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Vidalia, 20th & M Streets NW


Malawry
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"On a Whim" I stopped for lunch at Vidalia today, the first day of their new menu -- according to the Bar Server. I had the She Crab soup (not a new entry), the "Grillades and Grits" App, and the death by chocolate decadence dessert. I write this in a semi-comatose but contented state. The soup was sweet and creamy with a delicious essence of crab roe. The grillades featured veal cheaks on top of grits. The only problem were the capers which I suppose were to flavor-up the grits, but overpowered the veal. The quatro of chocolate confections which comprise the "Decadence" :rolleyes: were awesome -- too much for a mid-day meal, but kinda hard to resist.

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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  • 1 year later...

During a very brief trip to DC my wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Busboy and his charming bride for lunch at Vidalia. It was a place that he had been wanting to get back to having heard some recent positive reports.

We had an extremely enjoyable lunch. There were any number of items on the menu that appealed and what we ordered proved excellent both in terms of presentation and taste.

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Entrance sign.

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Flowers behind glass next to the stairs on the way down into the restaurant.

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Pine Roasted Blue Foot Mushrooms

These came with ricotta-potato dumplings, sweet pea puree and shaved pecorino. They were rather tasty although I couldn't really notice anything particularly "piney" about them. This was my appetizer although we did a fair amount of cross-tasting.

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Sea Salt Roasted Heirloom Beets

with Cara cara oranges, arugula, bruleed hudson valley camembert, country ham, spiced pecans and cumin scented orange vinaigrette. I didn't taste this, although my wife and Busboy's wife both had this and seemed to enjoy it.

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Pig in a Blanket

crispy tete de cochon with cheddar-rosemary biscuit, quail's egg sunny-side-up and red-eye gravy. I had a taste of this. It was very good. The flavor had subtle curry-like components in it to me.

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Roasted Vidalia Onion

stuffed with wild mushroom ragout, field greens, chive oil and balsamic reduction. I did not taste this.

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Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

with red pepper remoulade, vidalia onion-cucumber slaw and kennebeck potato chips. The crab cakes were light, full of crab and delicious.

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Sauteed Softshell Crab

with fried green tomato, arugula and romesco sauce. The crab was well prepared. The dish was simple and delicious. This was my main course.

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hicken Fried Steak

I'll let Busboy comment on this aas it was his main.

The restaurant has a very good wine-by-the-glass programas well.

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Charentais Melon Sampler

with preserved charentais melon, cara cara orange panna cotta, candied orange zest, nevarro verjus-melon consomme and melon sorbet. This was a subtle and refreshing dessert. The panna cotta was particularly subtle with respect to orange flavor.

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Vidalia's Lemon Chess Pie

buttery crust filled with rich lemon custard garnished with raspberries and sweet cream. This had nice tartness and was not overly sweet.

Our meal was quite satisfactory. It was one of those times meeting new people that the time seemed to fly and there was ever more to talk about.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I was full of trepidation before lunch with Doc, the kind of fear you get when someone who can speak well and at length about his experiences at el Bulli and the French Laundry says, "why don't you pick the restaurant?"

But Vidalia caught my eye because it seemed a nice twist on the seasonal/international/farmers middle name identified on the menu cooking that you see so much these days. Something Southern fried for my yankee friends.

Little to add to Dr. Sconzo's observations but, as long as I'm here: the reason no one got to taste the Vidalia Onion was because it was bland and I felt guilty trading it off for better food. Everything else was great.

The country fried steak was alarmingly similar to the only other "gravy" that came with it. I think maybe I just like batter-fried anything, but you can't beat that combination of red meat and a good crispy crust. Not an elegant affair, but tasty and the greens cut the richness of the steak and gravy quite nicely. Spectacular mashed potatoes.

I don't thing Doc mentioned the grits, which we got as a side dish and were unable to finish off, despite their addictive qualities -- qualities enhanced by some smokey bacon and a few slices of mushroom. Better than Grandma's.

We finished dinner with my first slice of chess pie -- I'm not sure how it compares to others, but I was quite pleased with it.

All in all, though the food wasn't as good as the company, I thought it was quite a tasty meal and I wonder why the place doesn't get more play in the on-line media hearabouts. It seemed for a while that Viadalia was on the verge of slipping into irrelevance -- I don't think there's any danger of that today.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Wow, how could I have forgotten the grits. They were quite rich and very tasty. If there were any leftover it was only because I somehow overlooked that they were still on the table!

If Vidalia gets lost somewhat in the shuffle it is only because there are so many other excellent options in DC. It amazes me how exciting and excellent DC has become culinarily over the past 5-10 years. Of course the trend started before then, but the depth of quality has grown to the point that DC is IMO one of the top 3 or 4 food cities in the US.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 9 months later...

For my wife's birthday I took her to Vidalia in DC and it was one of the top 5 fine-dining meals I've had. The food was excellent as ever, but the service really knocked my socks off.

