Well Dined

5May/160

Miami Pt 2 – Fontainebleau Signature Restaurants

Well Dined | Fontainebleau Miami

image courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami

In my last post about our Miami trip, I talked about the Fontainebleau Miami Resort.  But I didn't talk about any of the (numerous) restaurants on the property.  There are a number of casual spots on the property, which I will talk about later.  Then there are the four upscale "Signature Restaurants", which are the subject of this post.

First up is Stripsteak by Michael Mina, the most upscale restaurant at the resort.  We are fans of Bourbon Steak (also by Mina) here in DC, so we were pretty excited to try this out.  The space is pretty and modern, with a really cool glass wine room (and a really good wine list to go with it).

Well Dined | Stripsteak Miami

Like Bourbon Steak, Stripsteak serves buttery truffle rolls as it's complementary bread.  So friggin good.  Just give me 8 loaves.  Also like Bourbon Steak, like the appetizers are on point.  We ordered a burrata, asparagus, and duck prosciutto salad; a trio of oysters with salmon roe, paddlefish roe, and uni; and seared foie gras with strawberries, pickled fennel, and macadamia nut.  They were all delicious, especially the foie.

31Mar/150

Inn at Little Washington – Birthday Surprise

You guys - I have a computer again!  Yay!!!  We are still in the process of settling in, but I at least have a place to post from now.  Right before we moved was my 30th birthday, and I was kind of bummed because I had wanted to do a big trip to New York but the timing with the new house meant that we couldn't.  Jasper told me that he was going to plan a smaller trip to a surprise location, so right in the middle of packing we hopped in the car and head to... The Inn at Little Washington!  What a great surprise!

Well Dined | Inn at Little Washington

Welcome Cocktails

It also worked out nicely as a pre-anniversary trip because it was almost to our 5 year wedding anniversary!  I can't even believe it - time flies!

Well Dined | Inn at Little Washington

We arrived just in time for afternoon tea, which was lovely.  Both the sweet and savory bites were delicious and I love that they make all of their own accompaniments.  I had a delicious caramel tea that I ended up buying from the store because it was so good.

25Feb/150

Volt – Valentine’s Day Menu

I know I've been really slow in posting, but that's been because of traveling and (drumroll please) buying a house! We are in the process of moving and decorating and all of that, so posting will still be delayed for a bit.  But then I expect to be back in full swing, and with a much better photo set-up.  So until then, here is a review of the Valentine's Day menu at Brian Voltaggio's Volt in Frederick, MD.

We've been wanting to try out Volt for years, in particular their Table 21 chef's table, but just never made it.  But we finally made a commitment and braved the icy conditions and  hour drive to come for Valentine's Day dinner.  We were a little disappointed to see that they did not offer valet, especially because of the weather, but we were able to find street parking 1 block away (free after 5 on Sat).  The decor is sophisticated and clean, and the staff are very professional.

For the holiday, they had a 7-course prix fixe menu with optional wine pairing (7 2oz pours).  The pacing was perfect, as was the amount of food - just enough to allow you to explore the flavors, but not enough to grow tired of the dish. I wasn't struggling to finish at the end like with some tasting menus.  I was driving, so my husband ordered the wine pairing and I had a sip with each course to test the pairing. They were all excellently paired, though my favorites were the whites in the beginning.

Amuse Bouche - oyster with salmon tartare, "tartar sauce", dill. Paired with Sparkling Rose.

Beets, burrata, celery, lemon - very nice, bright, fresh. Paired with Gruner Veltliner (Austria).

Black bass, sunchoke, apple, fennel - very interesting, German flavors I would normally pair with pork or chicken, perfectly cooked. Paired with Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre).

Lobster, celery root, abalone mushroom - lovely, perfectly cooked. Paired with Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast).

Foie Gras, truffles, arugula, salsify - a decadent mousse, the favorite course. Paired with Pinot Noir (Ladoix) - we were concerned when we saw this on the menu, because we thought the foie would be seared, and we prefer it with Sauternes.  But the light Pinot was actually perfect with the chilled mousse.

