Thursday, December 19, 2013

G Tasting by Mike Isabella

Known as a sandwich shop by day and offering a more formal four course tasting menu at night, we recently dined at G by Mike Isabella for his take on an Italian-American holiday meal called the "Feast of the Seven Fishes." Five courses were available for $65 per person with optional beverage pairing for an additional $35 per person.  Closest Metro is U Street.

We hadn't dined at G yet, but was enticed by the special holiday seafood menu.  Instead of the beverage pairing, we decided to order drinks a la carte.  Keith started with a DC Brau beer, then switched to a classic Negroni, while I chose the Prosecco on tap.  The first course was comprised of two dishes to be shared: Roasted Oysters with bortarga butter, parmesan, and chili flake, and Baked Sardine with a tomato, caper, and lemon sauce.  The oysters were delicious and warm.  I liked the subtle spicy after kick.  The sardines were fishy, but in a hearty way and the tomato sauce was complimented by the briny olives and capers.  So far we were off to a good start with the first 2 of the 7 fishes, but I was worried the portions would continue to stay bite sized.

I was set at ease by our next dish that featured fishes number 3 and 4.  We each received our own plate of Warm Cod Salad with scallop, potato, olive, shallot, and broccolini.  This salad was not only plated beautifully, it was an expedition in the mouth with both cool and warm temperatures from the shallots and potatoes, to the crunchy and creamy textures of the vegetables and the sauce, and then topped off by the subtle saltiness of the cod and hint of sweetness from the scallop.  We really enjoyed this dish, and frankly this was the most memorable of the night.

Fish 5 (and maybe 6) came in the form of a more traditional pasta dish called Snow Crab Arrabbiata.  Hand cut spaghetti, tossed in a spicy tomato sauce with guanciale, crab, and then topped with a pinch of uni.  The uni is what I am not sure would be considered as fish number 6 because it was a tiny offering, however it added a hint of sweetness to the spicy dish.  My only small criticism about this dish is that the crab shell was left on the large pieces on top for presentation, which wasn't a big deal, but then since some crab was also used in the sauce I had small pieces of shell in a few bites making it a little off putting.  Keith really enjoyed this dish and cleaned his plate quickly, and then eyeballed my plate until I was just about finished before asking if I was going to eat all of mine.  As I swirled the last bit of spaghetti around my fork, I smiled and said yes.

The pasta dish was filling, but the main fish number 6 (described as "absolutely wonderful" by our server) arrived as a Pan Roasted Bronzino with fish number 7 (clams) in a fragrant Asian-inspired broth with leeks and lime juice.  At first glance, I was annoyed that we were served a bowl of broth without a spoon, as I wanted to immediately slurp up all that warm goodness.  But as the bronzino sat on top, it slowly soaked up the broth creating a crescendo of flavors with each bite.  The skin on the fish was perfectly extra crispy and the flesh itself was tender and meaty at the same time.  The leaks were not overpowering, and rounded out the dish.  This dish was a stunner and close runner up to the warm cod salad.

Happy with the progression of the tasting menu, we were then recited the dessert options.  I chose the Brownie Sundae, as I love chocolate and was sold by the description of the salted caramel ice cream.  However, the ice cream had strong burnt coffee undertones and the brownie cake itself was dry and flavorless.  Keith chose the Lemon Cheesecake that was a traditional NY-style cheesecake with a lemon curd layer on top and then drizzled with a tart huckleberry sauce.  He described his dessert as "pedestrian."  The other dessert option was a pumpkin pie with foie gras, which just didn't sound appetizing to either of us, mostly since Keith is not a fan of pumpkin at all, but also because I feel like foie gras in desserts is overplayed and unnecessary. 

Regardless of the lackluster desserts, we were impressed with the G Tasting by Mike Isabella.  The chef was in house this night and we caught a few glimpses of him running plates.  His interpretation of the classic Italian-American holiday dinner, "Feast of the Seven Fishes" was a mix of classic dishes with modern spins of ingredients and presentation.  This special offering has been extended from December 19 - 23, and 26 - 28.  We also plan to return during the day to try out the sandwich offerings.

Total Rating: 4.23
Food: 4.5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Roasted Oysters
bortarga butter, parmesan, chili flake
Baked Sardine
tomato, caper, lemon

Warm Cod Salad
potato, olive, shallot

Snow Crab Arrabbiata
hand cut spaghetti, guanciale, uni

Pan Roasted Bronzino
clams, leeks, lime

Brownie Sundae
with salted caramel ice cream

Plus Keith ate:
Lemon Cheesecake
with huckleberry sauce
G Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

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