Give Us Your Summer 2009 Restaurant Week Review
This is my first review of 4.
Thursday night Sunny and I went out to Rasika. We arrived a bit before our reservation and started out with drinks at the bar, soon after we sat down to dine. Our waiter pointed out the specialities on the regular menu that were also on the RW menu, Eventhough I had come in having done my research I appreciated tour waiters knowledge. We started out with the Palaak Chaat (the infamous Fried Spinach) this dish defintely lived up to billing, I don't even like spinach but I loved this dish, it was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. The other appetizer was a potato dish that was also very good, it came with this somewhat spicy sauce that complemented it well.
Onto the main course, Our regular naan and truffle Naan (which added in addition came with our main courses. Sunny ordered the sea bass and I ordered a Lamb dish. Sunny said her sea bass was ok, slightly overcooked, I loved my lamb dish and the sauce it came with. The rice was tasty and flavorful and the truffle naan was defintely a good idea to order.
For desserts we had the carrot halwa with cinnamon sabayon and gulab jamun with ice cream, neither of us were a big fan of the carrot cake, I was a big fan of the gulab jamon as was Sunny.
We had a wonderful experience at Rasika, I had very high expectations coming into this meal and Rasika defintely lived up to the billing. Sunny enjoyed the meal but didn't love it. I have already booked a return trip to Rasika at the end of September when my Indian friend comes to town.
Really really surprising dinner at Lima. I walk past this place every day, and know it as a super "clubby" kind of joint, so I agreed to go because it was a catch-up get together with friends but it would never have been my pick. We started off with perfect mojitos, the flavored ones we tried were also excellent (guava and mango) but IMO the classic was the best. Summer in a glass. Good bread and the flavored butter was delicious. Between the four of us we had the tuna and whitefish ceviches, both of which were excellent. We sampled the featured Malbec and Cavas, both of which were very good (both of which were kept flowing, which we didn't mind at all). The entrees we tried were the Salmon, which was perfectly cooked and moist, and the steak with deliciously seasoned rice and what I remember as being a wonderful chimichuri with a great amount of heat. The chocolate cake with dulce de leche ice cream was ridiculously good, and the tres leches cake was very tasty and so pretty we took a picture of it. The service was pitch perfect. We were talking and laughing a lot and our waiter sensed that we wanted to be there for a longer meal, so he checked in on us unobtrusively, so that we were neither neglected nor crampled. One friend tried a glass of a Reisling that she tasted and didn't like at all, he immediately brought her something else and didn't charge her for it (which obviously we don't expect, but it was a very nice treat).
Disappointing dinner at PS7. Everything was very good, but...I've been there with the same people for the last 4 RWs and everything was purely SPECTACULAR every single time. This time...the service was awkward and unprofessional, the mussels didn't really compare favorably to what I can make at home, both one of the beef and one of the fish dishes were overcooked (and moreover, when the steak dish was returned the server made my friend feel extremely awkward about it). As a meal, I'd say it was a success, but as a meal at PS7, not so much.
Seven of us went to Hudson's on Saturday night for RW. When I made the reservation I inquired to confirm about corkage being permitted. I was informed that they were lowering their corkage fee to $10 per bottle for RW. When I asked if there was a per table limit, they offered to allow me to bring as many bottles as I wanted for a flat corkage fee of $20.
The RW menu was limited to 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, and three desserts, but they were very good. Since it was all family, tastes were shared all around. For appetizers we really enjoyed the grilled prawns (2 large prawns on a bed of sauteed fennel), a superb tomato and watermelon gazpacho, and the chopped salad.
Entrees included an excellent an perfectly grilled filet mignon (about 6 oz.) a very nice grilled sablefish, and an excellent roast chicken (Nobody had the pasta.) My wife asked if she could substitute the prawns as an entree and was told sure. When it arrived there were 4 prawns.
Desserts included a very good apple strudle, an excellent chocolate mousse, and a pistachio panne cotte with a basil shortbread cookie that was the hit of the evening.
Service was friendly, discrete, and very efficient. Appropriate glasses were provided for each bottle of wine - we opened 4 bottles (a 2004 Peay Chard., a 2006 Radio-Coteau Savoy PN, a 2005 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast PN, and a 2001 Karl Lawrence Napa Cab, along with a 375 of a 1998 Thirty Bench icewine), water glasses were kept full, and bread was always replentished. We were very pleased with the experience and will definitely return to the restaurant.
