By Debby Critchley
Mary Wadland and I were the guests of BRABO and Chef Wiedmaier and chefs from the Weidmaier Group for an elegant and delicious dinner on September 29. We began with sparkling wine and a special cocktail for the evening made with shishito peppers, melon, and vodka. Hors d’oeuvres were passed and included delightful foie gras risotto balls, pork rillettes bruschetta, tuna tartare on crispy wonton skins, and deviled quail eggs. All were delicious, but I felt the tuna was overwhelmed by sesame oil. I loved the rillettes while Mary could not get enough of the deviled quail eggs.
We were led into the dining room where we were treated to an amazing amuse bouche and five delectable courses. I can’t possibly do justice to the plating so look at the accompanying pictures to see what magnificence looks like. We began with a Sockeye Salmon and Crab Napoleon garnished with hackleback caviar and chervil. The flavors of both the crab and salmon popped. The first course was a Chesapeake Oyster Veloute “en Croute”. We were served a white ramekin topped with a gorgeous crisp balloon of pastry. Once we broke through the pastry shell, we found a creamy, lightly seasoned white sauce of oysters and vegetables. The flavors were a revelation of seafood and silkiness. The second course was Wild Alaskan Sablefish served with baby bok choy, Fresno chili, navel orange, and smashed parsnips. As superb as the veloute was, we delighted in the flavor of the fish and the accompanying orange flavors. This was followed by a Truffled Pheasant Roulade on a bed of roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash, thyme crème, and cognac jus. This was another successful pairing of flavors with moist pheasant and some of the mouthwatering brussel sprouts I have ever eaten.
The fourth course was a stunning arrangement of Virginia Beef Tenderloin served with maitake mushrooms, caramelized onion, potato puree, and all napped with a bordelaise. This was one of the most beautiful plates I have had the pleasure to be served. We have to apologize for not having a picture because we couldn’t wait to eat this dish. The beef was succulent and tender, served medium rare. The mushrooms were remarkable, steeped in fresh herbs. As brilliant as the dish was, I would have liked a bit fewer onions and some finishing salt on the beef. The final course was a dessert of Brillat-Savarin Cheesecake served with roasted figs, blueberry-pinot noir sorbet, toasted walnuts, and graham cracker crumble. This deconstructed cheesecake was a wonder. The intense purple sorbet was outstanding, making the cheesecake sparkle.
Each course was paired with a thoughtfully selected wine and available at additional cost. I tasted all and found each to be an ideal complement to each course. Wines provided included a Vermentino from Liguria, Italy; Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, Loire, France; Reisling from Bischofsbert, Rheingau, Germany; Pinot Noir from Patagonia, Argentina; Syrah from Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California; and Port from Concietto, Oporto, Spain. The service by the sommeliers and wait staff was impeccable.
I highly recommend that you make your reservations now for the next offering of the Chef Series on October 13, featuring John Melfi of the Oval Room.