Old Mar 31, 09, 11:24 am
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,203
Toddled off to Nikolai's Roof back at the Hilton, where I
was given a nice window table with a panoramic view of the
city. Vasil, my waiter, was courteous and competent. I was
pleased by everything except the sight of the other diner
across from me, who was myself reflected in a mirror. Oh,
yes, the food.

The Louis Michel Chablis 06 was pleasantly acid, once the
sulfur blew off, not so flinty as I'd have expected, but
with good fruit. Went well with the first couple courses.

Trio of pirozhki - beef tenderloin, unidentified poultry
("pintade" - Guinea fowl - according to the menu, but you
could have fooled me), gray shrimp. A really nicely done
buttery puff pastry, not Pepperidge Farm for a change, with
less than stellar fillings. The first tasted like hash, the
second tasted like chicken sausage, and the third tasted
like fishy fish. On the side, a rich Bearnaise that was most
likely made here, or at least in a factory of the better
sort: this was necessary for the shrimp one, whose filling
had seen better days.

When subwaiter Duane presented these, he named them off
accurately but gave the peculiar editorial comment that
they had been "nicely garnished with fresh herbs" - being
a few black sesame seeds on one of them and a sprig of
baby chervil on another. I do not need to be told that my
food is "nicely garnished" - I can make that determination
myself, thank you.

The whole-wheat roll that came was notable, perhaps unique,
in that it didn't taste rancid, the way almost all whole-
wheat things do. The butter, though salted, was okay.

Seared diver scallop, Maine lobster, osetra caviar,
shellfish foam, braised leeks - at most half a scallop,
sliced horizontally - there was more lobster (a half ounce
of claw meat) than scallop; this was a blessing in disguise,
as the scallop was nastily tasteless with that tongue-
numbing quality that solution-soaked not-so-good scallops
often have. The shellfish foam was aerosolized lobster
bisque, not bad; the leeks, though not meltingly tender,
were fine. Osetra caviar? A blobby blin-like thing with
a dozen specks of black stuff inside. I tasted a few of
the eggs alone, and they were fine. But eaten with the
blob, the flavor was fugitive at best.

Beef tenderloin (rare) with Savoy cabbage braised with
applewood-smoked bacon, truffled black trumpet risotto
was quite nice, the meat not quite trimmed and with an
odd vein of fat in the middle (neither of which bothered
me at all, except that there was a bit of blue mold on
the outside of a bite or two) - a bit more than the
expected 6 or so ounces, but that might have been owing
to the imperfect trim. The risotto was properly done,
but there was more mushroom than rice! Truffles were in
the usual form, which is "truffle oil." The vegetable
was appropriately Southern and porky and mushy and good.

With this I had Coppola Director's Cut Pinot Noir, I
believe also 06, which was soft and drinkable with plum and
cherry flavors, a bit of herbal quality, a bit of meaty
quality: pretty good.

I was still a bit unsatisfied, given the tininess of the
starters, but I am not really a sweets person, so instead
of dessert I ordered a cup of borscht, which may have been
a mistake - very salty, not very beety or sweet at all.
Chunks of beef absorbed a rootiness and made the stuff
taste like Campbell's vegetable beef soup. Very odd. With
this I finished off the bottle of Chablis, which helped.
By the way, this came with a garnish of a Kobe beef cheek
raviolo, which had an odd texture, the pastry a bit stiff
and the meat gelatinous and crumbly at the same time. I'd
expected maybe some smoothness and unctuousness; I was
wrong. Still the best part of the dish.

Toddled muzzily back to my room, wrote a little speech
for the next day, and off to bed.

It turns out this room has an issue with soundproofing.
I could hear all the people and their screaming infants
on their way to and from the elevator, and worse, the
elevator itself, which sounded like a train running past
every few seconds throughout the night. I ended up with
maybe three hours of sleep.

Interesting quirk about the telephone. I pushed the button
for a wake-up call, and it dialed 911. Of course I hung up
immediately and tried to call the front desk, but the phone
called 911 again. Ah, well. Shortly thereafter, the hotel
operator called to clarify, as 911 had called back. I
unplugged the phone and left a note for the technician
before running across the street to my first session.
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