Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Graffiato Revisited...Hitting the Tasting Menu

I am usually in a hurry when I eat at Graffiato.  Nothing to do with the restaurant, just that I'm usually down in that part of town when I've got something planned, like a concert or a movie.  This night the only thing on my agenda was to have a good dinner with some colleagues and business partners.  I'm glad I made the time.
 We started with some cocktails, then moved to our table upstairs.  The place was absolutely packed with Caps and Flyers fans getting their pre-game on.  
Everyone at the table decided that the tasting menu was the way to go.  
 The first plate out, other than some bread with the famed Pepperoni Sauce, was the charcuterie selection.  A great selection of different meats from the Meat Bar upstairs.

This is brocollini with a tasty sauce and some gorgonzola cheese.

This is the bone marrow.  It came out towards the end, but It was so pretty I moved it up in the picture order.  Think clams casino made with bone marrow instead of clams.  Not as heavy as you'd expect, but light, citrusy and crisp.

Surprise winner of the night?  Absolutely!
Brussel Sprouts!  Sauteed with bacon and drizzled with maple syrup.  Throw some cheese on there for good measure.  These were FAB!  My wife might even eat these if I could get the recipe.
Chef Mike has a penchant for making pillow-shaped pasta filled with something seasonal and ridiculously good.  Tonight was not an exception.  Here we have pasta filled with butternut squash and roasted chestnuts in a brown butter sauce.  The corn-filled pasta he had a couple of months ago was hard to top, but this is an equally tasty dish.
This is the hand-cut spaghetti.  It was light and the tomato/herb flavor was explosive.  Not what you'd expect.  One of the guys at my table couldn't stop talking about it.
Fresh black truffles, gnocchi, and cream.
What else needs to be said?
Speaking of truffles, we had to, just HAD to have a Countryman Pizza.  No trip to Graffiato is complete without it.  Fontina, truffles, and a sunny-side up egg.
The Cesar with cream cheese croutons is always fun.  The salad itself it just a plain, tasty salad, however, watching someone bite into one of the croutons is always entertaining.  You're not getting what you expect.

Potato was only lacking in comparison to the rest of the outstanding dishes we tried.  Anywhere else you'd say, "Damn, that's some fine potato salad."  Here, the bar is a little higher.
Pork belly.   Crispy on the outside, tender and porky on the inside.
Last, but not least, roasted wild boar.  Very little modification to the flavor.  Wild Pig, just as you'd expect.

All-in-all, a great time.  We didn't even make it to dessert.  The gild has not fallen off the lilly at this restaurant.  As is the case, some places start out great-guns, then fall prey to cutting corners.  I haven't had a hint of that here.  The service actually improves as it matures.  Despite all the TV shows, magazine interviews and charity events that he attends, you're still very likely to see Chef Mike pushing plates at the expo line, which is admirable in these days of celeb chefs who rarely set foot inside their own restaurants.

Would I go back?  This was probably my 6th or 7th time eating here.  Whenever someone calls me asking for a recommendation for a restaurant, which happens frequently, Graffiato is at the top of my list for a place where you don't have to dress up, you can spend a little or a lot, and the food is exceptional.  Do I recommend the tasting menu?  Hell yes.  If you saw something in my post that looked exceptional, let your server know and they'll likely be able to arrange having it included in your meal.

If you go, tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.
Thank you for reading.

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