Tag Archives: 2015 Winter Restaurant Week

Grapeseed — Lunch on 30 January 2015

2015 Winter Restaurant Week, Extended,  Day 5

Some restaurants are continuing to celebrate 2015 Winter RW through Sunday, but for me, it ended Friday, w/a trip to the always delightful Grapeseed, in Bethesda.

Grapeseed

Grapeseed

 

Grapeseed Mussels

Mussels

Oh, these were good!   The broth contained little chunks of chorizo, and jalapeno peppers.  I used the grilled bread to mop up every bit of it.

Grapeseed Steak Frites

Steak Frites

The cut of beef in the Steak Frites was called “Grilled Butcher’s Filet (Teres Major).”  That’s a shoulder cut.  Served w/a house sauce and hand-cut fries.

Grapeseed Dessert

Dessert

Dessert was Chocolate Crémeux, which I can’t pronounce unless I’ve had wine w/my meal.  (I find my French accent improves in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol I consume, until I start a third drink.  At that point, for some reason, I lose the ability to speak coherently in any language.)

Crémeux is French for “creamy.”   Food & Wine Magazine describes it as “a dense, soft, classic pudding that’s the new darling of many American pastry chefs.”   Grapeseed’s version came w/Devil’s Food crumbs and salted caramel, which made me happy.  Chocolate-covered caramels topped w/sea salt have been my favourite treat for the last couple of years.

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Jaleo — Lunch on 27 January 2015

2015 Winter Restaurant Week, Extended,  Day 2

Today it was back to José Andrés’ Jaleo, an old favourite of mine.

José Andrés is the man who brought tapas to America.   He trained under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli, and later collaborated w/Adrià to teach a course in culinary physics at Harvard.  He won the James Beard Foundation’s award as Best Chef in the US in 2011, and in his spare time he’s a frequent partner-in-crime w/Anthony Bourdain.

Here’s the jewel in the crown:   Andrés is the culinary consultant for the TV series Hannibal.

Jaleo

Jaleo

Jaleo Endibias con queso de

Endibias con Queso de Cabra y Naranjas

Goat cheese, oranges, and almonds in endive scoops.  (I’m reliably informed, btw, that it’s “EN-dive” (English pronunciation), not “ahn-DEEVE” (French pronunciation).  Beautiful, aren’t they?

Jaleo Croquetas de pollo

Croquetas de pollo

AKA chicken fritters.

Jaleo Lomo de cerdo

Lomo de Cerdo con Salsa de Queso Valdeón

Pork loin with roasted onion and a sauce made w/a Spanish blue cheese (Queso de Valdeón). The sauce and the onions—especially the onions—made this dish.  I’m a real carnivore, but I could have eaten the sauced onions as a full main course.

Jaleo Pan con chocolate

Pan con Chocolate

Chocolate flan with caramelized bread.  The ground chocolate had a pleasantly salty taste.  (I’ve become addicted to the decadent chocolate-covered caramels topped w/sea salt that have become popular the last couple of years.  I wonder if that influenced this dessert).

I think I’ve become a little too familiar w/Jaleo’s menu.   Everything was good today, but nothing really knocked me out.  When I was in Barcelona a few years ago, I was unfamiliar w/Catalan tapas, and many places like Bar Pinotxo in the Boqueria did not have English descriptions of the food.  Half the fun was pointing at things, and being surprised when I tasted them.

Central Michel Richard — Lunch on 26 January 2015

2015 Winter Restaurant Week, Extended,  Day 1

And it continues.

Restaurant Week officially ended yesterday, but a number of excellent places have extended the celebration through the end of the month.

Today’s treat:  Central Michel Richard.

Central

Central Michel Richard

It’s pronounced sen-TRAHL, btw.   It’s named for its location—Central is on Pennsylvania Avenue, about halfway between the White House and the Capitol.

When Central Michel Richard opened, it won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant the USA.  Michel Richard himself has a Beard Award as Best Chef in the USA.   Central was ranked 15th in the Washingtonian’s latest “100 Very Best Restaurants” list.

About that list:  Any list like the Washingtonian’s is designed to be at least somewhat controversial, and should be taken w/a grain of salt, he said, working in a culinary allusion. Many of my favourite places aren’t on the list, and never will never be.  I love the Little Fountain Cafe, f’rinstance, which has been serving classic Provençal cuisine for years, but it’s small and non-flashy and rarely updates its menu, so it isn’t “list-worthy.”   Another of my favourites is Vidalia, generally considered one of the best restaurants in Washington.  In recent years, it’s consistently been ranked in the Top Ten, and sometimes the top three or four.  Someone at Vidalia apparently pissed off a Washingtonian critic,  and it’s absent from this year’s list.

