Wow, nicely done. We will definitely go back.
It started out a bit rough with the service being a little slow. Being a former front-of-the-house type of gal, I couldn't understand why one server hung out watching while the other was struggling to cover being practically triple-seated.
But the Tanqueray dirty martini helped mellow me out to the point where I could stop obsessing over what the servers were doing.
Chestnut soup--divine. Roux-based, bits of luscious chestnut, chunks of tasty mushrooms, rich. Huge boatful. Nicely done.
Thai mussels--first rate! Sooooo perfectly steamed. High-quality mussels. The broth (coconut milk, onion, heat, basil, lemongrass, probably a stick of butter it was so velvety) was perrrrrrrrfect. My only quibble is that you had to pick out the lemongrass chunks with your fingers from the basil and onion. If they could tie the lemongrass in cheesecloth, that would be perfect. I'd get the essence without having to pick the chewy bits out (though we were too greedy to bother and ate a fair amount of lemongrass!) It may have sat in the window briefly, because they weren't quite "out of the steamer" steamy.
Gnocchi in pesto with escargot and fresh, tiny, spring peas. Oh.Mah.Gad. Can you say, divine? The perfect balance of starch, fat, and salt. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Best gnocchi I've had in my 8+ years in Baltimore. Hands down. (And I'm a gnocchi aficionado.) It's right up there with the gnocchi I had in Rome and Lugano.
Dry aged ribeye with bernaise and potato slivers. The meat was great, though I prefer good meat sans sauce so I can enjoy the flavor of the meat. Very robust meat flavor, perfectly cooked to order.
Potato-encrusted seabass with asparagus. The asparagi were like buttah. This was the only dish I had to salt. I thought the seabass was left behind (almost like a hash) compared to the aggressiveness of the potato crust. It also was a lot greasier/heavier than your traditional seabass. That potato crust really absorbed a lot of cooking oil. I would have preferred something lighter.
Chocolate bundt cake with oooozy chocolate-y sauce. WOAH. Total chocolate overload. Could have used something the cut or complement the sweet (like Abacrombie's layer of grey salt on their chocolate/caramel tart).
Sommalier did a great job with pairings, even giving us a gratis glass here and there. I enjoyed everything he gave us. For someone who sticks to red, he gave me some really lovely whites which I thorougly enjoyed.
Then I played the "would you rather eat here or xxx?" game with my dining companion.
He preferred Timothy Dean's to Abacrombie. I would have voted the opposite. He said it TDs was more laid-back and had greater selection. I thought Abacrombie had more even service, which meant less angst for me. (Under heavy pressure at work, I still have those "lone waitress in a huge restaurant" stress dreams, despite no longer working in the foodservice industry.)
He also would go to TDs over Jack's Bistro. I would go to Jack's over TDs because of more eclectic selections. (I prefer funky over traditional.) But it was a close call! I'd consider it pretty much a three-way tie.
Also, the booths were a little too low for the table. Minor, I know.
My dining companion got the 4-course chef's tasting menu, I got the wine flight. Wed nights the wine flight is a great bargain at only $15.
Will definitely be back. Good stuff, menard. And Angel took great care of us. Go on a weeknight to avoid the weekend madness. There weren't more than 3 tables taken at a time.
Complementary valet, no smoking.
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