Saturday, March 10, 2007

Brendan Cox copes well at CIRCLE BISTRO

We had a busy weekend dining out and returned for a wonderful tasting menu at CIRCLE BISTRO (1 Washington Circle) which is part of the triumvirate of restaurants closest to the Kennedy Center including Dish and Notti Bianche.

Things have been in a tizzy since Dish & Notti's chef Anthony Chittum and his pastry chef wife Heather announced their departure (which took place last month) and Chef Brendan Cox over at Circle Bistro has had to oversee both Circle Bistro & Notti, while Dish has changed its menu and gone more casual and simpler forsaking the possibility of fine dining there. Chef Brendan seems to be managing fine, and the Saturday night crowd was not a pre-theater crowd at Circle Bistro and seemed to all be quite happy as were.

Our meal started with a glass of ZARDETTO PROSECCO whose fruit matched the CHERRY COMPOTE on the DUCK LIVER MOUSSE on Crostini! One of the highlights of the meal was the excellent PARSNIP SOUP with DUCK CONFIT that was a creamy white rich bisque with green parsnip oil floating beautifully across the top almost like a little lake. The 2005 SANCERRE "Moulin de Vrilleres" from Christian Lauveryjat in the Loire was a bit boring, slightly grassy and "paled" next to the soup, but did work much better with the ensuing SEARED SCALLOP with FENNEL COMPOTE & Blood Orange. Oddly, we were asked at this point if we wanted more bread and while it was yummy, we said, "no" and the busfolks immediately cleared the remaining bread and our breadplates. I HATE THIS!

Highlight number two and a superb creation was the SWEET POTATO ANGNELOTTI with LOBSTER in Butter-Chive Sauce that was simply dreamy and paired perfectly with a KALI HART 2005 Monterey Chardonnay with very little oak and a lots of forward fruit(including a hint of grapefruit). This wonderful wine comes from the makers of Talbott, who always excel in Chard and Pinot!

OLIVE OIL POACHED STEELHEAD SALMON was cooked to perfection and served with BEETS and a SHALLOT COULIS. We think the mild accompanying radish-like veggie was jicama, but never did find out. The wine switched to red: BENTON LANE 2005 Oregon PINOT NOIR is a perfect wine for this intense fish and also worked excellently with the wonderful DUCK BREAST with BRUSSELS SPROUTS & Sweet Potato-Apple Puree.

Dessert was a bit of a mixed bag with a yummy BANANA BREAD PUDDING with Caramel Ice Cream which had an adorable bird's nest like spun sugar webbing with candied cashews, but a not too exciting BITTERSWEET
CHOCOLATE Tart with Orange Ice Cream and Candied Blood Orange (these were great). The accompanying FONSECA RUBY PORT was underwhelming.

So, if you go to Circle Bistro...enjoy, but avoid the chocolate tart and port and you should have a pretty amazing time.