We took our second trip to Alexandria this week to visit the recently opened FARRAH OLIVIA by Morou (www.farraholiviarestaurant.com) just south of downtown at 600 Franklin Street (lots of street parking!). Those of you who know Chef MOROU OUTTARA are well aware he has been a prominent fixture in the DC food scene for many years, with over ten years at Red Sage (many as Executive Chef) and then as the genius in the kitchen at the now defunct Signatures. He has finally got his own place, and while it might be on the small side (70 seats or so) and a little cramped, it is quite adorable and well worth the visit. The white etched twigs on one wall and floor to ceiling windows on two others create an airy feeling with the center raised ceiling hung with hundreds of little wooden discs on vertical strings. Our super friendly server Heon was adorable as he made recommendations and was always most attentive.
We started with a bottle of BENTON LANE 2005 PINOT GRIS from Oregon which was perfect in the recent warm weather. An amazing amuse of SEARED SQUAB with a piping of TRUFFLED MASHED POTOTAES came and easily filled our hungry tummies. The wonderful bread came with four tapenades (Calamata Olive, Bok Choy, Pumpkin Raisin and the slightly odd Cottage Cheese with Horseradish). and it was very hard to choose a favorite. Sadly, the tables for four are a bit small so that there is little room for the bread, bread plates, tapenades and any food plates once the appetizers come. Sharing is made a bit difficult, so I would opt for a larger table if you can! The only other problem is that there is no differentiation between the glasses used for bottled and tap water, so the bus staff can't tell which a diner is drinking and might attempt to refill a sparkling water glass with tap water.
We started with some yummy appetizers, but they were delivered a bit sporadically and the tasty BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER with TAPIOCA, VANILLA & CAVIAR (with an adorable foam "hairdo") was alas room temperature and a bit too sweet for the tasting (from the vanilla, perhaps). The DIVERS SCALLOP with BACON POWDER, MELON SEED MILK was interesting, but the winner was easily the magnificently presented HANGAR TARTARE with a 65o egg, grated radish & Berbere Oil. The tasty raw meat was in two pillar-like cylinders with a toasted bread bridge across the top and a magnificent sauce running down the center of the plate. The slightly cooked egg on the opposite side with various condiments for the tartare.
Salads area MUST and don't miss the super-stellar DECONSTRUCTED CAESAR which has a SOURDOUGH FLAN, PARMESAN & ROMAINE over GRILLED FRESH SARDINES and ANCHOVY CRUMBLES. This is a dish to SEE and EAT! We all thought it was easily the star of the meal.
We switched to red, but our first request was out of stock, so we opted for a delicious fruit forward and mouth-filling KALIN 1996 CUVEE DD Pinot Noir that would make anyone happy (watch the sediment).
The entrees were superb across the board with an AMERICAN LAMB CHOP, PLANTAIN LOAF, RED PALM JUS and an adorable MINT "Caviar" in small clear light green caviar shapes. The CURED QUAIL with GARDEN VEGETABLE BRULEE & CHORIZO OIL had a superb Cornbread Raisin Stuffing and two adorable Lollipop Deep Fried Quail Legs on the side that were delectable.
The Cheese course is another that comes highly recommended. We tasted the creamy rich and dreamy BONNE BOUCHE Goat's milk, which may be the creamiest goat cheese I have ever had. The PLEASANT RIDGE (Wisconsin) was also quite nice, and the presentation with grapes, honey and granola was a change as well.
Everyone was full but knowing that the pastry chef is LEON BAKER (who came here with Morou from Signatures, where he created some of the most beautiful desserts in DC) I had to try something. I opted for the lightest: a TART of LEMON PANNA COTTA with CARAMEL RICE KRISPIES and Tangerine Oil--it was just right; a truly tart tart, but also with richness and depth, and definitely not filling at all. The accompanying rice krispie caramels beat any previous incarnation of this standard American treat!
It will be fun to return, perhaps in the spring when there is outdoor dining on the side patio!
All the best for a WONDERFUL HOLIDAY season to all...and try not to eat as much as me!
Next week: with the kids at PORTOBELLO in Arlington!