I posted this in a thread that's now locked, but wanted to make sure everybody gets the info
The Washngtonian has a fairly complete list of restaurants extending RW specials:
They're updating it regularly; be sure to check out the Comments section where people are posting the latest additions to the list. I'm going to try to make it to the Prime Rib and maybe Art and Soul
We had an excellent RW lunch and first-time experience at Volt yesterday.
Here's my review:
The first thing I noticed was the incredible setting. I loved the Victorian mansion in the heart of historic Frederick that houses the restaurant. As we entered the main dining room, I admired the expansive window looking out on Market Street. the main drag of Frederick's historic district. Natural light filled the room, which to our surprise, wasn't crowded with other patrons. Service was both attentive and accomodating, with courses being served at a leisurely pace. The only thing I didn't like was the acoustics. It often seemed as if waiters were shouting. Since the main dining room wasn't full,and our table wasn't particularly close to other diners, it seemed unusually noisy.
Turning to the food...For the amuse bouche, we started with the yellow corn chowder, which was complemented by avocado ice cream but sans chorizo as we opted for the vegetarian version. It was sweet and salty at the same time and was by far the most creative dish of the meal. For the next course, my dining companion had the goat-cheese filled ravioli with mushrooms in a butter sauce. It was flavorful, but too salty. I had the flat iron steak served with puree of mashed potatoes and whipped garlic. The meat was tender and well seasoned and well presented with a design of sauces around the slices of beef and potatoes. For dessert, we had a chocoholic's dream of the "textures of chocolate,"consisting of milk chocolate ice cream, raw organic cocoa, white chocolate mousse, and chocolate caramel. We also had the white peach tarte tatin, which was accompanied by a vanilla bean frozen custard and a hint of basil. Both desserts were delicious, but I particularly enjoyed the white peach tarte tatin. The peaches were fresh and bursting with flavor, and the vanilla bean frozen custard was fresh and rich. The only thing that I found a bit odd was the flaky phyllo dough crust, which seemed more like a sweet biscuit than the sweet pastry dough crust of the traditional apple tarte tatin I am used to.
All in all, it was a very good meal. On our way out, we checked out Table 21 (with a view of the kitchen) and the inviting bar/lounge area. Very cool. I'm looking forward to returning to Volt for brunch or dinner soon. I highly recommend it.
Okay folks, Parry and I have to fess up. We sent Chef Buben and his wife Sallie a copy of our review of Vidalia and after a brief exchange with Sallie, we decided to give this culinary team another shot - this time at Bistro Bis.
The food was FANTASTIC. We were too rash in saying that Chef Buben isn't serious about providing Washingtonians with great food - our review of Bistro Bis (below) proves that. We don't seek to minimize our negative experience at Vidalia but we should have been less quick to judge the culinary team as a whole. So, please take a couple of minutes to read the review of Bistro Bis - and book a RW reservation there if you can.
Day 4: Bistro Bis (www.bistrobis.com
)Overall Rating: RRRR 1/2 (out of 5)
Tonight, we dined at Bistro Bis, the self-proclaimed poor cousin of Vidalia and our dinner was nothing short of incredible.
We’re not a fan of eating crow especially when it isn’t roasted by a talented chef but tonight we are willing to swallow it raw and whole. In our review of Vidalia we doubted whether or not celebrated Chef Jeffrey and his wife Sallie were committed to providing the same superb fare to Restaurant Week diners that they lavish on their regular customers. Our outstanding meal at Bistro Bis proved we had misjudged this culinary duo.
Parry started his meal with Moules a la Piperade which translated is mussels steamed with heirloom peppers, linguiça sausage and oregano-tomato broth. The mussels were small but extremely juicy and tender, the sausage was exquisitly spiced and maintained its consistency in the broth and the broth itself was an ocean of rich flavor that inspired Parry to gulp spoonful after spoonful of it. I abandoned my indifference to bread and used copious amounts of it to soak up this succulent potage.
My appetizer of Steak Tartare Atilla served with capers, onions, spicy aïoli, cornichons and garlic potato chips was just as remarkable. The chopped sirloin was well seasoned and the potato chips provided the ideal textural contrast to the delicate meat.
