Tuesday, May 10, 2011

J&G Steakhouse

Sightseeing is hard work, requiring stamina, determination, and at the end of the day, a culinary reward.

In Washington DC, there are many things to see: from the White House to Capitol Hill, everything in-between and beyond. To be sure, you can walk everywhere. But careful…it all looks close together on the map and even in person. But because the scale of everything is so grand (quite the opposite of the intimacy of Ottawa’s downtown), objects actually are farther away than they appear.

Luckily, DC has an excellent metro system. Back when I lived here, the public transit system was a local joke. It’s just one of the many things in DC that have changed for the better.

As for our reward at the end of the day, we needed steak. There’s no shortage of steakhouses in this red meat town. We bypassed the usual suspects and opted for J&G Steakhouse, just a stone’s throw from the White House. (Not that I tried throwing stones at the White House. Ill-advised, they tell me.)

J&G Steakhouse is a Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant. (Vongerichten is an Alsatian who is now one of those worldwide chefs.) After a salad as an appetizer, I chose the 14 oz Six Peppercorn Prime NY Steak with sides of Frites and sautéed kale while Michèle selected the 8 oz Filet Mignon. For me, steak needs to have good body and texture. Rib Eye, Hanger, New York, that’s a steak. I don’t care for steak disguised as melted butter, which is what Wagyu can often be. My steak had just the right amount of chewy texture that makes steak so enjoyable.

Our wine is the Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Stags Leap District, 14.9% ABV. It’s an almost-Meritage blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (12%), Malbec (7%), Cabernet Franc (4%), and Petit Verdot (2%). Aromas of cassis, sweet spices, and a touch of earthiness. The cassis and spice follow on the palate with soft, well-integrated tannins. Some dark chocolate on the finish. No unpleasant heat from the high alcohol level. Good length, but perhaps lacks the structure I like with a good steak.

Service at J&G is quite the opposite of our dinner at Hank’s Oyster House. Friendly, efficient, unobtrusive and, most importantly, unhurried. Oh, I’m sure they can rush an order if called upon. But, for us, we finished our wine leisurely after the main course. No sign of the dessert menu until the wine was gone. The way it should be. The restaurant was full but we felt we could have stayed there as long as we wanted.

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