Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Corduroy, 12th and K Streets NW


DonRocks
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ask the famous chefs in Washington to list the great underrated cooks in this town, ask them to count the top underpublicized talents on their fingers, and also ask them to stick one of their hands in a meat grinder before they do it: Tom Power of Corduroy will still make the list.

So many great things to say about this wonderful restaurant. Location be damned, I like the interior very much. The restaurant is chef-owned. The staff is honest and caring if a bit green. The wine list is excellently chosen and bargain-priced. The chef is not only in the restaurant, but also in the kitchen - the last time I was there, he was busting his ass on the line. From start-to-finish, this was one of the best meals I've had in a long, long time. Tom Power is a major talent. Nobody would accuse him of being a marketing genius, but can anyone out there say he can't deliver a fabulous meal on the plate?

Earth to everyone: Saturday night, there was one - and only one - cover served in the bar portion at Corduroy: me. A couple people were there drinking, but nobody was dining at all. Tired of overpriced, indifferent restaurants? Go to Corduroy. Sick of celebrity chefs that "work the room" but don't sweat it out by the stove? Go to Corduroy. Want multiple interesting small courses for under $15 each? Go to Corduroy. Want terrific wines for under $35 a bottle? Go to Corduroy. Corduroy is the most unsung fine-dining establishment in Washington DC. Think Palena falls under the radar? Lower your radar screen about 30 degrees and you'll see Corduroy flying that much lower. This place needs to be supported. It's brilliant I tell you, absolutely brilliant. If you go and sit at the bar, and order off the menu, and give the merest hint of caring about your meal, then you'll be treated like royalty. The food is terrific. It sickens me that on a Saturday night, I was the ONLY PERSON in the bar having dinner, and down the street, the Cheesecake Factory was filled with a bunch of indifferent, couch-dwelling, bon-bon-dropping, Wonderbread-buying mall-shopping minivan-driving hell-hags and rednecks who were spending THE SAME AMOUNT on their fettucine al Crisco that I was spending on my lobster carpaccio. This is a sin, and it sickens me that this city cannot support a restaurant with as much brilliance and talent as Corduroy.

Tom Power is a great technical cook, and he'll serve you a great meal if you go. Corduroy needs the support of people who care about food. The location is horrible and it's simply too good to be empty. Yes, I'm pumping this restaurant with this post, but it's for a reason: I want places like this to succeed, and you should too. Okay, I've said what I wanted to say, and here are the obligatory specifics which will undoubtedly be slightly different the evening you go ... and I hope you do go.

The carpaccio of lobster with mizuma and citrus is an impossibly thin, elegantly presented raw lobster with the barest hint of citrus and mizuma greens. Parsnip soup is overnight-roasted parsnips thickened with foie gras (!) and enlightened by tarragon. The veal cheeks are lovingly enhanced with tomatoes, thyme, orange peel, veal stock and celery. Two chocolate desserts are head-on, unabashed, temples of chocolate: the chocolate tart with caramelized banana is worthy of awe, and the caramelized banana is as brilliantly executed as any I've ever tried (with apologies to the brilliant version with foie gras at Nectar). Baked chocolate 'Sabayon' is another example of Tom Power's rock-solid ability to work this important medium: no kitchen in all of Washington is going to turn out two better chocolate desserts on any given evening than these brilliant testaments.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rocks,

Your posts are always works of literary art that put a smile on my face.

You neglected one thing for those of us whose radar is pretty fuzzy -- Where is Corduroy?

Joe

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rocks,

Your posts are always works of literary art that put a smile on my face.

You neglected one thing for those of us whose radar is pretty fuzzy -- Where is Corduroy?

Joe

It's in the Sheraton Four Points, like 12th and K.

I agree with Rocks' post. I've always thought pretty much what he said, but never really got around to posting anything.

Tom's wine list is a joy to read and is really a joy to pay for.

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Rocks' post. I've always thought pretty much what he said, but never really got around to posting anything.

Of course. You're the same person.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Rocks' post. I've always thought pretty much what he said, but never really got around to posting anything.

Of course. You're the same person.

Right - but he doesn't always agree with himself.

Bill Russell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

..and also, Tom Powers has a nice smile. :smile:

I haven't been there since around when it opened. It was quite good then, but just so so so dead. Kinda sad. Tom came out and talked and smiled...

Good. I'll go.

I feel like the place is hidden. Does dining room even get full?

Edited by morela (log)

...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks DonRocks--will be either delightedly enjoying your recommendation or questioning your imperviousness to bribes this evening. :raz:

Yikes!

