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Grateful DC Hounds Report (longish)

Louise Z. | Jun 25, 200210:34 AM

We're back from a week in your neck of the woods. Thanks for all the tips; both in response to my specific request a while back for Nob Hill suggestions and in the wealth of generous postings that typify this fabulous board. Here's some of what we ate:

Farallon - I arrived yearning for Pacific salmon so we ate here instead of on Nob Hill. (By the way, I spent a morning walking, actually climbing, the streets and came upon Venticello's, which Rochelle McCune had recommended. I wish we'd gone there. It looks wonderful.) The smoked king salmon appetizer was a real winner. The salmon was almost fluffy and just smoky enough. The entrees were much less memorable. The décor was interesting but all in all, the place was a little too see-and-be-seen for my taste.

Yuet Lee Seafood- I consulted Melanie Wong's Chinatown guide and was intrigued by the description of the seafood offerings here. Well, the pepper and salt squid was one of my favorite dishes ever. Perfectly fresh, expertly fried and totally yummy in all respects. (Much better than the calamari at Bixe in Yountville a few nights later, which wasn't too shabby either; but at Brixe, the breading and the squid rings, although compatible, were not meant to be in quite the same way as Yuet Lee's delicate coating and squid triangles.) The green-lipped mussels in black bean sauce were plump and delicious, the sauce tasty but a bit thick. If you like black bean sauce and are ever in Chinatown in DC, try Full Kee's clams in black bean sauce. The luscious little clams (don't know what kind) are very fresh and the black bean sauce is flavorful and also light. But I digress ...

Ondine's - The tartare trio appetizer was a big hit. The beef and quail egg were particularly memorable. My main course was bronzini, a fish I'd never heard of. It was exquisite. A whole fish, tender and savory in a tomato-based broth with plenty of olive oil. It was expertly boned at the table, but our waiter forgot to pour the wine after the first glass, so we had to get up and help ourselves to the bottle. There are worse omissions, but at those prices you don't expect self serve.

Terra in St. Helena - The highlight here was an appetizer special of salmon and himachi tartare with some kind of delicious roe, tobiko maybe? My lamb over gnocchi was good, but I was too full from an over rich appetizer of oyster and mushroom in a chardonnay cream sauce (what was I thinking?) to do it justice. Black cod in a miso ginger broth was declared a winner, but I didn't have room even to try it.

Winetastings - Our favorites were Matanzas Creek (the lavender fields alone are worth the trip; they're almost in full bloom), Joseph Phelps, and Ferrari-Carano, as much for the lovely grounds as for the delicious wine.

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