Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Sunday, July 01, 2018
Will had been to Bistro Aracosia around the corner on MacArthur Blvd a couple of times and has been raving all year, so we finally headed over last night for a quiet dinner for two(www.bistroaracosia.com).
The location is where the late Listrani's and Bistroquet were, but unlike those, the place was full on Saturday at 7pm and a line was waiting for tables. I think this is here to stay!
The décor in the front retains the tin ceiling and small bar with bistro style seating(chairs are more comfy, but tables are small and crowded) in the two rooms. The walls have Afghan jewelry, scarves, paintings (think whirling dervishes) and quotes from famous poets(Rumi, Hafaz) and the rear room now has a beautiful fabric ceiling that makes it quieter (but last night a tad warmer than the front room, especially with the outdoor heat topping 90). The staff sport long embroidered Afghan shirts, which are most attractive.
We were warmly greeting and seated quickly as we perused the drink menu. Will chose the Khyber Pass made with Casa Noble Crystal Tequila, Patron Citronage, lime and chile while I aimed for the Sumac Infusion with sumac-infused vodka(mild), velvet falernum, pomegranate and lime. The tall thin glasses look smaller, but are misleading as the drinks seemed to last quite long. The Afghan bread arrived and Will said it was not as fresh as the previous visits, but still delicious with the four "chutneys" or sauces that come with it and can be put on any or all of the various dishes, but especially the kebabs. The mildest was the Avocado/Yogurt with spices and they progress very quickly in spice levels to the Red Chile then the Thai Pepper & Green Herbs(almost tomatillo-like) and the intense Mango Sweet & Spicy, definitely the hottest, but still superbly tasty.
It was quite busy and took a while to order, but we specifically told the server to give us a good break between courses as we saw the portions arriving near us were quite huge. The owner was back over asking what we had ordered and if we had ever tasted the lamb chops. Within minutes he returned with a plate of two gorgeous grilled lamb chops in Afgan spices. Unfortunately, Will is highly allergic to sumac and when he asked, the owner mentioned that all the grilled meats use sumac as it is a pre-mixed spice rub; more for me. The chops were cooked perfectly and were even more amazing with the green and mango sauces.
We ordered a bottle of Rioja Imperial Reserva 2012 from Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana in Haro and it was drinking beautifully. The wine list offers many lower prices options in the 30's and up, but they do tend to get pricey for the better quality ones and at $90 this was as high I was willing to go. Some wines were in the $300's!!
Will started with a Cold Scythian Soup of Yogurt, Avocado, Cucumber and Dill, with the latter being quite intense(a bit too much for my taste) while I was thrilled with my Sabzi Boulanee (turnovers) which are the flakiest of pastries (quasi-phyllo, less than turnovers), filled with spinach, kale, collard, mustard & turnip greens, and cilantro, then deep fried and served with the avocado/yogurt chutney dipping sauce. This is one of the best veggie dishes around for my bang!
I later learned that Sabzi means greens as Will ordered the Lamb Shank Sabzi Moghuli for his main course which was braised bone-in shanks with braised mixed greens in a spicy tomato stew with Garam Masala. It was delicious and huge as well.
I could not resist ordering the Bodana (Quail) Kabob with Basmati Rice and the most amazing Butternut Squash side dish topped with amazing spice sauce and a dab of yogurt drizzle. There were three huge quails(see the FB photos) all grilled and seasoned perfectly, but after those two lamb chops, I only got through half the plate and took the other 1-1/2 birds home for another night! Everything was cooked perfectly and again the supers sauces made every bite different.
We decided to try the Firni for dessert which is an Afghan pudding infused with cardamom and topped off with crushed pistachios akin to flan, but even thicker. It was nice, a bit rich and quite heavy, although refreshing. I would have liked more pistachios for crunch on top, but we left very happy knowing that we will be back soon to another awesome establishment in our 'hood!
