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May 4, 2011 04:42 AM

The most amazing meal at Eola ...

I had posted on here about a week ago to see if anyone had thoughts on Eola and I had not received any responses. I decided to check it out, given the good press I'd read, and wanted to report back that it is a major foodie place and I hope that some other CHers will check it out!

First, the space. A townhouse in Dupont. Great set up, but pretty small. There are two floors, which will seat 48. Upstairs can also be a private dining room (has a separate bar) if you're looking for a good space for 25 or so people for dinner. Felt very chic. On a Tuesday night, it was pretty quiet, but I imagine on a packed evening it may be different. Semi-open kitchen, and chefs were all quiet and very focused.

Second, the service. Absolutely phenomenal. I've become accustomed to bad service in DC, and I no longer complain about it, but when there is actually good -- or, in this case, great -- service, I like to note it. Our water glasses were never more than 1/4 empty. Our silverware was cleared and then immediately replaced. The servers were friendly, and achieved the perfect mix of being present and tending to all our needs but not being intrusive. The manager/sommelier was great and had some great wine knowledge. I chose a wine tasting with my meal, but told him I'm not a fan of white wines. He did not judge me (bonus points) and then crafted my wine pairings to be all red wine. He introduced me to some really amazing Spanish reds and picked perfect whites with the appropriate courses for DH. He gave me wines that were unlike anything I've had before (and I'm really into wine), made from grapes I've never heard of, and that were such wonderful discoveries for me. He was able to bring back that excitement about wine discovery for me -- so definitely seek his suggestions when choosing wine (if you don't go with the wine pairing option).

Finally -- the FOOD. Oh my, the food. I was with DH for his birthday, and he is a chef. A chef who was cooking in SF before I convinced him to move back to DC with me. His standards for fine dining food is VERY HIGH and Eola met his expectations - yay! Eola is a tasting menu (with three options per course) for $65. Wine pairings additional $34. We did two tasting menus, two wine pairings. All the food was phenomenal -- listing of what we had below with a few side comments.

*Starter course of chef chosen small plates. Fried Head cheese with a quail deviled egg; mussel with sriacha aoili; grilled bread with a ton of fiddle head ferns and morel mushrooms (OMG Amazing); ramp panna cotta (something unlike anything I've tasted before -- and the essence of ramps).

*First course: DH had the Green Garlic Veloute (was actually too salty). I had the suckling pig salad with lentils and spring greens -- WOW.

*Second course: DH had paprika infused fettuccine with braised rabbit. I had the ricotta and wild nettle ravioli with tomato ragout and morels.

*Main Course: DH had the braised shoat. I had the lamb with braised radishes. I had never had a radish cooked this way and I had no idea a radish could taste like this. I also never thought I'd see the day when I'd be blown away by a radish!! Both mains were so delicious and had perfectly paired elements.

*Cheese course (an additional $15): It was a Shenandoah cheese plate. We were not blown away. It was fine. We found the cheese to all be tasty, but too similar, and the pairings didn't wow us. We liked the local element of it, but probably would skip this next time.

*Dessert: DH had Zabaglione of Stout Beer. I had strawberry shortcake. Both were a really great. My shortcake was the perfect texture and still warm and it certainly tasted as if it had just come out of the oven.

**Biscotti and cookies: We couldn't even think of coffee -- but they brought us this final plate including two meringues (saffron and black pepper). We could only look at them because we were so stuffed full, but they nicely packed them up and we will enjoy them at home tonight :)

Sorry for the really long post, but seriously, this is some of the best dining in DC!

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  1. Thanks for the report. Eola seems to get nothing but positive feedback, yet for some reason continues to be overlooked.

      1. Yeah, excellent review. I'm motivated to go check it out.

        1. We returned to Eola last night and again -- another AMAZING meal. I did the regular menu + wine pairing and my husband had the Offal menu + wine pairing. Again, service was above and beyond spectacular. They must have made notes in our open table reservation, because when we came back they remembered what we had last time, discussed the difference between wines from last time and the wines paired this time, and remembered all of our preferences (for example, they remembered I wanted only red wines in my pairing). Here were a few standouts:

          *Chef selection of welcome plates were a crostini with pig heart and pesto (much yummier than I expected), sashimi of summer squash with an AMAZING balsamic and pickled onion combination, a compressed watermelon dish (good, but the flavor pairings of all the elements didn't meld for me) and finally a sweetened cucumber sorbet with sea salt and mint as a pallete cleanser.

          *DH had a cauliflower panna cotta. Like that ramp panna cotta from a few months back, this was just unlike anything we've had before. Paired perfectly with the house-cured ham, HUGE slices of summer truffles, and chard stems.

          *I had a warm corn and cayenne custard that is now possibly the most delicious thing I've ever eaten in my whole life. It came with english garden peas, wax & green beans, and OUT OF THIS WORLD broth. I could eat this every day and die happy. The freshness of the veggies was outstanding and the savory broth was just sooo perfect.

          *DH loved his pig brain course, as well as his pasta course. I was not brave enough to try, but he was raving about how perfect it all was.

          *I then had a phenomenal pea ravioli with the most amazing bacon. Every bite, especially when paired with the carrots and fennel that came with it, was perfect. Absolutely no complaints.

          *DH and I ended up switching for the mains. I had his course of Lamb Neck with rice, favas, and a very yummy natural jus. It was a very good course, and everything was perfect, but it was hard to compete with the two AMAZING courses I'd had before.

          *DH then had my Confit of Pork Jowl with patty pan squash and a red current gastrique. I had two bites of it and it was really amazing. I hadn't been expecting that confit pork jowl is basically really huge bacon. It was so delicious for my two bites, but that was all I could have. As DH was eating, he just kept exclaiming "I feel so sinful!"

          *Desserts included the most amazing blueberry cobbler I've had (and I have high standards on this) with a PERFECT banyuls wine pairing! The "old fashioned" panna cotta was also DELICIOUS and the candied cherries were perfect.

          *Biscotti and cookies -- again, taken to go. I haven't eaten them yet, but look forward to munching on them for dessert tonight!

          I really should work on my food writing skills, as I feel I don't have the vocabulary to describe how amazing this meal was. Seriously, go check it out!!!

          6 Replies
          1. re: hppyheather

            Oh, I don't know - your vocabulary can't be THAT bad if I'm drooling on my keyboard right now. Thanks for the review - I'm going to add it to my list of special occasion places.

            I just went to their website, and don't see a price for the wine pairing added to the set menu. Am I missing it?

            1. re: VaPaula

              The wine pairing is $34 extra and includes a bubbly starter, 3 glasses of wine, and then a dessert wine. The sommelier has some real talent, so for me, I thought it was worth it!

            2. re: hppyheather

              I was at a table of six Chowhounds here about 18 months ago. The meal could not have been more innovative and delicious.

              Eola needs three things:
              1) A new name
              2) A slightly more refined setting
              3) More buzz

              1. re: Pappy

                How right you are about the name.

                From the website. it looks like they no longer serve a la carte. Is that right?

                What did you have?

                1. re: Steve

                  i read that they stopped a la carte.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Yep, pre-fixe only. On one hand, it is hard because you have to be willing to make the financial commitment to go -- no sampling with a $20 entree. On the other, it frees you up to have culinary experiences you may have otherwise missed out on because you didn't want to order 5 course.