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Equinox Restaurant: An Evening in Perfect Balance

March 20, 2017

By Allan Suchinsky, Chevalier, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

Todd Gray has been a notable fixture in Washington DC restaurant kitchens since
1989. The Greater Washington DC Bailliage celebrated the end of winter and the vernal equinox in an event that was sold out, by experiencing Chef Gray's culinary excellence March 20, 2017 at his Equinox Restaurant. This refined dining establishment, a short distance from the White House, truly validated for the 48 members and guests in attendance that as the celestial equinox is a special semi-annual occurrence, this Equinox is a special restaurant. Attendees were warmly welcomed and treated to an excellent repast.

The evening commenced with a champagne reception, featuring Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Champagne, France, accompanied by morsels of savory puffed black truffle risotto fritters with shaved Perigord truffles, potted chicken and duck liver mousse with early Spring rhubarb, and brioche crostini with avocado, pickled cauliflower and smoked sea salt. This flavorful opening enhanced anticipation for what would follow. And, it was difficult to be disappointed as the evening progressed.

The initial course of tortelloni of house made ricotta and cartelized Maui onions with fava bean coulis, brown sage sugar, and artichoke chips was exceptional. The chips played off the flavors and texture of the remainder of the dish nicely. Complementing the delicious opener was a fine, perfectly matched 2012 La Mesma Gavi, (Piedmont, Italy).

The fish course was a flavorful interlude prior to the entrée. Described by diners as "beautiful" and "wonderful" was a sautéed east coast rockfish filet accompanied by leek confit, saffron potatoes, and Pernod-bouillabaisse jus, the latter significantly enhancing the texture and flavor of the fish. Crisp French bread at the tables was a fine complement to everything on the plates. A vibrant 2014 Clos St. Magdeleine Cassis Blanc (Provence, France) enhanced the course.

The entrée was unique and wonderful. Chef Gray's pairing of succulent Joyce Farms poularde and tender, perfectly braised Border Springs lamb was delicious. Anyone feeling that "chicken" and "gourmet" are mutually exclusive terms would feel differently after sampling this sumptuous dish. The turf and turf duo was nicely enhanced by gingered carrot mousseline, wilted wild spinach, and morel mushroom cream. The wine pairing worked exceptionally well. The 2007 Montirius Gigondas Terre des Aines (Rhone Valley, France) was full bodied and well balanced.

This symphony of fine tastes concluded with a delectable movement that proved both sweet and savory. Chocolate banana cream cake with bruléed bananas, bourbon caramel, and Mandarin orange sorbet was as delicious as it sounds. The complement of a divine Pergole Vece Recioto Della Volpoicella Classico (Veneto,
Italy), 2011 put a salutary cap on the grand finale.

The equinox occurs when the sun and earth are in perfect alignment. Chaine DC members, following this encounter with Todd Gray's exceptional Equinox, undoubtedly have a better conception of what perfection and alignment are all about.

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