Enjoy your meal (he says nervously, with a sense of responsibility).

-----

With less than ten hours remaining in the year, I had my most horrific restaurant experience of 2003. It was worse than seeing a rat. This afternoon after a beautiful walk along Rock Creek, I got some takeout pizza from a little hole-in-the-wall I sometimes frequent, and asked if I could wash my hands in their restroom (employees only). The restroom is a clean-but-decrepit little rectangular cube, in the back of the building, which couldn't be much larger than 6-feet by 3-feet. Against the back wall is a unisex toilet, and sticking in the front wall is a sink. There is virtually no room on either side, and not much room in the middle. As I leaned down to turn on the faucet, I saw a handwritten sign over the sink: Please Do Not Sit.

http://www.francis-bacon.cx/figures/nurse.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

for new year's eve crush, it was damn good. donrocks is right about that parsnip soup. had the sunnyside farm beef (in my self-guided course on becoming a carnivorous chef, that's the one steak I've ever cooked--and it was very, very good, and very, very rare in my kitchen...raw, you might even say), which was lovely...and holy cow but that wine list kicks some serious .... :cool:

happy new year's everyone!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FYI, Tom makes a living off the catering of the Hotel, the second floor Restaurant is his passion/loss leader. Tom is a true Foodie and seems to be very content with his back-of-the-house personna. Second floors and basements are generally the Kiss of Death in D.C., but there are some (rare) exceptions like Vidalia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Don and John (I swear they are two different people - I've seen them in the same room!!!! I swear!) said, this restaurant is excellent. Try the roasted baby chicken on the bed of arugula with carmelized shallots - and be sure to drink the Mongeard Mugneret Vougeot "Les Cras" 1999 - an outstanding "restaurant" wine - meaning it's lovely to drink right now and doesn't need cellaring - plus, it's good burgundy (meaning pure of fruit, fragrant, and not over-oaked or over-extracted).

Tom's wine list is a true joy for wine lovers.

maureen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Lead item from this week's Plain Ol' Pearson's [wine and liquors] e-mail newsletter. (This issue just came out --it's not posted yet.)

"'Ask the famous chefs in Washington to list the great underrated cooks in

this town, ask them to count the top underpublicized talents on their fingers,

and also ask them to stick one of their hands in a meat grinder before they do

it: Tom Power of Corduroy will still make the list. So many great things to say

about this wonderful restaurant . . . "

--posted by DonRocks on eGullet.com December 30, 2003." [egullet.com describes itself as "the leading online food discussion forum in

the world."]

Now I don't know who DonRocks is . . . but I know high praise when I hear

it. So I did what any other inquiring lover of fine food and wine would do once

presented with such tantalizing information . . . I asked around.

Which is how I learned about the underground, almost secretive cult of

"foodies" who eat there. My scientific poll (which consisted of browbeating millions

of people I know who eat food) left me with the distinct impression that the

tiny minority who has been exposed to Chef Power's talent is trying

desperately to keep their keen discovery to themselves."

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Had an excellent meal at Corduroy last Friday night and thought this was worth resurrecting. With Spring springing out all over I got the call from She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed to book "somewhere good I haven't been to yet" to celebrate the rising of the sap. First thought, Nectar, but nothing before 9:00. Second thought, Firefly, but nothing after 5:45. Third thought, "I bet we can still get into Corduroy at 8:00." Natch. (And "Why?" But that's a separate question ably addressed by Rocks at the top of this thread.)

We started with cocktails -- they mix a proper G&T -- and moved on to a 2000 Domaine Tempier Bandol, all blood and iron. ($51 here, $70-$75 at several places within a few miles' radius.) The starters served up the first home run in my lobster salad -- a perfect mix of sweet meat, cool, tart tomato, crunchy cucumber slivers and a binding swirl of intense, green basil oil. The kind of dish that provokes instant squabbles. "Wow, can I have some more?" "Screw that, you ordered the mixed greens, now eat them, sucker."

Mains were good -- my lamb top sirloin with mini goat cheese ravioli -- to great -- her seared tuna with hijiki. Unreal melt-in-the-mouth fresh fish with plump, chewy sesame-spicy-anise rice. I'd have more details, but I didn't get much of it for some unknown reason.

Dessert was sorbet (banana and melon) and Alsatian apple tart. Both competent. But personally, I just love any place with six dessert selections and at least 20 choices of nightcap to accompany them. Don't miss the Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat. Nuts! Spices! Raisins! Oh yeah!

All in all, a really good dinner. Last word goes to the other half, the jaded NY expense-account veteran: "Who knew? It's like they hid the Gramercy Tavern in the Holiday Inn."

