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Friday, August 22, 2008

Thing 125: 701

Oh, you don't seriously think I'd sat out Restaurant Week this time around, do you?

Restaurant Week came and went last week (although some places are extending theirs through this week, and still other are extending them for the whole month) and I had two very good meals, at restaurants I normally wouldn't be able to afford.

Today, I'll tell you about 701.

Our meal at 701 was a special occasion meal. A milestone fell during Restaurant Week this year, and the Boyfriend and I opted to eat at 701 where a good friend of ours is a server. Of course I studied up on the menu before even arriving. The website said that they were offering their entire menu for R-week, and I started salivating at the descriptions of foie gras au torchon, glazed pork belly, and chimichurri-glazed Muscovy duck breast.

Unfortunately, once we got to the restaurant, we learned that they did have a separate Restaurant Week menu, and in fact they weren't serving anything off their normal menu. No caviar for us. But their Restaurant week selections were varied and interesting, our service was extremely attentive and the restaurant had a fun and lively atmosphere, complete with live piano mood music.

But romance and atmosphere aside, you want to hear about the food, right? The food was delicious and the menu had an American/Asian fusion vibe. For our first course, the Boyfriend chose wisely and ordered the pork belly. Like an idiot, I decided we couldn't both order the pork belly. But we should have both ordered the pork belly. As a general rule of thumb, when given the option to order a thick, seared, braised piece of bacon, order it. (You will see me apply this rule in my next post).

So, the Boyfriend ordered the pork belly, and I ended up with a crispy tuna roll -- a tempura'ed maki roll -- that while delicious, just wasn't a thick, seared, braised piece of bacon. On their normal menu, 701 offers pork belly as an entree served with pickled cherries and sweet potato puree, and I think I'd like to go back just for that, if nothing else.

Our entrees were great, too. I ordered the duck confit (which, again, as a general rule of thumb when you are given the option to order duck braised in its own fat for hours, you always should). I love duck confit and I scraped my plate clean. The Boyfriend ordered the salmon, which had an Asian twist -- served on a bed of cold rice noodles and cucumber -- and was good, too. He loved the way it was cooked, I thought it was a touch over done for my taste. Which was fine because I was swooning over my duck braised in its own fat.

Finally, for dessert, our waitress had recommended the blueberry creme brulee, which was lovely and packed with real blueberries, though the accompanying lemon tea cookies had a rubbery texture. The Boyfriend ordered a chocolate caramel torte-like item -- so rich he couldn't get through it, but incredibly dark with good cocoa.

As I mentioned, our service was really good -- multiple people were on hand to ensure that we were having a good experience. Of course, much later I found out that it was in part because our friend had added to the reservation that I'm "a famous food blogger." Hey -- until this blog starts paying my bills, I'll take what perks I can! Can I add that in the notes section of my next open table reservation? Or is that boastful?

701 boasts a great outdoor patio that overlooks the Navy Memorial plaza and fountains, a vibrant, colorful interior, and good food. It's a bit on the pricey side, but would be a perfect place for a spending account or a client meal. I'm pretty confident that you'll find me there soon, licking my fingers after enjoying a tasty piece of thick, seared, braised pork belly.

Related: Previous Restaurant Week experiences at Indebleu, Lima, 15 ria, Georgia Brown's, Kaz Sushi Bistro and Butterfield 9 (now closed -- I blame the oyster and scallop stew).