BRESCA Gave Me the Best Meal of My Life

bresca-bar

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

No, I am not being hyperbolic.

I’v had a good amount of great food experiences over my relatively short life, both homemade and restaurant served; and visiting Washington, DC, this weekend I knew that I needed to have another one. I mean what’s a trip to the nation’s capital without a top quality meal? After doing some research I picked BRESCA for one specific item on the menu, their “Rohan Duck a La Presse,” and while I knew it would be good (I mean it better be for them to charge $118 for an “four per night” entree), I had no idea as I was rushing in the door that this would literally be the most unforgettable meal I’ve ever had.

I was seated very quickly and was almost immediately given a complimentary palate cleansing mixture of orgeat, apple juice and sherry…which was delicious. Its something that I would never have known existed but now have the urge to try making at home, not to mention that whenever an establishment can provide you with a complimentary anything, its a huge plus. Now going into this dinner, I didn’t plan on ordering any drinks, after all this was already an expensive meal and I figured that water would suit me fine instead of paying for a mixed drink; but that quickly changed when I saw “The Bee’s Knees.”

Composed of gin, mead, honey and lemon, the real draw of this tasty sounding cocktail was the fact that it came in a very unique “glass” shaped like a bee. When I asked for this drink I double checked with my server if this was indeed the drink I was thinking of and while he said that it was, unfortunately they ceased serving it in the bee because there was too much demand and not enough bees to be constantly using them. I ordered the drink anyway hiding my disappointment, that is until they placed my drink down in front of me and…

DSC06827

“We were able to find one for you!”

Heck yes

I don’t know about you dear reader, but when a restaurant goes out of its way to do something for you it has ceased doing on a regular basis, you know they are the real deal; plus look at that thing, its so cool!

But as cool as it is lets be real, I came here for the the duck, and you might think $118 is a lot of money to pay for a duck breast and accouterments, but there is a reason for it. You see this duck is dry-aged for twenty-one days and has a coriander & pink peppercorn crust with local honey. Normally when you think of dry aged meat the first thing that comes to your mind is beef, so to be able to have that experience with the steak of birds is something I could not pass up.

I knew this was going to be special when a server came out carrying the biggest duck breast I had ever seen in my life, I mean this thing was huge, I didn’t know ducks came in that size. “This is your duck,” she told me, and continued to describe how they were about to de-bone and season it and that I should soon expect one of their chefs to come out and make a sauce in front of me. It all sounded so wonderful and I don’t know what I was expecting to see but it certainly wasn’t a portable stove and giant metal press to be wheeled out to my table! Apparently no one else was either as other patrons of BRESCA stopped mid conversation to stare at the show that was being put on for me.

“This is our duck press,” said the chef, “in it we’ve put the duck legs, neck and other parts and we are going to press out all the juices, blood and marrow and incorporate it into this red wine sauce in order to enhance it.”

Bloody Brilliant (Ha!)

If I might digress for a moment, I would have been happy if all they gave me was the duck, but in true great restaurant fashion, BRESCA is going to give you all the bang for your buck they can. In addition to the duck they included three sides that could have been served as appetizers; the first was one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever had, comprised of picked cherry, kohlrabi, noisette butter and spring herbs:

DSC06845.JPG

Second was a fresh, warm bread that they bake daily and that (according to the chef) is “the best thing to eat with the pressed sauce,” and he wasn’t wrong.

DSC06846

The final side was a savory duck leg tart with cherry, pistachio and spruce tip; and while I had seen it listed on the menu, it didn’t click in my mind until I bit into it that there was duck leg INSIDE THE TART! And holy cow (err, duck) it was great.

DSC06842DSC06849

The combination of the pastry with the rich flavor of the duck meat was so good that I wasn’t sure how the the breast could be better. Spoiler alert: it totally was.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how to describe the flavor of this duck breast or the sauce it came in, but all I can say is son of a mother duck it was fantastic. As I ended up telling the server, I have no words.  Tender and juicy on its own, the duck enhanced red wine sauce made it all the more rich and savory…or maybe that came from the Foie Gras that I added for an extra twelve bucks…I mean, go big or go home right? Oh who am I kidding, it was probably both those things that made this an indescribably good flavor combination.  But its not enough to tell you, I just need to show you!

