Monday, November 16, 2015

Marcel's by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington DC

Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington DC, 10/29/15, $155/7 courses (excluding taxes & gratuity)
Marcel’s is considered the best French restaurant in Washington DC area. I therefore, made a reservation. It is located in Georgetown section of DC. The menu listed 4-5 dishes available under each course, each guest can select from 3-7 courses by choosing one item out of each course, or choosing two dishes out of one particular course. I chose the 7-course tasting menu, one dish out of each course.

Marcel’s served its house-made potato rolls and 3 different types of butter – sweet cream, pistachio and fig. Potato rolls were freshly baked, however, I missed the old fashioned baguette. It started with an Amuse Bouche.  
Amuse Bouche - A veal croquette, fried golden brown, over lemon aioli and topped with chives. It tasted good, but certainly was not a palette opener.

1st Course – Premier – The Magic Box – Lobster, Pickled Ginger, Avocado, Hamachi, Grilled Octopus, Crème Fraiche with Trout Roe
It was served in a bowl with six equal cells, each filled with one of the dishes. Starting from the 1 o’clock position was lobster salad, clockwise for the rest. Lobster salad was fresh, Hamachi was fresh, although can supplement with a bit of more flavor, and trout roe was sweet. But, octopus was chewy like rubber. I signaled my server that it was not chewable and I was offered a substitute course. I chose soufflé instead.

2nd Course – Fruits de Mer – Pan Seared Scallop Wrapped in Duck Prosciutto, Napa Cabbage, Julienne Apple, Black Garlic

It was a fairly large sized sea scallop sitting on top of sautéed Napa cabbage. I couldn’t not believe that one of the servers called it California cabbage. I had to ask him what California cabbage is. Scallop was wrapped by duck prosciutto, nicely cured and flavored, and scallop was sweet and tender. It was an excellently prepared dish. Often times, seared scallop was served in citric-based sauce. Here at Marcel’s, it used black garlic sauce to complement the prosciutto’s cured taste. This was my 2nd favorite dish in this meal.

3rd Course – Crispy Filet Dover Sole, Butternut Squash Purée, Caramelized Pearl Onions, Sauce Meunière

I was informed by my server that this dish is one of Marcel’s signature dishes. It was fried, slightly breaded, filet of Dover sole. Fish was crispy outside, although a bit greasy. But, butternut squash purée and caramelized pearl onions were so delicious. Marcel’s has made slight variation serving this dish. Usually, Meunière sauce refers to fillets of sole that are floured and sautéed quickly, then finished with lemon juice, parsley and browned butter.

4th Course – Foie Gras – Foie Gras & Crimini Mushroom, Butternut Squash Purée, Seared Foie Gras, Mushroom Consommé Froth

Foie Gras was served in two different way in this course. On the left side, seared foie gras was topped by mushroom consommé foam. While on the right hand side, foie gras and mushroom were folded inside a pocket made of pasta dough. Pasta sat on top of butternut squash purée and topped with micro green and diced squash and mushroom.

5th Course – Volaille – Marcel’s Classic Boudin Blanc, Black Truffle Mushroom Purèe, Caramelized Onions, Lardons of Bacon

I have read quite a few good comments about this signature dish and was very eager to try it. According to the Head chef, it was white meat sausage made of chicken (40%), duck, pheasant, foie gras (30%) and cream. It required two rounds of grinding, followed by manual refining. Then, cream was gradually beaten into grinded meat. The smooth mixture was fed into the casing to create the desired shape and size. After sausage was cooked, the casing was then removed. It was extremely labor intensive. In this course, Boudin Blanc was served with black truffle mushroom purèe to further enhance the taste. All dynamisms devoted to make this white meat sausage was worthwhile. It was my favorite dish in this meal.
6th Course – Viandes – Martin’s Angus Filet Mignon, Cauliflower, Brown Butter, Horseradish, Potato Purée, Cippolini Onions, Cabernet Sauce

Marcel’s acquired its meat supply from Martin’s farm. Martin’s sure provided excellent quality meat. Its filet mignon was very tender and sumptuous, almost melt in your mouth. Cabernet sauce, along with brown butter and horseradish, was with the right consistency and taste.

Substitute – Gruyère Cheese Soufflé, Epoisses Crème Fraiche, Chive

This is my substitute course. When my server brought it to table, it looked slightly burned. A chunk of triple cream cheese was served on the side in case you prefer cheesier flavored soufflé. This soufflé was overcooked, I would much prefer the gruyère cheese soufflé served at Benoit in NYC. 

7th Course – Chocolate, Blackberry Tart, Raspberry Cheesecake, Coconut Macaroon, Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream

Marcel’s doesn’t have a course for palette cleanser. This is my desert course. I saw other flavored sorbet on the desert menu and requested cassis sorbet (on the right hand side of photo) as a substitute for chocolate caramel ice cream. It turned out “cassis sorbet” was smooth and with pungent flavor, and was the best item in the desert plate.

Petit FourFinally my meal was concluded with four bite-size treats: blackberry tart, raspberry cheesecake, coconut macaroon, chocolate caramel square
During the meal, the Head chef came to my table because of my issue of chewy grilled octopus. I asked him about “Russian Beluga” listed on the menu and the fact that Beluga has been banned from US more than 10 years ago. He informed me what listed on the menu is hybrid beluga – ½ Ossetra and ½ Beluga. This hybrid sturgeon doesn’t inhabit in Caspian Sea like the original Beluga sturgeon. Surprisingly, its new home resides in Northeastern Asia.

I enjoyed my meal at Marcel’s in some way. I did have some nicely prepared dishes. Although it is rated as the best French restaurant in Washington DC area, it is no better than some of the fine dining French restaurants in NYC.

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