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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Food: We Return to the 701

We were seeing the sights on the last day of our trip to D.C. for the Rally to Restore Sanity when we passed a restaurant on Pennsylvania that looked familiar. "Didn't we eat there on our last trip?" The 701 Restaurant certainly looked familiar.

After returning to our hotel, I went on line to check out the 701. The menu looked intriguing enough so I booked us through Open Table for dinner that night.

As soon as we walked through the door I knew that this is where I had my very first, and possibly best, roast pork belly. I began salivating at the memory...figuratively speaking. We were promptly seated at a most comfortable booth. Actually, it was the first booth that you see when you go to the 701 web site. The ambiance of the 701 is that of quiet elegance, but I am less interested in the table than I am with what is placed on the table. What was placed on the table that night was truly memorable.

We started our evening by requesting a bottle of Alma Negra Bonarda Malbec. After presenting the wine our server took our appetizer orders. My dainty dining partner chose the Caesar Salad and I could not resist the Grilled Baby Octopus with salsa verde and roasted breakfast radishes. That octopus was the tastiest I have enjoyed since a trip to Santorini a few years ago. I could have made an entire meal out of a few more plates of that octopus. Instead, we moved on to other tastes and textures.

My bride chose the Ham and Cheese Raviolis with a crisp Virginia ham, aged Cheddar, and mustard sauce that she consumed down to the last drop of sauce. I was looking forward to that roasted pork belly that I had on my first visit. Unfortunately, it was no longer offered. This is probably due to this country's irrational obsession with foods labeled "fat free." Oh well!

All was not lost for me because the 701 did have the Eco Friendly Pork Loin and Belly. This dish consisted of cider and tobacco braised pork loin and belly with a celery root puree, savoy cabbage and grain mustard. The belly, though small compared to my first visit, was excellent and the pork loin was tender and juicy. Together they made for a satisfying meal.

For dessert we shared an order of the Bomboloni which are similar to the New Orleans beignets, but round. To top off the evening we each had a glass of a Taylor 20 year old Port to wash down the bomboloni.

I would certainly put the 701 on our do-again list the next time we visit D.C., but on a night when they have live jazz. On this trip our dinner with wine and a 20% tip came to $213.30. The 701 isn't cheap but it sure is good.

701 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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