Monday, August 21, 2017

REQUIN's Restaurant Week(extended thru this weekend) is really amazing if you find yourself near Fairfax,VA (8-20-17)

Last night we took the drive to the Mosaic District in nearby Virginia and have to say that at 23 minutes from NW DC it was not bad at all and there is tons of free parking as well. We settled in to our first meal at Requin to discover there were two restaurant week options (3 courses for $35 and four for $45 EXTENDED thru next Sunday) as well as the a la carte menu. Decisions, decisions. I ordered a glass of awesome White Sangria  made with Tequila and souped up with fruit garnish or kiwi and honeydew and Will loved his Gin Blossom with Beefeater, Cocchi rosa, lemon, persimmon bitters & cava brut, while Sam tried the Pineapple Lemongrass Soda(he moved on to Coke). We also loved the Bulgarian Rose called Mavrud from Karabunar Winery 2015.
Sam wanted us to share an order of Garlic bread, but chose the Burrata & Tomato Salad to start with pickled onions that he said were superb as well as almond herb pesto and aged balsamic glaze. His main course was a dish similar to one that Chef Jennifer Carrol had made at our home earlier this year: Roasted Wild Mushrooms with Melted Leeks, Pickled Ramps, Snap Peas in a Mushroom-Madeira Jus which he adored along with an order of Garlic & Herb Fries.
Will and I opted for the 4 course choice and I started with the delicious Deviled Lamb Rillettes with macerated Cherries, Pickled Mustard and a nice kick from chili as well. I love rillettes and always get them when they are offered and these were some of the best I can recall recently. Will had the Eggplant & Tomato Ratatouille with Fennel, Garlic, Shallot and Herbs which came warm with small sliced toasted bread (as mine did); apologies that there are no FB photos of these, but there are of the rest!
Next for Will came a heavier dish: Cod Croquettes with harissa aioli with red cabbage kraut and watercress which I was glad I did not order as while they were superb, the portion was very large, rich and of course, fried! He went on to a much lighter main course of Spanish Octopus with Summer Vegetable Couscous Salad, tahini & Feta that was indeed perfect for a warm summer night. I had the orgasmic Baked Oysters with Roasted Garlic & Herb Champagne Cream and went on to the Summer Corn & Sausage Risotto with Pecorino, Charred Tomatoes, parsley Oil & greens which was akin to a creamed corn risotto with great bursting flavors from the sausage, tomatoes, even the greens and don't forget the fresh corn.
Our server Hillary had directed me to this over a heavier dish and I was grateful as it was light and superb. She did a great job with suggestions and help all evening.
Will chose the Strawberry & Blueberry Clafouti with Lemon Curd, toasted Almond Streusel and Chantilly Cream which was also excellent, but I went the cheese route which was beautifully presented with Cherry Mostarda, Fuji Apples, Grapes & Fresh Honeycomb. There were many cheeses to choose from but I let Hillary choose and she did well with a superb Spring Brook Reading raclette and a creamy Camembert fro Soft Bloom.
Chef Jen sent out some yummy cookies which we nibbled on and took the rest home that were all super as well: Chocolate Chip, Rocky Road, Oatmeal Raisin & Snickerdoodle.
It was a yummy meal and a super deal which is extended for another week as so many places have decided to do.
The décor is simple with a huge open kitchen at the side of the restaurant and many tables all well spaced so that folks can enjoy their meals and not be crowded. Kudos to the super nice bathrooms with great music (Kennedy Center Honoree Lionel Richie) but also so clean and with superb scents. While Fairfax is a harder ride on weekdays, I can see us returning on weekends for sure! Chef Jen will also open in SW DC in October at the new Waterfront complex!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

DC's DOI-MOI starts our Restaurant Week with a rave (8-16-17)

It has taken us too long to get to DOI MOI (which means new changes) but it was worth the wait, and now that DC's b-annual Restaurant Week is on, you can eat a ton for $35!
I had met Chef Sasha Felikson at an event some time ago and was looking forward to seeing him in the kitchen, but alas his schedule did not coincide with ours, but I must say each dish was delivered in a timely manner, presented properly and tasted superb. Nobody could have told the boss was away! Only the service is a bit overly laid back and could use some fine tuning. It took a while for us to figure out who our server was at the start.
The split level inside and outside terrace as well as bar seating offer many options and by the time we left at 830pm, the place was virtually full. The décor is relaxing with white brick walls, white wash, a white bar with light wooden top all giving a very celan feel. The several pieces of artwork were whimsical and adorable; I wish there was more!
Now that Samuel is a vegetarian, he was in heaven and ordered his 3 plates for $35:
Sauteed Okra with garlic, Shallots, Chili and Sesame Seed that was one of the best dishes and indeed a Veggie Side that gives it Main Course Status.
Tarot Root & Potato Dumplings with Mushrooms, Broth, Thai chili, Soy & Lime that he loved, bu t it was the
Steamed Buns with Rice Cakes, Soy Mayo and Pickles that he adored so much he ordered a second helping!
Will chose the same Steamed Buns, but stuffed with Chili Braised Pork along with the Soy Mayo and Pickles which was yummy
went on to the Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Hot 'n' Juicy XO Sauce and Soybean Braised Cabbage. I loved this course(I also had it, and Will liked it) but a it more than 1/2 a small softshell might be in order.
His 3rd choice was the Brussels Sprouts with Nuoc Cham Aioli and Puffed Rice which was a real amazing veggie dish at all, so we thought...then I realized Nuoc Cham is fish sauce which got our son a bit upset...although he did love them until I told him...OOPS!
I started with the Chilled Mango Thai Chili Soup with Pickled Shrimp and Tomato Salad which was a super spicy and delicious soup. Interestingly enough I had ordered a drink called Salt 'n' pepa which was Jalapeno infused Rhum Neisson Blanc with Cotton & Reed White Rum, Lime Juice and Salt-cured Key Lime Soda that was superb but also super spicy and did work well to alleviate the soups' spice---luckily there was water :-))
I went on to the crab and then had the Grilled Quail with Vietnamese BBQ Sauce that was out of this world, and also a bit spicy, but great. It came with a Watermelon & Pineapple Kimchi that was not spicy at all, but also delicious and refreshing and garnished with gorgeous little purple flowers. The Syrah/Carignan Rose Moulin de Gassac 2016 from France was okay, but I adored the Red Xinomavro 2011 Foundi from Naoussa in Greece as it really stood up to the big spices.
Desserts were also quite delicious with Will trying a Soft Serve Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Fish Sauce & Coconut, Sam heading right for the Thai Spice Molten Lava Cake and me winning with the Summer Fruit Brulee with Sticky Rice & Coconut that was a chewy, crunchy topped gooey fruit jam with big chunks of red fruits and a tasty rice with coconut on the other side. It was scalding hot and they guy who delivered it didn't say so, and I managed to slightly burn my finger when I tried to pass it to the others for a taste!
Samuel tried a Dry Watermelon Soda which was novel and he wasn't crazy about and Will had beers starting with a leo Lager from Thailand that he said was wimpy and then switched to another (I forgot which) on our server's suggestion which he adored.
All in all, DoiMoi has such a huge selection of small plates to share that it's fun for everyone and with amazing bursts of flavors and spices! We'll be back, especially with the huge veggie menu!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ROSE & KETTLE (Cherry Valley, NY near Cooperstown) rises again for our annual friends/client dinner@Glimmerglass(8-13-17)

