We were in Washington DC for but a very short time – just long enough for my wife to spend a day on Capitol Hill, discussing healthcare issues. I only had her for one Dinner, and as we were staying at the St. Regis, kept it simple – an early seating at a favorite restaurant of ours, The Lafayette, in the Hay-Adams Hotel, just across the street.
We were quickly seated by a friendly hostess, and at the same window 4-top, as on our last visit. Do they keep a dossier on me, or was this just coincidence? With the sun setting, looking out onto 16th Street NW, was almost as much fun, as looking around the main dining room of The Lafayette – well, almost. The room is lovely, and elegant, with decorations befitting a stately hotel, in the “shadow” of the White House – refined, understated, and beautiful. While not how I have decorated my home (chrome, black granite, stainless steel, glass (lots, and lots of glass) and red cherry wood everywhere), this is not my avant garde home, but a lovely, and historic fine-dining restaurant.
With menus and wine list in hand, I stopped gazing at the room, 16th street, and even my wife for a bit. Since it had been almost 3 weeks on the road, with “one-night stands” in Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco, with but only a few more days in New Orleans, Biloxi, MS and Buffalo, NY, I wanted to celebrate. We were finally heading home, and for more than a day and a half (the longest we were home in 3 weeks). The wine list at The Lafayette gave me everything that I needed, to start: the Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘13. With this big Chardonnay in our glasses (proper Burgundy balloons), opening up, it was time to dig into the menu.
OK, this might sound like a broken record, if one has read my other reviews of The Lafayette, but we started, just as we have in the past:
Acquerello Risotto w/ English peas, morel and green asparagus and Der Alpen Kase Cheese (split) – as always, this dish was excellent, with perfectly cooked Risotto, and succulent Morels. The Der Alpen Kasse Cheese is such a great accompaniment, that I might be tempted to put it on all my food back home – but that might dilute the joy of having it on the Risotto at The Lafayette.
Chilled Green Asparagus Soup w/ Mine lobster, fresh herbs and crème fraîche – very good, though I am not an Asparagus fan. Wines sort of skirted this dish, but that is the way that it is.
Foie Gras Torchon w/ ginger-pineapple chutney on war brioche – While I am more of a “Seared Foie Gras” fan, The Lafayette does such a nice job, that they might be swaying me over. The Foie Gras was silky, rich and flavorful, in just the right portion size, and the Chutney added a wonderful sweet/tang. The only complaint that I had was that the Brioche was too thin, and not stable enough to hold the Foie Gras. It looked lovely, being so delicate, but from a “structural standpoint,” was just not adequate for its task.
Now, given these dishes, we made an addition to the wines:
Château Les Justices Sauternes ‘10 – great with the Ginger-Pineapple Chutney
Banshee Sonoma County Pinot Noir ‘14 – great with the Morels in the Risotto
Château Fayan Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion ‘12 – very good with my upcoming Main Course
Pan-seared Red Snapper w/ rainbow Swiss chard, tomato confit, green asparagus (I think that my wife got her USDA “Daily allowance of Asparagus”) and carrot purée – perfectly cooked Snapper, with just the right amount of char on one side. The Montrachet, and the Banshee Pinot Noir were obvious winners here.
Pennsylvania Angus Beef Tenderloin w/ caramelized shallot, fingerling potatoes and oyster mushrooms – very well prepared and great with the Saint Emilion, but also the Pinot Noir. Nice dish, and good wines to accompany it.
On this visit, we did not get the Dover Sole for my wife, but then we had just returned from London, so she had reached her limit on that dish. In the past, it has been very good.
We shared a Dessert of Sorbet & Fruit, which was just right. No Cheese Course for us this night. Remember, we still had to walk back across the street, to our hotel.
Our server had worked with us on two previous visits. I guess that he “drew the short straw” that night? He was fun, efficient, cheerful and a pleasure to work with. He had no issues with all the wines that I was ordering, and seemed to enjoy it – heck, he had been through this with us before. Maybe why we always get a 4-top?
It was another wonderful meal. With the tiny exception of the tiny complaint on the Brioche’s thickness, perfect. We will be back, and my tells me that it might be in September. We haved done fine-dining all over Washington DC, and no one is better than The Lafayette – they might equal, but they do not beat them.
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