Immediately upon deplaning from our cruisetrip, we met my cousins for dinner back in DC at our neighborhood haunt, BLACKSALT (www.blacksaltrestaurant.com) and we all pretty much had a great time.
It was the last chance to gobble down some bread before Passover, so we all (save my cousin who is gluten-free) enjoyed the various breads with seasoned dipping oils. I ordered a superb Cuilleron-Villard-Gaillard 2011
Marsanne from Saint-Peray made by these superb Rhone Valley winemakers as a joint venture. I met Yves Cuilleron many years ago and still adore their wines. Will's eyes lit up when our server announced the first of the season Corn Meal Battered Soft Shell Crabs which he immediately ordered and I tasted-YUM. Soon we will get the local ones, rather than those from the Gulf! He also ordered some of the Wood Grilled Sardines with Braised Rapini, but asked them to omit the Picholine-Sultana Agro Dolce, and I thought that would have been a huge addition. He started with the WoodGrilled Baby Octopus, Spicy Peperonata, Salsa Verde and Confit Gold Potatoes which we have always enjoyed here, but he declared it not as good as in the past.
My cousins tended to salads and I chose the Atlantic Dayboat Scallops, Pancetta Vinaigrette, Fava Beans, Gnocchi, Fava Puree & Maitakes which is definitely one of the top appetizers here not to be missed. Such plump fresh scallops are always a treat. Having not had great fish while on the cruise (yea, that makes sense!) I chose the Atlantic Bigeye Tuna with Crispy Pork Shoulder, Yucca Frites, Green Chile Mole & Black Bean Relish; what a treat and fabulous combination of flavors. We had moved onto a Brick House 2010 Cascadia Ribbon Ridge Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley; I have definitely added this winery to our list to visit in July when in Oregon.
The Whole(fileted) Wood Grilled Branzino was divine with Bean Ragout, Rapini, Olives, Baby Chokes & Preserved Lemon. It's amazing how good and rich a fish this is when prepared with such love.
WoodGrilled Creekstone Farm NY Strip with Beer Batter Onion Rings, Wild Mushrooms, Bone Marrow Butter and Blacksalt Steak Sauce was on the menu for Sam. It was also perfect, although he insisted those fabulous wild mushrooms be on the side. Better for the rest of us to gobble them up.
DoverSole was Pan Raosted with Asparagus, New Potato & Ramp Cream--INGENIOUS. I must make ramp cream sometime somewhere!
We took our time, but had some issues communicating with Fernando, our server, but nothing awful. We survived, and the place was indeed jammed as it is every weekend night and most other nights as well.
Desserts were needed to get that leaven in before the holiday. My cousin and I shared the Trio of Crème Brulees, and she loved the Butterscotch, while I adored the White Chocolate/Raspberry, but the top was the Milk Chocolate/Hazelnut with Poached Cherries!
Banana Chocolate Cream Pie with Thyme Honey, Roasted Pineapple and Chocolate Sauce just seemed like overdose to me, but then, I did not taste...and it was gobbled up as well as the Chocolate Bread Pudding; a Butterscotch Pot de Crème, Scotch Vanilla Milkshake, Almond Brittle & Milk Chocolate-Butter Shortbread dish that looked like tons of fun. We will have to go back again soon for cheese :-))
HAPPY HOLIDAYS to ALL!