So the list is flawed, but it can be somewhat useful in pointing the way to restaurants worth sampling.

Central Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

The good but smallish serving of French Onion Soup inspired me to check out some recipes, so I can make it at home.

Central Chicken

Michel Fried Chicken

Not just “Fried Chicken,” but “Michel Fried Chicken.”  The Washington Post has called this “the best fried chicken in Washington.”  I won’t disagree; it was super.   It was served over…well, I don’t know whether to call it “mashed potatoes” or “potato puree,” but whatever it was, it was excellent.

Central Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Be honest, now.  Isn’t this raspberry-topped cheesecake one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen?


Appetite Suppressant

As I entered Central, this is what I saw on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.  The loathsome “short-fingered vulgarian” has gained control of our beautiful old Post Office Pavillion.

Appetite Surpressant

Café Milano — Lunch on 23 January 2015

2015 Winter Restaurant Week, Day 4

My final stop during 2015 Winter Restaurant Week (Part 1)* was Georgetown’s Café Milano. Café Milano is famous as a place to see and to be seen, if you’re a political, sports, or media celebrity.  I’m none of the above, but I was eager to check it out.

Café  Milano

Café Milano

The restaurant is on Prospect Street, near M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, in the heart of Georgetown.  It’s big and beautiful and crowded.  It’s also very, very loud, and, since the tables are close to each other, it’s not a good place to have a quiet conversation.

Café  Milano Pappa al pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro

This was a traditional Tuscan bread and tomato soup, with basil-infused olive oil.   Impressive. Imagine the best spaghetti sauce you’ve ever had, and you’ve got some idea of how it tasted.

Café  Milano Taglio di branzino del mediterraneo con vellutata di patate , capperi e cime di rapa saltate

Taglio di Branzino del Mediterraneo

My main was a sautéed Mediterranean sea bass fillet in a potato-caper sauce, with sautéed broccoli rabe.  I didn’t know what to expect w/the potato-caper sauce, but found it to be excellent. The fish was simply but expertly cooked.

Café  Milano Zuppa inglese alle fragole

Bonet

Piedmont traditional chocolate, amaretto, and caramel flan.

Celebrity count:  Zero, but I wasn’t really looking.   One Dimension or Hillary Clinton could have been sitting at the next table, and I wouldn’t have noticed.   Almost anybody except One Dimension or Hillary Clinton could have been sitting at the next table, and I wouldn’t have noticed.


*2015 Winter Restaurant Week officially ends on Sunday, but many restaurants, including some of DC’s best, extend the party for another week.

DCGB Kitchen and Bar — Lunch on 21 January 2015

2015 Winter Restaurant Week, Day 3

Today’s lunch was at Daniel Boulod‘s French-American DCGB Kitchen and Bar.   Boulud has won James Beard Foundation awards for “Outstanding Restaurant,” “Outstanding Restaurateur,” “Best Chef, New York City,” and “Outstanding Chef of the Year.”  You’ve probably seen him as a guest judge on Top Chef.


An Aside:   Remember Project Runway?   For a few years—the Bravo Years, 2004–2008—it had a rabid following, but it eventually alienated its fans because of the judges’ atrocious decisions in cases like the infamous Gretchen Jones — Mondo Guerra fiasco.

I mention Project Runway in contrast to Top Chef.   In its entire history—and I was surprised to see it’s still on the air—Project Runway has never discovered a designer who advanced to a much higher level of recognition than he/she had at the start of the season.  Top Chef, on the other hand, has produced dozens of chefs who have graduated from local to regional or even national fame.

OK, back to DBGB….


DBGB has only been open a few months, but it’s yet another restaurant on the Washingtonian’s 2015 “100 Very Best Restaurants” list.

DBGB

DCGB Kitchen and Bar

The look and feel here is playful, upscale, casual.  The walls and the floor-to-ceiling windows are inscribed w/quotations from famous food-lovers, from Ferran Adrià to Anthony Bourdain to Groucho Marx.

DBGB soup

Roasted Squash Soup

The Roasted Squash Soup, w/garam masala, pepita, pumpkin seed oil, and a bit of cilantro, was so beautifully presented that I almost felt guilty for disturbing it w/a spoon.

