Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Perfect Pair: Open Kitchen

Initial Thoughts:
  • Design and Decor: Small and inviting, with tons of natural light. The seating is split about half and half between the outdoor patio, and the indoor seating with a few high top tables located indoors. A seat at the counter directly in front of the open kitchen is a prime spot for engaging in the full "behind-the-scenes" experience that Open Kitchen is known for, but flat screen televisions let you see all the action inside the kitchen even when you are not seated at the counter 
  • Food:  Seasonal, ingredient driven menu of handmade comfort food 
  • Drinks: Nice selection of boutique wines that change based on the season, and guest recommendations
  • Would I go back?  Yes! 
With the original vision to provide licensed kitchen facilities for rent on a cost-effective and flexible basis, in what would essentially be a kitchen incubator, Hue Chan and John Karels made some slight tweaks to their original vision and launched "Open Kitchen," in Falls Church in the fall of 2009, and now offer a full service bistro Wednesdays through Sundays, hosting business and social events, cooking classes, and weekly wine tastings during the remaining days of the week.

We were recently invited to a tasting dinner, where we were able to enjoy 5 courses of some of Open Kitchen's best farm-to-table offerings, paired with a selection of boutique wines. Owner Hue-Chan and Executive Chef Kenneth Hughes were on-hand to share their wonderful creations, and Wine Expert Gabe Pica walked us through the makings of a perfect pairing.

For an appetizer, we were served Chicken Chorizo Skewers with Basil Puree. Chorizo has always been one of my favorite meats, and as I child, I eagerly awaited the days when my father would cook up some chorizo and eggs (he only did this several times a year). Nowadays I usually get my chorizo fix as an ingredient inside a taco or burrito, where the chorizo is cut up in tiny pieces, and more often than not ends up burnt. This chorizo, sliced into thick chunks, was some of the most tender chorizo I've ever had (my dad's came close) and was my favorite part of the meal.

These chicken chorizo skewers were paired with a light, effervescent Hillinger Secco, which wiped the spiciness of the chorizo off the palette.

As a first course, we were served a caprese salad, made of Heirloom Tomato, Mozzarella, and Balsamic Reduction. Also paired with Hillinger Secco, the high residual sugars found in Hillinger Secco came in to focus during this course, with the sweetness of the Processco joining forces with the sweetness of the Balsamic Reduction to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. The high residual sugar content found within the Prosecco prevents the wine from tasting tart and sour after biting in to the caprese salad.

Second course: Seared Spice-Crusted Jumbo Scallop with Red Pepper Cream, Yukon Mash, Creamed Leeks, Seasonal Greens.

Paired with Louis Latour Chardonnay, the minerality of the Chardonnay contrasted with the fats found within each part of the dish, toning down the taste of these fats (though I really had no problem with their presence).

Main Entree: Crispy Oven Duck Leg Confit with Petite Green Lentil Bacon Stew, Crisp Prosciutto, Tomato and Spring Arugula Salad

Also given the choice of Summer Vegetable Risotto as a Main Entree, I knew I would prefer the duck, though I was a little weary of my order, as the last two times I have had Crispy Duck Confit, the skin was way too crispy for my liking, and reminded me more of fried chicken. Lucky for me, Open Kitchen's Crispy Duck Confit was not overly crispy  (and I'm not sure I would even describe it as crispy at all, particularly in comparison to other duck I've had recently), and provided soft and juicy meat.

Both choices of entrees were paired with Firesteed Pinot Noir, and the overtones of raspberries and cherries provided a nice contrast to the salt found within the lentil bacon stew.

Sweet Finish: White Chocolate Bread Pudding

After earlier being given the opportunity to sample the wonderfully delicious Lobster Bread Pudding, I would have preferred a second serving of the Lobster Bread Pudding over the Berry Bread Pudding, though it was still a nice treat. Even with a little powdered sugar to top everything off, it was not overly sweet, with the fresh raspberries and blueberries providing the sweetest taste to the pudding.  Paired with a, sweet, rich, Sandeman Port, the Port took over as the final oomph to the dinner.

With a great menu and an even greater eagerness to exchange insights into cooking techniques, recipes, and sourcing of ingredients with their guests, Open Kitchen is a great spot to share knowledge around food and wine, while also enjoying some truly delicious plates. 

To stay up-to-date on Open Kitchen's latest events, including their weekly wine tastings, visit http://openkitchen-dcmetro.com.

Also, make sure to check out their Restaurant Week Menu, available August 15-19, and 22-26. For $35.12 (not including beverage, tax, gratuity) you can enjoy a 3-course selection from the described menu. It's definitely worth a visit to Falls Church!
Open Kitchen on Urbanspoon

No comments: