Monday, July 18, 2011

Adour at the St. Regis, Washington DC

When Adour at the St. Regis, a restaurant in the Alain Ducasse empire, debuted in DC two years ago, critics weren’t wowed. A beautiful dining room, good service, and a plate of delicious macarons with the check couldn’t make up for frequently bland and uninspired cooking. But when The Washingtonian changed its tune this past January, ranking Adour #5 on its list of top DC restaurants, I knew it was time to go. Was this chef—known for excellence in the fine dining world—finally delivering on his promise in DC?

We began with the foie gras, which the waiter described as an interesting take on the classic “foie and something sweet.” Instead of fruit or jam, the chef was using fresh corn and ground corn (almost like polenta but more refined). It was a good move: the foie gras was savory with a touch of savory-sweetness on the side so that it wasn’t cloying. My mom and I split a portion, and we each had plenty of foie.

As a note, I split the appetizer and entrée portions with my mom, so these are all half sizes.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse at the entrée. All three of us ordered the cod on the waiter’s recommendation. The buttery fish served with vegetables was exactly what we had heard about Adour’s early days—bland and uninspired. Of course, we didn’t have any other entrees to compare it to. However, when I ate this dish I found myself wondering whether fish could ever be as transcendent at meat. Which is not what I should be wondering at a top 5 restaurant.

Things improved with dessert, but I wasn’t surprised because we all had the hazelnut soufflé, which has been lauded by critics since Adour’s earliest days. Towering and gorgeous with a scoop of orange sorbet on the side, the soufflé was a nice alternative to the usual chocolate or grand marnier versions. Unfortunately, if it weren’t for the soufflé, I don’t know what dessert I would have ordered. The menu was missing a standard “chocolate dessert” to appeal to every diner—a risky move (in my dessert-biased opinion), considering that there still seem to be a few flaws on the food menu.

Adour at the St. Regis
923 16th Street Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20005
(202) 509-8000

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