Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tosca - An Opera In Your Mouth

Ristorante Tosca
1112 F St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004

It's unlike me to go to an older restaurant unless it's a favorite of mine, i.e. Old Ebbitt, Billy Martin's Tavern, Brasserie Beck. I'm not sure why, but I thought it would be fun to try Tosca. I've never been there before, but my son was away and the parents wanted to play so we gave it a shot.
I'd read about Tosca, and Chef Matteo had given me some pointers on Facebook, so I figured, "Why not?"
Turns out it was a good choice.
If you've followed my blog in the past you'll notice the familiar chef's table crew. These folks are always so good about humoring me on my culinary adventures.
Here we have Chef de Cuisine Jesse Long on the left and the blurry go on the right is Executive Chef Matteo Venini. They were both very pleasant and accommodating during the meal even though the dining room was full.
Here is the first course being plated.
Cured Ora Salmon with several accompaniments. Charred citrus emulsion, grapefruit vinaigrette, olive oil powder, and lychee sorbet. The salmon was like butter. Apparently this type of salmon is known for it's consistent, thick marbling and takes curing very well. 
Second course was house-made burrata with smoked eggplant crema, onion ash and beets. 

The eggplant crema brought a serious flavor boost to what could have been a boring dish. I like burrata, but it's often bland. Nicely done.
This is the braised cuttlefish stew with wild mushrooms, garlic oil and olives. There was a whole lot of flavor in this. Unfortunately, I was taking pictures while everyone else was stealing the rest of the excellent bread to sop up the broth and wipe their plates clean, or I would have done the same. The trumpet mushrooms were screaming umami. I began to enjoy this meal in a serious manner here.
Next up was the Carbonara Ravioli. Inside the ravioli was a 1-hour duck egg. Excellent combination.
The shavings of summer truffle and the smoked butter were awesome.
I had to take a shot of these entrees as they were awaiting final touches before hitting someone's table. Everything looked tasty.
Sorry I didn't get a chance to try this!
Shanks a lot!
Back to our course was a risotto with burned leeks and crispy sweetbreads. I'm not normally a fan of sweetbreads, but these were just the right size and texture. Perfectly cooked risotto as well.

The octopus had a shrimp and scallop mousse with a beet coulis. The flavor and texture was perfection.
Next was an intermezzo of sorbet and a shot of margarita! Ole!
Muscovy duck with spicy cherry gastrique. This was my wife's favorite.
Here's another look at the plate. Well composed.
Here is our dessert being plated.
The money shot!
Now I'll explain it to you: Foie Gras and Salted Caramel Candy Bar.
This may be the best thing I've put in my mouth all year. That is saying a lot. The dark chocolate and salted caramel with the chilled fois was stupendous. I can only think of a few desserts that are even close to this. Bravo chefs!
Sometimes it's worth the trip to visit something that isn't on the Eater Heatmap. Give it a shot. You won't be disappointed. If you go, tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table, and grab me one of these candy bars to go, would you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reel - The Real Deal in Woodstock Georgia

8670 Main St.
Woodstock, GA 30188
My friends in Atlanta, same gang who I went to Gunshow with, took us to a great little restaurant in the town of Woodstock. It's an artsy little town with lots of small, independent shops and restaurants. Apparently they'd been here before as this was sitting on our table when we arrived. 
The proprietors are a husband and wife team named Karen and David Silverman. Karen works FOH while David is the chef. Karen comes from Capital Grill. We knew a few of the same folks.
We started out with a 1/2 dozen oysters. Nice brine. I skipped the mignonette, so I can't really comment there.
The calamari was the only item of the night I didn't love. The breading was heavier than I like and fairly bland. Then again, it might have been that the Templeton Manhattan wiped out my taste buds for a minute. Stranger things have happened.
The tuna tartar was very good. I liked the chips too.
This was the Shrimp and Lobster Fondue. It had smoked gouda and fontina cheeses and was awesome. That dish went back to the kitchen clean.
Karen pulled this one out of her private stash for us. It might be on the menu now, but it wasn't that night. My dining companion is a serious oenophile and Karen knows it. 
Here's chef David checking his chits and gettin' it done.
The restaurant has a nice, open kitchen. The servers were involved, knowledgeable, and very accommodating.
And here it is in color! 
This was the swordfish with ginger polenta. 
Truffled cream corn was a nice touch as a side. 
The Jerk Grilled Salmon was well cooked. The seasoning was just right. Not too hot, but enough to let you know it was jerk.
The lobster mac 'n cheese was killer.
Excellent shrimp and grits. I really liked the andouille. Luckily, Kelly wasn't a big fan so I got it all.
Alex had the lobster boil. I can't really comment on the lobster as he didn't let me have any, but the I did get to try the broth which was lobster and saffron. Very nice.
Cheryl had the pan-fried trout. It was nicely done. Not overcooked, not under.
The creme brulee tasted like I made it at home. We must have the same recipe.
Chocolate lava cake was done perfectly. Molten center.
Nice mini key lime pie.
Mango goodness.
The happy, and stuffed, crew. From left to right John, Alex, Cheryl, me, Kelly and Kathleen.
If you're going to be near Woodstock, this place is definitely worth checking out. The prices are very reasonable and the food is excellent. They make a mean Manhattan too.
Thanks for reading!