Modern American Food in the Heart of Old Town: Cuisine Solutions Dines at Vermilion Restaurant

Located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, Vermilion Restaurant offers diners upscale, modern American cuisine. Executive Chef Anthony Chittum changes the menu seasonally, sticking to classic dishes like Hanger Steak and Roasted Chicken Sausage. Vermilion is one of various restaurants owned by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, who also oversees Virginia favorites Rustico and Eatbar, as well as D.C. hotspots Birch and Barley and Churchkey.  Vermilion’s interior is effortlessly chic, combining deep red colors and dark wood. On this lunch occasion, our party of two was welcomed by the friendly host and seated promptly in a dining room upstairs overlooking bustling King Street. Vermilion’s lunch menu has a “power lunch box,” allowing guests to pair soup or salad with a sandwich or main course. We settled on ordering the “junior VP” (choice of Davon Crest Greens or Butternut Squash Soup and any sandwich) and “the ceo” (choice of any soup or salad and any main course).      

Our server brought out the soups first, which were both beautifully presented. The Butternut Squash Soup was topped with a sprinkling of Honeycrisp Apples, Amaretti Cookies and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. The flavors of the soup were rich with a hearty consistency – perfect for warming up on this cold, winter day. The unexpected twist of the sweet Apples and Cookies paired well with the Pumpkin Seeds, and truly made for a festive and seasonal starter.  

The Lemon Chicken Soup was equally as enjoyable. Served with Orzo Pasta, Glazed Root Vegetables, Hollandaise and Crispy Lemon, the soup was a bit lighter than the Butternut Squash, yet still packed with flavors in its own right. The Pasta and Root Vegetables added substance to the soup, while the rich and buttery Hollandaise tied the dish together.   

After polishing off our soups, the main courses were served – a Maine Shrimp “Roll” and Hanger Steak. The Maine Shrimp “Roll” was very fresh and well-seasoned. Sliced Avocado, Oven Roasted Cherry Tomato and Spiced Caper Aioli were the perfect touches to complete the tasty sandwich. Served with Potato Salad and Pickles, the Maine Shrimp “Roll” was a scrumptious choice for the lunch selection.    

The Hanger Steak, beautifully cooked with a red center, was tender and juicy. The accompanying Baby Greens were simple and lightly dressed and the Porcini Dusted Fries had a zesty flavor. The plate overall was delicious, and the large portion size was an unexpected pleasant surprise for a lunch course.   

Lunch at Vermilion was a pleasure. The reasonably priced selections is an added plus – and shows that fantastic fare doesn’t always have to be pricy. With great ambiance, service and food, Vermilion is a wonderful place to grab a drink, a bite for lunch, or partake in an enjoyable dinner.

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Filed under amaretti cookies, avocado, baby greens, butternut squash, caper aioli, cherry tomato, crispy lemon, fries, glazed root vegetables, hanger steak, honeycrisp apples, lemon chicken, orzo pasta, pickles, porcini, potato salad, shrimp roll, spiced pumpkin seeds

Tasty, American Fare with a Beer List to Boot: Cuisine Solutions dines at Birch and Barley

Located in Washington, D.C., Birch and Barley is a popular new addition to the Logan Circle area. The restaurant’s focus is on Artisanal beers – and there’s plenty to offer. Guests can choose from 555 selections, characterized by such qualities as Floral, Aromatic, Hoppy, etc. However, the food at Birch and Barley should not be overlooked. With Chef Kyle Bailey at the helm of the kitchen, the American menu focuses on simple, uncomplicated cuisine such as flatbreads and charcuterie. The Virginia-based Neighborhood Restaurant Group not only oversees Birch and Barley, but Churchkey as well. Situated right above the restaurant, Churchkey is all about the beer. The bar menu serves modern comfort food including Shrimp Corn Dogs and Mac and Cheese Sticks.

Birch and Barley’s interior is calming and warm. A white textured wall with lovely flickering candle fixtures adds a soft glow to the dining room. Upon arrival, our party of two was seated promptly by the friendly host. Within moments, we were brought an amuse-bouche – fried Risotto Balls served with a Pumpkin Puree. A perfect bite-sized snack, the Risotto Ball was delicious and the outer later was perfectly crisped. The Pumpkin Puree was also a great accompaniment and the flavors worked well together. Shortly after, we received a spread of different varieties of bread such as soft pretzels with homemade mustard and cornbread. Well presented on a dark wood cutting board, the bread was fresh-baked, and really got our palettes watering for the meal ahead. 

