have had in the city. Matching the service was the look and feel of the room. While the room was very attractive this was not produced at the expense of comfort, the seats were as comfortable as I have ever found in or out of a restaurant.

As mentioned by several other people the bread is a real standout. The baguette and the wheat rolls both have a creamy element that causes them to become quite addicting especially when taken with a bit of the delightful butter.

For starters I went with the Hamachi and could not have been happier. The cucumber vinaigrette drew a wonderful sweetness from the thick hunks of fish, and the green apple mustard further complemented the flavors of the fish. My wife found a soup that has dethroned the Power Pumpkin creation from the cities soup throne. This was a sunchoke soup with bacon foam. This soup matched all of the fine attributes of Power’s exquisite soup, but the addition of the hardwood smoked bacon provided a fragrance that is missing from the pumpkin soup.

The entrees were decent, but not as good as the appetizers. My sweetbreads were fine, but could have been a little crisper, and one of them was cooked a bit past the done point. The dish was bathed in a one dimensional veal stock reduction, I guess I was hoping for something a bit more inventive, something that played off of the wilted bok choy, but it was not to be had. The dish was not bad, just not as good as I had hoped. My wife’s tenderloin and short rib was nicely prepared, but again suffered from being a tired rendition of both the short rib and the tenderloin. Both were exquisitely prepared but offered nothing that we have not had before.

The cheese plate is a selection of four cheese, each attended by a matching accompaniment. The standout for me was the blue cheese with the lavender honey (the golden raisins and pine nuts just got in the way), my wife preferred the goat cheese and pickled beets. We followed the cheese with an apple soufflé, a sweet and tart concoction that was made even better with a rather rustic vanilla ice milk.

I will certainly be back to try other entrees and see if maybe we just made a mistake in our ordering, but even if the rest of the entrees are rather uninspiring, the other components that this restaurant offers would more than make up for it.

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As much as I like a raw piece of fish, the hamachi was a bland fish and the sides did nothing to aid the flavor of the fish. The ricotta gnocchi is just ricotta cheese roughly in the shape of gnocchis. We ordered 3 apps and they split the gnocchi voluntarily, which is a nice touch but I'm not a big fan of big dollops of ricotta cheese. The seared foie gras was expensive but we received two huge slices of foie gras, and it was seared perfectly. The duck breast, even at medium rare, was a tough piece of meat. The lobster was served in a bouillabaisse veloute, which was quite good. Excellent service and the dining room is very comfortable. I love the plush leather seats but I really this is a dumbed down version of Ducasse.

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For having Top 20 food in the area on a bad day ...

For having Top 5 food in the area on a good day ...

For having Top 5 service in the area ...

For having a Top 5 dessert course in the area (*) ...

For having a Top 5 dining room in the area (*) ...

For having Top 5 linens and glassware in the area (*) ...

For having a Top 5 wine program in the area (*, **) ...

For having a Top 5 bread service in the area (*) ...

For being one of only 3-4 restaurants in the area that could conceivably get two Michelin stars in France ...

I'm comfortably raising Adour to bold in the Dining Guide.

Cheers,

Rocks.

(*) With a credible case able to be made for Top 3

(**) Wine, of course, often comprising 50% of the total fine-dining bill.

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That seems right to me, but always looking for ways to improve. Feedback is always welcome.

For having Top 20 food in the area on a bad day ...

For having Top 5 food in the area on a good day ...

For having Top 5 service in the area ...

For having a Top 5 dessert course in the area (*) ...

For having a Top 5 dining room in the area (*) ...

For having Top 5 linens and glassware in the area (*) ...

For having a Top 5 wine program in the area (*, **) ...

For having a Top 5 bread service in the area (*) ...

For being one of only 3-4 restaurants in the area that could conceivably get two Michelin stars in France ...

I'm comfortably raising Adour to bold in the Dining Guide.

Cheers,

Rocks.

(*) With a credible case able to be made for Top 3

(**) Wine, of course, often comprising 50% of the total fine-dining bill.

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That seems right to me, but always looking for ways to improve. Feedback is always welcome.