Beef short rib, coffee, chocolate, guajillo - described as a take on mole, each of our least favorite course, but still good (just not as good as the other courses). Paired with a Granche blend (Chateaneuf du Pape) - also our least favorite wine (but again, still good).

Dried cherry, elderflower vinegar, buttermilk - pretty cool, a cherry macaron frozen with liquid nitrogen and shattered with a St Germain gelee (yum) and a sweet buttermilk. Loved this. Paired with a Rose (CA).

Almond cake, banana, caramel, yogurt - wasn't impressed by this one. The cake was moist, and sitting on creme anglaise, but there wasn't a ton of flavor and I didn't think the caramelized banana frozen yogurt (good on its own) went with it very well. Paired with a Sauternes.

We were also each given a box of 4 chocolates (2 of which were awesome, 2 of which were okay) and I was given a rose.

I was very impressed by the food, the service, and the price - very reasonable.  I also really liked the atmosphere - old townhouse turned serene and modern inside.  I would love to come back and try Table 21 (but not when the weather is that bad - nightmare).

20Nov/140

Atelier Crenn – San Francisco

While we were in San Francisco visiting family, Jasper and I wanted to have a nice date night to ourselves to try one of the many Michelin rated restaurants.  We choose Atelier Crenn, a 2-star restaurant with a seasonal and locally sourced menu written in the form of a poem.  Yes, it is a little bit silly and pretentious to present your menu as a poem, but chef/owner Dominique Crenn seems to have some reasons for doing it.  Crenn hails from Versailles, France, where her father had a painting workshop (called an "atelier").  She considers her restaurant to be her own artist's studio (hence the name), with the plate as a blank canvas, and the ingredients as the paint.  So perhaps we can consider it to be more artsy than pretentious.  And it did provide a fun game to try and figure out what would be in the next course based on the poem.

From the website: "Poetic Culinaria: Atelier Crenn, a painting. An empty white canvas. With tools... a brush, paint and a vision, creativity is given its breath. Here, from this place, the artist can suggest emotion. A lasting moment from childhood... little drawers of heartbeats."

Crenn seems to be inspired by her childhood and her father, whose paintings decorate the restaurant.  Playfulness and nature are the overriding themes of the menu we received, which I have copied below:

Summer has come and is full of sweet surprises
Under the midnight glow, I can taste the sweetness of the sea,
hear mellow serenades of colors licorice and orange
I touch the earth and play
Where the broad ocean leans against the Spanish land,
I remember an oceanic feeling
Here, the earth proffers its juicy, vermilion gifts
and above, the half moon floats, silky and smoky
In its cool, milky light,
the forest still radiant with possibility
Nature rejoice! chasing childhood memories
Feeling the black sand under my toes, I dreamed of
these creatures' languid movements
Walking deep in the woods, as the earth might have something to spare
bird song, see the water rippling from their visit
a token of the summer
Summer has come, the sea beckons
sweetness, bounty, thanks

12Jan/140

Holiday Roadtrip Restaurant Reviews

Well Dined | Inn at Biltmore Estate

We had two different events planned in two different states in the weeks before Christmas: a weekend-long birthday party in the Outer Banks and a family get-together in Nashville, TN.  We decided it would be fun to connect the events via a long roadtrip, stopping at the Biltmore Estate in NC before continuing on to TN.  Biltmore is HUGE.  The house is the largest privately owned house in the US, and the grounds cover 8000 acres.  It takes 30 minutes to get from the Inn on the property to the house.

Well Dined | Inn at Biltmore Estate

We stayed for two nights at the Inn, which is a really nice hotel and spa.  They were all decked out for Christmas, and had a gingerbread house replica of the Inn.  There are multiple restaurants on the Estate - we ate at the Inn Dining Room the first night, and like it so much we decided to eat there the second night too!

