Friday, November 14, 2014

The Grill Room Christmas & New Year's Eve Media Preview

Heritage Turkey

'Tis the season to be jolly hungry. Thankfully The Grill Room, at the luxurious Capella Hotel & Resorts has us covered. Last night, I had the good fortune to attend a special Christmas & New Year's Eve Media Preview, a sneak peak at a menu that's bound to be a big hit with locals and travelers alike... assuming you enjoy great food and pampering.

To be frank, I'm not sure I could afford staying at the Capella; but lunch or dinner... that's doable, especially if you're in the mood for something special. The Grill Room's holiday menu definitely qualifies as special (extra special, in fact.) It starts with a glass of champagne and a pair of decadent amuse-bouches (oysters with caviar, chicken liver mousse) before moving on to a glorious loaf of sourdough bread, served with bone marrow. In case you were wondering... We're definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Applewood Smoked Potato

The Grill Room's dining area is cozy and stylish, minus any unnecessary pretensions. However, it's hard not to stare at the beautiful private dining nook behind glass doors in the middle of the room (already added to my bucket list.) Service is superb (as you'd expect) but surprisingly friendly, while maintaining a high level of professionalism. Trust me, you won't want for anything.

Back to the food, which took a decidedly greener turn with a Baby Beet Salad (fire fly goat cheese, hazelnut & arugula with a verjus vinaigrette) and a Little Gem Lettuce (with blue cheese & bacon lardons) that definitely lived up to its name. After that, there was a bit of a lull; but all was forgiven when we laid eyes upon the above pictured Heritage Turkey. Carved tableside, and served with chestnut stuffing and an amazing Apple-Rye Chutney, this bird had me longing for Thanksgiving, yet alone Christmas.

Baked Alaska

As if that weren't enough, we were also treated to a full Salmon Wellington (with chicken mousse and spinach) and an expertly-prepared Carnaroli Risotto with golden raisins, roasted pumpkin and scallop. Hint, hint: You could have stopped right there, and won me over; but there were still sides (three in fact) to be had.

It's been almost four decades since I last ate a Brussels sprout (long story) but I finally found the courage (even longer story) to try one here. Prepared with Asian pear, aged soy and wild flower honey, these were miles better than the boiled variety I remember from my childhood. Not sure if I'm willing to keep trying them; but I'm not saying no, and that's progress.

Capella Hotel & Resorts

Creamed Kale makes for a nice (safe) addition to any meal; but I saved the best for last... The Grill Room's Applewood Smoked Potatoes. Nothing fancy (crème fraîche & chives) but the smoking process transcends the simple potato into another stratosphere. I asked for seconds and thirds; and came this close to sneaking back into the kitchen for even more. What can I say? I'm half-Irish.

In between courses, we were further treated to wine (lots and lots, red and white) and non-stop sensational service. Great food is important; but superior service sets the best apart from the rest. And dessert, of course. I prefer savory over sweet; but the Baked Alaska with cappuccino, cinnamon and vanilla over a flaky, flourless chocolate cake earned a consensus "OMG" from my fellow diners. Most desserts are often one-hit notes; but this dish had lots going on (and all of it, good.) Addition of Asian pears = pure genius.

The Grill Room

The evening capped off with a personal farewell and thank you from General Manager Marco Bustamante; but I can't help but question who should be thanking who. Hopefully this brief recap draws attention to one of DC's best kept (and elegant) secrets. Me? I just need to figure out a way to get my hands on their mashed potatoes recipe.

The Grill Room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus weekend brunch.) Click here to see each respective menu; and click here to make a reservation.