Friday, July 24, 2015

DC's DINNER LAB at the Smithsonian is a DUD! (7-23-15)

Last night I decided to try something different since we became Smithsonian Associates earlier this year. The Associates are celebrating their 50th Anniversary with three different pop-up meals using DINNERLAB (www.dinnerlab.com) and when I signed up back in May it sounded quite exciting. I was told the location would be announced a week before as well as the menu and last week when my email came with the menu, my expectations dropped. Turkey Roulade as a main course!
This was the second of the dinners and I met several people on arrival and we decided to sit together. Two were Associates like me and Dinner Lab virgins, two were Dinner Lab members and said that almost all they had attended were really great meals. When they reminded me that this meal cost $160.00, which I had forgotten, I said it better damn well be impressive, as for that price an excellent tasting menu with wines could be had in so many places here in DC!
The event was held at the famous Smithsonian Castle and when we arrived we were served tasty Gin drinks with fruit juices and I think Cahacha, although I am not sure. They were yummy, but then I noticed the wines being chilled in huge ice coolers at the bar, and the choices were pretty mediocre.
Some folks were passing little shooter glasses which I soon found out was a Cherry Gazpacho that was tasty, but won no prize on first tasting.
We were escorted into the large and truly amazing Commons Room (see my photo on FB) which was impressive, but sadly the wooden chairs were so uncomfortable, I felt my rearend was going to slide out the back of it. We were at three long banquet style tables arranged in the room in a truly medieval style that fit the Gothic Cathedral setting of the room with its beautiful windows and array of large stuffed animals. This was indeed a plus. I then noticed that the Chef (whom I had googled earlier and found nothing on), Daniel Stoller from Seattle, had decided to use a Victorian-era inspired menu to fit with the Smithsonian Castle venue; which made so much sense.
We had menus and I now saw the gazpacho was called "Cherry Vanity" and was laced with buttermilk and had trout roe in it, which I missed when I drank it like a shooter. I took another one and ran it across my tongue as the roe exploded and now I truly loved the little treat or small bite billed as course #1; it was simply an amuse.
The chef spoke and explained his dishes, and I asked the folks who were DinnerLab members if the meals were usually just an amuse with 3 courses, and they said they were often 5 or more courses, so I began to feel quiote cheated again with my $160 pricetag(plus a $2 online booking fee).
Course #2 was David Copperfield's Flowers-Artichoke Barigoule/Chevre & Raspberry/Nasturtium
I chose one of the 4 wines offered which was a Rose Vinho Verde from Conde Villar 2014 which was quite nice as it had that Vinho Verde fizz but not too much and was bone dry. I thought it would pair with the vinaigrette. There was also a cheap sparkling wine, but those tend to give me headaches; Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay were the other choices as no red wine is allowed in the Smithsonian, despite the really cheap industrial carpet in this gorgeous room. Barigoule is a fancy word and I looked it up and traditionally it means stuffed with mushrooms, but these were just boiled hearts, and using the word "these" is generous as I had only ONE on my plate; other folks got up to five! we all agreed the salad was tasty, but needed more goat cheese as well as only a tad was sprinkled on top (and mine needed more chokes).
In between courses, a Smithsonian expert spoke at great length, and since we had only had a light salad and a shooter or two, we just kept drinking as the servers were quite generous and the service was indeed superb. The guy was interesting for a bit, but grew tedious, although I adored his three-tone cool shoes (from Nordstrom, I later found out). We tried the chardonnay(Albertoni 2013 Sonoma) and it was quite awful, so settled on the 2013 Estrella Sauvignon Blanc Proprietor's Reserve from California ( very fancy name for a wine that runs under $10/bottle).
The next course was Heathcliff's Bird-Turkey Leg Roulade/Roasted Plum/Porter Jus/Kamut & Sweet Pepper and was overall filling, but bland and the plum was actually served cold, which we all found quite odd. Kamut is a filling grain and was quite tasty, and while the chef said there was corn, tomato and basil in the dish, it was minimal and I assume in the small roulade centers.
Dessert was Marie's Cake (the chef explained name for Marie Antoinette--as in "let them eat cake")-Chocolate Semolina Cake/Pistachio Butter/Rhubarb Candy/Anise Panna Cotta (I passed on the anise as I detest licorice) and this dish was a super hit. Dense chocolate cake had a thick swirl of the butter which was almost like a paste and the rhubarb candy was like fried fruit candy that was akin to a thick potato chip. The woman next to me said it was truly like a pork rind made of fruit and I think she nailed it on the head. Either way, we gobbled up dessert and headed home, but only after I filled out the suggestion form saying that while they had great service in great setting, the food itself left so much t be desired, especially with that price tag, which I still can't get over!