Posted by Alan Savada at 12:08 PM
Monday, June 25, 2018
Friday, June 22, 2018
Sunday, June 17, 2018
This week, after much delay, Chef Matt Baker opened his gorgeous GRAVITAS in an old tomato canning factory in NE DC in what is now called Ivy City (www.gravitasdc.com) to a select group of diners. D-DAY for the public opening is approximately July 3 as reservations are now being accepted. You need to book FAST, as this beautiful and simple, yet intimate, space, is surely going to be one of the big hits of this year. The décor is raw with a concrete floor and small private dining loft above and lots of exposed pipes and vents. The tables and chairs are ;ight wood with a small bar at the entry with six stools (I love the hooks underneath for purses/manbags/etc.). A large open kitchen hold about half the floor space at the rear, with floor to ceiling windows all around.
Our menu was a set one and everything was amazing from the non-alcoholic Black Cherry Spritz that Samuel kept re-ordering to the exquisite dessert.
The warm breads were excellent and made even more tempting and irresistible with the soft seaweed butter with salt flakes. Sam must have finished off two platters by himself as we had refills twice!
Will also started with the Black Cherry Spritz bit his had gin, while I chose the Black Pepper Vodka Tonic that was refreshing with a hint of pepper. Indeed my only complaint the entire evening was that the drink glasses tend to condensate a lot onto the pretty wooden tables. Wine flowed as well and the Argyle Brut 2014 was a perfect pairing to the Yellow Melon Gazpacho amuse with creme fraiche, basil seeds and purple nasturtium flowers. I am gong to have to start working on summer gazpacho batches at home soon, and this just made me want to try new ideas even more.
The first course was a Sunchoke Veloute with Poached Lobster(without for Sam), Fennel Marmalade, Green Apple and Brown Butter Powder. The novelty of the crispy apple and the powder was fascinating and made for a fun tingle on the tongue while the soup was rich and creamy but never overpowering with lots of lobster chunks all poached to perfection. There are numerous FB photos(all posted on June 15(not the 12th).
There was a choice for the second course and while Sam chose the Poached Morel Mushrooms, Will and I decided to share the same with the other choice, a Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi. The mushrooms definitely won with awesome funghi added to with Glazed Chanterelles, a crispy polenta, parmesan emulsion, garlic aioli and lavender; definitely one of the best mushroom dishes I can recall in ages. The Sashimi came with soy vinaigrette, shaved jalapeno, black vinegar aioli and dehydrated shallot & garlic, and while very tasty, didn't really differ from so many other similar tuna dishes we see these days. I love raw fish, but the mushrooms were truly a heavenly creation, and even Sam agreed (who wont eat my mushroom dishes much anymore at home!). Domaine de Pouy 2106 Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeau was a nice pairing for both dishes as well as the main course. Will & I both chose the Truffle Dusted Diver Scallop with roasted carrot & fennel, snow pea puree, herb oil, sherry juice and chives with shaved black truffle atop. The dish was ideal and the scallop seared sublimely to just the right crispiness; novelty, creativity and just plain good cuisine won here. Samuel loved his Slow Braise Beet with cauliflower puree, horseradish chip, magenta leaves and beet jus; alas no taste for me.
We decided to try the Cotes du Rhone red blend from Chapoutier called "Pic" after the famous multi-Michelin star Anne-Sophie Pic and it was the perfect wine to sip after a superb meal while we anticipated the dessert:
Strawberry "Shortcake" was really a biscuit-like White Chocolate Cake with Roasted Strawberries, Compressed Rhubarb, Basil & Yuzu Sorbet that was truly one of the best desserts I have had in ages.
As you know I am not a big dessert guy, and not a spoon was left in my bowl.
Our server Dwayne was a charm as is all the staff and it was clear they were anxious for this new hot fine dining spot to be open. Grab your reservation and head on in before you can't get one! We'll be heading back again soon for sure.
For those not familiar, Ivy City is just north of the Union Market complex off New York Avenue, NE. While I thought that getting there might be painful, I would suggest a 730pm reservation on weekdays as we had, and then the time from upper NW is way under 1/2 an hour, from Dupont Circle area much less for sure. Don't let the location fool you, as this is bound to be one of the new DC destinations and for now there is plenty of free on street parking! ENJOY!
Posted by Alan Savada at 12:42 PM