Tasting Menu / March 1, 2008
My wife Nancy simply loves "Black Salt". I have had some good meals there, but since I am a steak and potatoes type, it was never at the top of my list. This past weekend we dined with two other neighborhood foodies and decided to try the Chef's Tasting menu. All of us were quite pleased. Although not cheap...the $85 per person was well worth the money. Actually, in discussing the experience with the group, we decided it was probably a better value then a la carte.
Starter Oyster topped with Domestic Caviar
The chef welcomed us to the table with a gratis starter. A beautiful oyster topped with a dollop of domestic caviar. The oyster was fat, sweet and flavorful. The flavor of the fresh brine liquor was bumped to the next level with the addition of black caviar roe. A wonderful way to start the dinner.
Course 1 Japanese Hamachi with House Kim Chee and Basil
The hamachi was served sashimi style with the kim chee and micro basil on top. A great pairing, the kim chee was deliciously tart and sweet which was a perfect partner for the fish. Perfection.
Course 2 Sea Scallops Tartare with Avocado, Crispy Onions and Vin Cotto
The scallops were chopped in small cubes with a dollop of avocado on top then sprinkled with crispy onions. The Vin Cotto blended perfectly with the briney scallop and the avocado gave a rich creamy texture to each bite. The onions provided the crisp texture and rich flavor. So much going on in this course. It was my favorite of the night.
Course 3 Wood Grilled Baby Octopus with Black-Eyed Peas, Smoked Bacon
& Saffron Cauliflower
This was a beautiful presentation. The baby octopus was grilled tender and really picked up the wood smoke flavor. The black eyed peas were cooked aldente along with the saffron cauliflower. A delicious combination of texture, color and flavor. This is one I would have never ordered a la carte, but was a true winner.
Intermezzo Lobster Bisque
One of two freebies sent out by the chef. The Bisque was intense. Two couples from the table lived in the Boston area and loved the flavors. I thought the bisque needed less salt and more cream. I cannot deny the flavor was fabulous. Remember, I am not a fish person so discount my critique of the intermezzo
Course 4 Foie Gras with Broiled Unagi (Eel) and Sweet Cherry - Soy Reduction
Boy, I love foie gras. Eel is not something I care for...but Unagi....fabulous. Unagi is richly textured like pate and creamy like foie gras. If I did not know in advance it was eel, I would have never been able to guess. I would have thought pate, or maybe a different preparation of foie gras. It was wonderful. The sweet cherry soy reduction was a perfect foil for the high fat in the dish. Not overly sweet, it complemented instead of overwhelmed. This was a perfect 10.
Course 5Slow Braised Kurobuta Pork Cheeks with Farro, Red Grapes and Pancetta- Red Wine Jus
This was a great idea, but did not knock my socks off. The meat was flavorful and rich, although a bit dry. The farro and pancetta jus was delicious...the red grapes were a flavorful and creative touch. Good, but if I had to order again, I would get the Big-Eye Tuna or Pacific Butterfish.
Dessert Indian Pudding - With Maple
I tend to either go for the Ice Cream/Sorbet or the heavy pudding style desserts. I recently saw a Food Network program that featured New England traditional desserts. They made Indian Pudding with corn meal and molasses which looked delicious. The
twist on dessert at Black Salt, is they used Maple Syrup to sweeten and impart flavour to the pudding, and then topped it with home made maple walnut ice cream. The pudding was dense, rich and flavorful. To be honest, I was stuffed at this point. The maple flavour really came through in this dish. The cornmeal was infused with vanilla, cream, butter....all the wonderful things a baker has at their fingertips when making a delicious dessert. The maple walnut ice cream was delicious. Although I left much of the pudding, there was not a drop of the ice cream remaining in the bowl.If you are still hungry after the first five course...consider the pudding. If you are not...go for the fresh ice cream.
Overall, the experience was wonderful. The waiter and staff were very attentive. The wine list is one of my favorites in DC, and the prices for wine are reasonable. I can't wait to go back. Don't hesitate to book this restaurant for your next special night.
Black Salt Reservations