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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cherry Valley's (Cooperstown, NY) ROSE & KETTLE is rocking cuisine (7-20-15)

On our last night in Cooperstown, we drove 1/4 hour northeast to the tiny hamlet of Cherry Valley, where we hadn't been in ages. We took 4 singers to The Rose & Kettle, which is unquestionably the best dining experience we have had in the entire region in years. The service was friendly and attentive, but it was the food that shone.
Will started with a strong Pomegranate Cosmo and I had the delish and not so strong Elderflower Margarita made with Patron Tequila, St. Germain, lime juice and a Champagne float.

It was hard to decide and then the specials were read off making it even harder. There were many delicious choices and everything indeed was superb.
The starters included a filling Thai Shrimp & Pork with Glass Noodles, Spicy Broth, Greens, Tomato, Cilantro & Lime
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup that sent Samuel to heaven
Crabcakes that were as large as my head & Samosas.
My starter was the Grilled Maple Glazed Lamb Tenderloin with Mission Figs on Skewers with Greens, Roasted Red peppers, Gorgonzola & Balsamic which was a light salad with amazingly tender meat.
I did not get to taste Will's Grilled Tequila Lime Shrimp with Chorizo on an Arepa with Chipotle Aioli, because it was gone so fast!
We enjoyed a Gruner Veltliner 2011 from Wachau, Teressen Federspiel that was amazing for the 30$something and was all about apples and honeydew; indeed all the wines were very low priced for their quality.
We moved on to a tasty Stonecap Merlot 2014 from Columbia Valley in Washington State.
Main courses were Fish & Chips, Meatload made from beef with locally raised pork and lamb, garlic mashies, pan gravy and green beans
Grilled Pork Loin with Rhubarb Peach Chutney, Sauteed Spinach and Sweet Potato Fries
the special of Pork Loin with Garlic Scape/Almond Pesto, Cheddar Polenta and Milanese Sauce was totally unbelievable as it burst with flavors, and again the loin had to be the biggest cut I have ever seen.
Samuel adored his Meatballs Marinara with pasta.
Desserts were also quite good from Crème Brulee to Flourless Chocolate Torte and 3 Philosophers Cherry Sauce & Whipped Cream.
the winner was undoubtedly my Strawberry/Rhubarb Tart with Whipped Cream that boasted one of the best pastries I have had in ages.
Everything was amazing and the company superb as we dined with the leads of this summer's Glimmerglass operas before heading home!


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If near Cooperstown, NY look at The LAKE HOUSE in Richfield Springs (7-19-15)

