Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Score another win for Savored. Recently we've been using this discount dining site to check out restaurants that have been sitting on our list. In this edition of Everything Is More Fun at 30% Off, we headed to Vidalia. The restaurant, tucked away in a basement location on M Street NW, serves cuisine that is "original American with a subtle Southern influence."

When we first perused the menu, I didn't feel up to doing the five course tasting menu. However, when our waitress told us that each person can make up their own tasting menu out of any of the items in each category (cold appetizer, hot appetizer, seafood, meat, dessert or cheese), I was sold. Combine that freedom of choice with a 30% discount through Savored and I couldn't say no. We selected 10 dishes (5 each) and let the fun begin.

Amuse: watermelon with creme fraiche and micro greens.

J's cold appetizer: heirloom beet salad with beet gelee, blue cheese fondue, walnuts, and bliss vinegar.

B's cold appetizer: chilled watermelon gazpacho with jumbo lump crab, pickled rhubarb, and basil sorbet.

J's hot appetizer: Vidalia five onion soup with duck dumplings and cornbread croutons.

B's hot appetizer: soft shell crab. Even though this dish was on the evening's specials list, B was able to select it as part of his tasting menu. When they say the entire menu is fair game, they mean it!

J's seafood course: shrimp and grits with Vidalia onion, spinach, and tasso ham.

B's seafood course: seared sea scallops with corn puree and shaved black truffles.

J's meat course: spice-crusted duck breast served over Carolina gold rice pudding. It was served along with a square of what I can best describe as a duck bread pudding.

B's meat course: braised barbecue bison shortribs with cornbread puree.

J's dessert course: chocolate peanut butter crunch.

B's dessert course: lemon chess pie.

The "as if we needed any more food" course: Assorted pastries served with the check including a really good banana muffin/cupcake.

As you can see, Vidalia doesn't skimp on portions for its tasting menu. As the endless parade o' food continued, I found myself wishing that they were a little less generous. When the food is as pretty as this was and tastes as good, it's too hard to push away the plate before you've licked it clean.

I was really happy with each of the dishes I tried. The duck was the most tender and least gamey I've ever had. The beet salad was as pretty taste-wise as it was in the looks department. The chocolate peanut butter crunch was the kind of dessert that motivates me to get to those dastardly 6:00 a.m. spinning classes.

We decided to walk the 10 blocks home in an attempt to burn off a couple of the zillion trillion calories we just demolished. Despite the fact our stomachs sported food babies the size of basketballs, we had a spring in our step the whole way home. We had just eaten one of the best meals of the year AND we scored it at 30% off. A reason to skip, indeed.

Second Thoughts from B

Growing up, I was a very introspective kid and one of the internal debates I had was this: Would I rather try and be the best at one thing or be good at a lot of different things? (For the record, I'm still working on the latter) Enjoying 10 different dishes from Vidalia clearly shows that they are far more renaissance man than one trick pony.

I won't remember Vidalia for having a "Best Thing I Ever Ate" dish, though the bread basket was incredible if you love onions like I do (if you don't like onions, why would you consider a place called Vidalia?). However, I will remember it for having 10 consistently well conceived and well executed plates of food that all looked like artwork.

I'll also remember getting another great deal. The tasting menu was definitely worth the $74 they charge, but getting it for $52 makes the evening that much more delicious. And the cherry on top? We didn't have to suffer through Restaurant Week crowds, menus, or service issues to get a deal. Once again, Savored FTW!
Vidalia on Urbanspoon

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