DBGB burger

The Frenchie

They call this “The Frenchie.”  It’s described as a “7 ounce beef patty with confit pork belly, arugula (Surprise! — BC), tomato-onion compote, and morbier cheese, on a potato bun, with cornichon, mustard, and fries.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the best hamburger in the world is Yo-Mama’s World-Famous Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger, available only at Yo-Mama’s Bar and Grill in New Orleans.  If you think I’m joking, check TripAdvisor or some other restaurant review site.  The Frenchie wasn’t on that level, but it was v good.  It would have been better if it hadn’t lost some of its heat because it apparently sat in the kitchen a little too long.

DBGB dessert

Chocolate Sacher

Chocolate and Raspberry.  Two of my favourite flavours.


Service was slow, and the waiter apologized repeatedly, saying something about “the system” being down.   I didn’t care, because I was next to a window and had a sweet view of a light snow falling on Washington.

DBGB snow

A Snowy Day in Washington

Fiola Mare — Lunch on 20 January 2015

2015 Winter Restaurant Week, Day 2

Fabio Trabocchi’s Italian seafood restaurant, Fiola Mare, opened about a year ago on the Georgetown waterfront in a complex of restaurants, offices, and up-scale condominiums called Washington Harbour.   I’ve never been sure about the “Harbour” part—the only boats that dock on the Georgetown waterfront are the cruise ships that take tourists a few miles up and down the Potomac.

Fiola Mare is hot.  The Washingtonian ranked it as Number 4 on the 2015 “100 Very Best Restaurants” list.  It’s a beautifully designed large room—140 seats—w/a great view of the Kennedy Center and of Virginia, across the river.  Both the food and service validated the Washingtonian’s high ranking.

The English translation for “Fiola Mare” is “Daughter of the Sea.”

Fiola Mare

Fiola Mare

Fiola Mare Trout

Trout

Citrus Cured Ocean Trout.  That’s arugula again, which topped yesterday’s Pork Loin main at Poste.  Looks like kale, unavoidable a couple of years ago, has been replaced as the default green.  The pesto was made w/basil Genovese, which, I’ve discovered, is generally considered the best basil for pesto.

Fiola Mare Bass

Rockfish

Olive Oil Poached Local Rockfish. on a bed of quinoa and red peppers marinati.

Fiola Mare Dessert

Dessert

Marchesi Chocolate Terrine.   Pasticceria Marchesi is a Milanese shop known for its pastries and chocolates since the 19th century.   Prada recently bought an 80% share of the company.  This dessert, w/pistachio mousse and mint, was perfection.

So the food and service were great.  My one complaint:   The charge for my 8-ounce Diet Coke was $5.  I know that restaurants mark up wine by 200 – 400 percent, but a 1000+ percent mark up on soft drinks seems excessive.


Georgetown Waterfront, outside Fiola Mare

KC

Poste — Lunch on 19 January 2015

2015 Winter Restaurant Week, Day 1

It’s Restaurant Week(s) again, so I’m off on a trek through some old favorites, and some interesting places I’ve never tried.

First up:   Poste, a New American brasserie at Gallery Place.   Poste—The “e” at the end is silent, btw—is located in the Hotel Monaco, which, long ago, was the DC General Post Office.   (More on the hotel later.)   According to the Washingtonian’s 2015 list, Poste is one of the area’s “100 Very Best Restaurants.”

Poste

Poste

Poste is across the street from the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  I’ve walked by dozens hundreds of times, but never eaten there before.

Poste Salmon

Salmon

I started with Salmon Tartare, made with jalapeno, jicama, (which is Mexican yam), cilantro, shallot, and black garlic aioli.

Poste Pork

Pork Loin

The perfectly-cooked Pork Loin with mustard jus was served over piperrada, a Basque standard made w/onion, green peppers, sautéd tomatoes, red Espelette pepper, and chorizo.   It was decorated with arugula.

Poste Dessert

Tarte au Chocolat

Dessert was Tarte au Chocolat.   Smoked tea‏ chocolate custard, pecan meringue, poached cranberries, and bourbon pear ice cream.

The trek is off to an excellent start.


Hotel Monaco is part of the creative and imaginative Kimpton chain, a group of 61 boutique hotels, each of them unique, in 28 US cities.  There are eight of them here in Washington.

Here are some pictures of the lobby at Hotel Monaco.  “Eclectic” is the word that immediately comes to mind.  Love the playful design!

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