If the appetizers delighted our palettes the main course can only be described as orgasmic. My lamb steak arrived with a compliment of buttery mashed potatoes and an au jus that is best described as something mom would make, only better. The lamb was incredibly tender and flavorful, so much so that I swear the charcutier tasted it every ten seconds during the cooking process.
Parry ordered the Duck Confit Façon Tarbais, a garlic-herb rendered duck leg with Toulouse duck sausage, tomato concassé and a ragout of white beans. We are uncertain if the duck was marinated, air dried or pre-steamed but we can state for certain that it was moist, savory and perfectly cooked. The big surprise for Parry was the beans. Normally, he has a hate-on for these little white pearls but tonight he greedily wolfed them down. When I asked Parry about his sudden change of heart he explained that the beans prepared at Bistro Bis were soft but not mushy which to him made all of the difference in the world.
For dessert, Parry ordered a flourless chocolate cake infused with orange and a healthy heaping of crème fraiche. While it was challenging to detect the zest of citrus, the cake was moist and a satisfying way to end the admirable meal.
I opted for the Crème Brûlée which is my all-time favorite dessert. While the flavor came close to meeting my admittedly high standards, the texture failed to please. The interior reminded me more of scrambled eggs than creamy custard. I must confess however that the textural issue with the brûlée didn’t matter much because up until that moment I had experienced such a superior meal that this tiny glitch didn’t phase me.
Our attentive and charming server Lateef vetoed our request for double espresso and insisted on bringing us Bistro Bis’s French press coffee. We fretted a little because we have a penchant for strong coffee and as such, worried that regular joe wouldn’t cut it. Once again, Bistro Bis proved us wrong. The coffee was good, probably one of the better cups of coffee we’ve had during Restaurant Week.
Parry and I don’t like to be wrong, our egos are just too big for that but tonight we are prepared to fess up and take the hit. Vidalia did disappoint us but we were too rash in concluding that Chef Buben and Sallie aren’t dedicated to providing Washingtonians with awe-worthy food. Our meal at Bistro Bis more than proves that point. So, what do we think now that we have bellies full with rich, luscious food? That we’re hooked on Bistro Bis and that during the regular season, we might just give Vidalia another try.
My boyfriend and I managed to sneak in a last minute reservation to Volt this week. There were 2 major stumbling blocks and a few minor ones in the meal, but overall I'll probably return because there were some real flashes of brilliance. It's hard to describe the dishes themselves since the components of the dish are listed on the menu but not how they go together.
White Bean Soup with prosciutto powder - I'm a firm believer in only adding food to a plate if it enhances the entire dish. I don't typically care for molecular gastronomy when it's done for the sake of doing something cool. The proscuitto powder was unnecessary and the soup was a little thin, but the flavor was fine.
Me: Beet/Goat Cheese Salad - Definitely the worst dish of the night. The goat cheese was whipped into a mousse and lost any semblance of goat-cheesiness. There were a few sad dots of balsamic that imparted the only acid on the plate. There was also this weird little beet meringue that tasted like cardboard with much the same texture. Overall, dull, dull, dull.
Him: Corn and Basil Chowder - I admit to being a sucker for corn, and they've got an excellent source of corn. it was sweet and light and very well balanced.
Me: Pork Belly with Cranberry Beans - I'm a sucker for pork belly too. My only complaint was that I ended up with a fattier than average piece. Otherwise the flavors were great and the beans were cooked perfectly.
Him: Goat Cheese and Mushroom Ravioli - This was topped with a corn foam that added absolutely nothing to the dish. God, I hate foams - they always look like someone spit up on your plate. These were competent but I didn't think they were anything particularly special.
Me: Sturgeon and Faro - They made faro ... taste good! It's such a dull little grain, and for the most part I can't figure out why it's made a resurgence. The sturgeon was very slightly over cooked, but that was all overshadowed by the celery. They made celery ... taste good! Definitely a neat trick - taking two bland foods and making them awesome.
Him: Flat Iron Steak - Nothing to complain about here. The steak was cooked perfectly, the whipped potatoes were perfect and everything meshed great.
Me: Peach Tart Tatin - It was everything you could want in a tart tatin, need I say more? Unfortunately, they paired it with a D'arenburg "Sticky" Chardonnay (late harvest). It's not a wine to my tastes to begin with, but sometimes a good pairing can make a not-great wine better. Not here - I actually left half the glass untouched.
