Last week, in culmination of my week-long birthday celebration(!) we headed to Marcel's (www.marcelsdc.com) for a preset tasting menu which is indeed still one of the finest fine dining establishments around town.
While Chef/Owner Robert Wiedmaier was nowhere to be seen, he leaves the team under the charge of Chef de Cuisine Peal Stearman, who never let a single element go wrong. So much of the staff have been here for
so many years, it is really like coming home. On arrival, there were hugs and kisses all around; we were in the best of hands for sure.
Jean-Pierre Legret Champagne was poured and we settled in for a long and pleasurable ride; one where truly every single dish and wine was delivered with great love. Our server, was a gem, and oh so cute to beat; he anticipated our every need. Maitre d' Adnane delivered each dish with a complete explanation and we always had wine in our glasses from Sommelier Moez. This is a team that has the cogs so well oiled, that everyone around us seemed just as happy as we were.
First came an amuse of LOBSTER FLAN with Truffle, Crème Fraiche & Chive. Chunks of the lobster tail were in each small bite making it an extra special and indeed orgasmic treat.
Pan Seared SCALLOPS arrived next cooked to perfection with Pistachio/Ramp Pesto, Hazelnuts, little edible flowers and Pommes Pailles (tiny waiflets of fried potatoes). I had just made my frist Ramp Pesto at home earlier that week and was amazed at how brilliantly this short-lived spring veggie has such a great flavor equal to the garlic-basil combo normally used. I used pine nuts, but here pistachios gave even more depth. Moez presented a 20013 Fuente Milano Spanish wine from Verdejo & Viura grapes that was filled with huge flavors in the mouth. It was ideal with the scallop and pesto; we all could not recall a more perfect match. Our sever (I think his name was Tim)returned with black olive bread, whole wheat and French rolls with three butters: Curry, Sweet Cream & Truffle. The curry was the most exciting, but we devoured them all....
On arrival we noticed soft shell crabs on the menu and put in our bids for these BEER BATTERED SOFT SHELLS with Mayo/Avocado wrapped in cucumber, Tomato chutney and espalette peppers. There was a bite in the sauce from Cherry Vinegar, thyme and black pepper. The wine had been subtly switched to Philipps Eckstein Riesling 2010 from Mosel "Summer Dream" which was a mostly dry Riesling that again paired wonderfully with the spices of the dish. I was very happy with my first Chesapeake Soft Shells of the season and can't wait for more!!
A super-light Alsatian Pinot Noir came next from Jean Siegler 2011 "Clos des Terres Brunes" which lingered on the tongue deliciously as the acidity grew a bit! Paired with a PAIR of BOUDIN BLANC/BOUDIN NOIR with Squid Ink side by side in Black Mushroom Puree and Celery Root Puree. The magnificent combination of chicken breast, pheasant breast and foie gras makes this one of the truly NOT TO BE MISSED dishes in DC!
The Lagiuole knives arrived so we knew meat was coming and we were getting full, but the team somehow knew this and presented a perfect size portion of Crusted BISON with Smoked Blueberries, Carrot Puree, Haricots Verts and Red Wine reduction. The meat was perfect and nobody left a bite. The once again ideal wine was a full bodied Cotes du Rhones "Les Quatres Terres" 2011 from Domaine Santa Duc.
You know me when cheese calls, I come a running and this night was truly special with EPOISSES running across our plates in a superb oozy form with honey, apple, raisin and espalette pepper. DEEEVINE!
The wine was a Muscat de Baumes de Venise 2011 Don de Beaumalric that was simply superb.
I would have been happy here, but the birthday requires a candled dessert, so it was a Blueberry Cheesecake with Blackberry Sauce, Caramel Sauce, White Chocolate, Passion Fruit and a Lemon Sorbet with edible peel. It was refreshing, yet light and truly the ideal dessert. Mas Amiel 2010 Late Harvest Grenache from Languedoc is a nice wine, but it's not my favorite, yet it was a good pairing.
It was indeed a night of superb pairings, excellent food, wondrous service and a true example of what great dining should be. It was good to be back "home."