Monday, July 26, 2010

D.C. Coast Restaurant - Washington D.C.




Had a quick dinner here tonight (I'm in town briefly for the Society of Wine Educators Annual Convention). This restaurant is across the street from my hotel and the menu / wine list were waaay more enticing than the blah-blah, seen it a million times, over-priced, lame-O menu / wine list at my hotel (Hamilton Crowne Plaza). At least there is some thought and an attempt at creativity going on at D.C. Coast, which is a (the) up-scale, contemporary seafood joint in this restaurant group owned by Chef Jeff Tunks. I have not eaten at the other members of the group so I can only assume that they are of a similar quality and slant toward good hospitality.

I was not in the mood for a big meal but did want some good (but not over priced) wine to go with it. The menu was well thought out with a good selection of seafood choices as well as a couple of meat choices. (See the website for relatively up-to-date menu - www.dccoast.com). I sat at the bar and was served by "Nick", a well seasoned server/bar-tender who possessed a number of good hospitality skills that are becoming rarer and rarer among the service sector.

I started with a glass of Domaine Georges Verney Condrieu Rose, 2009. Light and delicate with ample fruit, dry and quite pleasant in a restrained sort of manner. Reasonably priced at about $8/glass. With this I had some fried squash blossoms. Not the best I have ever had (nor as good as I make them) but satisfying. The batter was more of an Asian style than the Italian style I prefer, but all in all a good choice and the squash medley was quite good. Not too crazy for the filling, either.

Second coarse was a 1/2 glass of Domaine Ehrhart (sp?) Riesling, 2007 (I know, I know, I should have written it down, but I figured they would have their wine list on-line, but alas, it is not). This was ok riesling, if in fact that is what it really is. There was very little riesling character to the riesling, but it accompanied the salad fairly well. I had a 1/2 portion (recommended by Nick) of the DC Coast Salad - essentially a chopped salad. What I liked about this was the pure beauty of the presentation. Each topping (Smoked bacon, egg-yolk, egg-white, Maytag Blue, etc.) was aligned in a row across the salad - not a "new" presentation, but a a classic, and ultimately a quite tasty salad. The dressing was well suited for this combo. The Maytag tended to overpower the rest of the flavors, but who can complain about that.

I then tried two of the BTG Pinot Noirs - one a Domaine Prieuer Bourgogne Rouge, 2007, and the other some overly oak nonsense from Oregon - again 2007 vintage. These were very low points, but I was assured that they sold many glasses of these wines each night. Unfortunately this does not impress me based on the sheer lack of anything resembling finesse in these wines. The Burgundy was just weak (and I like finesse over power, but c'mon). And the Oregon PN (priced at something like $14.50 a glass) was light in the fruit component, but dressed up with too much oak that was obviously used to try an build up flavor for a weaker vintage. Why not just make a well drinking but balanced style of Pinot? Oh, I forgot - those don't sell in this consumer-demanding-over-the-top-smack-you-in-the-head wineconomy. Whatever! I chose a Cotes du Rhone, which turned out to be tippling on the threshold of too much Brett (for some people), but I muddled through. To accompany this, though, I had the Shrimp and Grits. Leave the shrimp off next time - just serve me the ever-so-tasty fresh corn grits with the tangy bar-b-qued bacon/pork bits. The shrimp were advert'ed as being head-on / whole shrimp, but arrived as a quartet of 36-40's (maybe) with little flavor. Next time leave out the shrimp and just give me more bar-b-qued pork on the grits - it was delicious. The wine was ok.

All-in-all, I had a very pleasant meal. The service was quite good and attentive and the food was good to above average at times, just good at others. Typical prices for ap's and entrees. Good attention to decor, training and the finer details.

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