Him: Raspberry Vacherin - I would venture to call this dish with it's wine pairing the highlight of the meal. It just worked so perfectly - kudos to the sommelier.
Cinnamon Doughnuts - brought with the check, they were little great.
Lemon Poppyseed Cake - to take home. I thought it was a little dry but the touch was appreciated.
All in all, I was pretty impressed - I wouldn't recommend Volt without hesitation but it'll definitely go on my list.
Need fans of Vidalia to explain the horrific dining experience described below.
Okay folks, I know many of you like or love Vidalia...last night's experience there was HORRIFIC. Can a fan of Vidalia read the review below and explain how this could happen?
Day 3, Dinner: Vidalia (www.vidaliadc.com
)Overall Rating: R 1/2 (out of 5)
Vidalia, owned and managed by experienced and respected Chef Jeffrey Buben and his wife Sallie, is presumed to be one of the finest restaurants in Washington, D.C.. To date, the restaurant has received a wealth of recognition including the prestigious DiRona Award by the Distinguished Restaurants of North America and the Washingtonian has annually awarded it a four-star rating. It wasn’t just the hype that made Parry and I eager to sample this restaurant it was the immaculate reputation of James Buben. Much to our horror and surprise, Vidalia turned out to be the worst dining experience of Restaurant Week.
Parry and I were hungry. I know that those of you kind souls who are following our culinary adventure and graciously reading our reviews will wonder how that was possible since I had lunched at 2941 the very same day. But we were, ravenous in fact. As such we opted for the five-course tasting menu.
Parry started with Vidalia’s Rabbit Mortadella with red mustard greens, spiced pecans, rabbit bacon and truffle-honey vinaigrette. I am ethically opposed to eating rabbit so I didn’t partake but Parry described the dish as something short of good. He found the mortadella a little bland and the dressing more honey than truffle.
My starter of Toigo Orchard Cucumber Soup far exceeded my expectations. The soup, which was served chilled, burst with flavor and I couldn’t help but wonder how Chef Buben’s team made a cucumber taste that good. If only the following courses were half as pleasing as the soup.
Parry’s Grilled Octopus was bland and rubbery and my dish of Frogs Legs served in a parsley emulsion proved tough, tasteless and flat. The next course, Vidalia’s signature dish of Shrimp and Yellow Corn Grits provided us with a sampling of severely overcooked shrimp in a sea of rich and creamy grits.
By the time our fourth course arrived we were nervous. Parry ordered the Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder with eggplant caviar, pot belly farm fig mostarda and grilled garlic while I had selected the Braised Red Waddle Pork Cheeks with crayfish, okra, guanciale, étouffée. They sounded great on paper but based upon the previous courses could the kitchen really deliver these complicated dishes? The sour expression on Parry’s face after the first bite of lamb told me all I needed to know. Nothing frustrates Parry more than a piece of dull, poorly cooked lamb.
My dish fared slightly better. The pork cheeks were tender but lacked the richness that usually accompanies this dish and the crayfish, well, in reality they were two of the tiniest pieces of crayfish I have ever seen or eaten and they were so overdone that one would best describe their texture as wallpaper-like.
At this point in the meal, Parry and I seriously debated skipping dessert. We’re glad we didn’t. My dish of Meyer Lemon and Goat Cheese Bavarian with black berries, olive oil génoise and candied black olives boasted complex flavors including a delectably rich and creamy cheese topping. I could tell that the chef hadn’t skimped on ingredients because the cheese was of superior quality. Parry’s Georgia Pecan Bar was ripe with lush caramel and savory pecans. We both agreed that dessert was by far, the best part of dinner.
After we paid the bill and were preparing to leave the server asked how we enjoyed the meal. Parry and I exchanged looks. This is that embarrassing part of a bad meal where guests feel compelled to lie. We opted for the truth.
Parry asked to speak with the manager and seconds later Michael Nevarez, the General Manager of Vidalia appeared. We carefully and somewhat gently explained that we had been eager to dine at Vidalia because of Chef Buben’s reputation and the rave reviews many have afforded the establishment but that we were gravely disappointed in the five-course tasting menu because so much of the food was either bland or overcooked.
I suspect many of you will doubt what you are about to read but Parry and I swear it is the absolute truth. Mr. Nevarez responded by telling us that the dishes we were served fell short of our expectations because it is Restaurant Week and that in order to provide the five-course tasting menu at the price of $45 the chefs had to cut costs and use inferior ingredients. I swear Parry’s mouth slipped open during this horrendous explanation. I wish I’d had a camera with me to capture it.
