Morning sunlight bathes Bourbon Steak DC‘s cavernous dining room, which seems eerily empty despite the elegant tables and decor. Walking through the restaurant, there’s an premonition of quiet suspense, like a queen awaiting stately guests. In the very back—behind a well-stocked bar—a surprisingly small kitchen bustles with efficiency and purpose.
“This dish is usually served as our VIP amuse,” Executive Chef Drew Adams explains as he towers over a spotless, stainless steel kitchen counter. On it lies a long cutting board with a gleaming pile of scallops, like pearls the size of your fist. He unfurls his camouflage knife bag, selects his tool of choice, and begins roughly chopping.
“I’ve been playing with this recipe for five or six years now,” he chuckles, with a can you believe it glance back at me. His knife moves with ease and reaches quickly for an onion, some garlic, and—to my utter delight—lots of cold butter. He turns, taking one step over to the large stoves, and pops everything into a cold pan placed over medium heat.
While the sultry smells of garlic and onion sweating in butter fill my senses, Adams introduces me to some of his team. Together, they’ve amassed an ambitious number of accolades in 2018 alone: James Beard Award Foundation’s Outstanding Wine Program semi-finalist, Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Award for Wine Program of the Year, 2018 DC Chesapeake Rising Star from StarChefs, and more.
When entering the kitchen, a large set of signs is displayed to the left. The first sentence reads, “The MINA Group’s mission is to be the premiere restaurant group in the world.” Given that, this week, the lauded Michael Mina concept is celebrating a decade of culinary excellence, it looks like they’re well on their way. In case this moment wasn’t historic enough, Bourbon Steak DC is putting on a gastronomic time-travel extravaganza in celebration.
The menu for the night will feature dishes from Michael Mina himself along with Adam Sobel and Joe Palma, both former Executive Chefs of Bourbon Steak DC, Drew Adams, current Executive Chef of Bourbon Steak DC, Gerald Chin, VP of Culinary Operations for the Mina Group, and Chelsea Spalding, lead pastry chef (and provider of the best damn truffle rolls) at Bourbon Steak. Take a peek at the 10th Anniversary Dinner Menu—
Amuse: Adam Sobel
Croque Madame Gougère
First Course: Drew Adams
Scallop Crudo with Osetra Caviar, Chive Essence, Scallop Cream
Second Course: Gerald Chin
Cauliflower Agnolotti with White Truffle, Parmesan, Spuma, Pine Nut Crumble
Third Course: Joe Palma
Maine Lobster, Enoki Mushroom, Ras el Hanout Tuile, Sauternes Reduction
Fourth Course: Adam Sobel
Four Story Hill Veal Schnitzel with warm Fingerling Potato, Toasted Pecan, and Black Truffle
Fifth Course: Michael Mina
Triple Seared 7x Wagyu Strip with Bone Marrow stuffed Cipollini Onion, roasted Sunchoke Purée, Perigord sauce
Coconut Panna Cotta with Tangerine, Thai Basil, Passion Fruit Ice
Wine pairings curated by Sommelier Winn Roberton
It’s no wonder the VIP amuse is making an appearance.
By now, the scallops have exuded all their flavors with the garlic and onion and Chef Adams has poured in a helping of cream to make a thick sauce that I want to bathe in or, at the very least, dunk an entire skillet of truffle rolls into.
The chopping board is now host to what looks like a field of forest green chives. A simple slice through the middle of the bunch and the chives go into a Vitamix with grapeseed oil. “I only use grapeseed oil,” Adams confirms. Within seconds, the container is churning a rich, velvety puree that gets strained into a cheese cloth, releasing a silky, dark green oil.
“I like to infuse the oil,” Adams explains as he pours it into another pan and places it on the heat. “We’re looking for it to turn a dark, almost black color. That releases those floral notes.” Moments later, the pan reflects Chef’s intentions. I get the vague feeling that I’m in potions class, being mesmerized by a much nicer, equally talented version of Professor Snape. The oil and the sauce come off the heat, the sauce getting strained to leave the creamiest of concoctions. My mouth waters and my eyes dart back towards the truffle rolls.
Adams bends over his board once more, meticulously slicing cold, glossy scallops one by one. “Crudo just means a raw preparation of the fish.” He arranges them onto a black, shallow, rimmed soup plate, enhancing the scallops’ luster. Painstakingly, he adds droplets of the chive oil with his spoon. Ever the perfectionist, Adams first pours the scallop sauce into an elegant creamer and then, with a careful flourish, it flows smoothly around the scallops, tinged with emerald-like bubbles. The final touch is a quenelle of caviar. Adams quietly steps back and hands me a spoon.
I taste ocean first, followed by earth. The cold of the crudo is sharp, bathed with the warmth of what could pass for a comforting soup. The lingering effect is butter—smooth-like-butter scallops bathed in a butter-based sauce. I can’t help myself…I reach for the truffle rolls and begin dunking like a heathen. Adams chuckles and walks away. His years of perfecting this simple hot-cold crudo dish have not let him down. From the corner of my eye, I see those signs again.
“We offer the very best in terms of experience, product and performance for our guests, our partners, our peers, and ourselves.”
I daintily slurp the remains of the bowl.
Bourbon Steak DC’s historic 10th Anniversary Celebration Dinner will be served on Saturday, January 19, 2019. Tickets are available on EventBrite for $200.90. The dinner begins at 5:30pm with a welcome cocktail and reception in the private dining room.
A special anniversary brunch will take place on Sunday, January 20, 2019 from 11am to 3:30pm. Tickets are available on EventBrite for $75.
Both events are all-inclusive of tax and gratuity.