Monday, June 16, 2008

Star Struck

Westend Bistro
1190 22nd Street NW Washington, D.C. 20037
Nearest Metro: Foggy Bottom

A few weeks ago T took me out to Westend Bistro to check out Eric Ripert’s D.C. venue. I was super excited, mostly because sometimes he is on Top Chef (and also because it has gotten some decent reviews). While having been ignored for a while, it seems that Ripert and many other chefs are jumping on the D.C. bandwagon and opening restaurants downtown. And I’m not the only one who is “star struck” by the idea of a celebrity chef in D.C. Is it worth the all the hype?

First impressions, the restaurant was beautiful, busy, on a Wednesday night. Dark, candlelit, with a ceiling to floor glass wall, perfect for people watching, IF you’re sitting at one of the booths. However, the tables were so close together that it was hard not listen to the cute elderly couple directly next to us.

To drink I had a glass of Fume Blanc, which I had never tasted before. I really can’t say I know much about wine, (it’s something I would like to learn more about) but I enjoyed it, however would not have reordered it. T had a glass of Caymus Conundrum, a surprisingly bright yellow blend that I tasted, and liked more than my own.

To start I ordered the chicken soup with pesto and T ordered the mussels. The soup came with alphabet pasta, it was very playful and cute. However, it was extremely salty, the beginning of a dangerous trend for the evening.

We ordered dinner, I chose the skirt steak in a shallot sauce, T went for the halibut in a shallot sauce and we opted to share a basket of fries. However, a good 30 minutes after we had ordered the waiter came back to inform us that the kitchen was out of halibut, and what would he like instead? 30 minutes to figure that out? T went with his second choice, the Chesapeake Bay stew.

Our entrees arrived… and the stew… more mussels. The descriptions on the menu weren’t very good, and while T knew it was a seafood stew, I feel like our waiter could have mentioned that when he was making his selection.

But back to my food; my steak, cooked perfectly, the sauce delicious… but after it was all cooked and plated I felt like someone had taken a salt shaker and gone to town. It was too salty for me to finish even half. The fries were the same, perfectly cooked, not too greasy, nice and crispy, but completely over seasoned.

Finally, for dessert we ordered the warm chocolate cake with rum ice cream and bruleed bananas. First of all, I love anything carmelized so I was happy the instant it was placed on the table. While the cake could have been a little warmer it was chocolate-y and moist, while the ice cream had a nice strong rum flavor.

T would disagree, saying, “you can barely taste the rum!” But I think my mom’s Thanksgiving sweet potatoes taste too much like rum, so most people would probably agree with him.

I left the restaurant feeling a little disappointed. Dinner left me feeling salty, but I was very happy with the sweet ending.

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