Between the DC Public Library closing at 5:30pm and tickets to a show at the Atlas on H St, NE, we had some time to kill and no specific plans.
I had always been intrigued by Happy Hour prices at Cranes, a Michelin one star just around the corner. Japanese-Spanish fusion. The plan was to start modestly with two tapas and see how to proceed from there.
Tapa #1: turnip with creme fraiche and chive oil with sliced radish, micro-greens and furikake bubuarare, a tiny crunchy snack.
The creme fraiche was mouth-puckering tart and dominated. The snack had a mild sweetness to it that was slightly off-putting. The turnip was deflavorized. On a side note: at a Farmers Market recently I got to talking with a guy who said he grew up on a farm growing turnips and his family would eat them out of hand, like an apple. I tried it that way, and it was indeed awesome, but a little goes a long way! This was not that flavor.
Tapa #2: Unagi Crostini with edamame hummus, lemon zest and pea shoots.
This was perfectly pleasant. I could eat a lot of these…but I love the texture of eel, and this was not that. It could have been just any broiled fish. The green hummus on the cracker was barely there. I tried to taste some of it on its own, and I couldn’t taste anything. It added some lubrication but nothing more.
We decided to quit while we were ahead and move on.
Right on our walking path to the H St trolley, l’Ardente was an interesting choice. Got seated at the ‘chef’s counter’ overlooking the kitchen. l’Ardente was in a recent Yelp listicle of most photographed restaurants in the US. As noted by @small_h on a recent thread! but that’s not what intrigued me. It is helmed by a former chef of the late and very much lamented Citronelle.
We didn’t need a full meal, so we started with one app, the much talked-about Duck Hunt:
This is, according to the Washington Post food critic, “A heady froth of duck jus, cream and foie gras suspend a green raviolo stuffed with shredded duck breast, foie gras and truffle — the single most indulgent bite in town right now.”
I think it’s called a Hunt because you really do have to hunt for the raviolo. I was a bit skeptical it was even there at first. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the cream and foie gras soup of the dish, but the stuffing of the raviolo was a bit pebbly (couldn’t taste what it was) and the spinach pasta was nothing special.
The raviolo by itself:
We finished the evening with the tiramisu for dessert. The waiter brings to you a dish with what looks like a rusted cannonball:
I though maybe he would open it up to reveal a tiramisu inside. Instead he lights some rum and pours it over to reveal the outside as chocolate that melts away:
Of course, it doesn’t really taste like tiramisu with the chocolate dominating. The inside is more like a millefeuille, with alternating layers of delicious cream and biscuit. After eating half of it, I mentioned to the waiter it doesn’t taste like tiramisu, and he replied “especially with the passionfriut.” Passionfruit? Turns out I had not even got to that part yet.
It was a very good dessert.
While watching the kitchen, it looks like the main dishes ordered ‘for the table’ might be the way to go here, though you’d want at least three or four people to share those. But I am in no rush to return.