Dear Food Diary:
A carpet of pink along the monuments and an occasional whimsical pedal shower from the light breeze. Cherry blossom season is my favorite reason to visit D.C. It’s always so purty in pink, specially this year, since it was the 100th year celebration of this beautiful gift from Japan.
It has been a warm winter, so everything bloomed before April. We were lucky to catch the peak/late bloom during the last weekend of March, while we snatched Gilt’s ROGUE 24 deal, $100 for a progression of 16 courses.
During the day we spent out time paddle boating and sightseeing. We ate at a couple Jose Andres establishments (posts to come). ROGUE 24 was our main event our short weekend stay, along with a drink by the White House when the sun was down.
CHEF COOPER’S ROGUE 24:
Our cabbie took us for a ride, thank goodness for the gps on our smartphones! That said, ROGUE 24 wasn’t exactly “easy to find”. Tucked in the rear of Blagden Alley along N st. The outside sorta defined that experimental approach we would encountered, from the minute we walked in, to our last bite.
This is Chef Cooper’s attempt to go “rogue” from the whole fine dining experience.
Cooper has worked alongside Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin (one of my favorite meals in recent years).
I was glad to see the Iron Chef challenger back in action from his recent open heart surgery.
The citrus bourbon cocktail came with a metal straw… very cool at first, but then we wondered how they cleaned it…
The kitchen was center stage and tables all around. Ours was literally next to it. The chef (on the right) took care of us throughout the meal. Friendly chats with all of our servers. Perfect service, none of that uncomfortable pretentiousness. This was like being at a Chef’s table only closer. Aside from watching the meticulous assembly of each dish as it were kitchen stadium, I also witnessed one of the coolest tattoos ever, a whole pig and its yummy parts.
16 Course Progression:
COURSE 1-3: I actually thought this was an amuse bouche, but then I counted and this was 3 courses! not sure how feel about that, but made me realize, 16 courses really wasn’t as much food as I predicted.
Starting from the left:
#1 : Pork Skin/wonder bread/ motor city bbq
I always enjoy chicharrones. Crispy deep fried pork skin with a barbeque twist. It was just ok.
The chef’s playful version of a savory Oreo (I think it was his homage to Oreo’s 100th Birthday). Deep tangy and sweet tomato “chips” that melted along with the cheese and the dust of basil powder. Familiar flavors in an unexpected textural play. I loved it.
#3: Lipstick Radish/seaweed butter
This was by far my favorite of the trio. Visually cute and endearing. The play of soil/plant really was a mouthful! Crunchy, fresh, earthy and creamy with crisp bits of seaweed, I wish we had a bigger pot or a mini garden to devour.
The smoothest “mash potato” covered in a fragrant vanilla foam and accented by rich Russian sturgeon caviar. The pops of salty pearls melt away in the creamy potato and sweet foam. First spoonful made me smile.
#5: Fluke/arrow leaf spinach/tapioca/brown butter
The delicate fluke had an almost translucent appearance. It melted away along with butter. The contrast of the green spinach puree cut the butter nicely. It tasted like spring and that fresh grass smell on a sunny morning. I liked how they made the tapioca into puffs for crunch, almost like the rice puffs I had growing up only prettier.
#6: King crab/chawanmushi/jasmine/bitter orange
Chawanmushi literally means “steamed in a tea bowl”. A Japanese classic with a modern twist. The soft custard base had chewy ginkgo nuts and the piece of crab meat was covered in a creamy citrus sauce (with more foam of course). If there was such thing as edible perfume, this would be it.
#7: Gyro/lamb/tzatziki/butter lettuce
I was going to mention my dislike of lamb, but I read that his version of lamb tartare was fantastic, so I decided to give it a shot. I had one bite and it tasted exactly like a regular gyro only raw, but like in most cases, the spices didn’t cover the gaminess of the lamb enough for me, so that was that. (I sorta felt like I wasted a course…sigh), but StalkerBoy was more than happy to take it over.