It has become a tradition for us to invite our sponsored young artists, friends and clients to a dinner each year at Glimmerglass, so on Sunday night almost 20 of us joined again at the Rose & Kettle in Cherry Valley for a super evening of food, wine and camaraderie. This will be a short review as I could not possibly taste every dish, but I did check the wonderful wines:
Wachau 2014 Gruner Veltliner was our successful white while we started with a Farnese Montepulicano d'Abruzzo and then moved on to an amazing Earthquake Petit Syrah from Lodi 2013. 
Our server Mattie was amazing considering the size of our group and convinced me to start with the appetizer special of Braised Oxtail with Bok Choy, Red Onion & Asian Pear which was a tasty combination with the pear cutting the meat's richness and the broth enhancing the whole bowl. I ordered the traditional MeatLoaf of Locally raised beef, pork & lamb with garlic mashed potatoes, pan gravy and green beans which is always a hit. Only some of the yellow wax beans were way too al dente. It's a huge portion and I wish I could have taken the rest home but we had to drive 7 hours back to DC the next morning!
Others loved the salmon, steaks and pastas and some even managed to have dessert. Our dinner lasted almost 4 hours and everyone had a super amazing time. Thanks for being there!

Friday, August 11, 2017

back in Coooperstown, NY: anothe chance for Mel's@22 makes us merry (8-10-17)

We have tried Mel's@22 several times and come away feeling the service is pretty mediocre or just plain awful, yet the food is usually quite good. Last year, it was overall just plain bad. Friends of ours who live here said please try it again for dinner on a quieter night, so we did. Last night we had no opera, so we dined at 7pm and while they had seemingly lost our reservation, we began to fear. I checked the book and saw it was under the wrong name! Once seated, alas next to the noisy banging kitchen door, we perused the menus, which had multiple veggie options for Sam, and ordered a bottle of Heron Hill Unaoked Chardonnay from the nearby Finger Lakes region which was delish.
Sam started with the Fried Mozzarella half moons with Pomodoro Sauce, which he liked, but was clearly not as good as my superb Tequila Scallops (3 large sea scallops perfected pan seared) with tequila lime-butter sauce or Will's Spinach & Artichoke Rangoons with Sweet Chili dipping sauce. Rangoons are usually just a pile of way too much fried dough with little filling, but these were quite good and full of filling. The Potato skins with cheddar, bacon, sour cream and chives seemed to be missing the chives, although the kitchen thought they could fool us with piles of scallions!
Main courses  were all very good save for Sam's Grilled Stuffed Avocados filled with quinoa, black beans, roasted corn and "queso fresco cheese;" can someone tell them queso IS cheese? The stuffing was nice, but I tasted the avocado and it seemed odd, almost off flavor, as if they had tried to grill an unripe avocado! The burgers here are always a hit and Sam's friend had the California Dreamin' with melted brie, smoked bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onion and arugula, while Will went for the Southern Inspired Burger with American cheese, pulled pork, cole slaw, pickled onions and fried egg; almost an overdose! His red wine by the glass was a Terra d'Oro California red Zin. I had the special of Sausage & Kale Ravioli with LittleNeck Clams and Sauteed Shrimp all in a rich Sundried Tomato Pesto Cream sauce. It was superb, way too rich and there were indeed 6 ravioli as described, but they were huge, not to mention the over a 1/2 dozen clams and 1/2 dozen shrimp...a deal for sure. I thought some of the large garlic slices were small clams and while I love garlic, did not need that! 
I still have qualms about the service, which was better, but still described best as odd. Our server was surely sweet, but kept calling us "love..." and boy was I glad we didn't ask for a break between courses, because it took about 25 minutes for each course to arrive. Additionally, they have a thing about bringing you clean silverware for each course; one of my pet peeves. We did finally get it after asking.
This weekend at the Glimmerglass Festival, our dinners are all the superb patron picnics, so there won't be lots of reviews, save for our big client/young artists dinner party on Sunday.