Chef’s choice: Nina May.
What’s chef’s choice you ask? A fixed menu of 4 items, 2 from the regular menu and 2 from the chef’s imagination that day. But, that isn’t all….it keeps going after 4 choices, for as many as you can eat! Obviously, unless you have some ability to continuously consume one plate after another, 4 will probably do it for most, especially if you are dining solo as I was this night. This place is starting to garner rapid recognition having only been open a few months and offering seasonal, locally sourced food all within 150 miles of DC.
To start, the waitstaff recommend two possible choices for cocktails and I went with the beet juice based one which had strong flora notes likely imparted by the velvet falernum.
The 1st chef’s choice was a salad, not on the menu, of shaved carrots and beets with house yogurt topped with mustard seeds and a pesto of tarragon. Something was quite spicy and it wasn’t the mustard seeds but I finally discovered thinly shaved raw ginger hiding amongst the carrots.
Second up was another non menu item…..and the best of the night…duck confit tortellini with black beans, sweet potatoes and pickled mustard seeds. The carbonara inspired sauce only added to the richness of the dish. It was all delicious. Third up and arriving a bit early…..with the duck….. was the stewed marrow beans from the menu. The dish was beautifully presented an a close second to the duck as my favorite of the night.
Next, you guessed it, was the fourth choice….a roasted chicken dish, again, from the menu. It would have been quite bland after the flavor explosion from the two previous dishes but it was saved by the bread on which it was served. Stuffing like and full of richness.
At this point you will be asked if it is time for dessert or, believe it or not, if you would like to continue! Sadly, I had to go for dessert so as not to make a complete pig of myself. My choice was the smoked s’mores opera cake which made a nice finish to the experience. To go along with the choice, I quired the staff as to a dessert wine option and the general manager presented me with one I’d never heard of before, Cocchi Americano. What is that? Well, it’s an Italian wine based aperitif laced with a bit of quinine…..mildly sweet with a slight but pleasing bitterness. Quite interesting and worth a try if you see it on a menu.
The wine menu, while not overly extensive, had good old and new world choices.
Located in an old home in the Logan Circle/Shaw area of DC, dining is on 2 floors and there is a patio off the 2nd floor which is enclosed and heated in the winter and open in the summer. A late night dinner, under the stars in the summer, would be quite an experience.
Service was over the top.