SPOLIER ALERT:If you watch TOP CHEF Boston this season and missed this week's episode, you might not want to read this until you have seen it!
Back in the USA after two weeks recovering from our huge SE Asia/Beijing trip we finally wandered out for dinner for several reasons.
1)It's Restaurant Week here in DC so many deals are available and quite worthy
2)Our kitchen is under a 2+ day renovation as a new stove is being installed, so cooking in it last night was just not possible
We chose G by MIKE ISABELLA (http://gbymikeisabella.com) as we had met Chef Mike several times in the past year and while he exhibits an "in your face" persona on TV on TOP CHEF, he is truly a great guy and extremely generous.
This past year we purchased him to cook in our home at the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala and while the auction was going on, the bidding was so fierce, her offered to do TWO of the same auction items, despite his busy schedule.
Indeed, he was standing in the kitchen entry way and I greeted him and he came over and chatted with the three of us for a while. Later he checked on dinner and we even caught a glimpse at one point of Chef George Pagonis (who was overseeing Kapnos next door), who sadly was asked to "pack his knives" after this past Wednesday's episode of Top Chef Boston. Fear not, as there is still one more Last Chance Kitchen episode and the winner will be revealed next Wednesday and he will compete with the 3 other finalists in Mexico.....
G is a sandwich shop by day serving soups, salads and amazingly awesome sandwiches. On Wednesday-Sunday evenings there is only a tasting menu offered and for restaurant week it's $35.15 for four courses which are guaranteed to satisfy and satiate you.
We ordered a bottle of Hecht & Bannier Rousanne 2011 from Languedoc which is a nice flavorful dry wine that went superbly with our first two courses. Everyone receives the ANTIPASTI plate which is shared and consists of BUFFALO MOZZARELLA with Roasted BEETS, PISTACHIO & MINT. I am not a mint person, but this combination was truly spectacular making it the shining spot on this varied platter (served on a large stone slab). The dressing was excellent as well as was the accompanying EGGPLANT RELISH which really was like a cold caponata loaded with flavor. There were slices of PROSCIUTTO & Fennel SALUMI and also huge ARANCINI filled with Cauliflower as well as the rice and served on a divinely rich Lemon Ricotta sauce.
Samuel spotted the CHESTNUT RAVIOLI which was one of the choice for the Primi (next course) and we all decided on this, but Sam wanted just a large platter of this and nothing else. It was rich and awesome with small bits of Butternut Squash, Brown butter and Chives with a Celery Root "Pesto" that was more akin to a rich puree. I would have sworn there was cream in it, but our server Ben thought not. The other pasta which we did not try was a Pappardelle with Pork Bolognese & Marcona Almonds.
The secondi were a choice between Pan Roasted SALMON with Basil, Grilled Grapes and Pecans which Will enjoyed and the skin was crunchy crispy spectacular. I went for the BRAISED LAMB SHOULDER in Tomato Sauce with Roasted Potatoes & Gremolata. It was fall off the bone divine and I was indeed full. After dinner I told the staff and Chef Mike that it should be renamed "Osso Buco Isabella!" A glass of Negroamaro Cantele 2010 from Salice Salentino was perfect with the dish and indeed would go with anything that requires red. I was surprised that our wonderful server Ben recommended the lowest price wine by the glass, but it is a winner.
Samuel having fallen in love with his Chestnut Ravioli skipped both main courses and asked for another huge plate of ravioli!
Dessert was a choice between a CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE with Caramel gelato & Ganache which Samuel ordered and the BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAPLE BROWNIE with Brown Butter gelato & Bourbon Caramel which Will &I chose.
Samuel decided that his dish was too "mousse-y" and asked to switch. He is more of a molten choco fiend, so I was happy to trade as both desserts were truly great.
We have loved Kapnos before and now also love G and as of this week Chef Isabella also has a new location in Arllington at Pepita in Ballston, and yet he was here last night! Wow, what a busy and amazing guy.
We will try them all and always return to his first Graffiato!