Made the res through opentable.com, painless, mentioned that it was her birthday in the "comments" field, figured what the hell.

They have totally redecorated/renovated since my last visit. The wine bar area is indeed very pleasant, and we beached ourselves there after dinner for a little while. But I am getting ahead of myself.

We sat down and were given a few minutes to look over the short winelist, and our server appeared, I am sorry I forgot her name, but she was excellent. Ordered a martini for me and a glass of Cava for Tracy. They appeared in short order, waitress asked if we would like to see the full winelist, which we did. It is pretty impressive. The sommelier was present and offered help, but I am not a wine afficianado by any means, and we wound up just drinking martinis and cava, but, hey, drink what you like, right?

So, on to the menu.

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Notice the birthday wish at the top. :toot: That's a nice touch. Funny thing, a young couple was sitting near us, seated about 15 minutes after us, same thing, girl opens menu..."wow how did they know??" *gush* :D

Anyway, so only the entree part of the menu is in the pic, I don't have the other half. But we got:

Starters:

her: fois gras in onion broth

me: baked oysters

The ribeye (above)

Venision loin (above)

And we love mac and cheese, so we could not resist ordering the side of goat cheese and truffle mac. Interestingly, it was only $8, but it was $14.50 on the online menu. :toot: I guess it didn't sell at that price.

Anyway, on the service, without going into too much detail, it was efficient, unobtrusive, and appeared effortless. I did 10 years in restaurants, both front and back of the house, and I know good service. This was fucking scary good service. So good, in fact, I asked the waitress if the mirror on the wall behind us was a one-way mirror, because there is no god damned way they could appear at the exact right second that many times in a row, and not ever when they weren't needed. The sommelier just passing our table sees my just-emptied martini and takes it and my order for another, and the waitress is there with it not three minutes later, and I didn't even see them talk to each other! I notice these things.

Later, Manager/partner? Mike Nevarez came by to wish Tracy a happy birthday and I gushed to him about the service. (Never hurts to help out your server with the boss, right?!) Anyway, he gave some detail on the renovation and how they had done the first interior all themselves, but had pros do it the second time. The interior is very comfortable and pleasant indeed. It was before, but it looks even nicer now.

Ok, the food. Keep in mind, this was an excellent meal. Fabulous in every way, and utterly delicious. Any criticism should be taken with a grain of salt, as I smoke, I drink martinis during dinner, and I don't even drink fancy wine. This is just how things were to my palate.

Poached fois gras with onion/oxtail broth

Stunningly good. The fois was cut into pieces similar in size to a half-stick of gum. With a spoonful of the broth, put that in your mouth and just gently press the fois against the roof of your mouth with your tongue and it just melts. This was on the special/tasting menu, and we asked the server for an opinion on that vs the fois terrine on the regular menu, and she recommended this one. Excellent.

Baked oysters

I don't remember what they were called, but they were lovely oysters smothered in crab, lobster, and cream and given a little topping that baked up like a quick bread. Utterly rich and delicious.

Ribeye

Really just the eye part of the ribeye, delicious and meaty. Perfect med-rare, of course. Crust was a little hard to cut with the knife provided, but tasty indeed. The braised oxtail in phyllo was a neat little cylinder looking thing with the most delicate beef barbecue you ever tasted inside. The dauphnois potatoes looked like little tater-tots, which was cute. Everything on this plate was excellent.

Venision loin

This loin was the mildest venison I ever tasted. This is where I am thinking my palate might be fucked, because the ribeye tasted "meatier" than the venison, and usually I find those two to be opposite. Regardless, it was perfectly cooked and tasty, and tender as can be. The huckleberry-horseradish thing was tasty but I could only barely detect the horseradish. The venison/wine reduction was much more flavorful, and with the various carmelized onions, I enjoyed this plate very, very much. Whole being much more than the sum of the parts. The chestnuts were nice, but not really necessary, I thought.

Truffled goat mac

To fucking die for. Ridiculously good mac and cheese, nice little crust on the top and black truffle shavings throughout. The only thing I could complain about is it was a little too truffle-y. The truffle overpowered the goat cheese. That's pretty hard to complain about though. :D

Lemon Chess pie

Their signature dessert. Just perfect. Little drops of meringue on the plate, each impossibly just barely browned on the top. Raspberry coulis for contrast in a little artistic smear, and a diamond-shaped piece of some other kind of jelly that was tasty and really sharp in the presentation.

All in all, a fabulous god damned meal. After we ate, we retired to the wine bar on those comfy leather couches to have a cocktail and try to get jazzed up to go out. Someone appeared as we were sitting and relaxing with a complimentary selection of house-made petit-fours, again for the special occasion. Best petit-fours I ever tasted. They were nice and much softer than chocolates that come from a box, because they don't have to be made strong enough to travel! Especially enjoyed the one that tasted like it had an expresso ganache inside.

Edited by pork (log)
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