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Mark Sommelier

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  1. The man who served me seared foie gras with coke syrup and a coke ice cream sundae on the side, is Matthew Secich, late of the Inn at Erlowest in Lake George, NY.  In addition to that Inn, he’s butchered at The Inn at Little Washington, and staged with Pierre Gagnaire and at La Manoir aux Quat' Saisons (two Michelin stars), as well.  He appears bent on using all that experience to change speeds at a restaurant where diners have been, until now, more likely to be impressed by their proximity to power than what was put on their plate (no matter how good it was).

    In person Secich  - close-cropped beard and intense eyes framed by rimless glasses – comes off as a cross between Thomas Keller and Strelnikov, the revolutionary-cum-Communist General in the film version of Dr. Zhivago:  determined, passionate and perhaps a bit visionary.  As he is wont to say, he “takes things very seriously.”

    I went there tonight with a friend. The foie gras was not seared, but was a terrine of goose foie gras ( ! ) with the Coke treatment. Stellar! I didn't think of it as Coca-Cola, but as a flavor. It couldn't have been improved on. The other dishes: scallop and lobster were perfectly cooked. I found myself using the salt shaker. That isn't a complaint, just a personal preference. Add to that a classy looking place and super attentive service. Matt does take things very seriously.

  2. It was horrible in some respects but I confess the place I really miss is Pied de Cochon!

    Started going there in high school. Sometimes we'd skip class and goof off in Georgetown for the day. Or maybe go to the Biograph or Key for a movie followed by Pied de Cochon. We'd order coffee and smoke cigarettes and pretend we were French. Stuck up little teenagers.

    Later, I moved to Georgetown for school and began to go more often. Many late nights ended there with eggs benedict. And many Sunday mornings/afternoons began with the Post and their early bird special.

    I especially loved all the black and white photos of groovy people in the 70's on the wall. There was one photo in particular that always caught my attention. A guy in a fedora and make up, full David Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust days mode. I wonder sometimes what happened to all those photos. And the plaque commemorating some Soviet defector.

    I haven't lived in Georgetown in ages and I almost never make it over there these days. I was very sad to see Pied de Cochon was gone. Thank God Billy Martin's and Cappucino's pizza are still there. What about Fetoosh?

    Yves opened Au Pied Bistro next to the CVS on M St. at 29th.

  3. More late golden oldies:

    Sans Souci

    Maison Blanche

    Rive Gauche


    Jockey Club

    Golden Bull (prime rib including salad/soup and dessert for $15)

    Maison des Crepes

    La Niçoise (with waiters on roller-skates!)

    Café de Paris (for late-late night)


    Romeo and Juliet (Roberto Donna's first gig)

    original Galileo (where Al Tiramisu is now)


    Trader Vic's (awesome poo-poo platter!)


    BTW: Cantina d'Italia was closed on Saturday and Sunday because Joseph, the owner, couldn't stand the weekend suburban crowd. He put a sign on the door every Saturday recommending all his neighbor restaurants. He also blasted opera music. You had to love that place.

  4. And now for a crass question from the cheap seats...

    Mrs. BigWyoming and I are moving back to God's Country at the end of the month and as such we're hitting the places we always meant to visit but never did.  Citronelle is #1 on the list. 

    My question is if two people can reasonably get out of there for under $300.  We don't want to shortchange ourselves with the experience, but with the move times are tight. 

    Any thoughts?

    300 is the right number.

  5. Re; Georgetown being a generally bad place to eat, I'm not so sure...

    There are good places on the East side of G'town - those southeast Asian spots on M near 27th are pretty serviceable, I think.

    You're not seriously touting those two Vietnamese places next door to one another, are you? Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

    I think that, if you walked through Georgetown and picked a restaurant at random for dinner, you are far more likely to get something overpriced and mediocre than any other price/quality combination.

