Photo from dc.metromix.com

A few months ago, we wrote about one of our consistent favorites in Penn Quarter, PS 7’s.  We praised Chef Peter Smith’s approach to his menu and his commitment to using the best ingredients available to make inventive dishes with satisfying, complex flavors.  We mentioned Gina Chersevani’s cocktails in passing, but we largely focused on the meal.

For a lot of guests at PS 7’s, that’s the way they experience the menu.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  A few of our fellow bloggers (as well as the not-long-for-DC Daily Candy) have written about a way to have your cake and eat it too, in a manner of speaking.  If you know to order it, you can actually enjoy a seven-course tasting menu that comes paired with seven of Gina’s amazing cocktails in the lounge.

Don’t expect to see a menu (they abandoned the mysterious wax-sealed menus that the guys at the Scofflaw’s Den experienced), but do come prepared to eat and drink well.

How well?  Find out after the jump.

When the word first got around that Gina Chersevani would be mixing up the cocktails at PS 7’s, it was a given that there would be lots of opportunities for creative collaborations between the kitchen and the bar.  Come to think of it, most of her drinks involve recipes at least as complicated as your average entree.  And because she approaches drinks with the same passion for seasonal ingredients as Chef Smith, it stands to reason that her drinks would match up well with his menu.

But a menu that pairs cocktails with food?  Even in sure hands like these, it’s the kind of thing that gives you pause.  Thankfully, that pause was only a momentary one before we decided to go full speed ahead.

To try this pairing-palooza for yourself, you need to do a few things to prepare:

1.  Plan ahead.  As you might expect, this menu is only available when Gina and Chef Smith are working, so you’ll want to choose a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday to check it out.

2.  Call ahead.  This menu takes time and effort to prepare, so the team at PS 7’s requests at least 24 hours’ notice to set it up.

3.  Think ahead.  You’re about to enjoy seven great dishes, sure, but you’re also going to be sipping on seven cocktails.  Even spread out over the course of two-plus hours, that’s a fair amount of booze to put away.  Be smart – don’t drive.

Over the course of your meal, you can expect to enjoy some of Chef Smith’s classic dishes from both the lounge menu and the restaurant menu (oxtail tots and pork belly show up regularly).  Specials – including some that may not even make it out to the main dining room – are also part of the experience.  And with each dish comes a cocktail hand-crafted by Gina and tailored to complement something about the course at hand.

We started our tasting with something from the sea – a perfectly seared scallop swimming in a sauce studded with ‘sea pearls’ of salmon roe and shreds of heirloom beets.  The light sweetness of the scallop is mirrored and enhanced by a cocktail that blends cava with a reduction of those same beets.  The color is a deep purple-red.

Photo from Food Service Monthly's "Sauce on the Side"

For our main entree, we enjoyed a dish that is currently a favorite on the main restaurant’s menu: Buzzed Beef.  They take a beautiful local beef tenderloin, rub it with coffee, and sear it.  Ours came out at a perfect medium rare, and it practically melted as we cut into it.  A reduction of Bell’s Porter added another deep note to the dish, and the accompanying potatoes and mushrooms helped to reinforce the overall earthy flavor.  Rather than layering heavy on heavy, Gina’s cocktail brought in light, crisp citrus notes that played well with the richness of the beef and served to wake up the entire dish.  It was a great contrast.

Perhaps the most surprising thing for us was the price – $77 per person.  For a seven course tasting menu.  And seven accompanying cocktails.  At first glance that might seem like a lot, but that’s $11 per course – with beverage included.  Or look at it another way: with cocktails averaging $10 each at PS 7’s, you’ve basically paid for your drinks and then tacked on $7 for a multi-course meal.

If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate a special occasion, the cocktail-paired tasting menu at PS 7’s definitely warrants your consideration.  The price is right, the location is fun, and Gina’s conversation throughout the evening is guaranteed to keep things lively.  7 courses and 7 cocktails for $77 at PS 7’s…odds are you won’t find a better deal anywhere in Penn Quarter.

PS 7’s
777 I Street, NW
Washington, DC
Ps 7's on Urbanspoon