First off, I want to say what exceptional service--personal, engaging, and attentive--were provided at Marcel's when you and Rigga were there. Thank you :rolleyes:

Hearing about the buzz about Adour, I was excited to go with my dining companion last month for lunch during DC Restaurant Week (February 16th). We arrived for lunch on a not-so-busy day and were seated in the back corner (near the kitchen). Our main server asked if we wanted sparkling or iced water. We requested iced water. The water arrived in a beautiful thin-necked opaque vase. However, it was at room temperature and without ice. More importantly, the water smelled and tasted heavily chlorinated. It was the first time we ever tasted such chlorinated water at any fine dining establishment.

The food in general was quite sub-par, but what made the experience truly distasteful was the service--inattentive, impersonal, and condescending. The servers were not available when needed and acted very mechanically as if we were invisible. (FYI, we were appropriately dressed for a fine restaurant.) Our lukewarm bread arrived mid-way through our appetizers. We ordered coffee immediately after finishing our entrees, expecting to have coffee with or before dessert. While having dessert, there was no one available we could ask for coffee. After we finished our dessert, our server decided to serve coffee. We were dumbfound as he insistently poured the coffee (I had left my cup upside-down) and left saying, "In France, we serve coffee AFTER dessert." We have dined in France and at numerous French restaurants, and this NEVER happened before.

When receiving the bill, I noticed that a card for comments was provided for feedback. We agreed it would be the most productive and non-intrusive way to air our unpleasant experience. I filled out the card (including my e-mail address) and gave it to the lady at the front of the house on our way out. I have not heard anything since.

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First off, I want to say what exceptional service--personal, engaging, and attentive--were provided at Marcel's when you and Rigga were there. Thank you :rolleyes:

Hearing about the buzz about Adour, I was excited to go with my dining companion last month for lunch during DC Restaurant Week (February 16th). We arrived for lunch on a not-so-busy day and were seated in the back corner (near the kitchen). Our main server asked if we wanted sparkling or iced water. We requested iced water. The water arrived in a beautiful thin-necked opaque vase. However, it was at room temperature and without ice. More importantly, the water smelled and tasted heavily chlorinated. It was the first time we ever tasted such chlorinated water at any fine dining establishment.

The food in general was quite sub-par, but what made the experience truly distasteful was the service--inattentive, impersonal, and condescending. The servers were not available when needed and acted very mechanically as if we were invisible. (FYI, we were appropriately dressed for a fine restaurant.) Our lukewarm bread arrived mid-way through our appetizers. We ordered coffee immediately after finishing our entrees, expecting to have coffee with or before dessert. While having dessert, there was no one available we could ask for coffee. After we finished our dessert, our server decided to serve coffee. We were dumbfound as he insistently poured the coffee (I had left my cup upside-down) and left saying, "In France, we serve coffee AFTER dessert." We have dined in France and at numerous French restaurants, and this NEVER happened before.

When receiving the bill, I noticed that a card for comments was provided for feedback. We agreed it would be the most productive and non-intrusive way to air our unpleasant experience. I filled out the card (including my e-mail address) and gave it to the lady at the front of the house on our way out. I have not heard anything since.

[You're beyond incompetent as a restaurant reviewer. Reveal your identity publicly, or get the hell off of my website. Consider this your final warning.]

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The name, the architecture, the locale, and not least the prices conspire to raise expectations to a high level for Adour. Generally I found these expectations were not met Friday night. Everything, including the service, was very good, but not in the league to which this restaurant appears to aspire.

The cucumber marinated hamachi with green apple mustard was an inspired combination, the immaculately fresh fish highlighted to eyebrow-raising effect by the mellow acidity/sweetness of cucumber and apple. It was the only dish of the evening that prompted extended thought and conversation. The multicolor composition of stewed vegetables seemed to have little going for it except the witticism of its skyline-like presentation; otherwise the competently stewed vegetables suffered somewhat from too much pepper. A salad of chilled lobster medallions beneath a tangle of beautifully shaved and colorful vegetables and lettuces, dressed in a mushroom vinaigrette, was in all respects a perfectly composed lobster salad. Should I have expected something else? Perhaps not.

