Tuesday, November 11, 2014

härth Fires Up New Menu


By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor

härth, in the McLean Hilton, recently appointed a new Executive Chef, Luc Dendievel, who recently released a new fall menu. I was pleased to see that the new Chef is taking härth’s commitment to sustainability seriously by sourcing ingredients from local purveyors and continuing to utilize fresh produce from härth’s organic garden and honey from the rooftop beehive. Walking into the restaurant, diners are greeted by a wine cellar across from the kitchen pass, which sits atop hundreds of pieces of firewood. The restaurant’s interior features creamy white walls, wood floors, and numerous fireplaces, providing a sleek, yet comforting atmosphere.

I began my meal with one of härth’s cocktails – the Cucumber Apple Martini made with Hendrick’s Gin, fresh lemon, cucumber, and apple. The cucumber gives the cocktail a summer-fresh lift, but the apple reminded me that it was fall.

One thing that Executive Chef Dendievel did not change was the warm bread that arrives at your table accompanied by butter and house-made bacon jam. The bacon jam, a perfect combination of sweet and smoky, is absolutely delicious and one of my all-time favorite bread toppers.

Perusing the new menu, I’m tempted to begin my meal with several items – the Roasted Celeriac Soup, the Red & Golden Roasted Beet Salad, and the Quinoa Salad. I settle on the soup and the beet salad. The soup features brioche croutons, crème fraiche, and truffle oil, emulates fall in a bowl, with its smooth, creamy texture and the truffle oil perfectly enhancing, but not overpowering. The salad, accompanied by baby kale, frisee, mache, orange, pomegranate, and Maryland goat cheese, was presented beautifully, with the creamy goat cheese providing a tart accompaniment to the sweet beets.

For my main course, I ordered the Braised Veal Cheeks with parsnip puree, season roasted fall vegetables, and tomato and white wine braisage jus. I chose to pair this dish with a glass of the Meiomi Pinot Noir – choosing a red to accompany the protein but a lighter varietal in to not overpower the white wine jus. The veal cheeks were so tender that I didn’t even need a knife to cut them; the vegetables were perfectly prepared (not too crispy nor soft) and the parsnip puree was absolutely delicious. The wine paired beautifully, as well.

In keeping with the fall-themed dinner, I ordered the Apple Tart with Granny Smith apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, rooftop honey, and vanilla bean ice cream. When the dessert arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see the tart was made of puff pastry. I love tarts, but sometimes their crusts can be heavy – this crust was light and fluffy.

Executive Chef Denviedel doesn’t overlook families with children, either, having also just launched a “Foodie-In-Training” children’s menu, which features “grown up” dishes based on dishes that his children like, ensuring families can enjoy the härth experience. I look forward to returning to this warm, cozy restaurant and exploring more of the new menu.

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