My response differed from Parry’s. I looked right at Mr. Nevarez and asked why Vidalia would risk their fine reputation by participating in Restaurant Week if doing so meant serving shoddy food. His response? In this economy, Vidalia wouldn’t survive if they didn’t especially since Congress is out on a break and business has been so slow.
Mr. Nevarez was making me feel badly for Chef Buben and his wife but only for a second and not for the reason you may assume. I started to wonder what comments like that could do to tarnish the reputation of a respected chef like Buben and then I remembered he or Sallie hired this individual to run his operations so who really is at fault here? And more importantly, Parry and I can only assume that Chef Buben and Sallie are aware of the happenings at Vidalia and that means they approved of the cut-backs to the food budget during Restaurant Week that according to Nevarez was responsible for the absence of flavor we experienced.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Nevarez tried to tempt us to give Vidalia another shot by offering us free champagne if we returned during a normal week. We politely explained that our complaint wasn’t designed to score free alcohol and that quite frankly we didn’t appreciate the offer. We further explained that we love food and that’s why as new residents to Washington we are sampling 6 restaurants in 5 days, to determine where we want to dine this year. Our response didn’t penetrate and Mr. Nevarez dismissed us with a smile and brisk handshake.
Here’s our dilemma. Tonight, we are scheduled to dine at Bistro Bis, the other restaurant owned by Chef Buben and his wife. After our horrific experience at Vidalia I want to cancel the reservation. Parry thinks we should give it a try. Maybe he argues, Chef Buben is more committed to French food than he is to high-end southern. I seriously doubt it.
Well, you're hit on the perpetual RW issue, haven't you. If a restaurant is going to participate in RW but not put its best food forward, how will that reflect on their normal offerings?
A lot of people use restaurant week to "test run" restaurants, and I'm pretty sure most restaurateurs know that. It's in their best interest to at least TRY - and from all the complaints I've heard about Vidalia recently it seems that they're slacking.
I think most of us know that RW is far from normal and is not an accurate reflection of the restaurant under normal circumstances. For example, the waiter who serves the same amount of food is only going to receive half the tip (assuming most of these restaurants would charge at least twice as much as the $35 RW dinner cost ). I bet all those servers are just overjoyed to work for half pay. If a restaurant is serving its normal menu during RW week, are RW diners grossing up the cost when it comes to tipping?
I'm very sorry to hear that you had such a terrible experience! I went for lunch and my boyfriend and I really enjoyed it ... the portions were small but after almost 2 hours of eating and drinking we were stuffed. I think that lunch sounds like it might have been a more satisfying option.
I agree that the rabbit mortadella was short of good. I did think the vinaigrette was wonderful, though. I too had the shrimp and grits and my shrimp were cooked perfectly. Honestly, they might have been the best-cooked shrimp I have ever had. My grits were also perfect ... creamy but not too much, and not thin. The shrimp to grits ratio was also very satisfying. My boyfriend had the monkfish and while I was not huge on the fish, the pine needle reduction they were served under was truly awesome, and I have been thinking about the spinach-mushroom gnudi ever since. I also agree that dessert might have been the best part ... we had the chocolate peanut butter crunch bar (I did think that the caramelized banana was a little too much, though), and the pecan bar was perfect.
Our service was excellent and the timing was great. They didn't try to rush us out, even though we were enjoying a late, leisurely lunch and the restaurant was fairly empty by the time we were done.
Day 3, Lunch: 2941 (www.2941.com
)Overall Rating: RRR 1/2 (out of 5)
Today’s adventure began at 2941 where Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel, a native of the Auvergne region of France and recipient of three stars from the New York Times, is reputed to have transformed this restaurant into an earthy manifestation of French cuisine.
My lunch companions, a friend who has dined in the finest restaurants Europe and North America has to offer and her six year old daughter. Yes, that’s right, I said six year old daughter. I know what you are thinking, why introduce a kid to a menu crafted for a sophisticated palette or force her to sit still amidst 2941’s lush landscape of lake, koi pond and floor to ceiling windows?
For the record, this isn’t your average six year old. Besides displaying only the best behavior that I wish some adults would emulate, this child has refined tastes and can down squid, steak and carpaccio with the best of them which is precisely what she did.
This sophisticated child started her meal with Hawaiian Red Snapper Carpaccio that featured a citrus gelee, cilantro and heart of palm. She liked the way the citrus interacted with the snapper and thought the fish was worth finishing. She did however reject the hearts of palm, finding the texture and flavor a bit odd. I agree. The snapper was fresh and full of flavor and the citrus gelee provided a refreshing burst of flavor reminiscent of a stylish civiche. While I ate the heart of palm and liked the texture it added, I didn’t feel its presence contributed to overall the flavor profile of the dish.
Her mother opted for the Chilled Pea Soup with poached shrimp, summer truffle and orange oil. The soup arrived in an amazing bowl that literally tilted downward which made finishing the last few spoonfuls of soup that much easier and more refined.
I suspect my companion liked but did not love this soup. I say this because like her daughter, she is extremely well-mannered and if she can’t say something nice she isn’t likely to say anything at all and while she ate the soup she did so without much comment. Her daughter, the brave eater, also sampled the soup and her reaction which was a mix of confusion and scowl was more telling. “What are the sticks in the soup,” she asked. Sticks? I looked at her mother who confirmed that were indeed stick-like objects in the soup that she couldn’t quite identify. I wondered if they were the summer truffles but as a huge fan and occasional connoisseur of truffles I can’t imagine them being stick-like in character or flavor. And so the sticks hidden in the soup remained a mystery, one I think both dining companions could have done without.
For the main course, the kid and I ordered Veal Cheek Ravioli with tomato confit, butter poached lobster, and parmesan. The lobster was moist and flavorful, the veal cheek ravioli decadently rich, and the tomato confit’s acidity provided a wonderful balance to the dish.
The little one finished the lobster but didn’t fall in love with the veal cheek ravioli. She tried it, a couple of times, before deciding she would have preferred this homemade pasta be stuffed with cheese instead of veal cheek. Her mother and I disagreed finding the veal cheek delicious but I have to remind myself that despite being a child extraordinaire she is still a child and what kid doesn’t want cheese ravioli?
Her mother ordered the Grilled Pacific Monchong that was lightly grilled and stained with turmeric. Basmati rice, lychee and curry leaf accompanied the fish. Both the child and I sampled this vibrant dish that featured a small piece of fish swimming in a bright green sea. The fish had an almost meat-like texture and was well-seasoned and moist. The sauce burst with flavors that reminded me of one of my favorite Thai dishes, a blend of curry, coconut and basil. Why then didn’t I love this dish? It failed to come together as a whole. The fish was good, the sauce was good but they didn’t tango and that caused the dish to disappoint.
For dessert, I ordered the Raspberry Parfait with fromage blanc panna cotta, lemon balm and warm madeleines. My companions decided upon the Ice Cream Sandwich comprised of dark chocolate cookies paired with mint chocolate chip ice cream. The raspberry parfait was a delight. Imagine a soft, creamy construction paired with fresh raspberries and a perfect cookie. The ice cream sandwich fared less well. Just to further demonstrate the refined palette of this six year old, I will share with you that she opted to eat the dark chocolate portion of the dish and rejected the ice cream.
By now, you know that I am passionate about food and so my reviews thus far have either been ripe with praise or cranky with criticism. Why then does this review of 2941 seem like a lackluster endorsement (yes, the oxymoron was deliberate)?
Our lunch was good not fabulous and yet I experienced moments of greatness like the freshness of the snapper, the succulence of the lobster, the richness of the panna cotta. Thankfully, these moments are enough to ensure that I will give 2941 another try but next time I hope that all of the dishes sing.
I thought I'd post our review of The Oval Room too. We know it's a favorite of many but quite frankly we weren't in love.
Day 1: Oval Room (www.ovalroom.com
)Overall Rating: RRR (out of 5)
Ranked 9 in the top 100 restaurants in Washington, Parry and I expected a culinary journey and we weren’t wrong. Too bad the trek was filled with exciting menu concepts that for the most part fell flat on the plate.
Chef Tony Conte is imaginative offering up plates like Parry’s appetizer of seared scallops in a coffee mustard dressing. The scallops while overly salted were cooked to perfection and the coffee mustard dressing was surprisingly delicious. My duck confit with grilled peaches, and frisee pleased the pallet but didn’t ignite any fireworks.
