Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Restaurant Week 2011 - Washington, D.C.

Is there anything better than being able to sample a city's best chefs and restaurants at an economical price? I think not! Thank God for whomever invited "Restaurant Week"! As a DC native, I am proud of the eclectic variety available in the nation's capitol. Smell, gaze and embrace my food reviews during one of the best culinary weeks of the year. First up...Vidalia.

As a veteran to the restaurant industry, Vidalia tackled a demanding downtown DC when it opened its doors in 1993. As a recipient of the James Beard award, Jeffrey Buben's approach with Vidalia is American traditional with flair. The split-level restaurant transforms you with waterfall-washed windows and zen-like fixtures.

The pre fixe menu offers a great sense of the restaurant's capabilities. Naturally there is a central focus on the coveted vegetable: Vidalia onions. We were greeted with a bread basket of cornbread and focaccia onion bread and a ramekin of onion marmalade. A flattering introduction and usage of the garden great.

We selected the Berkshire Pork Posole and Five Onion Soup as an appetizer. The posole garnered all the qualities of a well-balanced and well-developed stew. The roasted pulled pork was bathed in a red broth with tender white hominy. It was cleverly topped with shredded purple cabbage and fresh cilantro which offered texture contrast and bright flavor. The five-onion soup was a nice spin on the original. A cream base of white corn puree gave a silken residue of flavor on your tongue. The house-made amish cheddar puffs gave the soup just the crunch it needed.

Moving on to the entrees, we selected the Atlantic Salmon and Shrimp and Grits. It is so easy to overcook salmon when trying to create a seared skin. It was nice to have a properly cooked piece. The surprising star of the dish were the lentils basking in a foie gras butter. Atop the salmon were brillantly seasoned Maitake mushrooms and it was finished with a red wine jus. Shrimp and grits was my back up entree as they were out of the Duck leg confit. I typically like a more grained grit but this puree of grits packed a composition of flavor notes and nicely seasoned shrimp. If they had induced more flavor into the shrimp, they could have eliminated the "sea after taste" with which I was left.

I finished with a southern staple: Georgia pecan pie and vanilla bean ice cream. Nothing to necessarily right home about, but it was delightful in texture, taste and decadence.

Well done Vidalia... 3 forks up!