Sunday, May 29, 2011

701 Restaurant — Contemporary Elegance

I'm beginning to learn all about elegance.  Actually, most of the time, I think I'm one elegant cat!  Here's my official portrait being submitted to the National Portrait Gallery in DC.

"Elegant Cat" by Clawed Monet III
      We chose 701 because it’s part of the same DC restaurant group as the Oval Room, which was booked for that night.  (It’s a group similar to the Buckhead group in Atlanta).  The main draw for us was that 701 had a $30 pre-fixe theatre dinner menu which, when added up à la carte, would have been around $50 otherwise.  Dale wasn’t as hungry since we’d had a late lunch, but food hasn’t stopped us in the past and we decided not to let it do so this time.

Lounge Area
      We arrived around 5:20 and were seated in the lounge area.  It’s an aqua and chocolate dream cloud of a space (Candice Olsen of Divine Design and Candice Tells All would see her influence here) with new age techno lite music (the aural equivalent of color field painting).  It’s very soothing and the staff is both attractive and gracious (that’s a killer combination and less likely than one might think even in an upscale restaurant).  

The Contemporary Dining Room
      Dale ordered a glass of the house Riesling, which I thought was as sweet as a Gewürtztraminer, with a slight effervescence that she hadn’t expected.  The restaurant generously gave us a short flute of
a semi-dry sparkling white because we were first-timers, which if Dale had known probably would have precluded her ordering the other glass.  It was the only hitch in a perfectly served dinner (plates arrived at the same time, served and removed simultaneously, discretion in timing because our main server knew we were headed to the theatre).

Strawberry and Tuscan Kale Salad

      The food was cutting edge New American with some Asian touches that have become de rigeur at a restaurant of this quality.  Dale had the Strawberry and Tuscan Kale salad with a full-bodied vinaigrette.  It was a beautiful plate and she really enjoyed the play of the fruit with the bacon.

Chilled Asparagus Soup
Bourbon Brined Pork Steak
Neil ordered the Chilled Asparagus Soup, which was topped with an asparagus flavored olive oil.  Full of the vegetable’s flavor and bound by cream, this was simultaneously light
Flash Seared Blue Marlin
and filling.  He then had the Bourbon Brined Pork Steak, which looked like a T-Bone and was extremely meaty.  Actually, it was a very large portion of meat and perfectly cooked – tender, but neither red nor bleeding – served with a sweet potato purée heightened with chipotle seasoning, spinach, and dried pineapple.  It looked candied, but wasn’t overly sweet. 

Halibut with Potato "Chowder"
I had the Flash Seared Blue Marlin with grilled ramps (a green) and a pepper sauce.  This was akin to four pieces of sushi.  Again, this was a visually arresting plate, but the fish was less cooked than I would have liked for pieces that were larger than I’m used to with sushi.  (This is a generous restaurant).  My entrée was the Haddock with Potato ‘Chowder’.  The fish was some of the best I’ve had in the past couple of years.  Smartly, it was served on a bed of leeks, house cured lardo (i.e. small bacon chunks), and cubed, sautéed potatoes with a light broth.  The cream for the chowder was served separately and could be poured on.  

Banana Pudding Pie
      Neil and I both ordered the Banana Pudding Pie for dessert that was served with chocolate ice cream, and phyllo hay over it.  This looked, tasted, and was spectacular.
Bravo, 701!



RuninDC said...

We have used your reviews of this restaurant on my foodie website


Who is Dexter? said...

You're welcome, Chito!