But first things first. The decor is awe-inspiring not only because everything from the pond and fountains outside to the jellyfish chandeliers inside are exquisite, but also because the sheer amount of open space is such a rare treat in DC. You don’t realize the claustrophobia of most DC restaurants until you are in the presence of three-story windows that face a glowing pond and treeline. Amazing that this little Eden is within the beltway.
|Chris and I after our feast|
Because our trip here was a double celebration for Chris and I (we’ve both had great news recently), there was really no choice but to get the tasting menu. While it was a little on the high side, $105 for six courses, there wasn’t one thing on the menu that sounded familiar or easy to make. Each course promised a new experience and exciting combination, and we were blown away by everything. The sauces all stood out in amazing ways, and one of the best testaments to the chef was the way that the ingredients combined in your mouth to create a completely different, final, perfect flavor profile after you were finished.
- Amuse Bouche: Watermelon Martini. Watermelon in a pool of vanilla, lemon thyme, and vodka with cantaloupe and basil. The cantaloupe was a little salty, and the basil left a strong taste in your mouth, but the afterglow of the merged flavors in your mouth was a really amazing treat.
- Big Eye Tuna: Lightly seared and served over a spiced date marmalade with fennel-yuzu and tuna tartare. The date marmalade was a standout in this dish.
- Garganelle: Seafood pasta with Lobster, Maine sea urchin, sepia, little neck clam, sea trout caviar. The garganelle was black from squid ink, which was fun, and I ate something new in Sepia (which is a cuttlefish?). During dinner we couldn’t figure it out, as it was in perfectly square cubes, but I guessed a firmer type of scallop as it had a similar taste. The liquid sauce was slightly salty, but that was masked by the other ingredients.
- Grilled Pacific Monchong: Cocochas de bacalao, citrus cauliflower florets, mustard sauce. Chris’ favorite. The fish, which had a similar texture to swordfish, was served over a mustard sauce that was truly exceptional.
- Domestic Lamb Saddle: Kalamata olive, cumin, chick pea puree, fried ratatouille. Definitely my favorite with a Mediterranean feel. The ratatouille was fried in a springroll, and mixed with the lamb and puree was fantastic. There was some type of fruit, maybe a gooseberry, on top that was a great tart surprise with the mellowness of the rest of the dish.
- Athena Cantaloupe Pre-dessert: White sangria infusion, watermeon granite, lemon verbena. What I loved about this sorbet-like tasting was how they took the amuse at the beginning of the meal and turned it around in a completely different way. Really helped prepare us for the dessert.
- Ricotta Gnocchi: Virginia blackberry jam, mascarpone cream, amaretti cookies. Another reason to get the tasting menu is that you will try desserts you would never think to try otherwise. Instead of serving something traditional as an afterthought, this has to be the most creative dessert I’ve had in awhile. Creamy cheese mixed with blackberries had a smooth taste, while the cookie gave it that punch of sugar to perfectly round out the meal.
All in all, it was a fantastic dinner. Our server was new, and it was cute watching him muster his way through the course descriptions. I got the wine pairings, which were exceptional, but may be a little pricy considering it’s almost as much as the meal itself. Although the explanation that went into each pairing far exceeded a normal experience and were fantastic compliments to each course. Two standout wines for us were the 2005 Odysseus Tinto-White Label Priorat from Spain, served with the lamb, and the 2009 Adesso, Cagnina di Romagna from Italy, served at the end with the dessert.
Will I return? Most definitely. I’m excited to see what a full entree feels like here, and I want to come earlier when we can still enjoy the scenery outside. Plus they gave us a loaf of French bread as we left—what hospitatlity!