Thursday, January 24, 2008

You may go down to the garden...

My favorite meal for this Restaurant Week was dinner at Poste in Penn Quarter. Though I've been to their bar many times, I had yet to have a full meal. Poste is a good bar to go to in Penn Quarter, particularly in late spring and early summer - they have fantastic open space in Hotel Monaco's back courtyard right by Chef Weland's herb garden, which inspires many of their unique drinks (try the Lavender Margarita - it stays closer to the spirit of the Mexican cocktail of choice more than any of those frozen mango concoctions). Patrons can pick from a well-rounded bar menu (truffle frites are always a hit) and be well served even as they opt out of the sit-down experience. I'll look at the table section with some longing next time I go to the bar.

The Restaurant Week menu featured selections from the dinner menu and the specials for that night were a lamb dish (with a $7 additional charge) and a scallop and pork belly dish (no extra charge, but the portion was smaller). Instead of wine we opted for cocktails, since it seemed to be the thing to do for a late Friday night dinner. Si. and So. had the aforementioned lavender margaritas and I had a lemon basiltini. I love aromatics in cocktails, but the champagne was more fizzy than sparkly and the overall result was not as sophisticated a cocktail as I've come to expect from Poste. The fresh basil on top of my glass, however, was the promise of things to come.

For first course, Si. had the Arugula and pomegranate salad, which she declared to be well presented and dressed but nothing too special. So. had the foie gras on toasted brioche, it was smoky and creamy but also firm. I had the celeriac soup, presented on a highball glass (I spooned the foam and sipped the rest). The soup was outstanding, with shrimp, smoked bacon and truffles. It will be difficult not to order it every single time I go there.

For second course, Si. ordered Chef Weland's famous chicken. I was tempted to order it, especially after reading the piece the Washington Post ran about him, but I figured she would let me sneak a bite. The organic free range chicken comes with farro, sweet corn, chanterelles and celery root, and I can safely say it has ruined all other chickens for me. So. ordered the stripped bass with guanciale and corn and clam chowder. It was an interesting combination and the fish was perfectly cooked. I had the smaller portion of the seared scallops with pork belly, parsley root and dandelion. The pork belly was spectacular - crispy but juicy, and a perfect counterpoint to the scallop.

Our waiter - polite, but with too many tables to handle at once - told us that the bad news was that the kitchen had run out of the Pot de Creme So. and I had ordered. The other option on the Restaurant Week Menu was a Gingerbread Cake with pears and hazelnut ice-cream, but we were told that we could order anything on the dessert menu. After careful consideration, we wound up picking the same thing, a Chocolate Macaron Sundae. Macarons from Dalloyau are one of my favorite things, and pistachio is one of the most traditional fillings. Seeing a giant half-macaron (for French standards anyway) served with braised pineapple and pistachio ice cream was a wonderful merging of American proportions and textures with a French classic.

Great food and a wonderful value for Restaurant Week. I can't wait for someone to come visit to have an excuse to go for dinner again.

Poste Moderne Brasserie
555–8th Street, NW
Washington DC 20004
Poste on Urbanspoon

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