Trummer’s on Main, Clifton, VA

It was the rare combination of a Sunday where I had absolutely no obligations, and a late afternoon with picture-perfect weather. What better circumstance to take a little drive towards Clifton and go to Trummer’s on Main for their Sunday Supper?

On Sundays, Trummer’s features a three-course prix-fixe menu only, with several options for each course, for the low, low price of $38. To sweeten the deal, they have what’s called their “bucket list” of wines by the glass – all wines that they have sitting around, opened during the weekend, are only $5 for a healthy pour. It makes for quite a luxurious bargain.

We were originally going to sit at the bar and order from the lounge menu, but that menu doesn’t exist on Sundays (although at the bar, you can order a la carte instead of committing to the entire three courses). But the bar was freezing cold, and there was fairly loud music playing – it was a no-brainer to go upstairs and enjoy a civilized dinner (after a couple gin and tonics, of course).

The dining room at Trummer’s is beautiful, bright, and cheery, with windows flooding it with natural (but shaded) sunlight. Nevertheless, as beautiful as the dining room is, the patio is nicer still – we walked outside and had it all to ourselves (for a brief period), and felt like we were in some type of five-star resort. All this for only $38? Yeah, man!

We relaxed with a couple of cocktails – a Sgt. Pepper ($10) and a Sage ($11). Even if you’re going to economize from the bucket list of wines, the Sage is still worth getting. Made with Plymouth Gin, Elderflower, and … drum roll … a sage leaf floating around on top, it was a beautifully shaken drink, with those little gnat-sized ice crystals that lend a thrillingly refreshing textural component.

Throughout the meal, we had various (and nefarious) $5 glasses of wine. If you tell sommelier Tyler Packwood (who was looking remarkably dapper on this particular evening) “I like Sauvignon Blanc,” he might not have it, but he’ll come up with the closest thing – it works well, but my recommendation is to get there early for the best selection because they start to run out towards the end of the evening (which is the whole point).

The courses, which were all split, went as follows:

Bibb Lettuce with radish, sprouts, and caramelized honey vinaigrette – I wouldn’t normally order this from the menu description, but I walked by and saw one in the main dining room and it was simply beautiful. Alas, the beauty outweighed the taste, as it was unevenly dressed, and really a fairly plain salad despite its kaleidoscope of color.

Creamy Mussel Soup with cauliflower custard, poached mussels, and rye crumbs – This was by far the better of the two appetizers, and was a compelling bowl of soup, the broth poured tableside. As good as the custard and mussels were, it was the rye crumbs that lent the texture to put this one over the top.

Mahi Mahi with braised soybeans, kimchee puree, and shiitake tapenade – Unlike the Bibb lettuce course, this dish “read” really well on the menu, and I was intrigued by both the kimchi puree and shiitake tapenade, but the soybeans dominated the vegetables, and they were somewhat uninteresting and didn’t integrate well with the course as a whole. The fish itself was good, however, and if you like Mahi Mahi, then you might enjoy this surprisingly mild dish.

12 Hour Oven Roasted & Honey Glazed Pork Shoulder with pineapple confit, bay leaf crumble, and sweet potato – First of all, note that it said “oven roasted.” Trummer’s uses the sous-vide technique on several of its dishes, and the oven roasting, to me, is extremely important and desirable. Some diners may not like the fact that roasted or pot-braised meats lose their “pinkness” as they cook, but that’s reality, and I’m more than happy to sacrifice color for this blessed Thanksgiving-like quality that only an oven can produce. This was a giant hunk of pork shoulder which a glaze can only penetrate to a certain shallow depth – you have to really like pork shoulder to like this dish (and I do). Taken alone, it’s just a big piece of meat, but Trummer’s novel sides of pineapple, bay leaf, and sweet potato (beautifully presented on the plate) add the interesting flavor notes that will maintain your interest throughout this large entree. No, it’s not “fine,” but it sure is satisfying.

Three Cheeses – Desserts were turned over to the able hands of Trummer’s’ service team, and this plate was served as a separate course, after the entrees, and before dessert. These were all well-stored, well-aged cheeses, primarily American, and presented with homemade jam, candied almonds, and good crackers.

Chocolate Tart – This arrived just as white napkins were being waved (that pork shoulder dish was big), and what immediately struck me was how it was influenced by Michel Richard’s “Kit Kat” bar, but primarily because of the shape (a long, narrow, rectangular prism). This was more of a mousse on pastry crust, and went perfectly with a glass of white Port that Tyler pulled to pair with it.

For the money, this meal was exceptional, and the only possible criticism is that there were moments when the timing was off – occasionally, we’d need to wait too long for something; another time, things would happen too soon (the entrees, for example, arrived before we were finished with our appetizers, which should never happen at a restaurant of this caliber). Still, the incredible weather coupled with the lovely balcony (complete with (fake?) frog croaking), topped off by friendly service, bountiful food, and bargain-basement prices made Trummer’s the perfect Sunday dinner excursion.

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