    I like LaRuche on a warm afternoon; Mendocino -- though it's been inconsistent when I've eaten there -- Clyde's for martinis or burgers and Citronelle every other year when I'm feeling rich. The other 840 restaurants in the neighborhood? I can take 'em or leave 'em. Much better areas of the city to eat.

    Saigon Inn closed last summer. Only Vietnam Georgetown is left.

  6. The advantage to cooking sous vide is that, if it's done correctly, the food cooks to perfect doneness each time. In addition, there is no loss from shrinkage and the the item (fish, poultry, meat) retains all its natural juice plus evenly absorbs the seasoning included in the bag with it. Finally, there is no boiling going on. Food is cooked sous vide in the range of 135°-155° Fahrenheit.

  7. Maybe it's because I have the luxury of not working a 9-to-5 (for now anyway), but I rather enjoy a glass of wine in the morning. Usually I'll wake up, have a light breakfast and then sit at my computer reading news and checking eGullet with a glass of wine. Something light seems to do the trick, like a chardonnay or champagne, though sometimes I'll just finish up the bottle I opened the night before. What do you folks like?

    Um.... sounds like you have a drinkin' prollem, little buddy.

    I normally wait till after 7PM. Daytime liquor makes me sleepy.

  8. Boneless short ribs are in the bath today at 55/56C in preparation for dinner on Christmas Eve.  I froze some super concentrated beef jus/stock that I made from the bones of the ribs.  One bag has thyme in it, one does not.  We'll see how the herb penetrates through the meat in the 30+ hour cooking process.


    You can see the little pucks of frozen beef goodness.

    The short ribs need to be seared for color and seasoned before being put in the pouch.

  9. A friend had asked where I'd like to be taken out for my birthday. I chose Asiate, where we dined last Saturday night. This must be the most spectacular room in New York City, particularly at night. At one end of the room is a massive wall of wine bottles; on the ceiling, a glass tree-branch scuplture. Most striking are the wraparound windows offering unobstructed long-distance views of the skyline. On a clear evening, as it was last Saturday, we felt like we were suspended in space, looking out on a futuristic fantasy city.

    Asiate's evening menu is $75 for three courses, or $95 for the seven-course tasting menu. We selected the tasting menu with wine pairings at $145. Chef Nori Sugie has been at Asiate from the beginning. His adventurous way with food reminded me of what Wylie Dufresne has been doing at WD-50. He misfired occasionally, but the overall impression was highly favorable. Amanda Hesser's one-star assassination of the restaurant is a disgrace. Since I've been reading the Times, no review has under-shot the true merit of a restaurant by so wide a margin.

    The menu was as follows:

    Slow Poached Egg, Bonito, Ginko Nut

    Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs, Reims

    This amuse totally misfired. I did eat the whole thing, waiting for the pleasant taste sensation that never came. My girlfriend abandoned it after one bite. It resembled an eyeball suspended in a turd, and tasted not much better than that. I would guess that an awful lot of slow poached eggs have been sent back. Reading our minds, our server advised, "It gets better." So it did.

    Seasonal Tasting Dishes

    Strub Riesling Spatlese "Niersteiner Paterberg" 2003, Rheinhessen

    Tentaka Kuni "Hawk in the Heavens," Junmai Sake

    This is the set of six appetizers served in a bento box, much written about. The printed menu I took home doesn't note what they were, but for me the highlight was a candied foie gras that reminded me of WD-50's treatment of that same dish. There was an oyster suspended in a tangy green sauce. There was a delectable sliver of grilled striped bass. And three other items I don't recall. We much appreciated the pair of contrasting wines that went with this course.

    Caesar Salad Soup

    This was totally funky — soup that looked like espresso, but tasted like caesar salad.

    Fish of the Day

    Zoémie De Sousa Brut "Cuvée Merveille," Avize

    This, I believe, was a black bass fillet, and probably the best single course of the evening. Tender, supple to the touch, and absolutely delicious.

