Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rogue 24 - 09/11/2013

Blagden Alley
1234 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 408-9724

Double-digit number of tasting courses: Check! Ever changing menu: Check! Throw in a few touches of modernist cooking for good measure and you have the makings of a restaurant that I'm almost guaranteed to love. Indeed my first experience at Rogue 24 made it one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I even went back a few nights later with a co-worker to sample some of the highlights of the meal a la carte. So naturally when I found out that I would be traveling back to DC this fall I made a point to revisit Chef Cooper and the team at Rogue 24.

barrel-aged martinez/boomsma oude/carpano/maraschino
The wine pairing starts with a welcoming cocktail. This was my first time having a Martinez a combination of gin and vermouth with a touch of maraschino which many believe to be a predecessor to the ubiquitous martini. Made with Boomsma Oude, an old-fashioned Dutch gin that is aged in oak giving it some warmth and woody character to go along with the more typical aromatics notes. Overall the cocktail was remarkably smooth and easy drinking with a citrus freshness and touch of fruitiness from the maraschino to keep the gin in check.

porcini/meringue/chicken liver/xo vinegar
The simple look of the meringue belied its immense complexity. The airy crunch of the whipped confection yields a complex melange of earth and caramelized sweetness. The creamy liver filling quickly makes its presence felt with a weighty savor tinged with a faint hint of sourness from the XO vinegar.

The next trio of courses came together but in my eagerness I forgot to take a picture first. The puff was the weakest of the trio. At its heart the dish is a riff on a shrimp chip with a bit of smokiness added from the trout.

kushi/cucumber/finger lime caviar
This was easily the best of the trio, the vivid brine of the Kushi is accentuated by the crisp refreshing cucumber. Likewise the bracing tang of the finger lime was an equally apt pairing for the supple meaty bivalve.

pine nut/arctic char roe/dill
The final bite on the plate was a pine nut shortbread topped with beautiful orange pearls of arctic char roe. The concentrated flavor of the roe drew an unexpected sweetness out of the toasty shortbread base.

poutine/foie gras/potato
The next snacks consisted of a poutine encapsulated in a potato croquette. Though I absolutely adored the semi-liquid foie and the emphasis it brought to the clean fried savor of the exterior, the flavor profile lacked the meaty heft I consider integral in poutine. Following the croquette was a tempura shiso leaf that was supposed to serve as a palate cleanser of sorts. Topped with Vietnamese coriander aioli, the leaf had and almost fishy savor.

lick of caviar
The final snack was an unexpectedly interactive one. Chef RJ Cooper came up to my table and told me to hold up my hand and stick up my pinky. After fitting the custom designed plate to my hand he told me simply: "lick it." The dish is relatively simple by Rogue 24 standards but there is nothing wrong with celebrating the simple luxury of a dollop of caviar.

hamachi/fresno pepper/puffed barley/coconut/coriander
mas daumas/brut rosé frizant/cabernet/l'herault/fr/nv
The cured hamachi showed a denser than normal texture and intrinsic salinity that is deftly complimented by the subtle herbaceousness of the micro-cilantro. The barley adds a nuanced malty note which coupled with the tropical sweetness of the coconut foam was the perfect counterbalance to the fish. The peppers make themselves known with a lingering heat that plays across the palate on the finish. The rosé had an intense red fruit driven nose with a similarly soft profile on the palate and a gentle residual sweetness that makes it quite approachable.

avocado/sake salmon roe/cilantro/togarashi/lavash
mas daumas/brut rosé frizant/cabernet/l'herault/fr/nv
Dubbed "rocamole" this was as much about the supporting elements as it was the avocado. The combination is creamy with a sharp kick of acid from the citrus gel and nuanced brine from the roe and a touch of heat that lingers at the edges. The lavash was toasty with a pronounced smoky smack that stood up nicely to the charred avocado.

mas daumas/brut rosé frizant/cabernet/l'herault/fr/nv
Chef Cooper showed some passion while plating this course spattering the kitchen (and nearly spattering me) with gobs of jet black squid ink. From the subtle touches of saline from the squid to the zippy tang of the lime, the sexy smoky heft of the romesco, and the delicately fried savor of the crisp sea beans. The potato ties everything together with a simple butter-drenched savor. The dish is so dynamic and loaded with ever changing flavors that I wanted more

poet's leap/riesling/columbia valley/wa/'11
The rice, seaweed and even the orange make sense but I wasn't sure how the coffee would fare when coupled with uni, but I couldn't have been more pleased with the dish. Yes there is a touch of bitterness to the coffee but it still fits with the urchin roe; deftly highlighting its unctuous sweetness. Meanwhile, the crunch of the rice offered a nice textural contrast to the softer elements in the bowl. I was offered a new pairing the restaurant was trying out and though I haven't had much luck with domestic Riesling I enjoyed this one, the nose is heavy with apple, candied fruit and a touch of petrol but there is enough acidity on the back end to cut through the slate of heavier dishes coming up.

