Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ladies who Lunch

Tucked away behind the Four Seasons Hotel, facing one of the less picturesque sections of the C&O Canal, Executive Chef David Varley and his staff keep an extensive herb garden. This fragrant landscaping, scheduled to be moved up to the roof in a few months, serves as a reminder that one of the many pleasures in Georgetown is slowing down to smell the flowers, or in this case, varietals. If you are persuaded to stay, the steps will lead you to the Four Season's renovated patio - complete with bar menu, ample shade, and fire pits.

The charms of the patio could not negate that it was, in fact, high noon in August. Bourbon Steak, Michael Mina's outpost in the District, is at the end of the hotel's lobby, it's dining room flowing into the bar and the aforementioned patio. A group of us were there to sample offerings from the Lunch menu. We started with a house cocktail - peach schnapps, house made peach syrup, bourbon, and a touch of basil. I am not much of a bourbon drinker (or whisky, for that matter) and was pleasantly surprised with its ability to be mixed into a refreshing summer drink other than a mint julep. As we waited for our orders to be taken, a trio of duck fat fries (from the Lounge menu) were brought out, with ketchup, barbeque sauce and horseradish sauce as condiments. A few cast iron skillets dotted the table, holding savory rolls with truffle butter that were piping hot and very fragrant.

I started with the chilled white gazpacho, served table side. This is an almond soup, thicker and creamier than a traditional gazpacho, that couples grapes with cucumbers, offsetting the distinct but delicate tastes of almonds and garlic. Toasted almonds and basil gave it some depth. For my main course, I had seared yellow tuna in a deconstructed version of a Nicoise Salad. The tuna, sliced into two portions over green olive tapenade, dominated the plate (if you prefer a lot of green on your plate, go for the Shrimp salad), and the kitchen's attention to detail was evident right down to the placement of a boiled quayle egg and two fresh anchovies. For wine, we had a Dry Moscatel from Malaga, a citrusy white, and an excellent shiraz.

I am always weary of ordering dessert at steak restaurants, but the beautiful tropical panna cotta (topped with a whirl of avocado) was a thing of beauty. The coconut candy bar, pictured, is the kitchen's take on an Almond Joy (a fresh made Almond Joy, that is), topped with milk chocolate a smoky and salty praline caramel. It would give Central's Kit Kat Bar a run for its money in the "Homage to Candy from our Childhood" Category.

A wonderful meal in a beautiful space.

Bourbon Steak on Urbanspoon
Bourbon Steak @ The Four Seasons Hotel view menu
2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

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