This is the story of an oasis. An oasis within an office building in suburban northern VA. Wherein, a classically trained French chef, who's previously worked with Daniel Boulud, now serves up innovative dishes using seasonal ingredients. I suppose I've lived in the city for too long. I've been under the false impression that any restaurant with valet parking and a thoughtful tasting menu couldn't possible be found in suburbia. I stand corrected.
Despite its odd location, 2941 Restaurant provides a serene and gorgeous backdrop to an upscale dinner experience. Easily a favorite with wedding parties, there are waterfalls, gardens, and koi ponds that help to create nice photo-ops.
We started with a salad of local baby beets, goat cheese, endive and chives. I enjoyed the addition of the chives, both for color and flavor. Beets are one of those foods that really sells itself- deeply rich in colors and earthy sweet.
The next course was a lMaine lobster claw, served two ways- poached, and chopped in a loster cake/nugget. It was served with a long bean and bibb lettuce salad with tamarind-anise vinaigrette. Amazing is really all I can say about this dish. I love long beans; they tend to be used more in home-style cooking and rather underused in restaurants. The lobster meat was sweet and supple.
The main course was a pan-seared halibut filet with braised baby carrots and sugar snap peas (from California), in a light sabayon sauce with morels. The sabayon was wonderful- light as air, and simply melted on your tongue. I've never seen morels paired with fish, but it works beautifully, like a double dose of umami for the tastebuds.
For dessert, a pear-almond cake, with a frangipane base, served with almond cream. The buttery crumb of the cake was delectable. My mom ordered the molten chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice-cream and a dark chocolate tuile. In general, the desserts were less impressive than everything else; they lacked a certain edge and creativity.
We ended our meal with coffee and the house's complimentary serving of citrus beignets, which were glazed (!), light, and just the right size. What I really miss is the ethereally light, cotton candy that 2941 used to serve to all its guests after dinner. Tall, freshly-spun, light blue mounds of fluffy cotton candy used to be a fun and whimsical part of the dining experience here, but not anymore.
2941 is a great special-occasion restaurant (my parents take me here for my birthdays), as well as an escape for a seriously nice lunch or a weekend brunch. The service gets slow on weekends when the place is usually quite busy. Reservations, as well as a jacket for the gents, are highly recommended.
Update: A new pastry chef was brought on in June 2008, and upon inspection of the new dessert menu, it looks to be a much more impressive selection of sweets. However, the cotton candy is still nowhere to be found. Please bring it back!
Note: The menu items from this review are from April 2008, and thus reflect the seasonal selections at that time.