Late last week, Eve was taking it on the chin on this board, versus Palena. I just wanted to chime in with a glowing report from our first visit to the Eve Tasting Room last Friday night...
It was truly a memorable meal, well worth the price. Apparently there had been a recent menu change, so we spoke at length with our server (Anissa? She was excellent) about some of the dishes. We started with a plate of canapes, well-executed standards like tuna tartare and the deviled quails egg along with my favorite, a tiny bite of duck custard on toasted brioche. I think that there might be more peace in this world if everyone ate a little more duck custard on brioche.
Next came a rutabega soup, mildly flavored with the sweetness of cream. This soup really highlighted the chef's ability to extract the essence of his ingredients, without feeling the need to "kick up" everything with saffron foam and the like.
My first course consisted of two perfectly-sauteed prawns (and I have sort of a prawn-cooking-method fixation; these were among the best-executed, tender on the inside with just a hint of crisp on the surface) lightly and not-too-sweetly glazed with, maybe pineapple juice? Tangerine juice? The accompanying tangerine-herb salad was amazing. My husband chose the turnip soup, served with crispy sweetbreads, which was very good but not as good as the pumpkin soup with crispy sweetbreads from the dearly departed Nectar.
Next I had roasted bronzino with fennel, fingerling potatoes and lemons...wonderfully fresh and flavorful. The roasted lemons cut the richness of the bronzino perfectly. Husband had...hmm. Can't remember.
Next came roast lamb chops, with sauteed spinach an a tiny turnip gratin (more of that wonderful cream! Must find the source). Excellent, if not particularly experimental. Husband had the most amazing cassoulet,about 6 spoonfuls worth of tender, rich beans, and even tender, even richer braised duck (and probably some sausage...) topped with a generous slice of pan-seared fois gras. Almost as deconstructed as my plate was classic, and he and I were duking it out for the last bite. Yum.
Cheese course was well done, and included as good of an Epoisse de Bourgogne as one is likely to get in the U.S. 3 or 4 selections (can't remember) and a nice, multi-bite portion of each. I love cheese, and hate it when restaurants are stingy with the good stuff. Eve was decidedly not. Accompaniments were toasted bauguette and some chunky apricot compote...the cheese, pretty much, stood alone ; ).
I was really full at this point, so I can't fairly judge dessert, but in that context, neither dessert was a smash hit. I had an apricot souffle, that was perfectly good, but didn't make me want to lick the plate. Husband had a banana sesame mille feillue, which was essentially a banana sesame baklava, and it didn't really work for us. Neither of us are huge dessert people under the best of circumstances, though, so no harm done.
We drank a glass of Kluge champagne, one of Todd Thrasher's amazing mojitos, and a bottle of Australian grenache from the less expensive end of the wine list. All exceeded expectations (although I am pre-disposed to love the Kluge Champagne...there was this one rainy afternoon in Va winecountry...).
As a final note, if you have some dearly departed relative from below the Mason-Dixon line who had an African-American cook who made the most incredible dinner rolls ever, that you've tried and tried to reproduce and just can't, get yourself to Eve. Because suprisingly, they've got them. Annie's rolls, as they are known in my family. And Annie never offered them with salted Irish creamery butter.
So, while I, too, love Palena, there is room in my heart for many great food loves in this, um, metropolitan area, and I wholeheartedly add Eve to my list.