    Pan-Roasted Venison Tenderloin,

    Braised Shoulder Meatball,

    Spaghetti Squash Salad, Butternut Squash,

    Bitter Chocolate Beggars Purse, Civet Sauce

    Robert Craig "Affinity" 2001, Napa Valley

    This meat course had two cubes of venison that unfortunately had both the look and the consistency of marshmallows. The spaghetti squash salad and bitter chocolate beggars purse were rather more successful. After a string of perfectly chosen wines, the Robert Craig "Affinity" was an unremarkable cabernet-merlot blend that was not up to the elegance of the menu.

    Sakelees Goat Chees Bavarois,

    Beetroot Plum Granite

    Roasted Pear Soup, Spiced Cake, Hazelnut Ice Cream

    Gosset Brut Grand Rosé, Ay

    At this point, we were ready to be wheeled out of the restaurant, after this much food and drink. On top of all this, we were served a birthday cake that was so good it should be added to the menu as a regular dessert.

    Our server was highly attentive, friendly, helpful, and professional. We were made to feel as if this was our special evening, as we had wanted it to be.

    Asiate is one of the most romantic spots in the city. If Chef Sugie's concoctions aren't always hits, certainly enough of them are, and he has my support for serving some of the most creative cuisine in the city. I look forward to returning. And shame on you, Amanda Hesser!

    You didn't mention the total cost. Does that mean you were comped? Also, what about access to the hotel, etc.

  10. When I see "civet," I think "civet cat," those smelly spotted nocturnal scavenger/hunters that are best known for pooping high-end coffee. But what is a civet sauce?

    Classic French "stew". Red wine and meat.

  11. Wanted to give my two cents on Full Kee, where I've grabbed two quick meals. The shrimp dumplings and oyster casserole are justifiably praised around here, though I think that the sauce is a bit more gloppy than it needs to be. The pea pod leaves with garlic are great, too. Too bad they have such a mediocre boullion stock for their soup.

    Also, the server told me today that they would have their BYOB license by end of next week.

    It's not a great restaurant. Too bad you wasted your time there. I have never heard of a "BYOB" license. Is this something new here?

  12. I still harbor a deep distrust for wine-tasting panels, but this weeks did feature eG's much-beloved MarkSommelier and other locla wine pros with palates almost as refined as his.  Not a bad read.

    Thank you, Charles. Also, did you notice the face transplant that I was given free of charge? You thought the French were ahead of us on this. Ha!

  13. Nouveau can't be sold before the third Thursday in November. Years ago, the wine salesmen used to meet the planes at the airport to race the wine to waiting restaurateurs. These days, the wine is shipped in days ahead of time and savvy bistro owners have parties after midnight Wednesday.

    The damage that has been done to the reputation of Beaujolais has the same cause as other regions in France and elsewhere in Europe: over-production, poor winemaking and disparity between the Euro and other currencies. Last year, several million bottles of Beaujolais were quietly distilled into industrial use alcohol and ethanol. This year, the government is contemplating mandating reduced production as a mean to raise quality and stimulate sales.

  14. I can't believe that no one has mentined pintade or guinea fowl! Or if one wants to get more exotic, how about woodcock


    You took the words out of my mouth! Guinea Hen, woodcock, partridge, and pheasant all have conventional sources in the US. They are seasonal. The question is how many to raise? How much demand is there for grouse or partridge? These are red meat birds, normally eaten bleeding rare. Most people are not used to that. Squabs seem easiest to raise. D'Artagnan already supplies poussin (tiny chicken) to east coast US luxury markets. Remember the pies of lark's tongues mentioned in Renaissance literature? There's a niche yet to be filled.

    mmmmm lark's tongues (Homer Simpson voice).

  15. Agree with the author of the article?


    Care to expound upon your thinking? About the choice of the restaurants? The assessment of the ten choices? Anything?

    I agree with Charles. Another list of the usual suspects.

    Not one restaurant on that list is even remotely known for the "excellent service" in the article's title. Quite the opposite. The only thing they all have in common is that they are cheap, and as we all know, you get what you pay for.

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