Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Equinox, DC #2

Zach's father was coming into town for a day and Zach wanted to impress him with a good vegan meal. His father had recently mentioned that he was trying to eat more vegetarian meals and we wanted to show him how good they really could be. So we made reservations at one of my favorite restaurants in DC -- Equinox, which is owned by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray. Todd hired a new Executive Chef, Karen Nicolas, who was recently named among Food & Wine magazine's 2012 Best New Chefs in America.  I was impressed with the meal Karen prepared for me last time and was excited to see what she had in store for us this night.

Although our reservations were for 7 p.m., I headed over a little early to grab a pre-dinner drink.  They have a small bar that is tended to by Johnny, the resident bartender. I ordered the Lemon Drop made with Absolut Citron. It was yummy. I was itching for a snack and when I discovered that the nuts on the bar were honey roasted and mentioned to Johnny that I didn't eat honey, he fished his own private stash of Virginia peanuts out and shared them with me. What a great guy!

Zach arrived soon after I did. He ordered a drink, then we went to take a seat at a table. Once Zach's father arrived, we ordered a bottle of the Dobbes Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley (2009) -- a fine selection.

While not a vegan restaurant, Karen can whip up a 5-course vegan menu with short notice and I was excited to see what selections we'd have to choose from. Come to find out that four of the items on the menu either were vegan or could be slightly modified to be vegan so she only had to construct one off-the-menu plate out of all five.  Pleased with the menu selections, we all went with the 5-course tasting menu.

For our first course, we chose the Citrus Marinated Rainbow Beets. The salad was arranged in three dollops of red and golden marinated beets with micro greens and thinly sliced radishes in a rhubarb compote. The sweet beets were complemented by salty carmelized macadamia nuts. This salad had some bold flavors.

For the second course, we chose the Roasted Thumbelina Carrots. Upon first glance, I realized this was a type of carrot I'd never seen!  These cute little roasted carrots were served with baby bok choy and ginger and smeared with golden raisin puree over cardamom almond soil. The flavors were divine!  I've never been so impressed with a carrot dish in my life. Zach and his father also loved this dish.

For the third course, we chose the Braised Artichoke Hearts "En Barigoule" (a term that refers to artichoke hearts paired with mushrooms in a traditional French style). These soft artichoke hearts were served with Nameko mushrooms, fresh spring peas and carrots in a sweet olive oil sauce and topped with celery leaves and pickled mustard seeds. Stupendous! This is a dish I could eat on a regular basis.

Our fourth course was the one that was off-menu. It was a toasted quinoa dish with fava beans, shallots, and fresh spring peas served with an olive puree. This dish was hearty and filling, but probably my least favorite of them all.

Finally, to finish, we were served a trio of fresh sorbets -- coconut and strawberry over a mint sauce with cacao beans. This one was also divine. It is amazing how good a fresh sorbet can be at a restaurant like this with a sauce that complements it.

At the end of the meal, we were served some sweet treats complements of the chef that included some vegan jellies.

This was a truly exquisite meal. Zach's father was really impressed that the entire meal had been vegan as this was really his first 5-course vegan experience. I'm so glad it was a good one. Karen is a culinary master of vegetables!  Our waitress, Leila, was absolutely wonderful as well and very attentive. All in all, a great experience. We are looking forward to the next. If you are looking for fine vegan cuisine in DC, put Equinox at the top of your list. Highly recommended.

Please see my previous review of the Equinox here. (12/9/2011)

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

Equinox on Urbanspoon

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