Last night we had a wonderful dinner party for a large group of the Glimmerglass artists at a beautiful spot on a lake called THE LAKE HOUSE just 15 minutes from the Glimmerglass Opera House. On arrival we ordered a Vivi Falanghina and our server Christina knew we would need more and chilled many extra bottles (I think we had 3 or 4). We also ordered a NY State Finger Lakes Pinot Noir from Heron Hill which was also very good and I enjoyed the spice and fruit later with my steak.
We ordered lots of different dishes from the huge menu and most were quite good. The Shrimp Cocktail was a dud, as was the Sea Bass. The one appetizer than many folks ordered was the Duck Potstickers with Sweet Corn & Bacon and a Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce. These were more like empanadas and the filling was laced with cream cheese, hence they were slightly sweetish and a bit off-setting. Samuel was very disappointed with his and overall it was the only real repeated complaint we had. I had the tasty Cornmeal Crusted Frogs Legs with Creole Sauce. Steamed Clams went well and one dish that was a bit odd was the Cooked Lake House Greens as it wasn't advertised as cooked. The Grilled Shrimp Diabolo Shooters weren't that spicy, but they got a nod.
Main courses fared much better and they come with soup (choice of seafood chowder or French onion) or salad (tons of dressing choices).
NY Strips got raves and my Blue Cheese Crusted Bone-in Sirloin with Garlic Mash & Veggies was a superb steak. I asked for rare to medium rare, and they said it would come rare, but it was medium rare. The Grilled Swordfish with Wild Rice & Salsa and the rare Tuna Steaks were the fish to choose and Samuel loved his Chicken Marsala with Linguine Pasta, Mushrooms & Onion, although he said the pasta sauce seemed slightly citrusy.
We tried two Brownie Sundaes for dessert and the brownie I tasted was super intense sweet and just too much for me; but then some folks like that.
Overall, the company, wine and decent food made it a nice evening, especially as the sun set over the beautiful lake next to us....


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Friday, July 10, 2015

Chef Roberto Donna's 8 at AL DENTE in DC is everything anyone could want it to be and a lookback to Laboratorio (7-8-15)

Chef Roberto Donna just celebrated his third anniversary at AL DENTE (www.aldentedc.com) just several blocks away from our home and we were thrilled to return this week for the first time in a while to ROBERTO's 8, his special tasting menu available on certain weekday nights only for up to 8 people and served at the kitchen table, a bar-like setup where you can sit and watch everything going on right before your eyes, and chat with the superstar chef himself all evening.
It was a special night as we recalled previous nights at Laboratoria del Galileo from years ago and laughed about chef's Iron Chef competitions on TV as well.
According to my count we had some 16+ courses (not including the amuse) and magnificent wines paired and poured generously with a smile by our most able server Nick.
Clara C Fiori Rose Prosecco was poured first with an amuse of Aperol Gelee, and a Crostini with Mozzarella di Bufala, Balsamic, Crystalized Basil & orange Peel. Simple yet an idea of the new fun Chef Donna is experimenting with.
Miniature Pizzettas arrived in tiny boxes with checkerboard paper lining them. It was so adorable, we didn't want to mess it up, but I quickly grabbed the yummy pie with Caramelized Sweet Vidalia Onions, Fontina Cheese, Truffle and a soft Quail Egg that exploded as you bit into the middle of the pizzetta.
Lobster appeared next with Artichokes and Red beets in Lemon Juice with Pickled Ramps, Pickled Radishes and a good sprinkle of sea salt for excellent crunch and flavor. We just thought it couldn't get any better until huge smoky domes were placed in front of the four of us (yes, 4 seats were not taken this night, so summer is a good time to go--just be sure to reserve ahead) and then lifted so the smoke wafted out and we were inn heaven (video on my FB page). Underneath was tender grilled Octopus with Orange, Fennel & Black Olive with some medium heat miniature peppers, so small they were barely 1/16th inch long. Our second wine was a yummy Di Lenardo Chardonnay from Friuli 2014 called "Father's Eyes" which paired so well with many of the seafood dishes that ensued.
Chef Roberto knows my affinity for Soft Shell Crab and this followed with a simple Pea Puree that was elegant and tasty so that the flavor of the crab shone.
Fried Head-On Shrimp in a quirky stand (also on FB) with a tasty Saffron dipping Mayonnaise was next and the huge shrimp were cooked superbly and the heads were as tasty as ever to boot.
Corn Soup was rich and creamy with chili flakes for a bite and slices of tender Calamari. I love the extra dashes of spice Chef Roberto uses these days which makes a big burst in your mouth.
Eggshells are used by so many chefs all over the world for serving dishes, but this night was a revelation with a filling of Burrata and Black Truffles; I can think of nothing more elegant and Italian, yet so exciting.
Our wine changed to Vin de Pays de Maures Grenache Rose 2014 which Will described as having a "Juicy Fruit" nose, but was a nice dry wine on the palate.
Frascatelli is a semolina pasta which I don't ever recall having before and reminds me of miniature gnocchi, yet lighter. These were in a white wine reduction with Manila Clamds, Confit Carlic and Parsley Puree that made for a superb flavor and probably one of the few new things I have eaten in ages.
If you are counting, number 9 was next with a traditional Spaghetti alla Chitarra, here made with amazing homemade pasta that I adored and just a hint of that peppery gypsy sauce and Pancetta and Asparagus.
I think my favorite wine of the night was the red Luceres Merlot/Cab Franc blend 2006 "Pogetto" super Tuscan-style that just was so soft on the palate. A dinner from Chef Donna is incomplete without his famous Risotto and this night we had it with Tomato & Taleggio Cheese Sauce that was indeed divine.
The red wine was a notice that meat was coming and our first taste was mouth-watering Suckling Pig with Orange, Cloves, Potato and Proscuitto-wrapped Endive....OMG, or to quote a famous opera character, "Sono in ciel..." I am in heaven.
Squab was next with Spinach and Dates in its own Jus that was as tasty as it gets and the dates were just the right touch; not too heavy, just lots of flavor.