After perusing the menu, we decided to order a smorgasbord of starters to share. The White Anchovy Flatbread and Ahi Poke Tartar came out from the kitchen first. The flatbread, topped with Cauliflower, Pine Nuts, Fried Capers and Aged Pecorino, was jam-packed with flavor and the Aged Pecorino and White Anchovy added just the right amount of saltiness. The Ahi Poke Tartar, served with Soy-mirin, Alaea Salt, Ginger, and Tobiko, was presented with crunchy Sesame Crisps. The Tartar was fresh and well-seasoned. The crunch of the Sesame Crisp complimented the melt-in-your mouth texture of the Ahi Poke marvelously.

Our server brought over the next starters after we polished off the first two – the Dragon Creek Scallops and Slow Roasted Pork Belly. The Scallops, served with Celery Root, Roasted Cippolini and Green Grapes, were buttery and seared to perfection. The Pork Belly was the epitome of tenderness and the accompaniments on the plate, Kimchi Cabbage, Scallion Pancake and Pickled Daikon, were quite tasty as well.

My dining companion happened to be celebrating a birthday on this particular occasion and our server kindly offered a dessert to share on the house. We opted for the Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Orange Glazed Cranberries, Cinnamon Ice Cream and Candied Pecans. The dessert was presented beautifully and topped with a candle. The Pumpkin flavor from the Cheesecake paired well with the Cinnamon spice of the ice cream.

Overall, our dining experience was excellent. It’s safe to say that while Birch and Barley boasts an extensive beer menu, the restaurant’s food is definitely not an afterthought. 

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Filed under Aged Pecorino, Ahi Poke Tartar, Alaea Salt, Birch and Barley, Candied Pecans, Cauliflower, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Fried Capers, Ginger, Green Grapes, Kimchi Cabbage, Orange Glazed Cranberries, Pickled Daikon, Pumpkin Puree, Risotto, Roasted Cippolini, Scallion Pancake, Sesame Crisps, Soy-mirin, Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake, Tobiko, White Anchoivy Flatbread

A Blend of Haute Cuisine with Farm-Raised Food: Cuisine Solutions dines at June Restaurant

Located about three hours from Chicago, June Restaurant in Peoria Heights, Illinois rivals the excitement and innovation of any fine dining city restaurant. Chef/Owner Josh Adams and Sous-Chef/Pastry Chef Josh Lanning (pictured below) define June’s menu with an interesting mix of molecular gastronomy and farm-raised food. Chef Adams utilizes the slow-cooking technique, or sous-vide, to perfect the textures and flavors of the food. The changing menu offers seasonal dishes that diners can choose a la carte, along with the option of partaking in a 3-course or 7-course tasting menu (with optional wine pairings). 

On this dining occasion, our group was seated with a view of the open kitchen and the chefs hard at work. Preparing each dish with meticulous precision, the chefs used kitchen tweezers to plate delicate garnishes. Chef Adams was incredibly attentive and oversaw each dish served from the kitchen.            

Our group of five started with a selection of first course items. A notable starter dish was the Green Gold Acres Farm Fresh Egg with House-made Pancetta, Coffee Smoked Shitake Mushrooms, Brioche and Hollandaise. The egg, which was cooked sous-vide, was delicious and perfectly executed. The flavorful array of ingredients on the plate added for a lovely contrast of flavors. The Bone Marrow Soup, pictured below, was another wonderful first course plate. Light and fluffy, the soup was served with Onion Marmalade and Black Trumpet Bread.   

Our group chose the Wild Boar Meatball entree for the next first course. The Boar, which is a very lean meat, was cooked perfectly. Chef paired the Meatball with elements of Blood Orange, including Blood Orange Thyme Potato Gnocchi, adding a nice citrus twist to the dish. The plate also included Pickled, Candied and Roasted Beets, along with a Blood Orange Emulsion and Beet Green Pistou. 

For the main course, our group ordered the Dietzler Farms Beef Cheek Tortellini. Chef Adams innovative preparation of proteins was very much evident in this delicious dish. Served with Henry’s Farm Red Turnips, Aigre-Doux Pear and Sunchoke Cream, the plate was artistically decorated and presented beautifully.

Another interesting and delicious main plate was the Rabbit Boudin Blanc. Served with Chef’s Garden Radish, Dragon Berry Farms “Hidden Rose” Apples and Mustard Caviar, the plate was a playful mix of flavors and textures.

