Since it was our anniversary, Chris & I went all out and tried the Chef’s five course tasting menu with wine pairings, which we have never done at a restaurant before. It was quite relaxing, because we didn’t have to take any time to put our meals together! The Chef does the selection work, and it’s always the best of the menu–or in this case, almost the entire menu. I don’t know how anyone could ever get through the seven course dinner option! We definitely received more than five rounds of food too.
#1.) The meal started our with a course of “snacks”: Turkey rillettes with hazelnut mustard, dill pickle crisps, basil falafel with vaudovan curry, and fried pork terrine with spicy mayo. We particularly loved the dill pickle crisps, and the basil falafel tasted like fried pesto bites! Yum.
Wine: Thibault-Janisson “Cuvee d’Etat” Monticello, VA, Brut 2008
#2.) White sweet potato soup, with a scallop dumpling, buttermilk, dill, and sorrel. This tasted like a creamy onion soup – delicious! It was interesting to compare these scallops with the fried one we’d had the night before at Trummer’s on Main. There are so many creative seafood techniques. This time, the scallop was firm, but still delightfully squishy. It was the consistency and texture of a mini slippery mattress–which probably sounds gross, but it was quite the opposite.
#3). Steelhead trout with chestnut pudding, granola, green apples, ham, & buttermilk.
Wine: Sokol Blosser, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, OR, 2008
Wow. First of all, you can’t go wrong with a good fish and a good Pinot Noir. But this dish was like springtime beckoning you closer. The combination would have been stunning anywhere—the ingredients are genius—however, with all of the elements being so fresh, this course could have been a proper finale to the show. But it was far from over!
#4.) Smoked rib loin of beef with farro salad, hoison, marrow hollandaise, & mushrooms.
Wine: RDV Vineyards, “Friends and Family”, Fauquier County, VA 2010
I love a good hollandaise sauce. I’m not always the biggest fan of beef, but if you put it in a luscious sauce like this one, I’m in love. The show-stopper here was the wine, which was definitely our favorite of the five. The dryness, fullness, and rich complexity of the experience will surely drive us to track down this wine in the near future!
#5.) Dessert! Meadow creek Appalachian cheese with mushroom pita, honey-malt gastrique, candied coppa.
Wine: King Estate, “Cru”, Bourbon Barrel Aged Chardonnay, VA NV
The cheese was really incredible here. I just can’t get enough of local, fresh cheese. As more of a savory lover than a sweets fan, I really enjoyed this uniquely hearty dessert. Chris & I also thought that the “bourbon barrel aged” part of the Chardonnay was pretty cool, and in fact, it turned out to be one of the few Chardonnays we’ve enjoyed in life.
#6.) This was a bonus dessert, so I’m not sure of the official name. I believe it was a “one bite” candied popcorn. It was a small dessert, with a lot of impact on the palate.
An odd moment ensued when the a waiter added to the presentation by bringing a bowl of a dry ice-like, smokey substance. He called this “the essence of caramel.” Being a practical person, I was very confused, so I asked him what we were supposed to do with this bowl. He responded that it was “just for the aroma.” Okay, maybe a little over-the-top, but still fun!
#7.) Chocolate semi froddo with candied barley, almond, vincotto ice cream, and sponge cake.
Even though I’m not a huge dessert person, these particular desserts were speaking my language. It’s hard to beat a moist sponge cake dusted with cocoa powder and adorned with the perfect amount of sugary ice cream!
#8.) As if we needed another course, the waiter also brought out assorted mini desserts to celebrate our anniversary. The presentation of this dish was also very interesting. The desserts were arranged on a piece of plastic stretched over a bowl. There were little vents poked in the plastic to allow steam from heated rocks at the bottom of the bowl to rise up.
As you can see, we devoured quite the amount of food. It was truly an experience though, with great service in a dim and intimate setting, along with artistic, quality food.
Sidenote: I would like to find out who makes the quirky, asymmetrical plates and bowls that the Ashby Inn uses. I remember the waiter saying it was someone in Alexandria who hand-crafts them, but Google hasn’t been helpful in my search. Hopefully, I will have success in figuring this out in the near future!