L’Auberge Chez Francois

Greg and I  dined with friends at L’Auberge Chez Francois, one of the top rated french restaurants in DC. We had high expectations and the ambiance and service were spot on. We had our choice of tables in the garden and were seated in a gazebo next to a water fountain.  But the food fell a bit flat with the exception of the souffle for desert.

The meal started with an asparagus soup for the amuse bouche. Very tasty but not exceptional. For  a starter, Greg ordered the seafood bouillabasse with a saffron broth, and I had the roquefort cheese tart. Again, the dishes were good but not amazing. A very average house salad followed. Greg had  rack of lamb for his entree and I chose on the recommendation of our waiter the halibut baked in a horseradish brioche crust and served with asparagus and a ginger lime sauce. I couldn’t taste the horseradish and the sauce was bland. The dish lacked much flavoring. I was disappointed. For dessert, I had a raspberry mouse cake and Greg had the souffle. The souffle was the star of the meal by far. The raspberry mousse cake again was blah. For our final course we had coffee and tea. 

In summary, a great night out due to the beautiful setting in the garden and wonderful service but the food is not worth the hype or price. We will not be going again anytime soon.

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Sushi Taro – Good Sushi, Bad Experience

Last night we finally tried Sushi Taro to celebrate our future anniversary (We are getting married on May 9th next year!!). After talking about trying the happy hour for some time (we never could quite make it to DC in time during a work week between traffic and getting out of work on time), Greg surprised me with roses and  reservations to Sushi Taro.

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Surprise Roses!

Unfortunately dinner was a bit of a bust. We arrived 4 minutes late for our reservations at 9:30, were seated promptly but had to wait about 15 minutes for a server to greet us. While waiting we perused the menu and decided we would prefer to try the sushi tasting menu that Greg read about on the website. By the time our waitress arrived, we were informed that they no longer were serving the tasting menu as it takes 2.5 hours and that the latest seating for the tasting menu is 9:30 (but we were there at 9:34, seriously?).

We ended up ordering several pieces of sushi and several different rolls and started with a seaweed salad.  seaweed salad was more salad (came with tomato and lettuce)  than seaweed although it did have some interesting seaweed varieties that I have never had before and the dressing (maybe ginger peanut?) served on the side was delicious.  Overall I was a bit disappointed as I order a seaweed salad for the seaweed .

Next came our sushi and rolls. After we had put in our order, our server came back to let us know that the chef was out of two of our choices (flounder sushi and yellow tail and scallion roll). They also were out of fresh wasabi. We went with a tuna avocado roll instead and at that point noted that all rolls come rice on the inside. We love rice on the outside and requested this change but did not catch this in time so only the tuna avocado roll came with rice on the outside. And there is an extra charge for this! I don’t understand why its more expensive to make rolls this way but we’ve had up charges at several sushi restaurants for this.

The sushi/rolls were fresh and delicious despite the rice on the inside. Greg tried to flip it inside out but the rice was too sticky. As far as the fish, definitely in the top of sushi restaurants in DC. I generally prefer rolls but the fatty tuna and another white fish were amazing!! We forgot to take a picture until we had eaten most of our meal (it was late, we were hungry and the food was delicious!) but you can get an idea for what we had at dinner.

Our advice – Go Early!!  (Make it to the happy hour at 5 if possible for the best value) With our late reservation,  we were unable to try the tasting menu and the kitchen was out of some of our first choices.  And if you prefer rice on the outside, don’t forget to request this when placing your order.

Bartlett Pear Inn – Best Risotto and Lobster Bisque

Recently Greg and I traveled to Easton, Maryland to try out the Bartlett Pear Inn, ranked #25 in the Washingtonian top 100 very best restaurants (see Washingtonian review here). The Bartlett Pear Inn is located in picturesque downtown Easton. Upon arriving, it felt like we were starting a vacation, although we were there just for dinner. Bartlett Pear Inn was purchased and opened by Chef Jordan Lloyd in 2010. Previously it had been the Inn at Easton. Chef Jordan Lloyd has an expansive resume at only 33 years old including working in the kitchen of Per Se in NYC, a Michelin three star restaurant. Read more about Chef Jordan here.

We tried the seven course tasting menu and it was one of my favorite meals ever and in Greg’s top ten. Here is Greg’s review (also posted on Don Rockwell here):

Me and the misses went to the Bartlett Pear Inn for an early dinner last weekend.  I generally find restaurants in the 2 1/2 to 3 star category to be hit or miss and I hadn’t done any research on the place, so my expectations were tempered.  The Pear blew away my expectations.  I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I didn’t find out until after dinner that Jordan worked at both Citronelle and Per Se. We ordered the 7 course tasting menu, which wasn’t on the menu but our server offered it up.  You can choose each course like a traditional prix fixe, choose some courses, or leave it up to the chef entirely.  We left it up to the chef.

The service was excellent — attentive but not overbearing, and warm but not folksy.  Pacing was good.  Absolutely no negatives to speak of.  We had everything we needed before we needed it without feeling like an army was watching over us.I have a food allergy and the server remembered the entire time, making note of what I couldn’t eat.  That sounds very simple and basic but you’d be surprised how even 3 1/2 star restaurants forget or are oblivious.  

 The tasting menu $78.  No amuse bouche, which I was slightly disappointed in but you can’t complain for the price.  The first course, a beet salad, was very ordinary in my opinion but fine.  The second course was the lobster bisque… and it was the best one I’ve ever had.  It was perfectly seasoned, not too heavy, and it came with a small lobster cake inside the soup.  The third course was an almond crusted sea scallop with succotash.  The scallop was properly cooked and plated with baby corn and other fresh veggies, a basil emulsion and balsamic reduction.  It made for several interesting flavor combinations.  For the fourth course, they did a duck magret breast with duck pastrami, quinoa, box choy and a blackberry-jalapeno gastrique.  I’m not a big fan of duck, but it was incredibly well seasoned and the duck pastrami was really good.  The fifth course was my second favorite and one of the best I’ve ever had.  It was a risotto with burgundy truffles, a Talbot Reserve cheddar cheese, parmesan reggionano and maitake mushrooms.  This was the best risotto I’ve ever had.  The mushrooms and truffles were each incredible and the chunk of cheddar combined with parmesan reggiano put it over the top.  If one were to make the perfect gourmet grilled cheese, it is this dish without the risotto.  Just spectacular.  We then cleansed our palates with what I think was a small basil gelato cone and moved onto the cheese course, which was nothing to write home about but good.  For dessert, they made bananas foster tableside.  The server did an excellent job with it and walked us through each step in the process.  It’s not a terribly difficult dish to make, but it was very good.  Overall, the food was exceptional and the presentation was pretty damn close.  The employees have a great deal of pride and are incredibly invested in the place, much like smaller far-flung outfits like the Inn at Little Washington or the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm.

 One of the 10 best restaurants near DC for me.  The food and service were both top 10 for me.  Maybe even top 5.  I included pictures of the lobster bisque, scallop and the risotto.ImageImage

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Introducing: Tasting DC

Hello! My fiance, Greg, and I are creating this blog to document our culinary adventures in Washington, DC and beyond. One of our shared hobbies is enjoying good food whether it comes from Chipotle or a Michelin three star restaurant (until recently I didn’t know what a Michelin star meant – here’s an overview from Wikipedia). Hope you enjoy reading and have a chance to check out some of our favorites yourself!