Washington, DC 20001
I know I shouldn't be so relieved about having my week's worth of work-related dinners end but for f*ck's sake, I don't know if I could take driving into the District at rush hour on a daily basis. If it wasn't for that the week would have been a real blast but traffic here really puts a damper on any mood. Yes, DC does have a metro but it's not the best and hence makes driving more convenient in certain places. Yeah, I just got to go out to dinner every night because of work and I should suck it up. Don't judge. Traffic sucks.
Our last evening out started at a client dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak near the Capitol. Start is a pretty appropriate word since the night started at a 5:30 dinner (I know. WTF.) and ended around 12:30a. It's a bit of blur not because of drinking but because it went on for so goddamn long. We started off with a few cocktails at the bar and the bar at Charlie Palmer's is one of the few bars in DC I've seen that has Blue Coat gin so that immediately got a high five from me. The bartender was also a huge golf fan so sports talk of any kind is never a bad thing especially when the British Open is going on.
There were five of us for dinner including the client so the ordering was chaotic at best. From what I recall, we ordered the Roasted Wild Carolina Shrimp, Roasted Beet and Burrata Salad, and Duo of Beef Tartare and Carpaccio. For entrees, four of us shared the Porterhouse for Two (yeah, it was that big) and our client ordered the Roasted Wellington Farms Chicken. For sides, we got Herbed Roasted Asparagus, the Wild Mushrooms and Onions, Sauteed Spinach and the Yukon Gold Potato Puree. We shared the Tasting of Sorbets and Frozen Custards and the Pecan Chocolate Tart.
Um...I wish I tasted the shrimp but all that got to me was an empty bowl and sheepish looks. The burrata was presented well but felt a little one note with no flavor beyond the creaminess of the cheese and I usually friggin' love burrata. The duo of tartare and carpaccio though may have been our best appetizer (or was it the shrimp? grrrr...). The carpaccio had a nice flavor with a hint of a peppery flavor. The tartare was even better with a nice, earthy creaminess. I just wish I had some toast or other form of crunch with either of them to give me a bit more texture.
The sides weren't spectacular but didn't embarrass. The asparagus were too bathed in butter and probably overcooked a bit. I wish the mushrooms were a little more cooked with just a touch more roasted flavor. I only had a bit of the sauteed spinach and they were nicely sauteed but could have been more seasoned. The potatoes were very nicely buttery and creamy and probably the best of the bunch.
The porterhouse that came out was massive and luckily all of us liked our steak on the medium rare side. The steak had been aged for 21 days and was cooked with lardons, bluefoot chanterelle mushrooms and caramelized pearl onions. I'll be the first to say that I really enjoyed the mushrooms, the bacon (it's bacon!), and the onions on this steak. I especially enjoyed that they included the caramelizing liquid too. But, I'm a bit of a purist. I wish all that stuff was on the side. The steak's flavor got drowned out just a bit and when I did get true bites of the steak, it was pretty amazing. There was a nice char on the outside of it and the middle of the steak was pink, meaty and juicy. I didn't notice there was some left on the loin side since I literally couldn't see over the bone from the strip side so I regret I didn't get a taste of fattier side of the t-bone.
The desserts were probably overkill after a big meal like that. The mix of sorbets and custards were nice and cooling for a hot day. There were nine different types offered and the best of the bunch was the blackberry sorbet. It gave you a nice crunch and tartness that helped with all the surrounding sweetness. The Pecan Chocolate Tart wasn't exceptional except (get it?) for the Maple Bourbon Ice Cream on top. It had a subtle hint of bourbon muskiness which paired nicely with the sweetness of the maple. I wouldn't have complained if the the dessert was just the ice cream.
Our next stop after dinner was a new wine bar just a few blocks down. Tel'veh has only been open for a few weeks but the word must be good because it was pretty packed. They had a pretty substantial wine list and an impressive bank of wine chilling machines behind the bar. I asked if they had something from Italy and was recommended something called Torvino which is similar to an Amarone. The glass of red was full bodied with a hint of tartness and is the kind of wine I've been craving lately. There was also a few shots of Patron Silver involved which are always good. The room itself was this amazing space of glass and wood. the whole dining room was covered in glass from ceiling to floor and overlooked the full corner of Massachusetts Avenue. I hope Tel'veh sticks around because I plan to be back.
We didn't seem to be done for the night and took a trip down to Shelly's Back Room. I wasn't really sure what to expect but what I walked into was an old school cigar house. There was wood paneling, indian heads, walls of cigars, and poker-looking tables everywhere. Oh and smoke. I haven't been in a bar with smoke in a decade. I tried out a Cohiba which was as great as I remember. It was full of flavor and lasted for hours of enjoyment. The beer list was a little mundane but that was probably the point. If we started the night here, the beer list wouldn't have been great. But, we ended the night here so it was just fine.
Overall, it was a fun night in DC. We started at one of the classic steakhouses of the city and had a great steakhouse meal. I probably won't go back but I won't be complaining about it anytime soon. We moved on to a great new wine bar which is a sign of DC's growing gentrification. The room was fantastic and I'd definitely like to spend some more long hours there. The last stop could very well be a DC institution but to us it was basically a cigar and beer joint that helped us sum up a great night out. I'm glad I don't visit too many smoke-filled bars these days but I'm also glad I visited this one.