I’m now “at that age” where I avoid the W hotel rooftop because while the view is probably one of the best in DC, I just do not want be packed like sardines in a roof filled with overdressed, probably douchey people. Does that mean I am maturing? Or maybe just I’m just maturing into a hater. The downstairs of the W is a different story. I loved J&G, the steakhouse on the first floor, with its numerous meat sauces (always made sure to request all of them). Unfortunately, J&G closed last June when Jean-Georges Vongerichte ended his five year contract with the hotel. On the bright side, the W announced that chef Barry Koslow, previously at DGS Delicatessen, would be heading up the new concept. On October 1, 2014, Pinea opened. The Mediterranean restaurant has gotten positive reviews, and I put it on my list of places to try eventually.
When I spotted Pinea on the list of participating restaurants during Restaurant Week this winter, I suggested it to A (fake roommate) who of course was on board. The evening of our dinner date turned out to be a cold, rainy Friday night and by the time we arrived at the W we were both freezing, soaking wet and starving. Our condition immediately improved when we walked through the lobby to the restaurant, where we were greeted by some smiling faces who seemed super excited to see us. The staff was so friendly, and the hostess offered to hang up our jackets before seating us in a comfortable booth in the center of the colorful restaurant. Our server, going along with the friendly theme, immediately brought us water, introduced himself in a charming French accent, and explained the menu. I appreciated that Pinea had their entire menu available for Restaurant Week, meaning you could select any appetizer or merenda to start (some options had a surcharge), an entree, and dessert. It was a nice way for a new spot to showcase their menu!
After putting our orders in, our server quickly brought out a basket of pita chips and a bowl of tapenade (with a hint of mustard) that A and I gobbled up to warm our stomachs up. Having not seen each other since New Years Eve, we caught up while waiting for the first course. I updated her on the bartender (who I went on a fantastic date with, and ended up making out with at the bar on a Tuesday night…. and then who disappeared afterwards and left me with absolutely no idea why he never followed up) and she updated me on her latest eating adventures with the bf. Our appetizers arrived soon and we dug into the warm food.
I started with the Duck Leg Confit appetizer, consisting of a huge leg on a bed of beans and thick slices of sausage. I found this dish delicious and inhaled the crispy skin and juicy meat along with the hearty beans and sausage. It was the perfect winter dish, and a must-order IMO if you are eating here.
A ordered the crab and guanciale croquetas, which tasted creamy, crunchy and spicy thanks to the remoulade. We both approved of the starters, and continued to munch away on the chips and tapenade as we waited for the entrees.
My main course was the Beef Short Rib (duck then cow… clearly not going with the vegetarian route that evening). To sum up this dish: oh, mah, gawd. It was AWESOME and made me look up to the sky and thank whoever created cows and placed them on this earth. The meat was so incredibly tender that I probably could have used a sliver of paper to cut it. It just fell apart into moist, fatty, flavorful chunks of protein and I smothered the thick celery root puree into each bite.
A enjoyed her whole branzino, which the kitchen deboned and the bite she offered me was light and delicious, a nice change from my indulgent dish. By the time I cleared by plate (and I made sure to clean off every morsel of food from that plate), most of my blood was rushing to my stomach and I started to slide further down in my chair into the beginning of a meat coma. The waiter brought around the dessert menu which woke me up a little bit, since I have a hard time saying no to a little more sugar in my life.
A and I decided to pick two desserts and split them to end the meal. The awesome server recommended the lavender creme brulee and olive cake. I was in the mood for something heavy and sweet, and he explained that the chocolate pave is incredibly intense, so we went with an order of the brulee and the chocolate pave.
Both desserts arrived within a few minutes, which was good because I was starting to slump over in my chair again. I tried the lavender creme brulee first, which was delicate and filled my mouth with caramel and lavender. The waiter had not steered us wrong.
The chocolate pave was indeed intense. Made with very dark chocolate, each bite was super dense, slightly bitter but overall awesome. The hazelnut ice cream added the perfect sweet touch to the dessert and despite feeling full, we managed to finish off the rich desserts.
This was one of my favorite Restaurant Week meals overall. From the staff, to the menu options, to the food, to the restaurant, everything was great. If Restaurant Week is supposedly a time where restaurants subject patrons to inferior service and food, then this dinner at Pinea was the exception.