June 20th was my 24th wedding anniversary and to celebrate we wanted to try a new restaurant to us. Shauna the gluten-free girl, was recently in Washington, DC for the Eat, Write, Retreat conference and raved about her meal at Bibiana. When a fellow foodie who also is very sensitive to gluten has a good experience somewhere, I like to check it out too! So I found them online and realized they were part of the group who owns a few restaurants I have enjoyed like the Oval Room. We actually had an amazing meal there for our 22nd anniversary. So I made a reservation with the normal notation for me, no gluten, no dairy and no rice.
When I go to a restaurant I can either be the person you hope leaves really fast because you either have pre-made so much of the meals that ingredients can’t be changed or you are so wedded to how you created a dish that you won’t even try something new. However if you love food as ingredients that when combined can make magic and you are willing to be somewhat spontaneous but based in your skill and ingredients, well then I’m your favorite customer.
What I like to do is review the menu and see how many dishes are already or could easily be made to my needs. Then I look to see if there are any ingredients I do not like to eat, at least not yet. I then tell my server which items I don’t like along with my restrictions and say anything that the chef wants to make will be wonderful.
You see a good chef with a well trained staff knows exactly what ingredients are in each dish and how they are prepared and me telling them how to change it I think is just presumptuous and rude. It’s their creative process to make the food they serve. If I say I’d like the fish can you change the vegetable or use this or that seasoning combination that I saw in another dish well that is creating a meal that might not really go well together and that bad taste will reflect on the kitchen. Can you tell I used to run kitchens in restaurants.
Some restaurants will often ask me which proteins I like and vegetables and then go from there to create something wonderful. If I am asked if I want plain fish and a baked potato I usually get up and leave. Really, who eats like that and why would I pay for something less than what I can create. If you eat like this please read some of the recipes on this blog and let’s talk about making life more exciting. I can teach you how to cook in no time.
Sorry, back to our evening at Bibiana. The menu they had looked very good and there were a lot of naturally gluten free foods. I shared that I could not eat gluten, dairy or rice and I would not eat veal sweetbreads, squid, lamb or rabbit. The rest was free for the chef to play with.
Oh boy and did they have fun in that kitchen. Our wonderful server Kathleen McGovern suggested the Chef’s Tasting Menu which I didn’t even know they had but often good restaurants do. This way the chef, Nicholas Stefanelli, could create a series of meals paired with wine for the evening. That sounded wonderful and let me tell you it was beyond anything I had imagined.
We started with a Barbabietola which was Salt Roasted Beets, Blackberries, Saffron Lardo, Hazelnuts and Saba.
Next we had Uovo which was a ’45 Minute’ Pheasant Egg with Porcini Mushrooms on top of Smoked Potatoes.
Then we had Branzino which was Poached Mediterranean Sea Bass with Potato Rosti, Salmoriglio, and ‘Pil-Pil’.
The next course was Astice which was Olive Oil Poached Lobster with Zucchini Squash Blossom and Mint.
Our last course was Zuppa which was Mandarin Sorbet with Orange-Campari Gelee with a Basil and Lime Consomme poured around it.
Every bite was amazing and I’m happy to say kept me healthy and happy. I can’t wait for an opportunity to head back to this restaurant. I may have to include it on my restaurant tour I do with clients.