Fuego, 3 November 2012

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria is a new Mexican restaurant located where Harry’s Tap Room used to reside in Clarendon.  I dropped by there the other night to meet some folks for a birthday party, but after checking out their menu, I thought I should get some dinner there first.

First off, they’ve got some flavorful guacamole.

Some good, flavorful guac.

I went for three orders of soft corn tortilla tacos each ($7 / order of two).  The tacos at Fuego come with three salsas – rojo, habanero, and salsa verde – which went well with all the tacos I tried.

I got orders of the Lengua (slow braised beef tongue), Al Pastor (spit roasted marinated pork and pineapple serrano salsa), Birria (Jalisco-style roasted goat), and Pollo (chicken tinga, shredded lettuce, queso fresco).  The vegetarian I was eating with got the Calabaza version (Yucatán-style roasted squash and spicy pickled red onions).

Beef Tongue Tacos…so good.

Goat Tacos…

Round three – pork and chicken tacos.

To not overdo the taco theme of the evening (although they were all quite tasty – especially the beef tongue), I next ordered the Ceviche de Pescado (Tilapia, habanero, red onion, fresh lime).

Closing it out with a good ceviche.

Fuego offers three-glass flights from their extensive menu of over 110 tequilas.  This time around, I went with a flight of blanco, reposado, and añejo Chinaco.

Substantial amount of tequila options…according to a tweet I received from @FuegoCocina, they’ve got over 110 of them.

Also, great specialty tequila cocktails.  Try the Mala Suerte (habanero infused tequila, triple sec, grapefruit juice, lime juice) or the Gherkin Fresca (Sauza Blue Silver, Hendricks, jalapeño simple syrup, cucumber-lime agua fresca – has a great, fresh, cucumber-y taste).

Mala Suerte…

…and the Gherkin Fresca

I’ll be trying out some of the rest of the menu next time I drop by…I expect it’ll be good.

AGAINN Closing…

I was sorry to read this morning that AGAINN will be closing.  I’m always sad to hear of good places shutting their doors.

I wrote a post about AGAINN a couple of months ago, and since then I had been there for another dinner and a scotch tasting with a selection of their food, both of which were great.

Here’s a few more recent photos from the restaurant.

The Warehouse No. 1, with blood orange and basil-infused Stoli Premyr, Aperol, agave nectar, celery, and Maraschino liqueur. Great cocktail.

 

I wish I remembered what this was….I’m remembering it as ceviche-like. It was recently added to their menu when I last went there, and it was good.

 

The Corned Beef Sliders on super buttery buns. These were excellent.

 

AGAINN had changed the menu up and removed the Pork Belly and Cracklin, which was excellent, but had a new pork belly dish, which came with (I believe) crispy kale. It was good, although I missed that apple mash and black pudding in the previous version.

Another new addition to the menu whose name escapes me. Was a sort of pudding drenched in a scotch sauce (I think). Also good stuff. Couldn’t decide whether I liked this or the Sticky Toffee Pudding more.

 

Lightfoot, 21 October 2012

I’d been to the Lightfoot Restaurant once before about a year ago, and had been meaning to get back there for more.  It’s a little bit of a hike to get out there – they’re located in downtown Leesburg – but well worth the trip.  I took the Ducati up Rt. 7 and parked a couple blocks away in the convieniently free parking garage (which DC and VA should get more of).  I couldn’t get a reservation on OpenTable, so I called to see if they had anything available.  They did, and mentioned their systems were down (a good to-know – always call a restaurant if you can’t get reservations online).  I showed up around 5 PM on a Sunday, and they had plenty of space available.  The restaurant is in the old Peoples National Bank of Leesburg, and some of the bank vaults play into their decor (there’s one in the bathroom, and the dials still work…I may or may not have been trying out the combo lock).

The outside of the restaurant.

Yep, really used to be a bank.

I got three of the same things I had ordered a year prior…I wanted to get a baseline for whether they were still as good as I remembered.

  • Chef Ingrid’s French Onion & Field Mushroom Soup – Best French Onion soup I’ve had.  Comes with croustade, Gruyère, goat cheese, Pecorino Romano, and truffle oil.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes – One of the restaurant’s signature dishes.  These are delicious…jalapeño cheddar cheese, sautéed shrimp, Szechwan chili cream.
  • Slow Braised Pork Shank – Lots of restaurants say their meat falls off the bone.  This literally did.  While Lightfoot provided me with what appeared to be a pretty sturdy knife for this entrée, it was entirely not needed.  The meat was served in a brandy glaze with broccolini and a delicious bread pudding filled with aged cheddar, apple wood smoked bacon, and fresh thyme.

Even if French Onion soup isn’t your thing, you should try this…it’s delicious.

Fried Green Tomatoes is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, and for good reason. It has not at all changed a year later, and is just as good as the first time I tried it.

Gives Tommy Floramo’s a run for their money…this is the Pork Shank that falls off the bone. I had this the first time I went to Lightfoot, and when I asked for a recommendation, my server came right back to this one. Glad I did the repeat.

The first time I stopped in to Lightfoot, my dining companions and I also got the Peking Duck Quesadillas, Meatballs with Butternut Squash, Coconut Cream Cake with Chocolate Ganache, Pumpkin Brownie, Apple Raisin Cranberry Crisp, and the Yukon Potato Encrusted Halibut.  I’m not sure which of those were seasonal or no longer on the menu.  All of those dishes were great, though, and I’d expect that most of the offerings on the menu when you go would be as well.  Make the trip out to Leesburg and try them out…you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Lightfoot Restaurant
11 North King Street
Leesburg, VA 20176
(703) 771-2233
lightfootrestaurant.com

Book on OpenTable – Diners’ Choice Winner (American)

New Additions…

I’ll be having one of these tonight while I see how many restaurant posts I’m behind on writing up.  The Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen appears to be a top-notch brew.  I had the Schlenkerla Weizen at LivingSocial for the Churchkey beer tasting back in July, and it was great…tasted of delicious bacon.  I picked up this brew, and a few others, over at Norm’s Beer and Wine in Vienna…good selection over there.

 

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen

Six-Course Tasting Menu at CityZen, 13 October 2012

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.

Le Menu…six courses with the option for a entree upgrade and a cheese plate.

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.

A canapé to start things off…pumpkin panacotta with a coriander tuile.

The second canapé was CityZen’s take on Chicken Cordon Bleu with Béarnaise.

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.

Focaccia bread.

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 Maine Lobster, Cucumber, and Radish Salad. Nice and refreshing.

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.

Soft Boiled Path Valley Farms Pullet Egg

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.

Swarnadwipa Poached Alaskan Halibut.

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.

Oakleigh Farms Veal and Foie Gras Boudin Blanc.

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.

Grilled Ribeye of Miyazaki Kuroge Beef.

The entrees came out with a small box of buttery Parker House Rolls (read more on them here).

These were perfectly baked…they looked perfect too, before I pulled the four on the side apart before the photo…oops.

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.

Great selection…the recommendation is one from each row for a total of five per plate.

From left to right: Gorgonzola Cremaficato, Epoisses, Hittasau, Robiola Bosina, Hoja Santa.

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 before the dessert.

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.

CityZen’s take on carrot cake…certainly a creative look.

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.

The end-of-meal petit fours, sans one.

CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental
1330 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 787-6148
www.mandarinoriental.com/washington/fine-dining/city-zen/

Book on OpenTable