foie gras/consommé/honey/ice lettuce
poet's leap/riesling/columbia valley/wa/'11
I hadn't realized how much I missed foie gras until it was available again. I love the crunch of the honeycomb crisp and the way it gradually released sweetness upon mastication rather than in a sudden burst. The ice lettuce provided a nice succulent contrast while the duck and onion reduction provided an essence of concentrated poultry. Despite all the flavors the foie was still able to shine through with a offal-y twang on the finish.

pigtails/bitter herbs/smoked peach gel
poet's leap/riesling/columbia valley/wa/'11
Fitness buffs may want to skip this description. At the heart of this dish is rendered pigtail encapsulated in a golden layer of crispy sapid batter. While I'm usually cautious of overly sweet elements the peach jel was a natural pairing for the pigtails and the astringency of the bitter herbs was absolutely essential here.

salsify/oyster leaf/seaweed/oyster gel/salsify puree
the bruery/mischief/placentia/ca
The roasted salsify (oyster plant) has a satisfying heft to it akin to a potato but a bit lighter while he accompanying oyster leaf adds a further note of succulence and herbaceousness. A common saline tinged undertone runs through the dish, a lovely play on oyster-centric flavors

lamb/sprouted lentils/wild yeast/mustard/rye
the bruery/mischief/placentia/ca
Cooper's lamb tartare gyro was one of the highlights of my last visit to Rogue 24 and his current version is every bit as stunning. The lamb conveys an immense savory gravitas deftly countered by the astringency of the sprouted lentils. The yeast adds a skunkiness that is off putting by itself but a natural fit for the gaminess of the lamb. I was surprised to see a beer from back home paired with this course but the Mischief worked well a golden Belgian that was fruity, dry, with just a bit of matching funk to compliment the lamb.

matsutake/caramelized béchamel/wild rice
the bruery/mischief/placentia/ca
This was probably my favorite dish of the night. The mushroom has a resonant woody perfume compounded with an intense sense of umami. The béchamel is mixed with caramelized cippolinis giving it an almost jammy sweetness akin to onion marmalade. The spinach leaves add a vital vegetal nuance while the rice adds a lovely textural structure to the dish. Up until recently this course was served with Wagyu beef but after seeing how well the mushroom works in this dish I don't think I miss the meat one bit.

snails/potato/garlic threads
terra d'oro/zinfandel/amador county/ca/'09
Moving onto our final savories, Chef Cooper started off with basil fed snails. The snails he served last time were the best that I'd ever tasted and while these don't quite reach such lofty heights they were delicious. On their own the snails are incredibly tender and wonderfully redolent of fresh basil. The broth was a potato skin consomme and while it deftly conveyed the flavor of potato skin I don't think it was a natural pairing for the snails.

veal fibers/horseradish juice/red cabbage/sorrel stems
terra d'oro/zinfandel/amador county/ca/'09
The dehydrated veal fibers convey a meaty intensity that belies their wispy appearance quite reminiscent Chinese rou song. The creamy soup was an interesting blend of cabbage and horseradish though I found the texture a bit too in your face when coupled with the tiny strands of veal.

terra d'oro/zinfandel/amador county/ca/'09
The final savory was built around a squab breast that was sous vided and then pan roasted giving it both a sublimely lithe and delicate texture and wonderfully rich savor. Beneath the bird lurked a "dirty rice" made from rice and pigeon offal that was predictably rich and livery. The orange and licorice pair add some restraint though I wouldn't have minded enjoying the full flavor of the pigeon and its guts.

goat curd/nasturtium/espelette/sour dough
The cheese course was a lovely study in contrasts there is the grassy game tinged astringency with the creamy fatty texture of the whipped goat curds.

mád cuvée/late harvest royal tokaji/mád/hu/'09
Pastry Chef Giane Cavaliere opted to ease into the dessert courses with this airy treat. The cucumber brings a fresh vegetal tinge that restrains the tropical notes of the pineapple and coconut while drops of lemon gel further brighten the dish.

mád cuvée/late harvest royal tokaji/mád/hu/'09
The combination of blueberry compote and vanilla panna cotta are natural compliments that together reminded me of a ripe fruit tart filling. Initially a rather sweet and one dimensional dessert, the hidden element of lime add a sudden rush of countervailing acidity.

mád cuvée/late harvest royal tokaji/mád/hu/'09
This was my favorite dessert of the trio with a rich base of chocolate complimented by vividly ripe berries and the fragrant tang of the balsamic. A heavy dusting of chocolate crumbles adds a nice sensation of crunch to the mix well.

happy endings/little things/small bites
As always a quintet of bonbons ends the meal. This time around the mix consisted of: guava shortbread, coconut white chocolate, orange dark chocolate, peanut fudge, and a cassis pâte de fruit.

sazerac/highwest double rye/peychaud's/absinthe/lemon
This being my one splurge of the entire trip I decided to end things with an extra cocktail. This was a classically done Sazerac with expressive aromas of lemon oil and herbal licorice overtones tempering the heat of the rye.

My second trip to Rogue 24 was pretty much all I could have hoped for. The menu was drastically different from my previous visit but still showed the intricacies, finesse, and ambition that I remember from my first visit.


sygyzy said...

Food - 135. Are you kidding me? I would have paid at least 50% more.

Epicuryan said...

Thats good... means you can go more often since its so cheap ;)