Paolo’s and Restaurant Week Part I
February 20, 2009 § 1 Comment
Winter in DC usually means I’m holed up in my dorm room on weekends watching crappy chick flicks or catching up on LOST. A couple weeks ago, Jia and I had had enough, and we decided to organize a girls’ night out at Paolo’s Ristorante on Wisconsin. We’d walked past a dozen times before, and with a sudden craving for some decent Italian food, we caved.
I went with two appetizers, the duck gnocchi and eggplant fritters, while my friends chose between the pizzas and specials. The duck gnocchi was a bit disappointing. I was really excited after reading the delicious sounding description, but the duck confit was tough and dry, and even though the gnocchi was pillowy, the arugula and biscotti crumbs had no business being in the dish. If the duck had been cooked better, the two alone would have been heavenly enough. The eggplant, on the other hand, was satisfactory. The cheese was molten hot and the sauce had a really nice tang, so I didn’t complain too much.
Everyone else said their food was fine, but I was too busy eating my food to care. Though I did choose not to order dessert, Jia and Tracy split the largest slice of tiramisu that I have ever seen in my life, and Melissa’s mandarin orange creme brulee was huge as well. We walked out of Paolo’s considerably stuffed and had to walk around M street before finally heading back to campus.
We didn’t have to walk too far. At Hook, there weren’t any individual tables available, but we sat at the end of a long table near the bar where there was full service. Hook is a restaurant very well known for its sustainable seafood, so it only made sense to order as much fish as we could. Appetizers were tuna tartare and an amped up clam chowder, but the entrees were the star of the show. My arctic char was no short of amazing – grilled so the skin was deliciously salty and crispy with the creamy celeriac puree to balance it – and Amy’s sablefish was light and airy but packed with the flavor of the ocean.
Desserts were amazing as well, and at this point, while I was taking photos, a chic woman came up to our end of the table and asked why I had a camera. Her name was Bethany Umbel, owner of Hook, and at that moment, she had been talking with Heather Chittum, the pastry chef who’d actually been named one of the “Top 5 Pastry Chefs in the Nation” and worked with Michel Richard at the famous Citronelle. I think they were both a bit on edge about me taking photos of the pastries (maybe they thought I was stealing presentation ideas?), but when they realized I was just an innocent food blogger, they eased up and sincerely said that they hoped we’d enjoyed the meal.It was a truly lovely dinner, and when I came back to the room to see how much the dishes originally would’ve cost me, I was shocked that the price tag would’ve been $61 without tax and tip. A serious bargain considering we only paid 35. Usually I’d say eating seafood exclusively isn’t my thing, but this was definitely a dinner to remember and I can’t wait until I go to Hook again.
3241 M Street, Washington DC 20007