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. (more…)

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cyrus-coverAs Elizabeth mentioned in her writeup of Dry Creek Kitchen, we took advantage of our recent trip to California Wine Country to enjoy some really wonderful meals.  What she didn’t mention is that we happened to be out there over Valentine’s Day weekend – and any foodie worth their salt will advise you to steer clear of restaurants on that particular evening.

Thankfully, we timed our trip so that we arrived in San Francisco early on Friday morning, so we were able to make our big celebratory dinner reservation for that night.  I did some looking around, eager to find the ‘best’ place to visit on our only night when we’d be dining out while in Healdsburg.  Of course I knew that the French Laundry, in not-so-nearby Yountville, is praised the world over as one of the best restaurants in the universe, never mind the area.  I even went so far as to read some of the French Laundry’s reviews on Yelp (hoping to get a more diverse range of opinions).

cyrus-exteriorI’m glad I did.  Every so often within the reviews, I would come across references to a place called “Cyrus” – usually in (gasp!) direct comparison to the French Laundry.  Now I’ll admit it – I had never heard of Cyrus, but my interest was piqued.  I did a quick search and learned that Cyrus is actually in downtown Healdsburg – just a few short blocks from our bed & breakfast.  A little more searching turned up something else: Cyrus is the proud recipient of two Michelin stars.

We may not plan our destination dining around what the Michelin men have to say, but we really enjoyed ourselves at the Spotted Pig last year and that was our first introduction to a starred restaurant.  So I called up and secured a 5:30 reservation for Friday night.

How they blew our minds after the jump.

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Even with so many highly-recommended restaurants out there that we have yet to try, there are some spots we return to time and time again.  Sometimes there’s a specific dish (or cocktail) that keeps us coming back, but more often than not it’s a combination of the food, the service and the atmosphere that makes a favorite. 

Such is the case with Poste Brasserie, the restaurant in the courtyard of Kimpton Hotels’ Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter.  Situated in the original sorting room of the 1841 General Post Office, Poste calls to mind European settings with its spacious, enclosed courtyard sheltered from the frenetic pace of the surrounding neighborhood.  Cocktails, created by the bar staff, are inventive and tasty, with new classics like the Basil Lemontini and fresh offerings that make creative use of seasonal ingredients.  The commitment to fresh and local ingredients at the bar echoes Chef Robert Weland’s focus in the kitchen, where he creates dishes that can be comforting and high-end (his smoked duck reuben is an all-time favorite) or simple and fresh (a tomato gazpacho served over a dollop of dijon ice cream fills your mouth with the intensity of its flavor).

Weland doesn’t just put the ‘fresh and local’ mantra to use in his menu – he is an ardent advocate who grows his own lettuces, herbs and heirloom tomatoes in the courtyard outside the restaurant and who shops the local Penn Quarter farmers’ market.  Poste has found a great way to reflect this: their “Market to Market” dinner series.  What is that, you ask?  Find out after the jump.

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