Friday, June 14, 2013

Azur

Chef Frederik de Pue’s Azur is a classic European seafood restaurant in Penn Quarter, the heart of DC. The menu is a reflection of De Pue’s experience in some of Europe’s best seafood kitchens, including the Michelin-starred Sea Grill restaurant in his native Belgium. Assisted by Chef de Cuisine Robert Rubba, Chef de Pue offers quality seafood from sustainable purveyors.  Closest Metro is Archives-Navy Memorial.

From their website: "A six seat raw bar on the third level offers oysters, caviar and cured salmon in their most unadulterated form. The restaurant's wine program is characterized by its large list of white varietals and also includes a carefully curated selection of burgundies, sparkling, and sweet reds. This 135-seat ode to the sea is dressed in subtle ocean hues and hand-made furniture. Tall ceilings, large windows, exposed pipes and a striking spiral staircase distinguish the lofty interior. The main dining areas on the second and third floors have a perfect view of one of the restaurant's singular features: a custom-made chandelier that recreates underwater air bubbles with over 60 different size globes. In keeping with its commitment to sustainable sourcing, Azur filters all water in house with Natura Water technology, and collects all oyster shells to be returned to local beaches and oyster beds."

After reading Sietsema's latest review, I was excited to try Azur.  Being a non-red meat eater, I adore seafood and felt Azur would satisfy.  We arrived for an early dinner on Friday night, as we planned to catch a movie afterwards.  We were seated on the second floor and had the whole main dining room to ourselves.  I was fond of the aqua tones and wood paneling on the walls, which set a calming and relaxing mood that paired well with the awesome indie-pop soundtrack lightly playing in the background.  Happy Hour started this Friday from 3-7pm and features $1 raw oysters.  Obviously, Keith had to try some and chose a small sampling from the East Coast: Blue Point, Stonnington, CT; Moonstone, RI; and Rappahannock, VA.  While he slurped those down, I started with the Fluke Crudo that were wrapped around white asparagus and had a lovely black lime marinade with a light avocado cream that I basically licked off the plate.  The crudo was incredibly fresh and popping with flavor.

Cotton Candy bigger than your face.
For my main course, I chose the Branzino, which came with farro verde with bacon and gribiche sauce.  The sauce had a mustardy bite that brightened the light white fish.  Keith had the Halibut with coconut and lime mussels, new potatoes, and octopus, in a chorizo broth.  His fish was cooked sous vide and was a bit more bland on its own, but the chorizo-flavored seafood stew underneath gave an interesting dimension to the plate.  All in all both fish dishes were nice portions and super fresh, yet my branzino was the clear winner.

For dessert, we decided to splurge and ordered the Cotton Candy and the Rhubarb Clafoutis with vanilla gelato and strawberry.  Hindsight, I would not order the cotton candy again.  It was a simple childlike dessert - but nothing special other than a large cottony cloud of sugar in a bowl.  The clafoutis was reminiscent of a warm bread pudding, and was studded with fresh chunks of rhubarb.  The vanilla gelato was elegant and the perfect accompaniment to this dessert.  Overall, we had a great meal at Azur and with its location so close to my work office, I may return again for lunch and more likely to enjoy Happy Hour again.

Total Rating: 4.23
Food: 4.5, Price: 3.5, Service: 4, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Fluke Crudo
black lime, cilantro, avocado, white asparagus, espelette
Branzino
farro verde, gribiche sauce, bacon

Cotton Candy

Rhubarb Clafoutis
with vanilla gelato and strawberry

Plus Keith ate:
East Coast Oysters
Blue Point, Stonnington, CT; Moonstone, RI; Rappahannock, VA

Halibut
with coconut & lime mussels, new potatoes, octopus, chorizo broth

Azur on Urbanspoon

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