Somewhat overdone seared tuna topped with a morsel of foie gras was delicious but forgettable save for its well-made sauce of veal demi-glace and morels. Far better was the roasted veal loin accompanied by fava beans and tender ribbons of pasta. It was judiciously sauced and flavored, though it shared the overall lack of daring or personality characteristic of most of the other dishes.

Desserts were carefully made and delicious, and, like everything else, beautifully presented on the plate. But see above.

Ramon, the excellent sommelier, formerly of Marcel's, helped select a fragrant and meaty Chambolle-Musigny Les Echezeaux from the eclectic and well-chosen wine list. The mushroom overtones I sometimes detect in this wine went beautifully with the main courses; for me the wine was the most memorable part of the meal.

Adour offers cuisine at a high level and obviously benefits from a talented and masterful chef. Why then the lack of panache and creativity that characterize a truly memorable restaurant? Perhaps because Adour is a hotel restaurant? Perhaps an over-reliance on the Ducasse brand? I don't know, but now over $600 poorer, I'm not sure I want to return to find out.

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The multicolor composition of stewed vegetables seemed to have little going for it except the witticism of its skyline-like presentation
I thought the same thing. Besides the wild presentation, it's basically a plate of stewed vegetables. I pity the poor chef that has to put that dish together, though-- it looks like a real pain in the ass
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Tasting menu at Adour tonight. Thought it was lovely: started out with gougeres, then an amuse-bouche of brandade.

Terrine of chicken and foie gras with a black truffle emulsion; next was an oxtail ravioli in a lobster broth. A piece of seared halibut in a parsley cream followed, a plate of roasted duck breast in an orange honey demi ended. For dessert, a slice of roasted mango topped with diced tropical fruit, a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream, and a pineapple fritter. And I swear I caught a hint of cumin on the pineapple.

No qualms with anything, seriously. I'm sure I don't have the palate of some, but this was a lovely meal. I'd go on but I'm full, and a lousy writer.

best, r

ps. no, the water didn't sniff of chlorine.

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The rack of Kurobuta pork is as good as one would expect, but lurking under the innocent looking cocotte of grits served alongside is a particularly fantastic boudin noir, which is good enough that I'd go back and order the pork again just so that I could have the combo of grits and boudin. I am not normally a big fan of boudin noir, but this was seriously excellent; I do note for the record that it's not mentioned on the menu, and our server didn't mention its presence either, so it might have been a real shock to an offalophobe - it only really came up when I was discussing wine pairings.

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Tonight is the great Ramon Narvaez's final official night at Adour (he'll be going back to work for the Robert Wiedmaier empire). This is so sad to me - the incredibly unfair, self-serving, abusive initial coverage of this restaurant on opening date harmed it from day one.

For now, I'm downgrading Adour in the Dining Guide until they're over this substantial loss, but in no way does it (yet) affect the phenomenal wine list that Narvaez implemented here, nor the refined, austere cuisine of Julien Jouhannaud - and goodness, not the incredible pastries that Fabrice Bendano continues to produce.

Thank you to the entire Adour team for a couple years of incredible dining, and here's to hopefully many more.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Tonight is the great Ramon Narvaez's final official night at Adour (he'll be going back to work for the Robert Wiedmaier empire). This is so sad to me - the incredibly unfair, self-serving, abusive initial coverage of this restaurant on opening date harmed it from day one.

Any word on what he will be doing as part of the Wiedmaier République?

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Once again my sole selection for Restaurant Week dining -- with its extensions -- is Adour. No other restaurant compares to Adour these two weeks -- no menu, no service, no ambience, and probably few wine lists. And I must add that though many like myself come here only twice a year during the two weeks Adour offers a Restaurant Week menu, the entire staff treats their guests as if they were staying in the Presidential suite at the hotel. The GM notes the likes and dislikes of each returning guest, souffle not on the menu, no problem, they served all three of us a heavenly hazelnut souffle on the last night I dined there. Need I add what others have noticed: Fabrice Bendano and his assistant turn out if not the best, among the best desserts offered at any restaurant in the DC area.