#8: Hen’s Egg/migas/tuna spine dashi/bottarga
This is a 63° Egg, which I learned is the perfect temperate to cook an egg. I was pleasantly surprised by the simplest joys of life, an egg. Sexy would be an understatement. I didn’t know my love for poached eggs could reach such heights. The tuna dashi, an umami filled broth that was poured table side. Light and flavorful with just the right amount of salt to flavor the rest. The “migas” or crumbs were amazing, I wish they would package this stuff so I could sprinkle it on everything. The black one is pumpenickel and the light golden one is hazelnut. The sweet nutty crumbs gave the oozing yolk and tender whites a crunchy play while the poor man’s caviar aka bottarga was sprinkled to tie it all together, giving it another layer of that salty/umami combo the palate craves for. FANTASTIC!
#9: Foraged/soil/cedar/green goddess
Fragrant, bitter, peppery, bright and earthy. A lot of interesting flavors and combinations. The hen of the woods mushroom stood out amongst the lightly dressed leafs. A mini botanical garden on a clear plate with edible soil. The fiddlehead fern was interesting, my first time. It had the snap of green beans and a bit of that slimy okra texture.
#10: Taste of the onion
Green onion (or scallion) puree and a soft ravioli filled with an onion mouse, topped with ramp. What it didn’t have in size (dwarf portion on giant plate), it made up for in flavor. A mouthful of brightness. Very fragrant but also subtle. We didn’t need breath mints afterwards which was a good thing.
This was another one of the dishes I wanted more of. The rabbit was delicate and tender with a seared crust on top, sitting on a bed of crunchy pecans crumbles. Add to that a dab of sunshine from the rich orange sauce on the side. Hmmm divine. The squash comes in the form of an adult Roll-Up, a thin layer of the dried puree at its purest flavor. The liver mouse was a creamy treat. I would of been happier with more rabbit.
#12: Lamb loin/ blue ridge inspiration
More lamb!? At this point I was kicking myself for not specifying… I really don’t like lamb!!! But StalkerBoy was waiting anxiously for my portion. I took one bite and again, that was it. Another adult Roll-Up on top, this time it was peas, along with the snow pea shoots and puree on the side. The lamb was too pungent for me, I guess the fat content didn’t help.
#13: Pecorino blue/ kumquat/almond/apple
Did I mention I’m also not a big fan of blue cheese? The combination was excellent though. The kumquat is so intense it really helps to balance the pungent cheese, but even with the nice candied almonds and the sweet apple gelee , I couldn’t finish it.
#14: Yuzu/black sesame/mango/curry
As our server described the components of our first dessert, I thought they were reading my mind. I love yuzu, mango and black sesame anything. Not so much the curry, but it was thankfully very very subtle. The yuzu sorbet lingered in my mouth, refreshing and sweet. Black sesame didn’t disappoint either in that crumbly soft cake, the intense aroma stood out. The thin pieces of yuzu candy on top were a citrus burst, for extra brightness and textural play, not to mention making the dish purty.
All the flavors I love in a dessert. Decadent and not overly sweet. The caramel mouse was melt in your mouth and had that really milky aftertaste. It was like a hazelnut macchiato on a plate.
#16: Happy endings
Amongst the salted caramel, milk chocolate with gold pearl, dark chocolate truffle and sugar coated fruit candy, the meringue ball filled with praline cream definitely stood out. It dissolved in my mouth while the nutty creamy center melted away slowly with a crunch.
Because the menu was given to us at the end, every course was a surprise, we had no idea what was to come. Each dish was like a present, unwrapped verbally by our servers and the chef himself, who also signed our copies.
Throughout the night, we were very well taken care of. Service was superb, I would say he must of taken notes from Ripert.
Overall, it was fun and experimental, both the eyes and taste buds were fully entertained, with definite highs and a few bumps. Value wise, it was on the pricier side, but overall interesting and different.
P.S. Chubby’s Rating:
922 N Street NW (Rear), Washington, DC 20001
P.O.V. W Hotel’s Rooftop Lounge
We ended our evening overlooking the white house and monuments. Though it was a cloudy and hazy night, it brought this mystique to the ambiance. The prices were like average NYC rooftop, cocktails were about $15. The drinks were ok, nothing to be writing about, but the view wasn’t too shabby at all.
515 15th St. N.W. Washington , DC 20004