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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Peachy's Picks Washington, D.C.: 701 Encore Review by Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

Pavlova: Roasted Peach, Yuzu Parfait, Basil, Sungold Tomato and Raspberry Sauce

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It's not who you know, it's Whom You Know.
We know Ashok Bajaj, who is the best restaurant owner of a restaurant group.  Period.  Anywhere.  We don't know anyone else that works as hard and as smart as he does, including in New York, of a restaurant group.  Most of the time, we work with a sole owner of one restaurant because in most cases, that business model works best.  Most people cannot do a great job at more than one place (even if a lot of them think they do).  However, Ashok is the exception to the rule.  Ashok is almost an octopus.  He visits each of his restaurants every day and his presence is there even if he is not: a rare find.  Everything of The Knightsbridge Restaurant Group that we have ever experienced is high-caliber quality, and we have never found a faux pas.
701 was the first restaurant we reviewed by Ashok:
Then Nopa:
And The Bombay Club:
Rasika West End:
This is our second visit to 701, and the first time we've gone back to one of his restaurants. We plan on going back to all of them!  We still haven't been to them all for the first's very difficult to get Peachy to leave Martin's Tavern once she is in Washington.
We began with this lovely Chilled Cumber Soup.  We liked the consistency of the broth the best here and the fresh and fragrant qualities.  
It was super refreshing, and had a lot of activity from the tzatziki sorbet, pita crumble, and lamb sausage.  
Our first question when we visit a place for the second time (or third, etc) is what is new that we don't know yet?  What is new at 701 is that there is a new Executive Chef: Benjamin Lambert.  We were delighted to meet him along with Michael Griffith of 701.  The menu changes four times a year at this venue, and our recent visit reconfirmed the total commitment to quality by The Knightsbridge Restaurant Group.  
We like the piano at 701 and they play standards on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and also take requests.
To open with, we began sipping a splendid Rose, Le Grande Courtage (Split) from France which was exactly what we were looking for in terms of light libations.
As you know, anyone that feeds us peaches that we like gets a double feature in our Peachy column.  We can't say we've ever thought of a peach paired with a lobster, but there is a first for everything and this works!  Our favorite first course was the Poached Maine Lobster.
Not only did the perfect crustacean have the good taste to dance in peaches, but it also did it in a burrata puree.  We think we would have been even more aggressive in the adding of burrata to this dish.  Pickled ramps also came to the party and vadouvian spice-a french curry from San Francisco-spiced it up.
The third First Course we tried were the Crispy Squash Blossoms, which are far from ordinary at 701.  Have you ever heard of shrimp pepperoni?  We had not experienced this innovation in the pizza family, but know it is in there!  Ricotta, Basil, and Balsamic Reduction also are part of the team on this plate and we found it quite spicy.
As we are super-enthused about Lobster, we carried it through to our pasta course to the highly creative dish: Maine Lobster Bucatini.  The quality of the lobster was our favorite aspect, and if you are a fan of texture you will like that toasted bread crumbs punctuate it and a sauce new to us was part of the show: N'Duja XO Sauce.  It's a spicy sauce toned down with onions, ginger, garlic and lobster stock which in total gives this a unique, thoughtful flavor.
Peachy Deegan adores a rich, robust red.  Especially when it's American!  When you are at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. you ought to feel super patriotic and drink American, and we were happy to do so.  We would order this selection again.
The Day Boat Scallops jumped out at us most convincingly from the Entree area of the menu.
The scallops themselves hail from New Bedford, Massachusetts (CAPE COD!) from the vendor George's Bank, and they are in a huge popcorn celebration, which puts this very high on the scale of creativity.  They sit in popcorn puree, chanterelles, fennel confit and blueberry kosho (citrus japanese condiment).  
What is popcorn puree you might ask?  We asked for you.  It's popcorn, onions, garlic, water, stock, butter, salt, sugar and cream and had a truly original flavor.
Of course, at 701 the dessert is super peachy.  Meet the Pavlova!
Roasted Peach, Yuzu Parfait, Basil, Sungold Tomato and Raspberry Sauce team up for a wonderful finale.  If you like Creme Brulee, it is accompanied by Praline Cake, Strawberry Ice Cream and Fig Vincotto:
Peachy and Ashok!
Peachy is wearing Julia Jordan
Michael Griffith and Chef Benjamin Lambert

Peachy continues to pick 701!

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