Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Noelia Restaurant Food Review

Chicken in Waffles

It's not easy finding a cozy place to escape to (yet alone to eat) in downtown DC. Noelia Restaurant is such a place, a culinary getaway that makes great use of its spacious interior and terrific location (just two blocks away from the White House.) We fell in love during our first visit back in February; but now the menu has taken on an American flair, courtesy of new chef T.J. Fisher. Change is good; but will I "love what they've done to the place?" Let's see...

Thankfully, owner Kaiser Gill didn't fiddle with Noelia's good looks. The stylish decor remains in tact; although the music has taken on a hipper tone. Bid arrivederci to "ol' blue eyes" and say hello to OneRepublic and Vance Joy. Fisher's menu is more playful as well, with upscale bar food now available at lunch (Duck Confit Sliders, Chicken in Waffles, etc.) Music to my ears and taste buds, especially the former (1 for $5, 3 for $12.) More on that, in a bit.

Duck Confit Sliders

Noelia also kept its delicious (and complimentary) bread rolls to open with. The olive tapenade is back too (thank Heaven) so suffice it to say, each and every meal is guaranteed to start off on a high note. But back to the aforementioned sliders, a far cry from relatively duller versions you may find elsewhere. Duck is a creative choice; but who could have imagined such generous, juicy portions? Paring it with apple daikon slaw, finely chopped pistachios and an intoxicating smear of berry jam is smart too; but nothing compared to the sheer genius of tucking it inside crumbly soft buttermilk biscuits instead of traditional boring buns. Once I saw slider buns for sale at Giant Food, I thought the trend was kaput. These sliders are anything but boring/outdated; but be forewarned, they're quite filling (even I had to stop at two.)

Complimentary Bread

Entrees are divided into Medium and Larger Plates, with four and five choices respectively. The terminology is a bit confusing; but it appears Medium = Sandwich, so go with that. I decided to bathe in Noelia's Americana theme, and opted for Chicken in Waffles (a steal at only $12.) It's served on a cutting board (kinda cute) and comes with French fries (a nice surprise, since it's not mentioned on the menu.) Said fries were nice & hot, well-seasoned but a bit too flimsy for my liking. They do come with a small container of spicy ketchup, which helps even further with the flavor. Make 'em crispy, and I might never stop eating them. The sandwich itself is a bit simple: Two fresh waffles (warm, not hot) and a nice, thick breast of fried chicken. It sits atop a thin bed of greens; but that's all you get for condiments (except for a little bit of sweet syrup.) I understand it's probably deconstructed; but I'd love to see some lettuce & tomatoes, or better yet... Noelia's lovely apple daikon slaw (even on the side.) As is, it closer resembles a brunch item.

Fresh Doughnuts

Desserts (Sweet Plates) are different too... which is a bit of a letdown, considering how much I loved their Classico Tiramisu from three months ago. I settled on a trio of Fresh Doughnuts ($6) which lacked variety (all three were the same.) They're covered in European Cookie Glaze, which looks and tastes like a light caramel sauce. The dough wasn't as fluffy as I prefer... and bigger is usually better. Please, please bring back the Tiramisu: After all, there's over 15 million Italian-Americans living in the US... that's plenty "American" for me, and I'm Irish!

Overall, I was intrigued by most of the new dishes. Dinner offers more (Duroc Pork Belly, Malt Braised Short Rib... yum!) but you won't find the lunchtime sandwiches, including the Wagyu Burger. I've had two strong lunches (one spectacular, one very good) so it's probably time to make a nighttime reservation, to check on consistency, etc. (thinly-veiled excuse to eat there again.) Here's hoping they bring back the Tiramisu: I'm drafting a petition, as soon as I hit PUBLISH.