Cheese is always good, and here Chef Roberto was at his finest with a Rocchetta Cheese served oozing all over a slate slab with Hazelnuts, Honey, a Crisp thin "flatbread" cracker, Mostarda di Cremona and Saba (yes that alcohol-free balsamic stuff we talked of just a week earlier--I still am not clear on how it is made).

Desserts began to arrive and never seemed to cease, but first a palate cleanser of Passion Fruit Granita which we all agreed was one of our favorite fruits. I know Samuel would have been thrilled.
A selection of desserts was next with Tomato/Almond/Pistachio/honey Tart with Caramel Sauce and Pistachio Gelato. But I quickly gravitated to the flavor-bursting Fresh Poached Cherries in Port Wine with Whipped Cream...ah, but then there was the Crème Caramel Panna Cotta. Which to eat and in which order? I can't recall seeing a bit of anything left on any of our plates.
The finale was an amazing Fig Tart with Vanilla Gelato and crumbles of Chocolate "Dirt" as chef liked to call it; easily the best and truly spectacular. Vin Santo, Dessert wine, Limoncello all arrived and there was a tasty Bicerin, which again I do not ever recall having. It is an Espresso shot infused with chocolate, rum and sugar and beats Turkish coffee by a million miles; yay, Piemonte! Yay, Chef Roberto.
Yay, Al Dente.

Monday, July 06, 2015

DC COAST's Summer Crab Fest is fantastic (7-4-15)

I had a free evening on the 4th of July and headed downtown early where it was quite deserted as everyone was home or on the mall.
DC COAST(www.dccoast.com at 14th & K Streets NW) is one of our nicest restaurants and I haven't been in ages. The décor is still definitive after 17 years with 5 giant oval mirrors above the bar and that awesome giant mermaid statute at the entrance. DC Coast has lasted as its neighbors have closed , opened, changed names and so forth; it is an institution. I was escorted in amongst numerous Miss USA contestants and it seems the beauty pageant was in town this weekend!
I had my heart set on the SUMMER CRAB FEST! at $55 ($80 with paired wines) and it was a deal and a steal and I ended up taking home tons of food, It is offered every Saturday during the summer and should not be missed. I felt hungry and did not realize that the $55 fest was so huge, so I ordered a 1/2 dozen oysters split between the Wicomico Creeks (Virginia) and Malpeques (Prince Edward Is) and latter were not anywhere near as tasty or succulent as our Chesapeake Wicomicos, which were superb with a glass of Cline North Coast 2013 Vioginier to start.
Warm puffy rolls and whipped butter arrived and I ate only 1/2 a roll knowing so much was to follow.
An amuse of coconut fired shrimp with napa cabbage and ginger ponzu vinaigrette arrived which was more like a thick dipping sauce than a vinaigrette, but super tasty nonetheless.
First in the set menu came the Maryland Crab Bisque, a lighter than usual bisque in a cup, yet loaded with pieces of crab for texture and flavor, with Sherry Forth and Old Bay Oyster Crackers. It was super tasty and the sherry was just right foil to the peppery bisque.
A glass (well 1/2 glass pours were the pairings) of Taittinger Brut was sublime and fun.
The second course was a Crab Tower Salad made up of a creamy Crab Salad over a Fried Green Tomato, creamy delicious Avocado, Frisee, mache, Basil Vinaigrette and Lime Mustard Aioli. I loved this dish as it was also light, but very complex with bursting flavors and paired with a perfect Chablis 2011 from Christian Moreau in Burgundy.
The main course was a revelation and I was surprised when so much arrived. The plate had a pure Crab Cake paired with a Softshell Tempura cooked to perfection and some slices of Crab Andouille. On the side was a Crab (really loaded with pieces of crab) Hollandaise that was super on the fried softshell. There were three small cast iron mini-pots with the sides and I have been eating them ever since:
Truffle Potato Salad, Sweet Corn Succotash and Creamed Spinach loaded with Garlic. Wow, was I happy, but very full. A Chianti Classico 2013 from Castellare Di Castellina was a light red that went superbly with all this rich and heavy seafood. I honestly expected a white, but the red was perfect.

