Executive Chef Andrew Sutton, Chef Francisco and Chef Gloria were all absent this night - I figured they were all busily preparing for the opening of the new restaurant in DCA - but we were happy to have Chef Alex there. We decided to ask him for the five-course tasting menu (with no rabbit included) but with two special requests for each of us. I'd wanted to try the strawberry chicken salad and the salmon carpaccio, but there was a new zucchini blossom starter on the menu, and I *love* zucchini blossoms. I didn't want to request too many specific things, so I just asked for the salad and the zucchini blossom. The carpaccio would have to wait for another time, if I get the chance. The husband's two special requests were the zucchini blossom and the venison main course.
I can't remember what the amuse bouche was and I didn't take a picture of it. Oh well.
The husband's first course was the first course from the Vintner's - shrimp and octopus ceviche and a stuffed jalapeno. He really liked the dish, except that the jalapeno was extremely hot. He gave me a tiny taste of it, and wow, yeah, it really packed a punch. He ended up just eating the "yumminess inside" and leaving the jalapeno. Our runner noticed and commented that the spicyness level of the jalapenos has seemed to fluctuate. They hadn't been particular hot lately, but of course, on a week when they decided to feature the jalapeno, they got a batch that was super hot.
|Laughing Bird Shrimp and Tender Octopus Ceviche, Red Jalapeno Cucumber Crazy Water and Avocado Relish|
My first course was the strawberry chicken salad. Overall, I liked the salad - it was a nice mix of ingredients, and I didn't know that there were a few haricot verts at the bottom as well. It was very refreshing and would make for a good summer dish. The dressing wasn't quite what I expected, and I would have liked there to be a little less of it, but otherwise, I enjoyed the dish.
|Salad of Strawberry Roasted Organic Chicken, Jicama, Upland Cress and Buttermilk Lemon Vinaigrette|
The husband's second course was a scallop in what seemed to be the normal accompaniments to the swordfish. He very much enjoyed the dish.
|Seared Scallop, Crushed Heirloom Tomatoes, Garlic, Steamed Clam, Oregano and Capers|
My second course was the sustainable fish of the day, which was grouper on this night. I don't think I've had grouper before, but I really liked it.
|Grouper with Laughing Bird Shrimp, Potato Gnocchi in a Lemony Basil Broth|
The third course for both the husband and me was the zucchini blossom stuffed with pheasant confit.
Just one word - YUM.
|Zucchini Blossom stuffed with Pheasant Confit, Sauteed Mushrooms, Tender Spring Vegetables and Zucchini Blossom Coulis|
We then ended up getting a palette cleanser of strawberry basil sorbet, as did the two people sitting in the seats next to us. I've never gotten a palette cleanser there before, so I don't know if it was just that they were running behind in preparing the main courses or if they were just giving us all a treat, but it was very nice.
The husband's main course, as requested, was the venison. He loved it.
|Roasted Venison Loin, Sage & Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Black Trumpet Mushroom Essence|
My main course turned out to be the main course from the Vintner's, which was a New York steak. I'd actually kind of been feeling like having red meat, so it was a terrific choice, and very tasty. I loved the cherries on top, and when I asked one of the sous chefs about them, he explained to me how they were prepared. No, I don't remember, so I can't relay it here, but it explained why the cherry tasted different than normal. The dish was a fairly generous portion, especially for a tasting menu, so I unfortunately ended up leaving a few pieces on the plate.
|Ranchero Style Angus New York, Sierra Cherry Salsa Fresca, Chorizo Roasted Ramps and Green Chickpea Puree|
Time for dessert! We noticed that the Vintner's dessert that the husband had enjoyed so much last time (carrot pecan cake) was now on the regular dessert menu.
The husband decided to have the no-sugar-added dessert (panna cotta with berries) which for some reason is not advertised on the menu anywhere. Many of the servers don't even know about it, so they usually go and ask the dessert chef and then are surprised to find out it does in fact exist.
I decided to have the strawberry rhubarb crisp, which I'd been watching them serve all night, and it looked good. It was very delicious and a rather large portion for a dessert. I liked the slices of dehydrated strawberry on top too and saved them for last.
|Wine Country Warm Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, Buttered Oat Coconut Crust and Strawberry Sorbet|
The dining room seemed a lot quieter than most normal Friday nights, and the kitchen didn't seem quite as busy. The manager we'd talked to last night wasn't working this evening, so I still didn't get his name yet. Philippe, the general manager, saw us when we were in the lounge waiting for our seats, and he stopped to say hello. I asked about the Dover sole, and he explained a bit about how they get them from a vendor. He said they didn't have any this week but were hoping to get some the following week. He said that the servers had gotten quite good at doing the table-side plating of the dish.
Here's page 1 of the current menu, and here's page 2 of the current menu.