Monday, June 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC: Great Service and Charcuterie at Proof

Our first dinner in DC was at Proof, a late edition to our overall eating itinerary but we were no less excited to check it out. As with many of the restaurants I chose, Proof is in Penn Quarter, across from the National Portrait Gallery and close to the Verizon Center (home of the Capitals and the Wizards). Besides the short wait we had for our table, we were treated exceptionally the whole night through. We were welcomed with champagne for Tony's birthday - I loved that they actually read the notes in the Open Table reservation!

After flipping through the extensive menu, we settled on the chef's four course tasting menu, which seemed like a great deal at $59 per person. We couldn't resist the charcuterie board and despite our fear it would be too much food on top of the tasting menu, we went for it, ordering the Chef's Full board with a plan to pack some of it home. I truthfully can't recall all that was on the board, but the selection of prociuttos, salamis and pate were all delicious. I was pretty excited to be taking a snack back with us to the hotel!

Our tasting menu started with crispy "pig's head," which was one of the more intriguing items on the menu although I'm not really sure what it was made of (I assume pork). They were fried squares filled with meat and lentil salad with horseradish. Our 2nd course was roasted salmon with fennel cream, which was tasty but nothing extraordinary (what's special about Scottish salmon??). The 3rd course was honey and spice glazed peking duck breast, an item no doubt influenced by the restaurant's proximity to Chinatown.
The sweet potato puree with pomegranate emulsion on which the duck was served was an unexpected surprise. I often consider mashed potatoes or such puree to just be filler sides; but I couldn't get enough of this dish, it was sweet and savoury all at the same time and absolutely delicious. For dessert, Tony and I alternated the warm chocolate hazelnut cake and a selection of cheese.
We entrusted the cheese selection to our server, who asked about our general preferences as a guide: Red Hawk (cow) was our favourite, a California soft, triple cream mushroomy cheese...taste described as "funky" but it was just all good to me! Le Chevre Noir is a French hard, aged crumbly cheese which we have had before that I'm not a huge fan of; our last cheese was the Cambozola Black, a German semi-soft, creamy, mild cheese which was typical of what we generally like. The cheese selection was as impressive as the charcuterie and I was impressed with our server's knowledge of the assortment.

I guarantee you will find something to your liking at Proof. The menu is extensive and there is definitely something for everyone, although I thought the charcuterie board and cheese selection were our highlights. The cocktails were good as well, particularly the Brown Derby, made of bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey. I especially loved the extra efforts to make our visit special (given it was for Tony's birthday) - with the champagne to start, and some birthday gelato after our dessert course. The efforts were much appreciated and show the restaurant's concern for great guest experience, which says a lot.

775 G Street NW, Washington, DC
202-737-7663 (reservations available on Open Table)

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