I felt gluttonous, but not too much when the TV over the bar announced the winner of the Coney island Hopt Dog eating contest ringing in at 62 franks!
Dessert was a monstrous piece of the best ever Key Lime Pie and when it arrived I could smell the Toasted Meringue wafting through the room. The crust was Ginger Graham Cracker and there were large drizzles of Island Rum Dulce di Leche that was caramelly to die for. Normally a Quady Essencia is paired with this and I had asked my excellent server Leo to switch it out for another as I felt an orange wine with Key Lime was wrong. My choice of the Barboursville 2007 Malvaxia Passato was indeed sheer perfection if I may say so.
Three mignardises sent me home and I think they were as follows:
Apricot Pate de Fruit
Hazelnut Chocolate Bar --called a cookie but very thick and rich.
Lemon Poppy Seed cookie with Raspberry.

What a true treat to return to DC Coast and still feel like family after all these years, and the food is still top notch!

Friday, July 03, 2015

go directly to DINO'S Grotto in SHAW (neighborhood of DC) for to-die-for local delicacies (7-2-15)

Last night two friends joined me at DINO's IN SHAW (www.dinoinshaw.com) for another superb dinner that seemed to go on forever and highlighted amazing local produce that is so excellent at this time of year.
I get Chef Dean's facebook feeds and just before arriving I got the one with the Blackberry Daiquiri and Grilled Apricots which both made my mouth water, so those were the first choices. The Daiquiri was tart with fresh blackberries and not cloying or sweet at all; the perfect summer drink. The apricots are served with Pancetta, filled with mascarpone and on a bed of saba (I tried to understand the difference between this and balsamic, but it went over my head) and red salt which brings out all the flavors of the fruit and just makes it so beyond excellent.
We started with a bottle of Santadi "Villa Solais" 2014 Vermentino which is also served by the glass and is a superb and reasonably priced white that goes with practically everything.
Our server Kelliann always had a smile, always checked on us and made sure all our requests were quickly satisfied, and she was funny as well.
Trio of Tapenades arrived and my favorite with the grilled crostini was the spicy Yogurt with Roasted Red Pepper, the Kalamata Olive was a huge hit and the Corona Bean seemed to be the least favorite, but it was still very tasty. Duck Fat Potatoes here are amazing and served with Parmesan Reggiano Cheese, Garlic, herbs and Black Truffle Salt. Indeed when the steak arrived during the main course, we craved to have this decadent version as the plain ones were just that.
A gorgeous plate of huge fresh Squash Blossoms arrived filled with Ricotta Cheese, Garlic & Herbs floating on a light summery Tomato Essence...OMG.
We switched wines to a silky superb Occhipinti "Frappato" 2013 from Sicilia and I kept wondering why the label had SP68 on it. Our server, Kerriann joked that it was the sunblock level (like SPF), but we soon discovered it is for the local street route number (Strada provincial in Italian)! No matter, this wine was indeed divine and nothing could detract from that.
Next came our pasta plate and we choose the Fettuccine with again those superb Local Squash Blossoms as well as Grilled Local Corn & Asparagus with a sauce of Prosecco, butter, veggie stock and a dash of cream; it was light refreshing and full of summer. The highlight of the meal for me was the Crab Royale Stuffed Artichoke which was a huge "crabcake" pile of lump & jumbo MD. Blue crab on a huge artichoke heart with house aioli and Silk Road Spice Butter which packed a kick making this a flavorful winner over any recent crabcake(photos on my FB page). Sauteed Red Chard on the side was flavorful and crunchy.
