Find party invitations for any occasion at Personalize, preview, and order your invitation instantly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thing 94: Indebleu

Indebleu does fusion surprisingly well. Rather than other fusion restaurants that just have a bunch of different cuisines on a menu and slap a 'fusion' label to the end of their name, Indebleu takes Eastern spices and ingredients and cooks them in a Western way. The result is a true fusion of world cuisines, and hot damn is it delicious.

But first, let's take a trip on the 'metro' in the bar and lounge on the ground floor of the place. Because the cocktail menu at Indebleu is a faux-metro map of drunken delights. There's a 'bleu line' with specialty house cocktails (many of which incorporate garam masala and other Indian spices), 'shot line' with such dubious stops as pink, blue or green, a 'martini line', a 'short drinks line' and OH YES a 'champagne cocktail line'. You can see my excitement! (And my new haircut -- C, thank you for recommending Bang!!).

I think we all know by now, I like a champagne cocktail. I will ride that champagne cocktail line from Vienna to New Carrolton, baby. For last night, I ordered the "holy basil", located at Clarendon on the map, which was champagne with a heavy, basil-scented simple syrup. And oh, if you've never thought to combine basil with champagne, I urge you to think again. It is a delightful little pre-dinner drink.

Of course, it's Restaurant Week in DC, so once seated we were treated to a prix-fixe menu for $30. And while not all my Restaurant week experiences have been positive, most of them seem to pull it off with some style. Indebleu is a restaurant that does Restaurant Week right, and oh yes, we will be back and happy to pay full price. We were a party of four, and thus I was able to sample enough off the menu to be duly impressed.

For starters, I had a duet of samosas. Lamb and pecorino, meaty and intensely savory with a sweet, chutney-like red sauce was paired with a spinach and feta samosa on a bed of garlicy green sauce. Others at the table had a tuna and salmon tartare, with a creamy hot wasabi sauce and a touch of vibrant red fish roe, and celery root soup, creamy and rich but too salty for my taste.

For our main course, I had the tuna, seared fast and served virtually raw, on a bed of 'Indian street corn' mixed with toasted lentils that tasted like soy nuts. The plate was accented with creamy green avocado and the whole thing liberally doused in a chili-lime-cilantro dressing. Light and bright, reminiscent of ceviche but with a smokier, dustier Indian undercurrent, it was really a pleasure. Others at the table had the lamb chops, seared dark and still red inside, a Thai flavored halibut sweet with coconut and curry and topped with a tempura'ed shrimp, and finally a plate of paneer-stuffed ravioli with tomato-fenugreek sauce. Reminding me that sometimes restaurants do treat vegetarians like grown ups, this dish was one of the most satisfying, with the warmth of Indian food in a neat Italian package. "They're like samosas, but with pasta casing" my friend observed, and folks, she's been to India. So she knows her stuff.

Am I done swooning? Almost. The desserts were nice -- my opera cake was good, though the icing was a bit buttery, but it was served with pistachio ice cream on an almond-pistachio macaron, and I found myself wishing that I had a dessert comprised only of those two elements. Chocolate mousse with candied banana and caramel ice cream was another big hit at the table.

The service was a bit spotty -- the hostesses were snobby, but once seated we bonded with our waitress who was knowledgeable, clearly passionate about the food, and really funny. The soups came out before the spoons, and the appetizers arrived before our wine, but at Restaurant Week I'm inclined to cut a restaurant some slack for such minor goofs. The ambiance, like the food, is rich and warm, with deep red-orange walls and large modern canvasses thick with oil paint and dark reds.

Indebleu is extending its Restaurant Week menu for a second week, and if you can, go! And if you can't, go and pay full price! If this is what they're doing at $30 a head, I can only imagine what happens the other weeks of the year.


Jess said...

This was one of my best restaurant week experiences. We got very lucky-our service was perfect and the hostesses were nice, which apparently is not normal. And of course the food was amazing - I have decided I want an endless supply of the chili-lime-cilantro sauce!