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Vidalia – Restaurant Week Lunch



1990 M Street, NW

On Monday afternoon my friend and former co-worker and I ventured into the city to have lunch at Vidalia. Neither of us have ever been there before, so was really looking forward to it. Vidalia has been open since Spring 1993 and has continued to receive accolades from local and national authorities, including being listed annually as one of Washington’s Very Best restaurants.
In 2009, Vidalia was listed as #7 on the Very Best list earning three and a half stars out of four. Executive Chef, Jeffrey Buben has also received his own awards including Best Chef (Mid-Atlantic) from the James Beard Foundation in 1999. Chef de Cuisine, RJ Cooper, III also received the Best Chef (Mid-Atlantic) in 2007. This is quite impressive! Two in the same kitchen! The decor of the inside of the restaurant is tastefully neutral. The space is open yet intimate.
Despite the fact that Vidalia ranked among the top 10 of Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants, it still participates in DC’s Restaurant Week twice a year. I was lucky enough to score a last minute change of plans reservation at this top establishment and at a prime time lunch hour at that. I was also lucky that it so happened to be a national holiday and parking near M Street was not as in demand. I don’t like to pay to park in a garage, if I can help it.
Vidalia’s menu for restaurant week reflected their usual menu, it’s daring and adventurous.

For their restaurant week lunch menu, choices for first courses included suckling pig galantine, marcho ranch veal cheek salad with sweetbread terrine and veal tongue, and crispy pig tails. I was able to try both the citrus cured madai snapper with key lime, watermelon radish with grinnel caviar, and avocado and piquillo pepper sauces and the smoked pappardelle pasta with rabbit bacon, smoked Gouda, and preserved apples. The madai snapper was presented beautifully (see photo on right) and was served resembling the size and shape of sushi pieces. You could hardly tell the snapper was fish except that it was raw. The tiny bit of lime on the top of the snapper reminded me of wasabi. Placing citrus with fish is not unique, but it is truly a wonderful combination. The smoked pappardelle pasta was a larger portion than the snapper (see photo on left). With every single bite, you could taste the rabbit bacon, smoked Gouda, and apples. It had a creamy consistency and was delicious. A slightly different version of the pasta is available on the regular dinner menu, but the pricey black périgord truffle was replaced with apples. Fair enough. The pasta was still quite delicious. I think that it might be a little too rich to have as a main entree, however.

For the main course, I ordered the braised Wagyu brisket served with heirloom root vegetables and potatoes in a rich beef bouillon (see photo on right). Most briskets that I have had have been dry, bland, and tasteless (no offense to my relatives). This brisket was; however, moist, tender, flavorful, and delicious. I enjoyed every single bite. The beef bouillon and vegetables were perfect accompaniments. The vegetables were tender and I felt like it was like eating comfort food.

I also tried the shrimp and grits which the server indicated was one of Vidalia’s “signature” dishes. The brisket was a much larger portion, however; the shrimp came with three jumbo shrimp atop yellow grits with andouille sausage, pearl onions and spicy shellfish cream. The shrimp were perfectly cooked. I was glad that I was able to try something off their regular menu.
We also decided to order an additional side of baked macaroni with cave aged cheddar and smoked Virginia ham with fresh shaved truffles. I am not sure if it was really worth the $8.50. The cost is probably associated with the truffles. There has been a recent trend of high end fine dining restaurants creating their own version of a comfort food, such as macaroni and cheese. I guess people like it. I thought that the macaroni and cheese was pretty good but I only had a little bit due to the probable fat content.
Speaking of fat content, for dessert I ordered the banana napoleon served with caramelized bananas with salted caramel mousse, bitter sweet chocolate layers and salted caramel sauce (see photo). The banana napoleon was beautifully presented. The banana and caramel combination was to die for. It was truly heavenly. I think the dessert could have easily come with peanut butter instead of the caramel and it would have been just as delicious. I also sampled the Georgia pecan bar served warm with bourbon caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. I think that this was the better of the two desserts not to mention it was a larger portion. If I ever visit Vidalia again, I am sure that I won’t forget that Pecan Bar. It was sweet but not too sweet. The Georgia pecan bar is a good example of what is Southern on the menu at Vidalia.
Overall it was a superb meal. In terms of value, even though we had wine and an additional side, it was a pretty good value. To cost down on costs, diners who want to stick to the $20.09 lunch should drink water and skip the wine and additional side items offered. Also to get the bang for your buck, you could order the pasta as a first course, brisket for the main entree and the pecan bar and have a very filling meal! The regular menu is still quite expensive, hence the four dollar signs. As for the kids-friendly rating, I’m not sure if there is a kids-menu. I did not ask. Also, I didn’t see any children in the restaurant at the time that I was there, but then again, it was in the middle of the afternoon. Maybe I will try and go back with both of my kids in tow. I did go into the ladies room and there was not a changing station. This is necessary for most parents dining out with small children. I will give them one pacifier.


One Response

  1. […] other participating DC area Chefs are RJ Cooper of Vidalia, Brian McBride of Blue Duck Tavern, Jamie Leeds of Commonwealth Gastropub, and John Manolatos of […]

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