Fiola: Why can’t all menus make me this indecisive.

Aug 31, 2011 by

Fiola: Why can’t all menus make me this indecisive.

As my birthday approached this year, as normal Hubby told me he would take me anywhere I wanted to go.  This always is so tough as there are so many new restaurants I want to try, and so many old favorites that I want to revisit.

After hearing so many good things about Fiola, it had been at the top of my hmmm list.  And since Hubby has been dearly missing good homemade pasta, I figured it would be a place we would both really enjoy.  I was warned, however, that it is really loud.  And it really is loud.  If you are someone who can’t tolerate a lot of noise I would advise going early or late because peak hours are loud.

The decor to me was interesting.  I loved the Le Paradou decor, but this was a totally transformed space.  I really liked the stone and clean lines.  I was a little miffed by the white scalloped curtains which were a little to cutesy for the modern space, but overall the space is really beautiful.

Our server was very nice and informative.  I wish I could remember his name.  He did a very good job of reading our table.  We started with a bottle of wine that was wonderful, and I have no clue what it was, except I think it was a Sangiovese.  Perhaps Hubby will come to my aid with the name?  It was very good and versatile for our meal. (This is what happens when I don’t write reviews immediately, sorry I was so busy that week.)

Let’s first talk a second about the rolls. A mix between a yeast roll and croissant.  A bit salty, tender and flaky, they were just perfect little snacks.

For a first course I had the  Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Lemon, Tomato, Olives, Smoked Steelhead Caviar.  This was light and fresh with a lovely balance between the lemon and smokey taste of the caviar on the smooth and very fresh tuna.  Hubby had the meatballs and those were good, as well.  I think they would be great on a colder night.

For a second course I did cheat and have the half order of Pappardelle, King Oyster Mushrooms, Hudson Valley Foie Gras.  This was like the best mushroom stroganoff ever.  The noodles were perfectly made and cooked homemade noodles.  They were so well balanced in weight and texture and shape.  The mushrooms were very flavorful and the foie gras gave the dish this richness that made you not want to put your fork down.  At one point I had to make myself stop to save room for our entree.  The portions were a very good size for this dish, with how rich it is I don’t think I could ever eat a full portion.  Hubby had the Fiola Maine Lobster Ravioli, which he thought was ok.  I think I would have preferred the style over others with big chunks of lobster and not made into much of a filling or heavy sauce, but he I think wanted more sauce or richness.

For our main course we had the whole roasted duck for two.  The preparation on the duck is intense.  It is brined, then marinated, then roasted and grilled.  It is served in two different preparations.  I almost didn’t order this.  I almost went with the snapper, which was our waiters favorite dish, but he told me he didn’t eat a lot of red meat.  But after explaining the almost three week preparation I had to give it a try.  Of course at the end of my order he asked me if I was sure.  With a menu so full of good options just ordering was the most difficult part of the evening, no I wasn’t sure!  But Hubby and I both really like duck and with three weeks in the making, like ordering dessert 30 minutes before it arrives, it had to be good.

The main preparation was the breast with marinated almost caramelized skin on the duck breast, carmelized endives, cherry and a balsamic sauce.  The fat below the skin had nicely rendered leaving a thin, but delicious layer of fat.   This was perhaps the best duck preparation I have had, save for a really spectacular peking duck.  The second preparation was a crispy skin thigh with lettuce and fennel salt.  This had a wonderful balance of flavor between the dressing and duck.  The crunch of the lettuce and crispness of the skin made this a great dish.  We had so much duck we had to take some home.  (We gave a little bit to Max, who afterwards went bolting to the fridge every time the door was opened.)

We got sent out a dessert.  I am not sure if this is a normal birthday thing, or if it was because I happen to be a member of some online food communities, or because we did really take a liking to our waiter, who was just a lot of fun.  But we did get a comped dessert-full disclosure.  And it was a good comped dessert.  I am a chocolate fiend and although I was really too full for dessert I somehow found room in my stomach for more.  I can’t find it on the website, but it was similar to the Michel Richard kit kat.  Don’t tell that I said this, but it may have been better.  Certainly the flavors were similar and really a side by side comparison would be needed to be sure.  They also sent out a couple petit fours.  A chocolate chip macaron that I could eat a whole box of they were so good.  A small shotbread and jam cookie and a chocolate and brittle bit, if memory is correct.

The meal from start to finish was really wonderful.  There is so much more of the menu I want to explore.  The next night we went back to the bar and had some fantastic cocktails.  They even made my best friend a non-alcoholic sparkling lemonade.  I tried the fried chickpeas, which weren’t at all as I was expecting, they were more like gourmet mozarella sticks, not sure I would re-order those with all the other good stuff on the bar menu, like Hubby’s meatballs, but they were good for sharing and we ended up finishing them, so they couldn’t have been too bad.

And the staff really is top notch.  It isn’t a romantic, talk quietly and gaze into each others eyes type of place, but if you like vibrant spaces with top notch food and are open to some fun, it’s a great experience.  Sorry I have no pictures, since it was a birthday dinner with just Hubby and I, I didn’t photograph my food.  We had a really nice evening.  Hubby as usual made my birthday spectacular, he is just so great!


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  1. Blog Post- Fiola: Why can’t all menus make me this indecisive. @FiolaBarDC

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