Friday, December 9, 2011

Equinox, DC

Equinox is a beautiful, fine dining establishment located in the heart of DC that focuses on Mid-Atlantic cuisine. The chef, Todd Gray, trained with the best at the Culinary Institute of America and has a long list of awards and accolades behind him. It is no wonder that he was voted Chef of the Year at the 2011 Rammy Awards, which honor achievements and excellence in the DC-area restaurant industry.

When people ask me where to go for a special occasion, I almost always recommend Equinox as their superior service, romantic atmosphere, and stunningly exquisite cuisine make this restaurant one of the top restaurants in DC. Not to mention that Todd's wife and co-owner of the Equinox, Ellen Kassoff Gray, is vegetarian so Todd has had plenty of opportunities to cook fine vegetarian cuisine. To top it off, he actually enjoys cooking vegan meals and is happy to accommodate vegans on a regular basis. It is for all of these reasons that Equinox is one of my favorite restaurants in DC.

This particular night was my birthday and I was excited to spend it at Equinox even though Todd, himself, wasn't cooking that night. Todd and Ellen also own Muse at the Corcoran and Watershed so they are incredibly busy people.  On this particular Friday night, it was unusually empty due to Rosh Hashanah so we had most of the dining room to ourselves. We were seated at one of their two booths -- my favorite place to sit. The decor is simple, yet elegant with a modern feel. The dining room is all white with a textured wall and a beautiful atrium. The entire dining room was remodeled following an unfortuate kitchen fire in early 2010 and has been much improved since then.

We took a look at the vegetarian tasting menu (priced at $65 per person) and immediately inquired about the vegan options. There is always a vegetarian tasting menu, which can be modified to be made vegan upon request. I recommend just letting them know that you are planning to dine vegan when you book your reservation. They said that in order to veganize the vegetarian tasting menu, they'd be modifying most of the dishes stated on the menu and entirely replacing another. We were happy with that. We also chose the wine pairing.

Our first course was the Middleburg Chestnut Soup that had a base of pureed chestnuts with compressed apples and celery root. It had a woodsy wintery taste to it. This was paired with a Pinot Grigio from Oregon.

The second course was a salad consisting of bitter arugula greens with fire-roasted squash. The peppery arugula paired with the soft roasted squash was delightful especially with the accent of the plantain chip.

The third course was one of my favorites. It was a nice combination of eggplant and fresh green beans in a rich romesco sauce. The accents were a grilled baby corn and grilled romaine, which went well with the dish. It was paired with a Pinot Noir from Monterey.

The fourth course was my other favorite (because I can't choose one and don't care to) -- it was a delicious toasted barley risotto with roasted chanterelles, Brussels sprouts petals, and black truffle vinaigrette.  If there is one dish that is consistently excellent at Equinox, it is their risottos. They are always delicious. The wine pairing was an appropriately spicy Tempranillo.

For dessert, we were served delicate, thinly sliced, apples with fresh pear sorbet topped with roasted pine nuts and pear compote. This was excellence defined. The pairing was a Muscat blend -- a sweet wine, which complemented the sweet compote.

This experience, like all the others, lived up to my expectations as I only expect the best from Todd and his chefs. Equinox is one of just a few fine dining establishments that offer vegan options in DC and is a must eat-at restaurant for anyone coming through the area. Highly recommended.

818 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 331-8118

Equinox on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. The food presentation is very appealing just like those at the Long Island catering halls. I want to try their vegan options soon.