We had a spur of the moment dinner last night at Aquarelle. (Eight of us, my brother, two of my sisters, brother-in-law, nephew, and my wife, son, and I) The restaurant is located in the Watergate Hotel. The dining room overlooks the Potomic River and the view is nice. They advertise as casual elegant, and that about describes it. Service was excellent and we had a great time.
I took a '02 Reamy Carnaros Chard, '02 Radio-Coteau Savoy, '02 Owen-Sullivan Ulysses, and a '93 Signorello Cab.
Since everyone is family, tastes of each dish were passed around on forks and spoons. My brother cannot eat onions, so the waiter worked with him to identify what he could or could not eat. Since he was getting the pris fixe 4-course meal, they just traded out the appertizer as if one of the others had ordered it. (Two of us got the pris-fixe meal, the rest just ordered a la carte and had three courses)
The seared, semi-cured foie-fras, with roasted cavaillon melon, pistachio, and port syrup was excellent. Beautifuly presented (as was everything) it was one of the hits of the night.
The crawfish tempura and crab croquettes, lemongrass miso dipping sauce, and seaweed and japanese eggplant salad was also well received. (Yes that is one dish.) The tuna tartare and white anchovy timbale with fava beans and raw asparagus salad was also very good.
Also excellent were he mesclun and warm goat cheese cromesqui with roasted shallot-sherry vinaigrette, the chilled cucumber yogurt soup (I'm not usually one for chilled soups, but this was excellent)served with mango and fresh lump crab relish, and the artichoke poivarades and goat cheese gratin.
As good as the appetizers and small plates were, the next was the best. I had the roasted Atlantic halibut with a dry harrissa rub, caperlemon and olive oil emulsion. It was served on eggplant and fava beans componata with a side of star anis infused garbanzo bean puree. Out of this world. The fish was perfectly cooked and full of flavor. The best course of the night in my opinion.
Everyone loved the poached bay scallops in hot and sour broth and thai tapioca pasta. It was also fun to watch everyone try the excellent crab cake with liquorices sauce with the R-C. Everyone thought it was the perfect match.
Also well received was the Australian free-range lamb chops with marseillaise aioli. Unfortunately, the steaks were a little disappointing. (I had the fillet, my son the NY strip) They were nicely cooked but just did not wow us.
Desserts were a major hit. The bing cherry chocolate ravioli sounded better than it was. Not bad, just did not come up to par with the roasted white peach cream broulle, the kiwi sorbet, the apricot and graham cheese cake, or the bittersweet chocolate and gianouja tasting plate.
Coffee after the meal was excellent, as was the espresso. Service was very friendly (everyone had fun talking with the waiter, a very nice gentleman from Haiti) They brought a special drink from the bar for my brother-in-law and my nephew, neither of whom drink (we don't know what was in it, but if was wonderful.) The entire meal for the 8 of us lasted about 3 hours. Tax, heafty tip, and corkage was about $70 per.
BTW, they only charged $10 per bottle for corkage.