Well, that was interesting. AT took some photos and hopefully she’ll send them along, but until then, hopefully my words will be sufficient.
After fretting somewhat about the state of my mane, I had resigned myself to looking a shambles at our Restaurant Week outing at Corduroy. I’d lost my ponytail holder and didn’t have a brush on me (and believe me, I needed it!). A coworker noticed my distress at my messy tresses and lent me her hair clip, which worked well enough at keeping my hair out of my food and making me look somewhat polished.
I ended up foolishly taking a seat facing my friends and the wall rather than facing out to the rest of the restaurant, so I can’t give an accurate accounting of the decor, except for the wall (hardwood) and the art (modern) hanging on it. White linens and nondescript silver with an eclectic selection of china- the tuna came on square plates, the lamb in a bowl, the scallops in a platter. The menus were backed with corduroy and the whole place was very comfortable and warm- not unlike a jacket made of the fabric for which the restaurant was named. Aside from our table for 8 being comprised of two four-tops side by side (and no, the transition between the two was not smooth- a giant band of linen kept our plates at a tilt all evening) it was all very nice.
Then came the menu. Suddenly I felt like a kid on safari in a thick Amazonian jungle full of flowering plants and fantastic animals. You’re looking around, amazed and awed and it goes on forever and ever and ever. It’s great, but it’s really too much and you just want it to stop!
The first surprise was the menu itself. While most restaurants consider 3 or 4 choices to be adequate for a prix fixe, Corduroy offered up its entire menu for restaurant week- all 9 appetizers and all 8 entrees, with a few upcharges ($3-$5) for dishes such as the scallops. And all elaborate and tempting.
Of our party, five folks ordered the “buffalo mozzarella porcupine” and after some discussion over whether it was really some exotic meat dish, we were informed that it was cheese flashfried in a layer of spikey looking phyllo with tomato coulis and pesto. I went for the kabocha squash soup, LL virtuously went for the greens with a lemon vinegarette, and AT had parsnip soup with tarragon cream. I was not in the least displeased with my order (in fact I think I did a “happy chair dance”). The soup was rich and redolent of the unique flavor of a Japanese pumpkin. A thick puree, sweet but not cloying and with no greasy aftertaste. I sopped some up with bread. The porcupine was tasty, but fried cheese could not compare to that lovely soup. Which was really enough for two, but no matter.
But then I was full. Urgh. And two courses to go!
The centerpiece of this madness was a lamb sirloin with mini ravioli stuffed with romano (and probably a ricotta base) and basil. To go with it, I’d chosen a glass of Hudson Mountain Star Ruby- an earthy red with a slightly floral scent and hints of raspberry that was rich and strong, and slowly kicking my tired arse. In fact, at one point I had to put down my fork because I was so full and sleepy.
The ravioli, though a little saltier than I like, were slightly al dente and delicious- the filling creamy and flavorful. The generous portion Lamb (which deserves caps) was cooked medium well- pink and juicy and served in a smoky reduction of some sort. It was tender- almost like biting into a firm banana. I had the rest of it for lunch today and it was still gorgeous. Five out of the eight total at our table had ordered it in various degrees of done-ness, two had gone for the tuna with sushi rice and lotus root and AT had seared scallops and mashed. Which was plated very well- it looked as good as it tasted (I’m speculating because AT looked thrilled with her choice and I was too stuffed to ask for a bite).
Then came the third course- dessert. The end was near! Dessert had become a beacon of hope! Civilization beyond the shaggy reaches of the culinary jungle. Alas, it was not to be the chocolate sabayon, which was sold out. LL and I ordered the housemade ice creams, which were merely chilled mousse and too rich to contemplate- after the vanilla bean scoop (oval and perfect) there were two scoops of chocolate that started at me like a very cute and slightly lethal insect. Ech. Could not do it. The chocolate tart with carmelized banana was a chunk of 65% cacao ganache in a crust and the creme brulee, while delicious, was unspecial. AT had a plate full of seasonal berries (though my trusty table would beg to differ on whether blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are winter fruits!) with a delicious pear sorbet which, to me, tasted as though I’d just bitten into the whole fruit. It was an odd reddish color (perhaps the skin?) but delicious.
Civilization! We were free. We rolled out the door, doggy bags in hand, delighted at our good fortune, on the verge of food coma, stunned by what we had just done. Corduroy is an underrated delight and the next time I have out of town guests (and a fatter wallet) I will take them there.
As long as they brush their hair first.
1201 K St. NW
Washington, DC 20005