The main course which we all three shared (and you can see a photo of on my FB page) was a humongous Bistecca of Porterhouse steak that weighed in at 1 Kilo (that's 2.2 pounds for the conversion challenged) from Shenandoah Valley Beef Coop. It comes with Tuscan Potatoes (switch them for the Duck Fat if you can) and Sauteed Kale, but it is the meat that shines here. You know I am not a steak person, but this rare delight had that same silk road spice and tasted simply perfect. We were so full, about 1/4 had to go home for later. Stand aside Morton's here comes Dino's!
We split the Peach Parfait for dessert, another combination of fresh local ingredients of Peaches, more silk road spice in the yogurt with Bourbon and Maple Syrup over House made Granola. This is one superb treat and very light even after the biggest of meals; don't skip it!
Blueberrycello came in iced glasses and hinted of herbs and tasted so refreshing before we took our leave after way over 3 hours....what a delightful way to begin the Fourth of July weekend. Happy Holiday.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

praise for The PALM (in DC-7-1-15)

Last week I received a mailer for THE PALM restaurant's summer promo entitled Summer Lobster which runs thru August 31. It's an awesome deal for a single person at $59 which has a lobster-topped 9 ounce filet mignon, but the $99 dinner for two is a STEAL.
On arrival when I valet parked (complimentary--who does that in DC still?), they didn't even give me a ticket so these guys can remember a face and car it seems.
I was joined by a friend and we ordered a bottle of tasty Chardonnay from Castello Banfi in Italy 2011 "Fontanello" which is not too oaky as so many of the Cailfornia ones can be and didn't break the bank either.
For $99 you get a choice of starter, the lobster and two sides. Here's how it goes.
Our server Jimmy explained we can start with the featured starter of
Watermelon & Mozzarella Di Bufala Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and basil Oil. There were two large thick watermelon slices that were oh so sweet and juicy sandwiching the chunk of mozzarella all surrounded by tasty leafy greens. Sea salt was sprinkled on to bring out the sweetness of the watermelon. My friend chose the Caesar Salad (which is offered with or without anchovies), or you can have a green salad or even Lobster Bisque.
The black bread is quite tasty and the butter, too, but I tried to refrain knowing that a 4-lb. Nova Scotia lobster (to be split for 2) was on the way. I casually asked Jimmy the regular price of this jumbo guy and he said $104 just for the 4-pounder, which means we got a deal at $99 plus all the starters and sides!
Our sides were yummy Three Cheese Au Gratin Potatoes with that crispy almost blackened top I love and a tasty dish of Green Beans with Pepper flakes, Pancetta and Pine Nuts.
The lobster appeared and the staff removed all the meat from the claws to perfection, left the huge joints but cracked them so there was no work and all we had to do was lift the tail and chew on the juicy thick legs which were filled with more meat. Bibs were on and we were off, it was one of the best lobsters I have ever had on earth! - AND SO LITTLE work. I felt pampered.
We split a nice Key Lime pie with Blueberry Compote for dessert which I could have lived without, but it was tasty.
Don't miss this awesome deal all summer at the PALMS! 


