Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Elisir..Enzo Fargione is back in the house!

Enzo Fargione is back at work...not that he hasn't been working actually, but he hasn't been doing a lot of cooking until very recently.  He's been building a new restaurant named Elisir.  It's at 427 11th St. N.W.  It's quiet (which is good, because the server I had whispered most of the time) and classy.  Wallpaper and panelling offset by dark wood.  There is an open kitchen and a small bar. 
The montage above was created by guest photographer Mike Palmer, who happens to be Enzo's in-house photographer for his website as well as his upcoming cookbook.  Additionally, he's my neighbor and was responsible for the invitation to the 7-course tasting menu we enjoyed prior to the restaurant opening to the public this week.  Thanks pal!
The night we were in was basically the dress rehearsal, so I'll just skip to the pictures and keep the chatter to a minimum.

 Paddle straw...interesting.

 Three varieties of olive oils and salts.  Right up my alley.

                               That's Mike Palmer on the right.  @mikpalmer1 on Twitter!

 I have to say that the pasta was very nice.  Truffle air?  I like truffle air.  I like anything that smells like truffle.

                          Another nice touch that I appreciate.  Demerara sugar for my doppio.
Dessert was nifty looking.  There were a variety of flavors...something for everyone.

So congratulations Enzo.  Neat place.  The service was on the money, as well they should be when trained by someone of Justin Kraemer's caliber.  The construction is well done and of good quality.  With a little polish and some time to smooth out the edges I'm sure you'll have a winner on your hands.
Read Pleasures of the Table next week to see if I got thrown out of Rogue 24 for bringing my camera!

Elisir on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kushi Izakaya...Rock n' Rolls...

Kushi Izakaya 11.28.11
465 K Street, NW Washington DC 20001

Darren Norris and his wife Ari have put together a unique experience downtown.  It's not your standard Japanese restaurant.  It's a hybrid of east meets west.  The flavors and ingredients are east, but the decor and service are west.  Not a bad thing.  Definitely a change of pace. 

 This "sides" for the lunch special.  Assorted veggies...all done a differently for a little variety of tastes and textures.  The cabbage had a nice zing to it.
 Rich miso soup.  Fresh chunks of goodness.
 I got the spicy tuna and braised pork belly makimono.  There was a little flavor profile on the spicy tuna that I couldn't peg.  It was different than the usual rolls you get from your average sushi place.  Very nice.
Kushi Izakaya & Sushi on Urbanspoon
 A little artsy close-up for the photo folks.
 This was the Mayo Fried Chicken that my dining companion got for the lunch special.  Nicely done.  Crisp and tasty.
 One of the nice extra touches:  Some extra spice for those of us who want to sweat a little at lunch. 
 This was an Extra-special touch:  fresh grated horse radish.  You usually have to request that, and pay more.  I made mine extra spicy!  Good stuff.
 Here's a shot of the sushi counter.  Just like I like it:  Clean, uncluttered.
 This is where the grilling takes place.  I hear that this is pretty rocking at night.  My friend and I showed up just before they closed after lunch, so it was fairly empty, but I'd like to come check it out on a Saturday night.  I hear there are Saki shots being downed.
A place for everything, and everything in it's place.  I liked it.  I'll definitely be back.  If you go, let Darren know you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mussel Bar - Belgian Eats in Bethesda

Mussel Bar 11.12.11
7262 Woodmont Avenue Bethesda, MD 20814

Cheryl and I don't get out as a couple very often, and Alex was at a friends house for a sleepover, so she decided we should go get dinner and see a movie in Bethesda.  We ended up at Mussel Bar.
 We started with a beer, some oysters, and the crab dip. 
 The crab dip was cheezy/spicy with some ale, I'm sure, and something like Old Bay but a little spicier.  Pretty tasty.  The only change I'd suggest is trying to find a less substantial bread to serve with it.  Something lighter and not so filling.
 The oysters tasted pretty fresh.  I liked their cocktail sauce. 
 The mussels at Wiedmaier's restaurants are always good. There are only a few places where I'll eat mussels, and Brasserie Beck is one.  I didn't hesitate to try them here.  The ones I ordered were with mushrooms, pancetta and truffled cream and parm.
The presentation was nice and the dish was very tasty. 
  Lately in the DC Metro bartenders at all of the top restaurants seem to be picking up their game a bit.  Unfortunately, I think they may be a little too focused on the tremendous beer selection they have there. 
We had time to kill before the movie so we stayed for an after-dinner drink.  I had a Woodford Reserve Manhattan, and it was shaken as shown by the ice froth and ice chips.  That's a no-no.  The flavor was balanced with sweet vermouth, but the cherry was your standard Maraschino, which should only be served with Shirley Temples and Frozen Strawberry Daquiris.  Maybe I'm just spoiled by the places I've been going downtown, but it's what I come to expect when the drinks are $12.00.

To close on a high note though, I can say that the service was very welcoming.  I was served by Keifer, who, as it turns out, is related to the owner.  He was attentive in the way a friend inviting you over for dinner would be, not stiff and standoffish or over-attentive either.  Very gracious and well trained.

Thanks for reading.  Please feel free to comment or e-mail with questions.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sbraga: Bravo Top Chef Winner gets his game on in Philly!

This is Kevin Sbraga, winner of Bravo's Top Chef Season 7.  He was down at my company looking at some of my wares and we went to Graffiato after that, which is where this picture was taken.  He decided to go with my company, so I figured I would return the favor and go give him some of my business!

It was a beautiful night to be walking the streets of Philadelphia with my friend Mike, who also works for my company, and our wives Cheryl and Kate.

That's Kate on the left, Cheryl in the middle, and Mike on the right.
Kate and Cheryl at the food bar/pass.  We sat right where the food was being cooked.  I prefer setups like this so I can watch everything that's happening and take pictures of all the food, not just what comes to my table.
Here's a shot of the menu.  If you click on it it will blow up to give you a better look.  It's arranged into four courses.  You choose one of each for $45.00. 
A nicely prepared Bulleit Manhattan was the starter.
Instead of the usual breadbasket, we were given truffled popovers...mmm.
This was the rose petal relish for the Fois Gras Soup.
I couldn't pass that one up. It wasn't like eating a bowl of pureed fg, it was creamy and spicy with a bouquet of fois gras. Well done.

 This is scallops with black truffels and the Oxtail Tamale.
This is the Arctic Char.  The skin was crisp and the fish creamy.
Some dishes getting prepped for the line.

Little mushrooms from the tamale plate.
Makin' it pretty...
Chick Pea Fritters
Some duck waiting for the plate...
Plates on the pass.
Kevin Sbraga and Jose Adorno
Duck and corn bread.
My vantage point was pretty good...nice to watch artists at work.
Steak with marrow crust.
Love me some Illy Espresso.
This is the Singapore Sling that clinched the win for Kevin on Top Chef.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

All-in-all, a delightful time with friends I haven't seen in a while and a great experience in Philly.  It's a vibrant city.  We walked around a little more after dinner and hit some Starr Restaurant Group places and then walked home. 
Regarding Sbraga, I wish Kevin and his crew continued success.  I don't think they've even been open a month as I write this, but they have their operation pretty well-polished.  They will make an impact in bringing artful, soulful cooking in an attractive restaurant to their neighborhood.
See you soon Kevin, and thanks again for a great meal.
Sbraga on Urbanspoon