Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brine - Best Oysters in the Biz, and More

2985 District Ave.
Fairfax, VA 22031
Looking for something a little different? Tired of steakhouses and small plates? Check out Brine.
We started with a No Juice, No Cherry, which is a rye cocktail, and a glass of Sex. Sex is a rose sparkler they have on tap if memory serves. Nice way to start the dinner. 
Brine owner Travis Croxton has his fingers in more pies than Tiffany Macisaac. Seriously. He helped Derek Brown with Eat The Rich and has several other restaurants which include Merroir, Rappahanock Oyster Bar, Rocksalt, and now Brine. Think steakhouse, but with the main protein being fish.  
Travis' family has been in the oyster business for decades and they have some of the tastiest oysters around. They are treated well here.
Besides the pristine oysters, there are many more composed dishes being sent out of Chef John Critchley's kitchen including Lambs and Clams, made with house-stuffed merguez sausage.
The gazpacho packs some incredible flavors. 

These are the exactly what I think of when I get a craving for oysters. The brine is light and the oysters are just the right size. They're so good I had to order another dozen.
This was the bucatini with guanciale and chili threads.
The radish salad.
The yellowfin carpaccio was tremendous. Lots of flavors and textures going on.

We shared the wood-roasted whole fish. Expertly done and very tasty.

Dessert was a chocolate bavarois with peanut brittle. No slouching on the finale.
Cheryl finished up with a liquid dessert: Mommy's Snow Cone. Orange mocha syrup with rum and ancho salt. Things I'd never think to put together, but ended up being greater than the sum of the ingredients. Very creative.
If you find yourself in the Mosaic district this place is certainly worth checking out. Twice. They take the steakhouse format and elevate it with serious creativity and skill in the kitchen as well as the bar. Expertly prepared proteins served a la carte with sides that you won't find elsewhere.
If you go, say hi to Chef Critchley for me and tell him you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm - They Crank Farm to Table to 11

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Lovettsville, VA
Looking to spend a lovely evening in the woods? You could do worse than The Restaurant at Patowmack Farms. It's a hike from the DC Metro. If you're staying at Hollywood Casino it's much closer. Pay close attention once you've crossed the little bridge and taken the right turn. It's a hard left up the mountainside. Don't bring your Ferrari though...it's a dirt road and there are some spots where the clearance is...shall we say, low?
Here's how it works. There are three categories on the menu. Found, Grown, and Raised. None of them are exclusively found, grown, or raised, but they seem to hold fairly close to the stated genre.
Greg and I had the raised with the ladies had found and grown.
And here they are photo-bombing whilst I was trying to get an artsy-fartsy shot of the centerpiece.
Here they are being a little more civilized.
The grounds are perfect for events. The garden is beautiful with a nice view of the bridge.
From left to right: Me, Cheryl, Laura and Craig. We've had some pretty amazing dinners with this couple. 
God in the Garden
The "snacks" were creative and tasty. Everything seemed to follow the garden to table theme. 
Who doesn't like cheesy poofs?
Pork rinds.
Flat breads.
All of the snacks were good, though I was partial to the pork rinds and cheesy poofs.
This was actually my favorite dish of the evening. It was a pork liver parfait and it rivaled Michel Richard's Faux Graz for lightness, texture and flavor.
This was an interesting play on gazpacho: Apricot! It was served cold and was very nice.
Sardines with lentils...
Here's that pork liver parfait again. It was pretty as well as tasty.
I like it when restaurants give you something fun to play with between courses. Left to right: House-churned butter, Kosher salt (Malden if I'm not mistaken) and whipped pork fat.
Flavorful and grainy bread as the fat/salt vehicle.
Hopefully my doctor isn't reading this post. 
The whipped pork fat was much lighter than you might imagine. It wasn't like lard, it was more like very fluffy butter, but saltier. I liked it.
Pork belly with sour grits.
Kidney bean Akara with grilled beef hash. Tasted a wee too healthy.
Smoked chanterelle mushroom and mussel stew. The hay was what was used for the smoking. Interesting.
Nice view from our table.
The lamb kabob.
Poached chicken.
Here's a little video showing the beef on a stone.
Here it is all finished. I cooked it a little too rare though so I had to yell at myself, throw it back on the stone, and complain to the server. I comp'd myself. 8)
This was a little palette cleanser. I thought it was very pretty.
This was interesting. Cajeta Panna Cotta. When they poured the sauce over this the shell kind of melted into what you see below. The caramel sauce was off the hook.
Here it is post-melt.
Looks like RJ was up here with the blueberry sherbet dish.
The wineberry chess pie.
The sweet little bites were very tasty.
The coupe de gras: Olive Oil Chiffon.

Overall, definitely worth the trip if you have the time and the money. It's not inexpensive, but it's worth it for the experience.
Service was top notch and the wine pairings were unusual and inventive, which is what I'm always hoping for when I take advantage of the offering.
Thanks for reading! If you go, drive carefully, and tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.