Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Chloe - the trifecta of service, amibance, and food

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When the server tells you mid-meal that she has a crush on you because of your ability to consume all the amazing food, you know you're in the right place. When she proclaims to your husband that he better know how lucky he is to have found a woman who can eat at his pace - you may have found your restaurant soulmate. Our amazing waitress was only part (a big part!) of why we absolutely adored Chloe. 

My husband and I made a date night out of Chloe, located in the basically-unrecognizable Navy Yard neighborhood. The host greeted us upon arrival and immediately ushered us to our table. The space was light and airy, with the perfect lighting and music, not too loud so you couldn't hear your dining companion, but loud enough to muffle the sound of the conversations of other diners. 

We started with cocktails - and over the course of the night sampled 6 varieties. I started with a lemon-bubbly lavender-infused vodka cocktail, while my husband opted for the ***VERY SPICY*** tart gin drink. They didn't lie - it was extremely spicy. I wouldn't have been able to tolerate the whole beverage. The cocktails overall were unique and unexpected, of note was my spiked grape-fruit juice. I've never had a cocktail like this and enjoyed it immensely, thought it wasn't the best to pair with dinner. 

Onto the food! We started with the sheep's milk ricotta. Sprinkled with figs, honey, rosemary, and olive oil, I found myself wanting to hoard this course for myself. The fresh bread paired perfectly as the vehicle to enjoy the simultaneously sweet and savory cheese. I could've done without the greens - they did make the dish more colorful, but my motto is always - more cheese please!

Next up was the cobia crudo. This dish was flavor and textural perfection. The acidity of the lime juice, spiciness of the Thai chiles, and chill of the fresh fish were a literal party in my mouth. The crispy shallots and puffed black rice added crunch to an otherwise soft bite. Crudos are a popular main-stay on many restaurant's menus, but are not always easy to do successfully. When you're lapping up the sauce and cutting a small piece of fish into 3 bites to make it last, you know you've hit it out of the park.

My husband wanted to try the pickled vegetables. I agreed because I also share a love of all things pickled. However, when the plate arrived I was surprised to see a ton of olives - this is not something I think of as commonly pickled. It was clearly called out on the menu, but I didn't pay close attention. Since I had snacked on olives earlier during the afternoon, my olive quota of the day was near its threshold. The unique item on the plate was the pickled garlic. I probably wouldn't have guessed it was garlic if I hadn't known - it had lost all of the bite garlic normally has and was rendered a delicious lighter version of its formal self. This is the only dish of the night I would pass on ordering again.

The grilled scallions are an homage to a popular Spanish dish. I did find these somewhat hard to cut, resulting in nearly choking as I tried to swallow a mouthful of the flimsy green. The char on the veg and the acidity of the Romesco sauce were in perfect harmony. Another plate that I found myself wanted to lick clean. 

One of the most popular dishes, so we were told, is the caramelized cauliflower. I can see why! I'm not usually a fan of the cousin to broccoli, which I more prefer, but somehow the chef managed to cook the cauliflower in a way that made it simultaneously soft and crunchy. The veg was perfectly covered in the tahini sauce, while not being too heavy as to overwhelm the dish. 

Our server almost talked us out of the potato gnocchi - she was worried we were ordering too much. I quickly assured her we are not like most people, we come to eat! I am so glad we proceeded as planned - it was a sweet balance to many of the savory courses throughout the meal. The gnocchi was melt-in-your-mouth soft in a beautiful orange broth, which I assume was based on the butternut squash and mushrooms that made appearances in the dish. I could have done without the Brussels, and found myself digging past them in search of more gnocchi, squash, and mushrooms. 

My husband loves sausage, so we decided to try the spicy garlic variety at Chloe. I am not a huge fan of the cased meat, but for blogging purposes did give it a try. WOW! I was pleasantly surprised. The meat was tender, which is not a word I commonly use to describe sausage. Though exploring the menu now I did not think it was particularly spicy. I also don't remember any cornbread, but my husband devoured this dish so quickly it's possible I missed it - similar to my photo opp!

The waitress really pushed the fingerling potatoes. I wasn't sold because...potatoes...but we trusted her. They were crisped nicely, albeit slightly greasy, and paired with a delish spicy mayo. I would have liked more mayo, but the potatoes did go nicely with our last dish, a special that night.

We snagged the last skirt steak, an off-menu item being offered on Saturday night. Cooked to a perfect rare and served with chimichurri sauce and buttered 'winter greens' (kale or chard? I couldn't tell!), and tempura-fried mushrooms. Surprisingly for me, the mushrooms were the least notable part of this dish - their flavor was completely overwhelmed by the coating. While most dishes at Chloe are tapas style, the restaurant does offer a few entree-sized dishes. The steak was 8-ounces, perfect to share in addition to the many other tapas we sampled. 

Our dinner stomachs were full, but our dessert stomachs still had plenty of room! I had been excited to try the brownie sundae, but was sad to learn it had been dropped from the menu 4 weeks prior. Instead we opted for the chocolate red wine cake with grape ice cream. Chloe should call this dessert what it is - an ode to Little Debby Swiss Rolls. I've never had grape ice cream before, and it was a nice pairing with the beet-red wine sauce the dessert was surrounded by. Although I was hesitant at first, I'm very happy we gave this dish a chance.

By mid-meal, my husband had proclaimed this our best meal of the year in DC. From our amazing server, Tiffany, to the fantastic food (both visually and in taste), and beautiful environment, I can see more evenings at Chloe in our future. Cheers!

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