For dessert, June offers a variety of house-made ice cream and sorbet like Toasted Hazelnut and Bourbon Vanilla, along with other delicious treats. Overall, June is an innovative, unique dining experience that combines haute cuisine with fresh, farm-raised food. Chef Adams has most definitely succeeded in bringing cutting-edge food to Peoria Heights, Illinois.

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Filed under Aigre-Doux Pear, Beef Cheek, Beet Green Pistou, Black Trumpet Bread, Blood Orange, Bone Marrow, Bourbon Vanilla, Brioche, Caviar, Chef Josh Adams, Chef Josh Lanning, chefs, Egg, Hollandaise, June, llinois, Onion Marmalade, Pancetta, Peoria Heights, Potato Gnocchi, Rabbit Boudin Blanc, Radish, restaurants, Shitake Mushrooms, sous-vide, Sunchoke Cream, Thyme, Toasted Hazelnut, Tortellini, Turnips, Wild Boar Meatball

Modern French American Dining in Northern VA: Cuisine Solutions dines at 2941

Situated in Falls Church, VA, 2941 is well-known in the surrounding Washington, D.C. area for being one of the premiere restaurants in Northern Virginia. Chef Bertrand Chemel executes an exquisite modern French American menu that changes seasonally, including dishes like Atlantic Monkfish and Cervena Venison. 2941 also offers a 4 Course Prix Fixe menu, as well as a 6 Course Prix Fixe menu with wine pairing. Upon arrival, diners are pleasantly greeted with a lovely exterior pond filled with brightly colored Koi fish.    

The interior architecture of 2941 is just as gorgeous. Large ceilings and windows offset the muted, calming colors and tones of the tables and chairs in the dining room. A large hanging light fixture (pictured below) adds a warm glow to the restaurant.    

After careful examination of the menu, we opted to go ahead and head straight to ordering the entrées. First up was the Grilled Veal Loin and Sweetbreads with Truffle Sauce, Endive and Potato Mille Feuille. The Veal Loin was cooked perfectly, with a delicate taste and tender texture. The Sweetbreads were also a great compliment to the Veal, adding a nice mild flavoring to the dish. The accompanying endive added a bitter bite to the entrée and contrasted well with the rich Truffle Sauce.

We also ordered the delicious Atlantic Salmon. Grilled to perfection, the fresh cut of fish had a beautiful texture and flavor. Over a rich sauce and topped with microgreens, the Salmon was a delight.

For dessert, we ordered the Milk Chocolate Chantilly. Beautifully and artistically presented, the rich Chantilly was paired with Vanilla Ice Cream and sweet garnishes for a truly decadent dish.

We also ordered the Caramelized Fuji Apple dessert, served with Crème Fraîche Ice Cream, Black Walnut Phyllo and Medjool Date Purée. The Fuji Apple was sweet, yet light and all the components of the dish worked together well. It was a nice contrast to the richness of the Milk Chocolate Chantilly.

Compliments of the house, our meal ended with a special treat of delicious bite-sized candies. The gold leaf garnish on the far right dessert (pictured below) was an added touch that left a memorable impression. 

2941 was an overall outstanding dining experience that is a must for any Northern Virginia foodie. Although Washington, D.C. has a plethora of amazing restaurants, 2941 is a welcome departure from the hustle and bustle of the city, while still maintaining an equally impressive dining experience.

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Filed under Atlantic Salmon, Black Walnut Phyllo, Caramelized Fuji Apple, chefs, Crème Fraîche Ice Cream, Endive, Falls Church, Medjool Date Purée, Milk Chocolate Chantilly, Potato Mille Feuille, restaurants, sous-vide, Sweetbreads, Truffle Sauce, Veal Loin

Much More then “Goat”: Cuisine Solutions dines at Girl & The Goat

Located in the West Loop of downtown Chicago, Girl & The Goat jumped on the food scene as one of the hottest tables in town. With Stephanie Izard (Top Chef Season 4 winner) as Executive Chef in the kitchen, Girl & The Goat’s menu offers a plethora of shared plates that change seasonally, broken down into three categories: Meat, Vegetarian and Fish. On this particular Saturday evening around 7 PM, our party walked into Girl & The Goat without a reservation, expecting to grab a seat at the bar. However, we were surprised to see that not only was the dining room packed, but the bar area was full of guests, enjoying cocktails and eating at the long bar table. A tell-tale sign that a restaurant is doing well? Forget the table, patrons are vying for the next available stool at the bar to eat.    