Parry opted for a main course of Wagyu skirt steak with roasted Chinese eggplant, miso and fried potatoes while I selected the organic chicken breast with roasted zucchini puree, savory granola, coddled egg, and squash blossom. The skirt steak was sinewy and tough and Parry felt the Wagyu sauce overpowered every other flavor on the plate.
My main course fared slightly better. The organic chicken was cooked sous vide so it was tender and moist and the roasted zucchini puree was a smokey delight. The coddled egg provided a rich contrast to the plain chicken and the savory granola, while too sparse, was scrumptious.
Dessert proved to be the biggest disappointment. Parry’s choice of chocolate custard, pistachio ice cream and espresso cream mimicked an upscale version of a frozen McCain chocolate cake. The custard, more cake than pudding forced the rich pistachio ice cream to claim centre stage. My vanilla cheesecake with graham cracker streusel and Bing cherry compote failed to inspire a second bite.
If the food failed to delight, the service downright disappointed. The Oval Room is reputed to be the restaurant of choice for local politicians and media celebrities. Parry and I paused to wonder why then the waiters failed to collect finished plates and when they did, why they elected to clear Parry’s plate before mine. We also questioned why our coffee was served when we were only half-finished our glasses of wine. This lack of attention to detail made Parry and I feel that the Oval Room is priced high-end while providing a mediocre dining experience.
At $35 for a three-course meal, the Oval Room is a decent meal out but would we return at the usual $85 per person? No way.
My husband and I are doing 6 restaurants in 5 days - here is our review of Teatro Goldoni where we ate last night.
Day 2: Teatro Goldoni (www.teatrogoldoni.com
)Overall Rating: RRRR 1/2 (out of 5)
In 2009, Teatro Goldoni won the prestigious RAMMYS Award for Favorite Restaurant and after dining there last night, Parry and I understand why. Chef Enzo Fargione isn’t just a chef to watch, he is a chef to experience – over and over again.
We started our culinary journey with seared potato-leeks-pancetta and crab cakes over cream of basil and a chickpea powder texture. The savory cakes were moist and flavorful and Parry felt the chickpea powder added a welcomed crunch to the dish.
Next, we dug into roasted cauliflowers dressed with bread crumbs, capers, roasted garlic, basil and Ligurian black olives over a carpaccio of roasted red and yellow peppers with polenta crackers and red beet chips. We expected this dish to be less savory and blander than the first because it is comprised solely of vegetables. We couldn’t have been more mistaken. The dish sang with flavor and as a self-confessed hater of beets I must acknowledge that the even the beet chips warranted a thumbs up.
As good as the appetizer experience was we were unprepared for the delicacy and scrumptiousness of our main course. Parry’s dish of roasted monkfish wrapped in pancetta and served over a reduction of Merlot red wine and oven baked artichoke hearts was awe-worthy. The monkfish was succulent, the artichokes delightfully seasoned and the reduction made Parry want to lick the plate.
After sampling Parry’s dinner and swooning I eyed my own plate of Teatro lithograph saffron pasta sheet cannellone filled with smoked and buffalo mozzarella, porcini mushrooms and served with arucola pesto and parmesan cheese foam. I commented that branding pasta can be deemed pretentious unless it is truly the most phenomenal pasta in existence. The first mouthful of the cannellone convinced me. Chef Fargione has every right to place his mark on this dish. The stuffing was culinary genius. The cheese was rich, creamy and smoky, the mushrooms delicate and the pesto intensely flavorful.
Parry and I wondered if a kitchen skilled in creating and producing savory dishes could deliver a sweet ending to an almost perfect meal. Fortunately for us, Teatro Goldoni ends the way they begin – with a bang.
The orange chocolate torte was a dreamy mix of quality dark chocolate and cocoa, zesty orange caramel and fresh pistachios. Parry, who normally rejects anything that combines orange and chocolate scraped the plate clean.
My dish of chilled strawberries and sweet rhubarb macerated minestrone with basil sorbet, poppy seeds and crunchy meringue was a refreshing surprise. The minestrone was sweet but not syrupy and the strawberries soft and tangy. The basil ice cream however, stole the show. The flavor was delicate and opulent and I must admit that I desperately wanted another scoop.
