Restaurant News & Reviews

The Dish: In two trips, there were far more hits than misses, and potential for excellence is there

The Dish doesn't have every dish you wish for, but we did seriously wish for every dish it has.

On my first trip to this newish "modern American"-style Chevy Chase eatery, which opened in July in the former Le Bistro space on South Ashland Avenue, my companion and I couldn't get past the appetizers. We ordered five of the six offered and made a meal of small plates.

The duck egg rolls ($11), three or four of them, were fantastically rich, with bits of Peking-style duck, carrot and cabbage wrapped in a thicker-than-normal won ton skin. It was crunchy and topped with an orange vinaigrette. They were heaven.

The carpaccio ($10) was a slight disappointment only because it was too thick. It's been my experience that carpaccio should be paper thin — sliced thinly and pounded even thinner — but what we had was still delicious. The raw beef had been rolled, garnished with arugula and horseradish cream, and served on toasted crostini. Excellent.

The "scallop potatoes" ($12) were a slam dunk. Scallops are tricky and a good test for any kitchen — just a minute to cook and a minute to turn into a hockey puck. Huge sea scallops had been pan-seared perfectly, beautifully browned on the outside and translucent on the inside, with hardly any tooth. They were placed on a thin slice of roasted potato, then served in a very light smoked Gouda cream. This was fabulous.

The shellfish steamer ($8) was one of the best I've had in Lexington. Mussels and clams had been cooked in and served with garlic, herbs and wine. Did I mention garlic? The clams and mussels were very tender and served with dry-grilled crostini for sopping the exquisite liquid.

For dessert, we sampled pumpkin crème brûlée ($6.50) and apple pie ($6.50). Both were brilliant. The crème brûlée was two-toned, with a very light vanilla custard on top and light pumpkin-flavored custard on the bottom, both smooth as silk and yummy. The pie, filled with apples and caramel, had an exceptional crust: very light and flaky flour- and shortening-based.

Also worth mentioning is The Dish's full bar service. They were pushing martinis that Monday night, but I wanted a glass of wine. Luckily, the restaurant offers an extensive list of exceptional wines. I found one I had tried during a review in Nicholasville: Hall cabernet sauvignon ($10.50 a glass), rich, chewy and berrylike.

That dinner for two, including tax but not tip, was $80.83.

On the second trip, we concentrated on entrees — chicken and dumplings ($18) and grouper on pumpkin ravioli ($22). The grouper was roasted and wonderful, and the savory pumpkin purée-stuffed ravioli (one huge one) was an unexpected treat. The pasta's intense pumpkin flavor was quite a contrast to the fish's sweetness. The sauce — browned butter and sage — didn't hurt a bit either.

The chicken and dumplings were a complete change from the traditional version of the dish that I ate at home growing up. Chicken tenders and turned parsnips were mixed with potato gnocchi — the lightest I've had in a long time — and a shiitake mushroom sauce. It was good, but it was just so strange that The Dish called it chicken and dumplings.

For dessert we had an interesting "hot" chocolate cake ($6.50) that was a play on the "hot chocolate" in the movie Chocolat. The folks at The Dish added hot chili pepper to the chocolate mousse garnish on top of a rich chocolate cake. The chili didn't make the topping any spicier, just brighter.

The other dessert, which we were told was experimental, was Frangelico ice cream ($6.50). More experimentation is in order. The hazelnut flavor was excellent, but the texture was pasty and grainy.

Dinner for two on this visit, including tax but not tip, was $93.55.

Service on both nights was quiet and professional.

The Dish isn't the cheapest place I've been, but with a few tweaks, it could become the best place.

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