It’s been some time since I’ve gone to a prix fixe dinner, so on Saturday I headed over to CityZen for their six-course offering. I had previously made it to CityZen for a special ten-course chef’s table social, which had been excellent, and I wanted to see how they normally stack up.
The dinner began with a glass of champagne and two canapés. Both set the scene for the rest of the evening, and showcased chef Eric Ziebold’s creativity.
I was a fan of the offered focaccia bread. A little more salt and pepper than most, but it worked well, with just the right amount of moistness. A couple other types were offered, including ciabatta and what looked like a wheatier option.
The first course was the Maine Lobster, Cucumber, and Radish salad, served with a Greek Yogurt Sorbet, Turmeric Vinaigrette, and a Cumin Tuile…cool and refreshing, with chunks of lobster meat for an interesting twist. Paired with a 2011 Albariño Rias Baixas Esencia Diviña from Adegas Gran Vinum.
The next course up was the Soft Boiled Path Valley Farms Pullet Egg, with Brioche Pain Purdue and a Porcini Mushroom Velouté. The mushroom and egg combination worked well together, and the brioche came in handy for sopping up the delicious sauces accumulated at the end of the course. This dish was paired with a 2010 Chardonnay from Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaut.
Next up – Swarnadwipa Poached Alaskan Halibut, served with Young Coconut, Lemongrass Mousse, and Roasted Corn Consommé. The fish was light with a smokey flavor, which contrasted well with the lemongrass. The 2011 La Meriana Gavi di Gavi from Broglia, with its front-loaded peach notes, complimented the dish well.
The halibut was followed up by the Oakleigh Farms Veal and Foie Gras Boudin Blanc, served with Mission Figs, Baby Leeks, Darden Ham, and a Hyssop-Red Wine Gastrique. Those of you who follow this site may have noticed my love for all things duck, and this dish was an excellent rendering. As it was boudin blanc, the foie gras was sausage-like, and stuffed with the tasty veal. The red that accompanied it, a 2009 Corvina, Molinara, Rondimella Ripasso Superiore from Degani.
After all that, I hit the entree. This particular evening, there was an upgrade available…for an additional $50, you could change the main course, regularly an Herb Roasted Elysian Fields Lamb Ribeye, with a well-marbled Grilled Ribeye of Miyazaki Kuroge Beef, served with Potato Bone Marrow, Beef Tartare, Roasted Scallions, and Sundrid Tomato Panade. Naturally, I did that (while my dining companion went with the lamb). Both were excellent and quite different dishes, although the supplemental price increase was steep. Both dishes paired with a 2008 Torroja Des de Dins blend of Grenache/Cab/Syrah from Mayol Viticultors.
The entrees came out with a small box of buttery Parker House Rolls (read more on them here).
An artisanal cheese course was also available with the tasting for a supplemental $15, and is well worth it. CityZen provides amble options for your cheese plate, as seen in the following photos, including a few that will be picked up soon by me for some cheese plates at home. My companion did an excellent job picking out winners: Hoja Santa, a Texas goat cheese from Mozzarella Company; Robiola Bosina, a northern Italian sheep/cow mix; Hittisau, an Alsace cow cheese; Époisses de Bourgogne (the winner of the evening), a cow cheese from Burgundy, and Gorgonzola Cremificato, another cow cheese, from Italy. As I expressed to our fantastic head server, Nicole, this was perhaps the best cheese plate I’ve had in the DC area.
BUT WAIT! The dinner was not yet finished. Before the dessert was brought out, CityZen provided a palate-cleansing entremet of pickled melon with a light sorbet (the type of which now escapes me, although I recall it being herbal/vegetable in nature - perhaps cucumber?)
The dessert, Spiced Path Valley Carrot Cake, with Vanilla-Cream Mousse, Candied Walnuts, and Cream Sorbet, was a playful take on one of my personal favorite desserts, but the tastes left no doubts about what it was supposed to be. Dessert was paired with a delicious Muscadet from di Lenardo that goes by the name “In My Next Life I’ll Be Thin, Pass The Cookies!” which should probably be my signature bottle, based on its title.
The meal ended with a set of six mignardises to enjoy while taking care of the bill. For this meal, that broke down as $120 per person for the six-course tasting, $85 per for the sommelier’s pairing, $50 if going for the entree upgrade, and $15 for a cheese course – within normal bounds for a high-end tasting menu in the DC-area. I’d recommend it as a top-notch special occasion or date spot.- CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental 1330 Maryland Ave, SW Washington, DC 20024 (202) 787-6148 www.mandarinoriental.com/washington/fine-dining/city-zen/