Pesce, Dupont Circle

After a Chehalem wine tasting at Eola (which was full for dinner), a couple close friends and I meandered over to Pesce and nabbed a four-top.

The last meal I had at Pesce was the best I’d ever eaten there. Chef Tom Meyer was there then, and was also there this time around, so it’s going to be great again, yes?

We stated with a bottle 2009 Coustaut Graves Blanc ($40) which went quite well with my Carpaccio of tuna and salmon wrapped in flounder, the whole thing presented flattened, dressed with some greens in the middle, and unevenly salted and sauced. The fish was fine; the saucing was off.

I also took a bite of my friend’s tuna tartare which was simply drowning in a soy-based sauce. Again, the fish was fine; the saucing was disastrous to the point where the dish was ruined.

We knocked off that Bordeaux pretty quickly, and shifted to a heftier 2008 Domaine de la Collonge Pouilly-Fuisse ($32) which went tremendously with a split (three-ways) middle course of Lobster Risotto ($28) with red beets and gorgonzola. The consensus of the table was that this was the dish of the night for all of us – wonderfully fresh lobster, gently cooked and placed atop the rice so as not to toughen it.

My entree was a Roasted Bluefish ($24), a very small portion of good bluefish, served with butternut squash purée and mushroom. Once again, the saucing was off on this dish.

So, what happened?

My guess is that Meyer was working fish, and that someone else was having an overzealously bad day at the sauce station. A very disappointing meal at a restaurant I know to be quite good. Do you ever hear restaurant critics talking about an “off night?” This is exactly what they’re referring to – Pesce is still a fine restaurant; just not on this evening. Doubly vexing coming off a disappointing dinner at Mio, another restaurant that I have liked in the past.

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