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had an excellent meal at Corduroy last Friday night and thought this was worth resurrecting. With Spring springing out all over I got the call from She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed to book "somewhere good I haven't been to yet" to celebrate the rising of the sap. First thought, Nectar, but nothing before 9:00. Second thought, Firefly, but nothing after 5:45. Third thought, "I bet we can still get into Corduroy at 8:00." Natch. (And "Why?" But that's a separate question ably addressed by Rocks at the top of this thread.)

We started with cocktails -- they mix a proper G&T -- and moved on to a 2000 Domaine Tempier Bandol, all blood and iron. ($51 here, $70-$75 at several places within a few miles' radius.) The starters served up the first home run in my lobster salad -- a perfect mix of sweet meat, cool, tart tomato, crunchy cucumber slivers and a binding swirl of intense, green basil oil. The kind of dish that provokes instant squabbles. "Wow, can I have some more?" "Screw that, you ordered the mixed greens, now eat them, sucker."

Mains were good -- my lamb top sirloin with mini goat cheese ravioli -- to great -- her seared tuna with hijiki. Unreal melt-in-the-mouth fresh fish with plump, chewy sesame-spicy-anise rice. I'd have more details, but I didn't get much of it for some unknown reason.

Dessert was sorbet (banana and melon) and Alsatian apple tart. Both competent. But personally, I just love any place with six dessert selections and at least 20 choices of nightcap to accompany them. Don't miss the Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat. Nuts! Spices! Raisins! Oh yeah!

All in all, a really good dinner. Last word goes to the other half, the jaded NY expense-account veteran: "Who knew? It's like they hid the Gramercy Tavern in the Holiday Inn."

Nice meal recap. :biggrin: Informative AND amusing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem with Corduroy is that the food is very good, in fact much better than what one would expect for most hotel restaurants. Still, this is the problem: it is on the second floor of a rather nondescrpt middle of the road hotel and feels, for all the world, exactly like what I go out of my way to avoid in travelling over 100 days a year, i.e. a hotel restaurant designed for business travellers who want a quick, dependable meal.

I went there about a year ago with several friends and was pleased with what we were served. Still, I haven't returned and haven't even considered returning. There' just nothing special about the ambience. It's a vanilla type of restaurant in what could be any city's Holiday Inn. My real feeling is that there is real talent in the kitchen and he is wasting himself in this location.

Take this same food, the same presentations on the plate and put them into a room with a bit of personality and flair and this chef is worthy of being nominated for a James Beard award. Serious. He is THAT good. But at Corduroy he is biding time until another offer comes along in my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The starters served up the first home run in my lobster salad -- a perfect mix of sweet meat, cool, tart tomato, crunchy cucumber slivers and a binding swirl of intense, green basil oil. The kind of dish that provokes instant squabbles. "Wow, can I have some more?" "

not very seasonal serving tomatoes and cukes in early spring...

Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before I went last year, I had read so much about how bad the room was that I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised by the place. It's not special, but it's a step up from most of the Holiday Inns or Airport lounges (per Tom Sietsema) I have been in.

Maybe the food drew my interest away from the decor.

Bill Russell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

How the hell does this restaurant slide to page 14?

I, too, actually like the room, especially the bar area.

The service is elegently understated.

The wine list (even to my amateur eyes) is a joy to read.

The food is ..., well the food is ..., I mean it's ..., the food is ...,

Bloody Fuckin' Spectacular

For the specifics. Mrs JPW started with a lovely mixed green salad. I started with the "Buffalo Mozzarella Porcupine". "What's that?" you ask. I did. It's a reengineered version of fried cheese sticks with marinara sauce for dipping. In Tom Power's hands it is luscious warm buffalo mozz with fried shoestring (but even more fine) breading placed on top surrounded by an absolutely amazing tomato coulis and a couple of dashes of basil oil. It was so good, I almost ordered another one (or four).

For mains, Mrs JPW had the salmon with creamed spinach. Now, I hate salmon. It causes involuntary gagging reactions. But a taste of Tom's salmon made me almost understand why people like this odorifous slimy thing.

I had something that is appearing on the eGullet event menu - the buffalo strip loin. Here accompanied by what I'm guessing was a demi-glace based sauce and a potato gratinee cake. Just perfect. Luckily we were sat off in the corner so nobody had to watch me sopping up the remnants of the sauce with my bread (also very good btw).

Dessert was a coffee and a poire william for me and an apple tart for Mrs JPW that definitely met with approval.

