March 19, 2008

La Chaumiere Restaurant

March 14th, 2008 / Bordeaux Dinner
Chateau Caronne Ste. Gemme

Address: 2813 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007

Pronounced "La Show Me Air", this French staple in Georgetown has swept me off my feet. Attending a wine dinner I was expecting the night to be all about the wine...."AU CONTRAIRE", this night was about the food AND wine which were paired to perfection.

I have been in DC for 25 years now. How I could have missed LaChaumiere has me scratching my head. A long time foodie, I have checked most worthwhile restaurants off my list, and am always looking for the next best thing. It seems that the next best thing has been around since 1976....

It took a bordeaux dinner to get me there. This dinner featured wines by Chateau Caronne Ste. Gemme and Chateau Clos Bourbon, two very fine "Petit Chateau's". I gathered a group of 10 "wine friends" to attend this event and together try and assess how good the 2005 vintage really is.

LaChaumiere is owned by Patrick Orange and Martin Lumet. Patrick is Chef and Martin is host extraordinaire. They both spent time with the group making us truly feel at home. The accommodation in the upstairs dining room was a bit tight, but comfortable. More then one of us commented on how at home the decor made us feel.

When describing Chefs, the term mechanic often comes into the conversation. A good chef is always a good mechanic. Knife skill, timing, coordination....all of these are important qualities. More important and intrinsic to success, especially in the hyper-competitive D.C. market, is artistry. This gift is rare, and only found in an elite corp of chefs, usually at the highest level. Patrick Orange convinced me at this dinner that he was truly an "artiste".

Hors D'Oeurves: We started with passed hors d'ourves while waiting for all to arrive. Paired with a nice rose' from Chateau Bourbon were smoked salmon mousse on toasts and puff pastry filled with warm goat cheese. The puff pastry are better described as savory cream puffs about the size of donut hole. The wonderfully seasoned goat cheese dripped from the puff pastry with each bite. I happily licked my fingers so not to miss a bit. Great start....Good pairing 8.5/10

Course One:
Smoked Eel with Pearl Onions and Squid Ink Sauce. Wow...I hadn't had eel in 10 years, and now twice in the space of 2 weeks! The eel was delicately smoked, tender and flavorful. The eel was draped over tender pearl onions and sauced with a delicious Squid Ink sauce. The sauce was made with bordelaise and colored with squid ink. A beautiful, flavorful dish. The wine paired with this course was Chateau du Cros White Bordeaux. The acidity and grapefruit flavors really paired well with this dish. 8.5/10

Course Two:

Roasted Guinea Hen with Organic Mushrooms and "Natural Sauce". I was expecting something like a whole quail or capon when I saw the menu. How wrong I was. The dish was beautifully plated with a stack of overlapping stuffed breast slices on top of strained reduced natural sauce. The hen was stuffed with chopped giblets and duck and made for a beautiful presentation. The flavors were to die for. The tender fowl was delicious. The sauce was a reduction of bones, veal stock, vinegar and sugar....simmered, strained and poured on the plate to fully coat the base. This was paired with a Chateau Lepine and Clos Bourbon Premiere Bordeaux. Both of these wines were wonderful with the rich sauce and hen. they tasted much more expensive then they actually are. Look for these wines when you are out shopping. At about $10.00 they are fabulous. 10/10 Perfection

Main Course:

Venison Medallions in Peppercorn Sauce with Harticot Verts and Lingonberry Venison? It is not usually on my preferred list. After tasting the tender medallions topped with rich peppercorn sauce...the food lasted all of 2 minutes. Simply delicious. The venison was tender with only a little hint of game. The sweetness of the Lingonberry and the richness of the peppercorn was a great flavour combination. The beans were beautifully bundled in a little package...remember I spoke of artistry? The potato looked like a home made Tater Tot. (Sorry Chef...I had to stoop to this as a descriptor) The potato was mashed to a smooth consistency, carefully formed and fried lightly to impart a crisp crust. Wonderful paired with the peppercorn sauce. I mopped up as much as I could with the potato, and got a bit of a dirty look from my wife when I took a piece of bread to get every last bit of sauce off the plate. This paired with the Chateau Caronne Ste. Gemme Medoc. The pairing could not be better...I will leave you to look for the Gemme review done in a previous post. 10/10 More perfection

Mirabelle Plum Tart This dessert was a perfect match with the Chateau du Cros Loupiac. Buttery rich, and not overly sweet this tart was filled with plum, marzipan and almonds to a crisp dry finish. Pastry like in texture, the crust was flaky with lots of butter. The Loupiac was sweet, but not cloying, and paired with the tart beautifully....artistry at work once again. 9/10

Does this review leave you thinking that maybe I was impressed? I was. This restaurant will not be checked OFF my list, but left on my short list of favorite eats. They have a very nice, and reasonably priced wine list. They will also allow you to bring a special bottle from your cellar with a $25 corkage. How nice to still find this courtesy. To return the favor, be sure to order one off their list for each one you is the right thing to do.

LaChaumiere Restaurant - Georgetown

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