DSC06839

Phenomenal

I was enjoying this dish so much that a woman, who I believe was the general manager, came over to me and said “You look like you want a high-five,” she was right, and we did.

That picture right there is my happy place. Its what I love most about the culinary arts; the ability to prepare something so creative and delicious is what makes places like this so special; and when you are able to do that while also making your customer feel incredibly special, you are doing nothing less than generating pure happiness, and that’s what real cooking is all about.

About three-quarters of the way through the meal I was all but full. I didn’t know how much more I could eat, not because I didn’t want to, but to be frank this is a meal that should be shared by two or more people; and if you ever make your way to BRESCA in DC, please go with friends and order this meal, I assure you it will not disappoint. But despite how full I was getting I couldn’t help but order a dessert. I did so because it was both small and incredibly special: a Foie Gras Cake Pop. WHAT? Yeah, you read that right; and though it sounds so wrong, it tasted oh so right.

DSC06854

Covered in hazelnut, chocolate, amaretto and an edible gold leaf (talk about “rich”), this dessert honestly tasted like what Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream wishes it could taste like. Yes, I understand that it is hazelnut, not peanut, but honestly I got strong chocolate and peanut flavor vibes from the coating, and the cold duck liver inside truly gave it an ice cream-like texture and vibe. If I thought I couldn’t be any more pleased after my entree, lets just say I was very happy to be wrong. This is a desert that probably shouldn’t exist but thank goodness it does, and its something every one who claims to be even a remotely adventurous eater needs to try.

I’m not going to give BRESCA a rating for their meal or the experience, because truth be told an A+ or A++ or 5 Stars or whatever rating you could dream up…none of them can do this meal justice; but I think the one thing that can is just to say that BRESCA in Washington, DC, gave me hands down the best meal of my life, and that is really saying something.

bartaco: Duck, Pork Belly & Chorizo Tacos

DSC01084

Located in Port Chester, New York, bartaco is one of the top taco joints in Westchester County, and for my first visit, I chose to try the Duck, Pork Belly, and Chorizo tacos.

DSC01079

I have to preface this by saying that I enjoyed all three of these tacos, but as one can expect, I did like some better than others, so starting at the bottom:

Chorizo Taco

DSC01082

All three of the shells in these tacos are soft, and very good, so I will not be addressing them below.

The chorizo meat was tender, sweet and spicy, and was accompanied by very strong veggies, that while good, tend to take control of the taco a bit more than than I would like. I liked this taco, but it wasn’t as good as the…

Pork Belly Taco

DSC01083

I’ve really grown to love pork belly over the last couple of years, and this taco was no exception. The belly was thick, tender and fatty with a nice grilled texture, and had an extra acidic flavor component from the veggies. The two flavors mix together quite nicely, and will always be on my list of tacos to get, but if I was forced to choose just one it would be the…

Duck Taco

DSC01080

Like the pork belly, duck is a meat that I have grown to love, nay, adore over the past two or three years, and this taco is delicious. The duck meat (which in my opinion is the steak of birds) was very tender, juicy and sweet, with a tiny element of spice contributed to it from the raw onion and cilantro. Even more so the pork belly, the vegetables included with the duck simply worked.

If you want good tacos at a fantastic price ($2.5-3.5), and that won’t fill you up right away, bartaco is certainly the place to go.

Communal Kitchen: Communal Salad

communal_kitchen_nyack_interior_2_740_492_c1

The last time I was at Communal Kitchen, I noticed an intriguing item on the menu, a salad. The reason it caught my eye was that this was no ordinary salad, it contained “Organic local greens, grilled peaches, aged goat cheese, sunflower seeds, duck bacon and buttermilk honey dressing”…and boy was it good.

dsc00050-2

That is one of the prettiest salads I have ever seen in person. The local greens were very good, and that is saying something given that I usually don’t like darker lettuce that much.

The grilled peaches were fantastic, and proved to be one of my favorite parts of the meal, the aged goat cheese was delicious, and had that comforting thick texture that only goat cheese has.

The duck bacon was salty, and had a good combination of crunch and chew to it, while the sunflower seeds were an interesting addition, and the buttermilk honey dressing was smooth and sweet.