The decor at Girl & The Goat is charming and offbeat, with woodsy dark tones in the interior space and a vast colorful picture of a whimsical “Girl & The Goat.” A large wall separates the dining room and the bar, and the open kitchen (with four seats available with full kitchen view) showcased the team of chefs hard at work that night, including Chef Izard. After enjoying a few drinks, we snagged a seat at the bar with a friendly bartender. Our party of two was hungry and ready to bring on the food, so we let her know that we would be ordering a good number of plates. She was very receptive, putting in the orders with the perfect amount of timing in between courses.

Right off the bat, we received the Hiramasa Crudo, which consisted of Crisp Pork Belly, Aji Aioli and Caperberries. The perfect starter dish for two, the Yellowtail Crudo was fresh and tasty, while the Pork Belly added just the right amount of savory flavor and crispness. The Aji Aioli, derived from the Peruvian Yellow Chili, really kicked the dish up a notch as well. It’s safe to say that the Hiramasa Crudo set the tone for what was bound to be a fantastic meal.    

Next up came the Wood Oven Roasted Pig Face. For the average diner, the name of the dish alone could be a pretty daunting menu choice. However, guests will be impressed to see the lovely and inviting presentation. Served with a Sunny Side Egg, Tamarind, Cilantro and Potato Stix, the Roasted Pig Face was absolutely delicious and the addition of a Sunny Side Egg complimented the flavors on the plate well.  

For the next plate, we decided to try something off the veggie portion of the menu and opted for the Pan Fried Shishito Peppers with Parmesan and Sesame Miso. Served piping hot, the Peppers had the right amount of spicy, while the Parmesan counteracted and cut down some of the kick. This dish is a great one to share, as guests can simply pick up and bite off the Peppers, leaving the stems to the side.

One dish that our party had to try were the Steamed Mussels. A sucker for Mussels, we had a feeling that they would be good at Girl & The Goat, but we were astonished when the plate was placed in front of us. The Mussels, which were absolutely huge by any restaurant standards, were served with Goat Sausage Croutons, Cilantro and Bagna Cauda. The broth of zesty herbs was quite tasty and adding the Goat Sausage with the toasted Croutons were great accents to the dish. One of the favorites of the night!     

With it safe to say that our palettes were most definitely wet, our party was ready to move on to the more substantial dishes on the menu. The Seared Scallops, which were meaty, juicy and perfectly cooked, were presented with an appealing mix of Pumpkin Brandade, Pecans, Fried Brussels Sprouts, Tarragon and Pomegranate. The combination of the flavors in the dish was just marvelous.

Now for the next dish, we couldn’t decide between the Grilled Seppia or the Whole Fried Loup de Mer. While our bartender said both were delicious, the Loup de Mer was definitely what we needed to go for. A short time later, a proud plate of Whole Fried Loup de Mer appeared before our eyes. Plated with Button Clams, Guanciale and Celery Root, the filling fish was incredibly tender and packed with flavor. The Guanciale also added a yummy pork flavor that accented the fish and flavor combinations of the plate well.

At this point in the meal, our party of two was getting rather full. However, we barreled on to try the last dish of the evening – Goat, Pork, and Veal Sugo. Decadently hearty, the Sugo was served with Pappardelle, Rosemary and Cape Goose Berries. A perfect accompaniment to the rich Sugo and Pappardelle, the Goose Berries were tart and added a sweet finish to the dish.    

 

After the fabulous meal, our party was pleasantly stuffed and very impressed with Girl & The Goat. Not to be fooled by the name of the restaurant, Chef Stephanie Izard offers much more on her artfully crafted menu. She takes guests across a wide range of depth and flavors that would appeal to even the most staunch vegetarian.  

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Filed under aioli, Aji, Bagna Cauda, Brussel Sprouts, Button Clams, Caperberries, Celery Root, Chef Stephanie Izard, chefs, Croutons, Girl & The Goat, Goat Sausage, Goose Berries, Guanciale, Hiramasa Crudo, Loup de Mer, mussels, Pappardelle, Parmesean, Pecans, Pomegranate, Pork Belly, Potato Stix, Pumpkin Brandade, restaurants, Roasted Pig Face, Rosemary, Seared Scallops, Sesame Miso, Shishito Peppers, Sugo, Sunny Side Egg, Tamarind, Tarragon, Top Chef

The Annual “Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration” at the Embassy of France

Cuisine Solutions is honored and excited to be the meal sponsor this year for the annual Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration on November 18 from 7-10 PM. Each year, on the third Thursday of November, a fresh batch of Beaujolais Nouveau is released in France, shipped throughout the world and enjoyed by thousands! This special tradition is celebrated each year at the Embassy of France and is a must for party-goers who appreciate French “savoir-vivre”.

