It's been about a year since we dined at one of our favorite spots, tops in Bethesda for food AND WINE, GRAPESEED (www.grapeseedbistro.com). After reading last week's food section in the Washington Post featuring Chef Jeff Heineman and dealing with the difficulty of serving good and varied wines in Montgomery County, it was a revelation to how Grapeseed has succeeded in this difficult situation and still offers superb quality wines at great prices (and HUNDREDS of them, many by the glass!).
Anyway, Chef Heineman is now offering varied and exciting tasting menus every Friday & Saturday, but with advance reservations (specifically for this menu) only. The price is an amazing $55 for an amuse and five other courses. The excellent and almost MANDATORY (but you can opt out) paired wines are $35 extra!
We had a ball and even got to meet Chef's mom who sat at the next table! As we sat we sipped on POMEGRANATE BELLINIS made with Prosecco, peach and a splash of Pomegranate and wolfed down the super bread which is served with "THAT" TAPENADE, simply quality olive oil, lots of garlic and tomato.
Our first amuse was a CREAM of PARSNIP & PEAR SOUP with Chives and a dollop of FROMAGE BLANC that was creamy, rich, warm and tasty on another cold night. A CHEHALEM PINOT GRIS RESERVE 2005 from Oregon was a brilliant pairing (I should not that we did get an extra amuse and some one extra wine that was not on the set menu). A second superb SEARED DIVER SCALLOP from George's Bank (Nova Scotia) was served with a novel reduced BLACK BEAN BROTH.
Our real "first" course was excellent fresh WHITE & GREEN ASPARAGUS wrapped with HOMEMADE PROSCIUTTO (from a 2005 Berkshire Hog)in PHYLLO and served with Pickled Kumquats and a dollop of LAURA CHENEL Goat Cheese drizzled with Balsamic reduction. This was a revelation in itself, but got even better when served with a BECKMAN SAUVIGNON BLANC Estate 2005 from Santa Ynez, California that exhibited huge terroir with floral overtones and mineral tastes at the tip of the tongue. I GOTTA get this wine!
The CALAMARI was beautifully and again simply sauteed and served with a LEMONy MIZUNA SALAD with MARCONA ALMONDS & Calamata Olives. We smelled this coming and it was just simple cooking with genius at its best. The smooth LEROY NEGOCIANTS a AUXEY-MERSAULT 1997 from Burgundy was an aged wine, but still tasted delightful and is another novel find in an often repetitive den of wine choices these days!
A flaky GOLDEN TILEFISH was topped with SPICY CUCUMBER and served with Ruby GRAPEFRUIT (although mine came with Tangelo & Meyer Lemon segments due to the cholesterol drug). One of our favorite wines, GYPSY DANCER PINOT GRIS "Christine Lorraine Vineyard" from Oregon was served in its newest vintage, 2006, which is oddly sweeter than those past. It is funny how a wine changes from year to year SO much! It actually did pair well almost like a fruity Riesling would.
The main or meat course was a delicious tender FLAT IRON STEAK with YUCCA & a magnificent well-spiced CHIMICHURI Sauce. I would have preferred a heavier wine(think Zin) to fight the spice, but the LUCIEN et ANDRE BRUNEL "Les Cailloux" CHEATEAUNEUF du PAPE 2004 was a true treat no matter what.
Will opted to switch off the tasting menu for dessert when he saw the TRES LECHES at the next table and it was a great tasting treat. Souffle-like in a ramekin, warm and creamy it was a great take on the traditional Latin treat.
We had the Peanut CHURROS, Cinnamon Ice Cream, & Mexican Chocolate all with a dash of Cayenne for Spice that was another dessert revelation. If this is ever on the menu at Grapeseed--GRAB IT! An accompanying Reynella Old Cave Tawny Port from Australia was a real treat before we headed home totally satisfied with a great meal for a great price with great friends and a great staff at GRAPESEED!