The Dining Room is seasonal, farm-sourced fine dining.  I really liked their small plates and respectful treatment of produce.  The amuse bouche was a different cream based vegetable veluote both nights and they were both outstanding.  I could have eaten a bowl of that for dinner and been happy.

My favorite dish was the fried brussels sprouts with a farm egg, frisee, and bacon.  This is seriously the BEST brussels sprouts dish I have ever had.  It was eye-rolling good.  I ordered it both nights and asked for the recipe, which they gave me!  I'll post it at the bottom.

Another standout was the roasted corn and lobster soup with piquillo peppers.  This has been added to my list of favorite lobster dishes, and is in the top 3 lobster bisques for sure.

The pork belly with apple tart and goat cheese ravioli appetizers were also very good and I would highly recommend them.  The gnocchi with brie, figs, and bacon was not enjoyable, though.  The brie overpowered everything else and the bacon was way too salty.  It sounded great on paper, but didn't work.

The artisan meat and cheese platter was very satisfying, with lots of variety and good portions.  I didn't order any entrees, and Jasper ordered specials both nights.  He really enjoyed the seafood special the first night, but did not like the steak special the second night.

Overall, the good outweighs the bad here and I would recommend trying it out if you are ever in the area.

28Aug/130

Marcel’s – with pics!

I have written about Marcel's before, but not extensively enough considering it is our special occasion place.  It is where Jasper proposed to me (and I said yes) and where we spend most of our anniversaries and New Year's.  It's also where we go every time we see a show at the Kennedy center.  The provide a special Pre-Theater menu (though you can also do 3 or 4 courses off of the tasting menu), make sure that you get out on time, and provide a car service to and from the theater - brilliant!  They also have just the best people working there - from Adnane Kebaier, the Maitre d' who always greets us by our names and seems happy to see us (here is an interesting interview with him about the ins and outs of the job), to Moez Ben Achour, the fabulous Sommelier, and especially our usual server, Jonathan Crayne, who is also the Senior Captain - everyone is just amazing.  Anyway, I've never been able to show you photos of their food because it's usually very dark by the time we get there.  But we recently went for a Pre-Theater (for Book of Mormon, which is HILARIOUS by the way) and because it is summer, the sun was still out!  So I am able to show you some of the gorgeous dishes from our favorite restaurant!

Well Dined | Marcel's Restaurant

An amuse bouche from the chef - smoked salmon with creme friache, chives, and caviar.

Well Dined | Marcel's Restaurant

An elegant take on Crab Louis - crab, avocado, and tomato gelee with remoulade.

Well Dined | Marcel's Restaurant

Alaskan salmon - smoked in house - with red onion, chives, pine nuts, and croutons.

Well Dined | Marcel's Restaurant

The melt-in-your-mouth signature dish - Boudin Blanc.  This is our absolute favorite, we both order it every single time (even though they have started adding a $12 supplement).  It is a white poultry sausage that is more like a mousse - so light and creamy, but also rich.  It usually comes in a truffle sauce of some sort - this time with bits of foie gras in it!

Well Dined | Marcel's Restaurant

Steak with mushrooms, potato puree, bone marrow.  This was Jasper's entree so I don't know much about it except that he let me eat the marrow.

IMG_0143

We both ordered the same dessert - peach souffle with peach ice cream and blueberry sauce.  You can't get more summery than that!

I'm so glad I was finally able to share photos with you from a place that is so special to us!

20Apr/120

Bourbon Steak (top 100 – 2010, 2011, 2012)

We had been meaning to try out Michael Mina's signature restaurant, Bourbon Steak, for quite a while, and when we finally did we were not disappointed - except by the steak.

We started out in the lounge, where we perused their massive and innovative cocktail list.  I had the 1919, with aperol, grapefruit bitters, prosecco, and a sugar cube - a perfect aperitif.  There were many more drinks on the list that I would love to try as well; we might have to come back for an evening at the bar.