Throughout this “fête champêtre” at La Maison Française, enjoy three different types of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau as well as other libations, a delicious menu prepared by Cuisine Solutions, desserts by a traditional French pastry chef and live jazz and dance tunes ! With proceeds benefitting the French American Chamber of Commerce and the French-American Cultural Foundation, the Beaujolais Nouveau Celebration is an event not to be missed!   

Cuisine Solutions’ Beaujolais Nouveau Menu

- Citrus bay scallops with wild greens, small asian corn, parsley, green peas and snow peas.
– Greek salad with sliced beef, kalamata olives, eggplant quinoa, lemon caper dressing, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato and oregano.
– Chicken estofado with southwestern wheat berries – Cavatappi with putanesca sauce.
– Braised beef in beer & red wine sauce, creamy polenta and silken carrot purée.
*Menu subject to change.

Join us for this celebration where lovers of French wine, food and culture come together!

For more information on this exciting event, visit http://www.faccwdc.org/facc-activities/calendar-of-events/vue-detail/event/5384.html.

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Filed under Beaujolais Nouveau, Braised Beef, Carrot Puree, Cavatappi, chefs, Chicken Estofado, cooking, D.C., Embassy of France, Greek Salad, Parsley, Polenta, Putanesca Sauce, Salad, Scallops, Snow Peas, sous-vide, Washington, DC

Fine Dining at PGA National Resort and Spa: Cuisine Solutions dines at Ironwood Grill

Ironwood Grill at PGA National Resort and Spa has seen a lot of changes recently. From the highly publicized transition of executive chef to $65 million in renovations to PGA itself, Ironwood has remained solid throughout, serving upscale American cuisine to resort guests. “Top Chef” Contestant Chef Kenny Gilbert had a two month stint at Ironwood, retooling the menu and taking a casual fine dining approach to the restaurant. After leaving to become part-owner of a restaurant in Jacksonville, Chef John Sexton took Gilbert’s place, focusing on local and organic ingredients which includes certified Angus beef and fresh seafood.

Located in Palm Beach Gardens, Ironwood Grill is situated off the lobby at PGA National. The entrance sign showcases their signature “i” logo on top of a beautiful stone walls. General Manager Kim Ross warmly greeted our party at the front stand.  

On this special birthday occasion, our friendly host sat us at a lovely corner booth overlooking the dining room. The epitome of chic, Ironwood’s ambiance is sophisticated and modern, decorated with dark wood and dim lighting.        

Ironwood Grill offers over 350 varieties of wine, as well as a cocktail menu. The Key Lime Pie, pictured below, is a mix of Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka, KeKe Beach Key Lime Liquer, Tuaca. Deliciously sweet and smooth, the Key Lime Pie had a tropical taste and was the perfect Floridian start to the meal.

The Sundown, a mix of Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka, Raspberry Vodka, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice and Grenadine, was beautifully presented and had a sweet, tangy flavor.

We started off with an appetizer for the table – the flatbread of the day. Crispy and delicious, the flatbread was a great dish for sharing.

The Wedge Salad was well plated with each separate component of Baby Iceberg, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Bacon & Tomato. The fresh ingredients made this salad elegant and delicious, as well as a great dinner starter.

For the main course, we had the Grilled East Coast Mahi Mahi. The fish was grilled perfectly, with a firm texture and very flavorful. The Grilled Mahi Mahi was topped off with a Saffron Vidalia Onion Marmalade. With complex flavors, the marmalade was infused with saffron and vanilla, and cooked with a blend of sugar and rice wine vinegar until the onions are translucent and candied. A recipe from Chef Kenny, the Saffron Vidalia Onion Marmalade complimented the Mahi Mahi wonderfully and was a stellar dish overall.   

The last entree we tried was the Marinated Kobe Beef Skirt Steak Frittes. Rich and savory, the Kobe Beef was cooked to perfection and had exceptional tenderness.  Served with Crispy Seasoned Fries, Portobello Mushroom Gratin, and Truffle Aioli, the entire plate was decadently good and really delicious.

Our dining experience at Ironwood Grill was excellent – from the attentive staff, outstanding food and sophisticated decor, Ironwood epitomizes class and style in both dining and service.

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Filed under aioli, chefs, cuisine solutions, french fries, gratin, Ironwood Grill, kobe beef, mahi mahi, marmalade, Palm Beach Gardens, PGA National, portobello mushroom, restaurants, saffron, sous-vide, vidalia onion, wedge salad