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Patomack Farm

cimabue | Aug 3, 2005 03:10 PM

Went to Patomack Farm's dinner in the field a few weeks ago and I was sorely disappointed. This place advertises a fresh from the farm menu but does not deliver either the farm or the flavor you would expect. The highlight was the service which was superb. Our waitress was efficient and friendly without being forced. She recommended other activities in the area and took a genuine but not intrusive interest in us.

The chef recommended either a 6 flight wine pairing or a bottle of Petit Syrah. We opted to split the bottle. This was our first mistake. While the Petit Syrah was delicious with gobs of fruit and strong but balanced tannins (think a big high alcohol Sonoma Zinfandel) it overmatched every item on their fixed price five course menu. I am still perplexed why the chef would recommend such a bottle to be matched with gazpacho, scallops, salmon and veal.

The opening course was a charred tomato gaspacho with herbed olive oil and fresh mozzarella. The gazpacho was bland. To their credit, it did taste like fresh, in season tomatoes, slightly charred and blended in a food processor. However, it was paired with a fresh cows milk mozzarella which was rubbery and flavorless. A better match would have been a bufalo mozzarella or at least a local goat's milk feta.

The second course was a bib lettuce salad (one leaf) with pickled onions. At the height of the summer harvest they decide to serve a pickled onion! This salad was a clear disappointment. It did contain deliciously earthy blue cheese crumbles. However, the cheese did not appear to come from any of the local and amazing cheese makers in the area. Another lost opportunity to emphasize fresh and local ingredients.

The fish course seemed to come from not the Chesapeake Bay (the world largest estuary), or the Atlantic Ocean, or even local trout from the nearby Shenandoah Valley area, no, it came from Alaska. In the summer, you get amazing crabs, rock fish, flounder, drum, you name it in the Chesapeake Bay. The Atlantic provides Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Swordfish, etc. The Alaskan halibut was mushy and tasted previously frozen. The Alaskan scallops, rubbery for the same reason.

We were given a sorbet of Bing Cherries (not local) and Blue Berries (local). It was refreshing.

Then came the entrees. I ordered white salmon; my guest ordered the grilled veal.

In Virginia and vicinity we have trout farms, Kobe beef farms, goat farms, hogs, rabbit, chicken, turkey, sheep, you name it - some organic and grain fed - but we don't have any local wild salmon or local veal.

The salmon was dry and overcooked, as were the vegetables that came with it.

The grilled veal was very tasty. It had a nice crust and was tender and succulent.

The dessert was good -- chocolate. Not a blackberry torte or a peach melba -- two things bursting into season right now.

The coffee as Tom Siestema wrote, was very weak.

This meal was decent. The true flaw of this restaurant is how it ignores local ingredients rather than embraces them. Hey, if it wants to be a diner that opens a can every time someone orders a meal, fine. But the problem is that they advertise specializing in local in season ingredients.

Summertime in Virginia is bursting with great fruits and vegetables. Match that with the incredible variety of local meat, cheese and seafood and you have incredible potential. Ignore it at your peril.

Patomack Farms is not worth the trip or expense. For an authentic seasonal Virginia meal, go to your local farmers market.

- Cimabue

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