Saturday, June 21, 2014

be sure to partake of THE PARTISAN in downtown DC (6-14-14) or a big birthday dinner for Samuel

Last week after a superb performance of LA TRAVIATA at the In Series, we headed with the three leads of the cast to THE PARTISAN which had recently opened in Penn Quarter ( - 709 D St, NW).
Several weeks prior we had discussed dining options with Samuel as it was his 11th birthday and when he spotted FRIED APPLE PIE on the on-line menu, his mind could not be altered. It was a superb choice.
We arrived a while before the singers could escape their fans and ordered a bottle of 2012 Cabernet Franc Rose from Brooklyn (the name of the winery) in NY's Finger Lake region. It was refreshing on a hot day and works very well with many of the various (as well as more intense) flavors on the menu. Samuel mentioned that he had to have the BEEF FAT FRIES with Ranch Aioli, so while we were waiting our "on top of everything" server Matt brought over a complimentary order for the birthday boy! Most of them were gone in a flash and our guests only got to taste one or two as they arrived! (I'm just as guilty as Sam & Will, though!)
Charcuterie has become a big "thing" in DC and dining most everywhere these days, but at The Partisan it is taken to new heights by Chef Nathan Anda who operated the Red Apron Butchery next door as well. While he was not in Saturday night, he team manages a smooth and satisfying operation, and we had to peruse the Charcuterie menu to start. Each of us chose an item or two and we ended up with a gorgeous display of the following:
Campari-Rosemary Dried Italian Salami(Negroni Inspired)
Thai Basil Cured Bresaola-cured beef with Ginger, Kefir Lime & Jalapeno
Herb Saucisson-dried with herbs de Provence
Kielbasa-smoked Garlic sausage with Marjoram & Peppers
Spanish Chorizo-with Paprika & Peppers
Poached Fig Rillettes-bourbon poached and oh so rich!
The plate arrives with hot mustard for the sausages as well as pickled plums that were also a big hit. On the side comes a rack of freshly baked Tigelle which are simply pressed wheat breads with a brush of lard pressed on iron grills--YUM. Sam adored these and asked for an entire bag to take home for breakfast the next day!
The Charcuterie is divided into Bright, Herbal+Floral, Spicy Hot, Smoky, Spiced, Rich+Smootth and Earthy and can be ordered in combos that are pre-set as well. Don't skip this, but don't overdo it; we ordered just right with 6 selections for 6 people.
Peter Koll, one of the managers and sommelier on duty came over and we decided to have a second bottle of the yummy Rose as it was indeed so perfect with the spices in the meats, but as I mentioned we were headed for heavier meats for dinner, he suggested  a divine 2009 Clos Martinet "Martinet Bru" Granatxa/Syrah blend from Priorat in Spain. The wine opened up after about 20 minutes in a carafe and was indeed amazing when we finally drank it later.
The menu is many layered here and it is hard to decide; I will have to return to try many other items, but I chose MIXED (Pork) GRILLE on Matt's suggestion. It comes with Whey Brined Tenderloin, Smoked Heart, three huge cut open bones filled with Marrow, Dandelion Greens and Pickled Wax Beans. It sounds much bigger than it really is and the marrow was sublime as was the entire plate. Will fared not as well with the FOIE GRAS TIGELLE Burger on the famous pressed bread, but the Salt Cured Torchon with Beef Patties & Peach Chile-Jam was kind of mess and he declared not that tasty. BUTCHER's CUT was a hit with Charred Baby Tomatoes, Basil Grits & Lime Zest and Samuel gobbled up his 80DAY AGED RIBEYE rare & sliced very thin Italian beef with a Jus that had a kick. He did not care for the tasty side of Giardiniere...but we all tasted his meat and it was the best "Italian" version of the famous open roast beef sandwich au jus ever.
Many of the items on the menu come in serving sizes for more than one person and indeed up to 6 or 8! Two of our guests chose the 2 lb. bone-in RIBEYE with Citrus Marrow Butter, Shaved Celery and Fresh Horseradish (which served 2-4). While we each has a taste, the entire slab was gone ere long and all that remained was the foot long "Bam Bam" bone! The Flintstones never had it so good with their Brontosaurus-burger!
Sides were amazing here and are worthy as we mentioned about the Beef Fat Fries. We also adored the Crispy WILD NETTLES with Shallots, Ramps & Pesto Dressing with Grated Salami, but if you want to keep veggie there is a superb BRUSSELS SPROUTS Slaw with Horseradish & Grain Mustard Vinaigrette that packs a kick and is not at all like the sprouts themselves as they are shaved super thin and laid out flat on the plate.
Mashed YUKON GOLD POTATOES with Olive Oil were just that, but the RADISHES & SUGAR SNAPS with Pickled Ginger, Scallion & Cilantro won my prize for best side.
After all this you would have thought nobody could eat a bite more. WRONG! It was a birthday dinner. I ordered up the superb CHEESE  which came with mostarda and honey. The three cheeses on the plate were a 5-Year Aged Gouda(one of Sam's favorites) and a Blue Baylee from Hayden Vermont and a Merry-Goat-Round from Virginia...all WINNERS!
Other desserts arrived including Samuel's FRIED APPLE PIE with Bacon Caramel Sauce & Candied Pecans; he chose VERY WELL as it was a huge hit and gone quite fast save for the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
The only thing I did not like about The Partisan is the awful lighting; I was given flashlights and phones repeatedly to read menus! We were seated in the front section and the rear section opens into a giant elaborate room with bar which I think would be nice next time.
Other desserts included the FERNET Ice Cream FLOAT with Ginger Beer, Lime Zest, Fernet Branca Ice Cream and Ginger Molasses Cookies on the side.
Alas, Will bombed again with the BUTTERSCOTCH TRIFLE  which is banana bread, butterscotch pudding, nilla wafers & whuipped cream, but nothing akin to the English trifle he expected.
SNICKER's TERRINE with a candle arrived for Sam and was fun with Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Milk Chocolate-Peanut Caramel & Chocolate Glaze, but our child stuck to his apple pie as he is not a cheesecake child. Our soprano, tenor and baritone sang a "Happy Birthday" to beat all, so much so with all the high notes, that the high noise level of the entire restaurant went to dead silent to listen and join in. This was oh so special!
I perused the dessert and before I knew it Paul arrived with a birthday gift of a Rheinhessen Eiswein 2006 called Nachtgold (Night gold) that was indeed golden honey hued and ever so yummy. THANK YOU PAUL for making our meal, along with Matt, a truly wonderful birthday celebration.