At this point, you get that Chef Fargione and his culinary team delivers innovative menus comprised of award-worthy dishes. But there is more to this story. From the second Parry and I walked in to our final moments in the restaurant, we were treated to exemplarity service. The Manager took the time to greet us personally, the bartender provided helpful suggestions regarding the wine list and our server Sayid was warm, skilled and attentive. It was obvious to Parry and I that everyone employed at Teatro Goldoni take pride in their job and their place of employment.
If the purpose of Restaurant Week is to introduce the masses to the finest food Washington has to offer, then Teatro Goldoni succeeded. Without question, Parry and I will return – over and over again.
Went to PS7 tonight.
All in all, very good meal - started at the bar for the $4 happy hour cava, which we took to the table..as much as I love Gina's cocktails, $12 is a bit much.
I started with the flatbread - very good, but could have used a LITTLE more salt on the tomatoes to bring out their flavor. Smaller portion than the flatbreads served at the bar.
I obviously had the risotto, since it was the only veggie option. This is where I was a bit disappointed. The risotto was perfectly good, but it's August. It's hot. And produce abounds. Really - mushroom risotto? To me, it seems a bit uninspired. I was not disappointed, but I can make risotto at home in the winter and be satisfied - it's not something that will BRING me to that restaurant.
My friends loved their dishes - one had the tuna and one had the beef tenderloin.
They both had the red velvet cake...I had the chocolate peanut butter bar thing which was DEEEVINE. I'd go just for that.
Anyway - I think PS7 is a good value for RW for most people. Service was great, the fresh rolls were wonderful, etc. But I do wish I'd have had the choice of a more seasonal option.
Did dinner last night at Acadiana. The RW menu was three courses for $35.09 which included essentially any appetizer, your choice of any of the entrees and desserts. I was there with an out of town friend and he too two appetizers (turtle soup and deviled eggs) and I took a dessert. Since we were celebrating his birthday they threw in a free dessert with a candle on the plate and "happy birthday" spelled out on the plate in chocolate.
All in all a great night, and in my opinion, they are still the best for creole cooking in the area.
We went to New Heights and was pretty disappointed. I had been there a few years ago and enjoyed it.
The RW menu was limited and the portions were small. The waitress started with the snarky question about bottled, sparkling or "just tap" water.
I ordered the chicken liver parfait for appetizer. I expected a little crock of chopped liver. Instead, there were 2 pieces of toasted bread with a smear of liver. BF had mussels and was pretty happy.
For the second course, I ordered the flatiron steak which had an upcharge of $10. When the dish arrived, there were 4 small slices of steak spread out on the plate. The slices pieced together would be about the size of a deck of cards. This was served on a puree of potatoes and some mushrooms. BF ordered beef brisket. Again, the portion was quite small. I would say that it was smaller than a small fillet mignon. It was served with 4 thin slices of potato. We were both underwhelmed.
They redeemed themselves with my cheese plate. BF had creme brulee in a mini ramekin.
I do not expect chain-restaurant size portions but these were pretty small. The taste was not bad but I probably would not go back.
Had an excellent lunch at Black Salt. 3 dishes for $20: beautiful fried calamari, a delightful grilled rockfish atop fresh (and unique) pasta, and key lime pie. Very good service.
We were very satisfied. The purpose of RW is to entice new patrons to restaurants. In this instance, it worked! We will definitely return to Black Salt based on our experience during RW.
second post, new topic so here it is again
I was just coming to post about my dinner at Siroc last night as well. We sat outside since it had cooled down enough to want to be outside. Our waiter was friendly and more importantly knowledgeable about both the menu and wine list. Two of our party were deciding between two entrees and he gave his opinion on the 4 different options and informed one of them that while the lobster is on the regular menu, the gnocchi was a restaurant week special. Anyway back to the food, we tried 3 of the appetizers (the highlight being the housemade pork sausage) and 4 different entrees. I had the lobster w/roasted corn which were light and just right for a cool summer night, my gf had the free range veal cheeks which were tender and cooked perfectly. the other dishes were duck breast w/a tarte which was filled with tallegio and turnips (this was wonderful) and the gnocchi which were light but the sauce was just ok. desserts which i normally skip made me glad i did not skip them. i had the almond cake and mine was far from dry, moist cake and the blueberries and zabaglione sauce added to the whole rather than overwheleming it. overall i think restaurant week should make you want to tell other people about your experience and return again, Siroc delivered on both.