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

CENTROLINA will carry you to cielo (that's Italian for heaven) 7-25-15

We have known Chef Amy Brandwein for decades since she started at Galileo with Roberto Donna and it is such a treat that after years with Roberto and at other fine establishments in the DC area, she is now in her own place. Osteria CENTROLINA opened just weeks ago at 974 Palmer Alley (centrolinadc.com) in the new elegant CityCenter DC complex which is gorgeous.
The fact that earlier in the week, the Zagat guide listed Centrolina as one of the 15 hottest new dining spots in the entire USA made the place booming and I am sure it will continue to do so, as the food is simply superb.
It's not huge and shares space with the Centrolina Market selling some excellent foods, drinks and treats. I will state up front, that the space is noisy, but I took three performers (a pianist and two opera singers) as well as two dear friends/clients (after a recital they gave at the Phillips Collection) and we were so involved in conversation all night, the noise didn't bother us.
We sat down and right away bumped into friends Wendy Rieger and Jim Handley from NBC dining at the next table!  It's definitely a fun place for everyone.
I perused the not too big wine list and decided on two reds, a huge Barolo for later and a Bastioni Chianti to start. After a while our server, Steve returned to advise the Chianti was out, but that they had a superb Tascante, Ghiaia Nera 2012 from Sicily which we all agreed was superb with black cherry overtones and lush flavor.
The menu has starters/pastas/mains and is very simple and straightforward. I suggested we each choose a starter and main and split two pastas.
Steve began to scribble our choices:
Burrata came with Zucchini Scapece
Crudo was tune with yummy beets, first tomatoes and lemon
Pulpo was seasoned amazingly with paprika and came with potato confit, cotechino and celery salad.

We enjoyed the Tascante so much we asked for another bottle, but they were out of that, so we were offered a Zisola Nero di Avola from Sicily 2011 made by Mazzei that I said was like black chalk. Not bad chalk, yummy earthy, deep black wine, that was super with our pastas.
I had asked for one order of Reginette which is Quid ink with black cod, crab, morels and chanterelles, but they were out of that (already three down!) and I know I will have it next time and arrive earlier!
We ordered the table's choice of Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu (an old favorite of Roberto Donna) with black olive and Nebbiolo which was good, but the
Ceci e Tria was a spectacular buckwheat with chickpeas, anchovy and garlic that packed a superb spicy kick.

As I mentioned I ordered a Barolo earlier and you can imagine my face when the sommeileuse came over to say they were out of that. She offered up a divine Situ Moresco 2011 "Barolo-style" wine which ran much higher, but for the same price. I was a happy camper.

Almost all of us ordered the same main course, Tonno or rare tuna with a huge bone marrow (my FB page has a photo of the singers with the bones in their mouths--as well as the dish itself) on the plate, charred onion, snap pea and a rich pinot nero sauce.
Across from me, piled high so I could almost not see my guest, was Fritto Misto of chicken, lamb, veal, sausage, zucchini, onion and just about anything that can be fried. I don't see how one person could ever eat this. Veggies available as side dishes included my favorite Rapini with Garlic, Anchovy, Hot peppers and lemon zest. The Farro comes with wood roasted mushrooms, peas and peas shoots and is also quite filling and tasty and the Asparagus are roasted perfectly with green garbanzos and citrus zest.
We were all full, but could not resist dessert or cheese and agreed on two desserts to share as well as one cheese plate. It was a brilliant choice.
Torta di Limone is ricotta, pistachio, lemon and is scattered with black and red raspberries. The Pignoli is ike a pecan pie but richer with a pine-nut honey crostata and a parmesam puff as well as chocolate drizzle and gelato.
The cheeses were all tasty and varied and came with superb crisp fruited crackers that were very very thin as well as mostardo, pear jam/mostardo mix and some fresh currants.
Molaterno is a sheep cheese from Puglia that is akin to parmesan
Ubriaco
Truffaldino is a British truffled cheddar
Jershire is a Pennsylvania cow
Gorgonzola Dolce (super with the pear jam/mostardo)
We were all thrilled with the food, the service and offer our sincerest congratulations to DC's newest hottest Chef Amy Brandwein and her entire staff.



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