Wine was a very reasonably priced Brooks "Runaway Red" Pinot Noir from Oregon one of two options selected for us by Tom with an interesting story as told by Maitre d'/sommelier David ?(I got his name at the end of dinner so understandably I'm a little hazy on it).

Final verdict - the buffalo mozzarella is simply the best dish I've had in DC. Corduroy has taken its place as one of my favorite joints in DC. We'll be going back soon and often. I suggest that you do the same.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

i decided to throw my own party tonite because cruel circumstance had prevented my attendace last night.

this place just gets better and better.

i never asked where (or if) they source their bread but goodness gracious me. it puts some bread service around town to stale tasteless shame; they have a single type, a brown sourdough with delightful crust and thank god they serve BUTTER AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. its incredibly annoying hacking a block of gelid butter that some places must import from the artic circle; i didnt know eskimos made butter. hm. go figure.

droopy eyes and the desire to not bore you all forces me to spin through our three hour meal with a degree of rapidity. jpw has it right: order the buffalo mozz porcupine. dont think about it just do it.

for those inclined to eat according to the weather, here is a fail safe suggestion: when its blustery and spitting down rain and generally very english outside, go to corduroy: start with the pumpkin soup, followed by the niman ranch pork belly with savoy cabbage. baked chocolate "sabayon" with vanilla ice cream and pistachio(?) brittle will complete your evening. leave satiated, content with the world, warmed to the blood with pig-gy unctousness and generally blissful. repeat as weather and mood dictate.

i could continue but i choose not to. suffice to say, lobster salad with basil oil and microgreens is a crisp, sharp-sweet, rich slap to the face to pay more attention to what it is undoubtedly some of the most lovingly prepared food and delicious i've had in a while. and the cheese plate is a dream. and thank you tom for not putting out pear-crab grass-duck gizzard compote with dupont circle squab feet gelee. why dont people appreciate the simple pleasure of exquisite petit basque, roblochon, sharp spring-in-a-mouthful young goat, and that cacio-whatever truffle with some perfect bread? grape juice was outstanding but i'm as of yet still a wine troglodyte. and i dont remember the details. garnacha-carinena from aragon, pinot blanc, pinot noir from california and the domaine de la rectoire banyuls: this i know because banyuls keeps the demons at bay. my demons at least.

cheers to the corduroy crew. fantastic.

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

- george bernard shaw

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, think she's making something special and i'm smart enough to try

- interpol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, can I tell a really, really shaggy dog story? (For those of you with little time to spare, we will eventually conclude that Corduroy rules, as if any more testimonials are required. Feel free to go back to “Today’s Active Topics.”)

It’s like this. My good friend, let’s call him K, has been really scarce for a while, so I was happy when he called and suggested getting together up for few happy hour beers at RFD after he wrapped up a Friday afternoon meeting. It was a bit of a shock, then, when he mounted the bar stool next to me with a pronounced groan, ordered a water and proceeded to sweat buckets into my Paulaner Octoberfest - enough of a shock, in fact, to throw this whole narrative into the first person:

“What the f*ck is wrong with you, man?”

“Sorry, lunch was long and liquid.”

“Where did you eat?”

“Actually, I didn’t eat, and we were at Camelot.”

“Camelot? For lunch?”

“Um, yeah.”

“As in: Drink and Strip and Spam-alot?”

“Um, yeah.”

“Well what were you drinking?”

“Stoli Vanil and ginger ale, dude. So much of it.”

“Thus establishing, against all available evidence, that you’re actually a lesbian. Weird, but I can process it. So, are we going to eat anything here?”

“No, I’m going home to be really sick and nurse my self-hatred for a while. I have a serious date later on and I need to be ready. Can I pay in singles here?” (Horrible eyebrow waggle. What a catch! Exit K, stage right.)

Left, then, with a perfectly serviceable married guy pass-out for the evening, and no one, however pre-basted, to share it with, I hiked a few blocks up to Corduroy to check out the bar menu. Which turns out to rule. (Didn’t we mention that at the beginning?) When you order spring rolls, and they’re on special for $4, you assume they’ll be bite sized at best, right? Not these. These are Filipino spring rolls, baby, the Ron Jeremy of pastry cigars. Three at seven inches, minimum. Tasty, too. And remember the goat cheese in crispy potato nests? Also $4 for a basket. The good wine by the glass list? Low, low prices. The great service? Everybody says: Hey, nice to see you again. Maybe some special bits and pieces appear. At which point you KNOW you’re not worthy. Save the singles. This is the hour that is the happiest. Your mileage will not vary. Stretch.

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...