A space to post my thoughts and musings about anything. This includes but is not limited to community, politics, current events, dating, GLBTQ issues, favorite things, and stuff that would make your dead relatives blush. I am not afraid to go there, as some can attest.

December 22, 2009

Bourbon Steak

What happens when you get a bunch of us foodies together, and we decide to go for what could be a memorable meal?  You end up at the Four Seasons in DC, specifically at Bourbon Steakhouse.

A few weeks ago, my friend Shaw_Girl made the suggestion that we all go to Bourbon Steakhouse since we had heard many good reviews about it and their one-year anniversary was coming up.  A reservation was made for Tuesday the 15th, and we were all set to go.  BG and I reviewed the menu online before heading over there so we had an idea of just what we were getting into.  This would be the first time that any of us could try steaks that were dry-aged and then poached in clarified butter, which sounded really good.  To also help set what would be the later tone of the evening, several of my friends had been following Bourbon Steak on Twitter, and when one of them had asked a question about dress code out loud, he had a private message within minutes with an explanation.  I was liking that they were paying attention to us.

For me it was a matter of hopping a Metro train after work and getting over to the Foggy Bottom Metro station before taking a walk over to the hotel.  It was a clear and cold night, but I was prepared for that.  I got to the restaurant and met up with everyone at the bar area.  SG was having their specialty hot cocoa, which after I took a taste of it, I was placing an order for it immediately.  I think I've been ruined on hot cocoa because I will never make one that good at home.  One of our companions ordered their apple cider, which is made with some Maker's Mark.  If you're not a chocolate lover, go for the apple cider, especially in the dead of winter.

We were taken to our table and seated, where we would find a card from the staff member who manages the Twitter account for Bourbon Steak addressed to all of us by our Twitter usernames.  It was welcoming us to dine with them that evening.  I admit that was a very nice touch.  After being seated, the manager came by and said hello to us, and the staff member who provided the card said hello as well.  I think it was because they were aware of us coming and wanted to make sure to make a good impression on us.

We made small talk for a while as we looked at the menus and tried to decide what we wanted.  Luckily we had a very nice waiter who was friendly and willing to answer questions about what was on the menu.  He also didn't hesitate to let us know what some of his favorites were, which I think helped a few of us in the decision making.  He also knew how to market and be very convincing.  I wasn't originally going to order an appetizer, but he convinced me to do so.  I went with an iceberg wedge appetizer, their 16 oz rib eye cooked medium, and a side dish of roasted spaghetti squash with prosciutto.  The popular side to order that evening from our table would be the truffle mac n cheese because we were all curious to try it.

After our order was placed, the complimentary fries were brought out.  These fries are seasoned and rendered in duck fat, and they were very tasty.  The flavors that I remember were dill pickle, cheddar cheese, and southwestern, and they came with bbq sauce, sour cream, and a third sauce I can't remember.  I could have easily eaten a pile of those fries.

Another item that came to our table was the mini rolls that had truffle butter on them.  Those disappeared fast at our table just because of how good they tasted.  There should be a place on the menu to order more of those, they were so good.  There was just the right amount of butter on them to where you would not think of asking for more, and they were perfectly flaky too.

The appetizers came and while my iceberg wedge was good, with the cheese and the smoked bacon, a better choice that evening would have been the roasted chestnut soup due to the cooler weather.  KM got that one, and I took a taste of it.  The soup was very smooth and creamy, and the bit of foie gras that I got in my spoonful was perfectly tender.  TF got the Tuna Tartare and I tried that as well.  They make it right at your table and it was the perfect balance between the tuna, tomatoes, garlic, and other spices.  It would make for a great summer appetizer.

Our entrees eventually arrived and for a few minutes we had nothing but exclamations about how wonderful the steaks were.  RS and I had both gotten our steaks medium and they were cooked perfectly pink, with no sign of gray.  Whatever rub they used on the steaks added a nice flavor kick to it without overpowering the steak, and it was oh so tender.  Each piece of steak could just melt in your mouth.  I had ordered a 16 oz steak and I would not be surprised if it was still about 16 oz after cooking, there was so much of the meat there, I don't know how I finished it that evening.

The sides that we had gotten besides the squash and mac n cheese were the brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes.  All of the sides went fast because they could easil/y be served family style, and each one will feed two people for sure.  While everyone did rave about the truffle mac n cheese, the surprise hit of that evening was the roasted squash.  I had expected the squash to be your basic roasted squash and garnished with the prosciutto, but they added a twist to it.  The squash had also been cooked in butter and cream and you could taste that flavor throughout.  Oh man did we talk about that squash all night.  I highly recommend the squash if you go.

Ultimately though the meal part had to come to an end, and it was time for dessert.  Since most of us were stuffed from the massive meal we had just consumed, we opted to share different desserts with one another.  SG and I shared the tiramisu, RS ordered the root beer float with sassafras and cinnamon ice cream and chocolate walnut cookies, KM ordered the bitter chocolate cake, and TF ordered the coconut candy bar.  I was expecting a layered tiramisu, but that's not what came out.  Bourbon Steak did a deconstructed tiramisu, so there was cubes of espresso soaked sponge cake arranged across a plate with dollops of mascarpone mousse and chocolate sorbet, with a few bits of spun sugar.  As we tried the dessert, we discovered there were bits of chocolate covered espresso beans mixed in, which gave it a nice crunch and didn't overpower the other flavors.  I tried a bit of the coconut candy bar and that is another dish I would recommend.  The chocolate walnut cookies were warm when they were brought to the table and very tasty.  I didn't get a chance to try the bitter chocolate cake, but I probably would have liked it.  I love dark chocolate as it is.

Throughout the meal, we had a running commentary among ourselves and on Twitter about the food and our experiences with Bourbon Steak, along with pictures of what we were having.  Luckily it seems the servers had no problem with us doing this.  The one comment we did note for sure about our service was not only that they were good at what they were doing, but they clearly were engaged with making sure we were well taken care of.  Even better was that they weren't hovering around us and interrupting the meal.  We were there for over 3 hours and at no time did we feel rushed.  That was a big plus because as it was, we were enjoying the company of one another and none of us had to be anywhere later that evening, so we were going to enjoy our experience.  The only time we were watched closely was when we were getting all the payment stuff together so that he was there immediately after it looked like we had it all together.  It was busy that night, but we still got to linger.

The other thing I liked was the environment of the restaurant and the attitudes from the employees in that it felt like a very nice place to sit and have dinner, but you were not going to be looked down upon if you didn't show up in a business suit or a cocktail dress.  I felt we were treated very well there and the employees understand that if they respect us, we will respect them right back, and that includes not getting any sort of a classist attitude.

Ultimately I recommend Bourbon Steak greatly as a place you can take someone for an excellent meal.  Just be prepared to drop some cash there because you're probably looking at about a $60 per person minimum for dinner.  Think about it though, you're dining at the Four Seasons, so it is not going to be like you're dropping in at a Denny's there.  However, my attitude is that every once in a while it is nice to go to a really good restaurant and have an enjoyable meal experience.  Besides that, the timing of when we went that night was perfect, because that Tuesday afternoon, I would have a reason to celebrate...

Some thoughts that we came up with on doing next time was that we noticed that out on the patio they have fireplaces where people can take out drinks and sit at during this cold weather.  It would be awesome to head to the bar at Bourbon Steak on a Friday night, order their hot chocolate or apple cider, and sit out there with some folks to chat after a long work week.  Add on some of that roasted chestnut soup and you've got a meal and a drink right there.