Sunday, November 23, 2014

Water and Wall - Cozy and Urbane in the 'Burbs

Water & Wall
3811 N. Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22203

I like the trend I'm seeing in independent restaurants. Good service, cocktails, and food in settings that are comfortable and welcoming. Chef/Owner Tim Ma's Water & Wall joins his first restaurant, Maple Ave, in those regards. It's got more seats than his first, which is good because seats are in high demand at his restaurants. Click on the link above to score a reso. You'll need to do it at least a week out if you're a prime-time-diner.
Understated entrance on Fairfax Dr.
We started out at the bar with a couple of drinks. I had the Theodore's Elixir. You can't go wrong with bourbon, Fernet, and some citrus. The ladies had some Thibaut-Janisson bubbles, also appropriate for the occasion.
We were dining with our friends Craig and Laura, who we often share blog-worthy meals with.
Seared scallops with grits. Rich and savory.
Pumpkin soup with sage oil and apple cider creme fraiche. One of the best pumpkin dishes I've ever tried, and the only pumpkin dish I've had this year. I'm saving myself for Thanksgiving.
A lot of restaurants offer fried calamari. Few season it well. Here there was ample salt and pepper, a sudachi aoli, and some pickled Fresno peppers. Lots of flavor.
A little closer please...

Chicken liver mousse with pear compote and champagne gelee. A lot of restaurants have a version of this. Tim's is better than most.
The ladies in a "Whatchu talkin' 'bout Willis?" moment.
Cheryl and I both had the Steelhead Trout. The white bean puree and salsa verde added some pizazz to the dish. The skin was cracklin'-crispy. Interesting factoid: a group of Steelhead Trout is a hover. It eats more like salmon than the white-fleshed brown trout you see in most places.
The catfish. This was my favorite dish. Unfortunately, I didn't order it. My friend Craig did. It had some excellent heat that came on the back end of the bite. Very nice, warm, but not overpowering.
Laura had the Duck Confit. It had Brussels sprouts and a maple gastrique. The skin was nicely crisped.
There were four desserts on the menu. There were four of us. Coincidence? I think not. This was the Pumpkin-buttermilk pound cake. I loved the pumpkin-seed brittle.
Apple crisp.
The bittersweet chocolate bread pudding.
And my favorite...the chocolate-peanut butter tart. I'm not sure, but it tasted to me like they used browned butter in the crust. Nice touch.

Definitely a nice addition to the neighborhood. Congrats Tim & Joey. Nice job. Looking forward to seeing more from you in the future.
Water & Wall on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wildwood Kitchen - Awesomeness Comes in Small Packages

Wildwood Kitchen
Shops at Wildwood
10223 Old Georgetown Rd.
Bethesda, MD 20814

Wildwood shopping center is a strip mall at the corner of Old Georgetown and Democracy in Bethesda. I go there once in a while when I'm trying to source a particular ingredient or quality of ingredient that only Balducci's carries locally. It is home to Oakville Wine Bar, where you can always get a quality piece of fish and glass of wine or some good pizza at Geppetto. There is also a Starbucks and a few other places, but I don't go there often. 
There is a small restaurant down towards the end of the strip though, that might entice me to make the journey more frequent. It's Wildwood Kitchen.
If you live in the DC Metro, or the east coast of the U.S., you've probably heard of the owner. Robert Weidmaier. He owns several concepts, most notably Marcel's in DC and Mussel Bars scattered about the area. Marcel's is a favorite of the critics and is fine-dining while Mussel Bar is casual place to have some great mussels and exotic beer. Brasserie Beck is also under his umbrella and has seen some great chefs come through it's doors.
All that being said, Wildwood Kitchen is a neighborhood joint that happens to have some terrific food being put out by Matt Newland, Chef de Cuisine.
Let's get on to dinner though,
 I'm never one to turn down a good smoky rye drink with a big ice cube, this one was called the Smoking Rye Boulevard and had Campari and cherry. This version was good without being smashed with smoke. That happens sometimes...not sure if it's what's being used to create the smoke or the length of time it's in there, but this one was good. 
 The bread is torn, brushed with olive oil and mildly singed. It's a perfect format for dipping in the sauces and soups to follow.
 Speaking of soups, the potato soup with goat cheese was the soup of the day. One of the nicest I've ever tried.
Duck Rillettes were nicely done. Tender and flavorful with a good bumpy mustard on the side.
 I'd like to get Chef Matt's recipe for his confit...if he'd give it up. Literally the best texture I've ever had in a confit. 
 I had the hanger steak. It was topped with a compound butter and served atop a puree of parsnips. The veg rocked.
The finale was a grapefruit with sabayon and meringue morsels with some grapefruit sorbet if memory serves me correctly. It was light, citrusy, and a great way to end dinner.

This restaurant is a true neighborhood gem. If you go, make sure you get your reservations at least a week or two out if you prefer prime-dining hours. It's a small place. Go with friends and enjoy. You won't be disappointed.

Wildwood Kitchen on Urbanspoon