Four of us enjoyed a 14 (?) course 5 hour marathon of outstanding cooking on Saturday evening. This was by far the best meal I've had in DC since Jean Louis left 11 years ago. Fabio is a brilliant chef who can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone in the US. While we will miss him here, but I also look forward to seeing what he will do in NYC in the years to come.
While the following will be woefully inadequate in describing the dishes, it may give you some flavor of the meal.
1. Canapes of smoked salmon and mozarella with olive tamenade
2. A magically illuminated plate containing a fried zuchinni blossom with aioli, a glass of gazpacho, octopus in squid ink sauce, and a taste of tomato water.
3. Fruit balls with balsamic vinegar and parmesean ice cream.
4. Raw tuna and oysters with sorrel foam.
5. Mussels and squid and shrimp in a reduced shellfish broth with spicy bread crumbs.
6. Sea nettle gnocchi with chilis.
7. Lobster ravioli
8. Pear and grappa risotto
9. Foie Gras with mango
10. Whitefish baked in hay.
11. Loin of lamb atop a shredded lamb cake.
13. A chocolate dessert.
14. Another dessert
Caveat: This was not our first visit to Maestro, and our party is known by the chef and the staff. While I do not believe that our "Chef's Meal" would have been any different if this were not the case, I think it is important to mention it.
My wife and I dined at Maestro on Saturday night for our anniversary. It was our third trip to the restaurant over the last few years. The food (as before) was excellent. The stars were the amuse bouche of seared tuna and tomato water, the roasted sturgeon with foie gras, the lobster ravioli and the Nutella soufle.
Our service was very good, very professional, but slightly off at times. The servers seemed to have trouble with their timing all night. Our service was performed by two servers, one holding a tray with our dishes as another lifted the dishes off of the tray and onto our table. One server would show up with a tray of food only to be stranded while the other server (normally our waiter) finished up on another table. More than once, we saw a server retreat back to the kitchen for the food to be placed under the warming lights. We have also had trouble in the past understanding our waiters while they described the dishes (particularly important if dining off of the surprise tasting menu). I'm quibbling, and, as I said, the service was very good. I just wouldn't classify it as excellent. I guess I prefer the more friendly staff at Restaurant Eve to the professional staff at Maestro.
Extra bonus: Half way through our meal - mid conversation - my wife looks at me and says: "Shaquille O'Neal." I thought that was an odd thing for her to say, but when I turned around, there he was, poking his head in. He was wearing jeans and a huge white t-shirt. I guess he was just scoping the place out because he turned around and headed back into the hotel.
re: DC Taco
DC Taco...my wife and I have dined at Maestro just 4 times (glad we got them all in now that they are leaving town), but each time the service was superb. However, I will echo your one comment that *sometimes* when we have someone show up at the table, either during the ordering or even the delivery of various courses of food, there was *at times* at least some minor difficulty with *some* of the waitstaff in us understanding what they were trying to say. Believe me, I am used to heavy accents, so I usually have no problem with this. I am really splitting hairs here, though, about the overall service experiences we have had at Maestro over the past few years.
re: DC Taco
My wife and I were also there saturday night and I have to agree on the service part. The food was excellent overall ( 3 excellent courses, one average course and the dessert was unbelievable). We had a rotating duo of servers and while the first one was easy to understand, the second was almost unintelligible. The sommelier was very pleasant and made an excellent recommendation to go with my 5 course vegetarian meal (a 2004 barbera). Hope the replacement for Chef Trabocci will be equally capable. It would be a shame to not ever be able to indulge in the zucchini flower tempura with the delightful fennel aioli.
I'm sorry you had a less than stellar experience. I can assure you however, that I am a stickler for proper and professional service. And when I compare my several visits to Maestro to my several recent visits to Citronelle, Eve, CityZen, ILW, Palena, La Paradou, etc., they have never come up short. And to finish my comment, it IS the best food the DC area.
We have been going several times a year to Maestro, for several years now and, based on a lifetime of restaurant experience in many parts of the world I can honestly say that the service at Maestro is the best I've known. Maybe Duker52 wanted something more stiff and formal or maybe he wanted "Hi I'm thing and I'll be your waiter tonight" Thankfully Maestro service has been neither. We have found it, efficient, friendly, but neither over-familiar nor obsequious, and most important of all our courses have been paced exactly as we wished and we have never been in the dreaded situation of having one course arrive within minutes of our finishing the previous. We have never had to wait for wine either.
re: bruce in oakton
While I hate to repeat myself, I am going to reiterate a comment that I have made before on this board. We have been eating at Maestro since a couple of months after they opened. We have always found the service precisely as you describe it: perfectly balanced, right on the line between overly formal and stiff and overly friendly. And, as you say, not at all obsequious.
I used to think they had a knack of judging the customer and placing the service where the customer wants it. Perhaps this sense failed in the case of Duker52. I know I must give them fits because I am a very slow eater, particularly when it is so excellent, and my husband is not. But as you say, they somehow make it perfectly paced, and I am not made to feel I am annoying the wait staff by taking so long. I can't say the same for some high end restaurants in other countries.
As Pappy indicates, if there is better food in the D.C. area, I haven't eaten it. I will miss Fabio terribly.