There are restaurants that fit the bill because they are five minutes away and the food is good. There are restaurants that are an hour’s drive and worth it. Volt comes to mind.
Recognizing this, Todd Kliman of Washingtonian, has been rating restaurants according to how far he would drive to eat there in his online Tuesday chats. Here’s an excerpt from his October 26 chat:
How great is that as a ratings system!!
This past weekend, my husband and I took a Sunday evening drive to Trummer’s on Main in Clifton, Virginia. Clifton is a bit of a shlep. It is incomprehensible to me that there can be so much traffic on Route 66 at 5:30 on a Sunday night. My husband asks if I will remember our route for the ride home (I usually drive at night because he gets sleepy). I assure him that there is no way, as I am directionally challenged. He knows this, so I am puzzled by the question. We are not a great pair when it comes to driving places.
We arrive in Clifton nearly an hour later. Despite the long drive, the stars were aligned for a great dining experience. First of all, I hadn’t dined out in over a week, which for me is an eternity, so I was really looking forward to it. Second Trummer’s credentials are pretty stellar. The chef, Clayton Miller, was named by “Food and Wine Magazine” as one of the best new chefs of 2010. Trummer’s on Main ranked 58 in Washingtonian‘s 100 Very Best Restaurants of 2010, which is quite admirable, considering they opened in 2009. Third, we had a Living Social discount, which gave us $30 off the dinner.
We arrive with 15 minutes to spare before our reservation. There’s a lovely bar on the first floor of this renovated 200 year old building, but we are ready to dine. No time to waste at the bar. The dining room is fairly sparse at 6:15 on a Sunday night but it is quite lovely. Airy and woodsy and elegant at the same time.
The server presents us with the menu and we are in for a surprise. Trummer’s on Main features a Sunday night dinner special: three courses for $38. This is almost as good as Restaurant Week, so I am delighted, although I fear they won’t accept our coupon. We are assured that the coupon is valid. The not so great news is that the menu is limited to four starters, four entrees, and two desserts. My husband does not eat red meat and only eats poultry if it’s kosher. He eats fish (not shellfish). The entree choices are shrimp and grits (which appeals to me immediately), a beef dish, a roasted pork shoulder, and roasted red snapper with duck confit and oysters. Uh oh.We ask if they can modify the snapper and are told yes, they will omit the duck and oysters and substitute mushrooms and brussel sprouts. Crisis averted.
The server has another surprise for us and explains their “bucket list” of wine. Trummer’s is busy on Saturday nights, less so on Sunday nights, and closed on Mondays. They take their open bottles of wine, put them in two buckets, one for whites and one for reds. You select a wine from the bucket and a glass of wine is just $5. This is brilliant! I wish more restaurants would/could do this rather than toss out the remains of open bottles.
I was liking Trummer’s more by the minute, and I hadn’t yet had a bite of food.
The good news is that the food met and maybe even surpassed my expectations. I choose a starter of frisee lettuce with pistachios, bacon, and pomegranate vinaigrette. The frisee salad has a beautiful presentation and flavors to match. It is a fairly simple dish with lettuce, bacon, pistachios and dressing. The ingredients work well together and the portion size is ample. My husband’s only choice for a starter is the white corn soup, with cornbread, corn pudding, and parsley. The soup has a wonderful creamy texture and complex flavor.
Our wines are delicious, particularly the red Chateau O’Brien, a Virginia wine normally sold for $15 a glass. I indulged myself in a glass, after finishing my first choice of a sauvignon blanc.
|shrimp and grits|
The shrimp and grits presentation takes my breath away. The crispy bits of cheese blend perfectly with the shrimp and grits which features corn, spinach, and bacon. (Could I possibly manage to eat any more bacon during this meal?) I savor every bite and am grateful that the portion size is just right. My husband’s snapper is cooked perfectly. The substituted vegetables are fresh and delicious, and the sauce compliments the fish while not overwhelming it.
Dessert is a bit of a disappointment. I had read about the pastry chef, who came from Chikalicious in New York. I was looking forward to dessert. There were two choices in addition to the cheese course, which didn’t appeal to me. Both featured nuts prominently, and I am simply not nuts about nuts. The pumpkin dessert included walnuts, which I cannot tolerate. So, I ordered the pistachio parfait with ground oreo and bittersweet chocolate sorbet, despite the fact that my starter had pistachios. My husband got to enjoy most of the desserts. I will say that they looked beautiful, and I am certain that most people would be quite pleased with the desserts.
This ending to a meal usually would have left a bad taste in my mouth (so to speak) about the whole experience, but I was not deterred. I really, really liked Trummer’s on Main. In fact, I would have driven a good hour and ten minutes to get there. The good news is that it only took us 45 minutes to get home. The bad news for my husband was that he had to drive…that extra glass of red wine had rendered me useless.