In addition to the souffle the first night I shared a milk chocolate dome that I could have easily horded and an orange tian (unfortunately for my sweet tooth, the clementines were a bit too tart unlike those I have at home). Among the memorable preparations were the amuse bouche -- a demi-tasse of mushroom soup with a thin layer of creme fraiche resting on its top,easily equal to a mushroom soup that Yanick Cam prepared at Le Paradou, a light and flavorful lobster bisque with a handful of croutons amazingly flavored like none other I have had, a stuffed squid Basquaise, and what Jouhannaud called a tomato marmalade that accompanied the moistest chicken breast I have ever been served.

Having tried every item save the salad appetizer offered on the Restaurant Week menu -- three appetizers, three entrees, and two desserts -- I marvel at Julien Johhannaud's talent -- he turns burlap into silk. The main ingredients: chicken breast, braised beef cheek, and monk fish certainly are, well, pedestrian ingredients. In his hands they emerge as sumptuous bites one savors. I and my friends left knowing we had eaten and been treated like royalty -- discretely, without fawning, but definitely royally.

We are all looking forward to August!

Heathcote.

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Went to Adour on Friday night to celebrate my nuptials with my new bride on an amazing recommendation from Don. I was looking for a semi-private place and Adour fit the bill with it's banquettes (we had five of us).

With five of us, we were able to address a diverse range of tastes (my dad is not a huge French food fan) and all did the five course tasting menu. Of course, I always forget that five courses is never five courses (it was really eight). The following bullets highlight the menu:

1. Heirloom tomato Gazpacho (not on tasting menu--an amuse)

2. Peekytoe Crab salad

3. Scallop with roasted corn (not on tasting menu)

4. Arugula pesto risotto with chantrelle mushrooms

5. Salmon with braised fennel

6. Short-ribs with chickpea fries

7. Vacherin with raspberry sorbet

8. Artisinal chocolates and macaroons

And we had some mac and cheese as well with course number 6. Don recommended along with Brent, the sommelier, a Laurent champagne, a Falesco Ferentano (a white), and a Malbec which was great (but can't remember the name). The Ferentano was amazing, it started out smoky but as it opened up, totally transformed to a mild wine. Also, my wife and dad are not huge champagne people, but they loved the Laurent.

It was an incredible meal for a very special occasion. Don and the Adour crew were able to recommend a place to cover diverse tastes, we got a ton of food for a very reasonable price, and made a great memory.

Thanks

Joe

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Based on this email I received earlier today, I'm tentatively downgrading Adour to Italic. (Yeah, I know, I'd better hurry up and verify ...)

---

Dear Don,

I hope this finds you well! I am delighted to share the exciting news that The St. Regis Washington, D.C. will unveil a new signature restaurant named Decanter on June 21st, under the helm of critically acclaimed Executive Chef Sébastien Rondier in the beautifully designed restaurant space by Rockwell Group. Chef Rondier, who led the culinary team at Adour, will debut his new concept for the restaurant which has been inspired by his childhood in France along the Mediterranean, with a strong focus on the wine experience. The arrival of Decanter follows a successful, five year run of Adour, as well as the recent unveiling of the hotel’s stunning new public spaces, including a masterful redesign of the lobby and Bar by Rockwell Group. Adour will officially close following dinner service on May 31st and during the transition, service will continue daily, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in the beautiful new Bar at The St. Regis Washington, D.C. I hope you can cover the announcement of Decanter at The St. Regis Washington, D.C. on DC Dining.

Please see the attached press release for further details on Decanter and images of the restaurant.

Warmly,

Cori

Cori Bray | Junior Account Executive

217 West 21st Street, No. 2 | New York, NY 10011

T: 212.505.8200 |

www.mcc-pr.com |

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[Looks like I was writing my post the same time as Don above.]

I was sad to read Tim Carman's report [and Don's post above!] that Adour is closing on May 31. It was one of my favorite "fancy" dinner places (though sounds like the fancy-ness is one of the things they're planning to change.) I was impressed by the service the first time I had dinner there, and the experience led me to return for special occasion dinners thereafter.

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