Sunday, September 6, 2009

Restaurant Week Aug '09 Part 3

Considering that this is the third and final post in regards to restaurant week in the summer of 2009, I hope everyone isn't expecting much. Similarly to the film industry, trilogies are rarely good and I will warn everyone that this post will likely follow suit.

That being said, and now that all 5 of my readers have stopped, I'll make sure I put in as much effort in this post as the two others.

Cue (Thanks Robby) Charlie Palmer Steak.

If you have heard of this place but had NO idea where it was, then you'd fill the exact shoes I was in. I've heard of this elusive Charlie Palmer several times when speaking of the best steak houses in the city. It fills the list with others such as Bobby Van's, District Chophouse, Smith & Wollensky.

Located off of Constitution and 1st Avenue, it is just a block away from our nation's Capitol building. Walking into the lobby, you get the distinct feel that this is an upscale establishment. You walk into an expansive opening with a bar directly ahead of you. There are several small tables and booths along the side of the restaurant for those who are just drinking at the bar. The bar itself is long and narrow, filled with people that are way more important than me. Beers are served in glasses although they had no drafts. Clear sign of what kind of place this is. Another clear indication was the extensive scotch selection that they have on display. For some reason, when I think of Capitol Hill and lobbyists, I think of Scotch drinkers. We thought about getting a drink at the bar, but it was overly crowded and my attire was not pressed enough for me to feel comfortable with the other clientele, so we hopped down the block to My Brother's Place.

Fast Forward and its 730 and time for our reservation. Walking past the host's station, you walk down a small hallway that opens up to the rest of the restaurant. It's surprising how large this place really is. The tables were placed far apart so that conversations could remain quiet, a positive for important politicians I'm sure. The hallway is actually created as a corridor between the wine room. It's actually slightly raised and acts as a bridge over an internal pond of sorts which adds to the ambiance. The open room is well lit with nice artwork and designs that add to the experience. The general manager stopped by our table which was a very nice gesture. He provided us with business cards and said to be sure to call if we plan on another visit. Although it was obvious that we were younger folk that probably don't head to these dinners often and was clearly there for restaurant week, I respect it. It's the little things with me, I've said that my entire life.

The meal begins.

Sadly, I won't be able to provide as many details since the restaurant's website doesn't have the menu up any longer. That being said, I started with a Chilled Local Corn Soup. I talked about it before, but I would have to reiterate the quality of a great soup. I don't order them often, but it was quite tasty. The Maryland Blue crab was a delicious addition that was subtle and not overpowering. Any good bisque comes down to consistency and this chef had it spot on. There was a small dab of tarragon added which provided a nice balance of color and balance. The entree was a roasted sirloin with thinly sliced small potatoes. The dish isn't on their everyday menu and sadly, this is for good reason. While the cut of meat was good and the steak was prepared well, it wasn't something that screamed eat me. It was previously discussed amongst my friends of whether or not steak places are really the best establishments for restaurant week. There is no need to really showcase your restaurant because a good steak is a good steak, no nouveau fusions of flavors and foods necessary. You got your beef. You got your potato. You got your dish. That simple. The dessert turned out to be some sort of raspberry soup that looked much better than it actually was.

Would I go back? Probably. I don't think that I really had a dish that was representative of how good of a steak this restaurant can prepare, but at the same time, the restaurant is very well put together. I am left with mixed feelings. The one aspect that did 'wow' me was the fact that they had a portion of their wine menu that was called '25 for under 25' in which they listed 25 bottles of wine for $25 or less. What was really nice about this was that there were bottles that were even cheaper than $25. It was a very nice, unexpected touch to a high-end dinner. If you're going to spend $37 on a steak, it doesn't mean you necessarily want to spend $83 on a bottle of wine.

So that was it. All 3 of my restaurant week experiences. My friends and I discussed the idea of going to a nice dinner once a month that way we can try out more of these nice restaurants more often. I like the sound of it so perhaps I'll be able to do more of these restaurant write-ups. Don't everyone jump for joy at once...


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