I loved this salad, and along with its flavor, the portion size was great, very plentiful, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

 

 

Communal Kitchen: Charcuterie Board and Pork Belly

communal_kitchen_nyack_interior_2_740_492_c1.jpg

Located near the top of the Main Street strip in Nyack, New York, Communal Kitchen is by far one of the best restaurants Nyack has to offer, an thats saying something.

Let’s start off with their Charcuterie Board:

What I like the most about their Charcuterie is that it isn’t set in stone, they seem to be changing it on a regular basis. I ended up choosing some wild boar cacciatorini, soppressata toscana, duck prosciutto, raw milk cow’s cheese, and finally, goat’s cheese.

img_20161128_225516

Beginning with the cheese, the raw milk cow’s cheese was a bit dry and not creamy at all, and while not my cup of tea, was not offensive in the least, while the goat’s cheese was thick, creamy, and delicious.

The wild boar cacciatorini was really good, it has a strong, rough and wild flavor that differentiates itself from beef and pork in a major way. The soppressata was salty, had medium thickness, and had a nice spice to it, but the real star was the duck prosciutto. The duck was thick,creamy, smooth and had an element of fat that almost explodes in your mouth; utterly delicious.

Pork Belly with Miso and Kimchi

20161119_192028.jpg

This main course tastes as good as it looks, the pork cuts like butter, tender and moist on the inside, with a slight crisp on the outside, the pork flavor shines through and the fat content adds an even greater taste; the kimchi had strong spice to it, and the miso is creamy and delicious, and paired with the pork, makes this plate one of the best you will have.

This is for sure a must eat if you live in Westchester or Rockland Counties, and I can’t wait to go back to the Communal Kitchen for even more great food.

Bareburger: Wiki Wiki Burger

bareburger-wall-menu-1024x682.jpg

It is very rare that I cover any kind of chain restaurant, even if they are a minor one, however, I will make an exception for Bareburger.

Bareburger has a wide variety of delicious sounding burgers, but on my first visit to the local burger joint, I decided to go with the delicious sounding Wiki Wiki Burger, which is made up of wild boar, Gouda, duck bacon, chickpea onions and grilled pineapple on a brioche bun.For my order however, I asked for no pineapple this time.

16129

This burger was absolutely delicious in every possible facet. While lacking in size, this burger seems bigger than it is due to the thickness of the meat inside.

Brioche bun was very soft, and was a nice rival texture to the thick, meaty wild boar; the duck bacon was thick as well, and very tasty. The chickpea onions were light and crispy, and the Gouda cheese, sweet and gooey.

16130.jpg

If you want a fantastic burger that goes in a different direction than the typical (albeit great) beef patty and pork bacon combination, the Wiki Wiki from Bareburger is a great option. As mentioned before, Bareburger is a chain, so if there happens to be one near you, you should definitely check it, and the Wiki Wiki out.

Restaurant Week: Le Provençal Bistro

PB_Exterior

For the third and sadly final Restaurant Week review (until its next iteration), I return to a fantastic French Bistro located in Mamaroneck, NY – Le Provençal Bistro.

Appetizer: Duck Confit Tacos

20160320_185758

I knew going in that Le Provençal’s Duck Confit was excellent, so I was interested to see how it tasted in a taco. The duck meat was tender and juicy, truly fitting for the steak of birds, and was topped with a semi sweet cheese and some salsa verde that leaves a slight spice in the back of your throat.

Joining the meat inside the shell of the thin tortilla were some slightly crunchy mushrooms, and some lentils; overall it was a very light and tasty appetizer that I would have again for sure.

Entree: Beef Bourguignonne

20160320_191036

This dish was somewhere between a pot roast and a stew (though easily more pot roast in nature). Everything on this plate is tender, and I mean everything; the fact that they gave me a knife is ironic, because I had no use of it at all.

The beef was cooked to perfection, and was very easy to chew; mixed in with the meat were soft carrots, mushrooms of medium thickness, and some supple oranges. The mashed potatoes and string beans were a nice accompaniment to the dish as well.

Dessert: Crème Caramel 

20160320_192524

This dessert was quite tasty, and tasted almost like a caramel gelatin; its sweet caramel flavor mixing perfectly with its light and jiggly texture.

I love Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. Its one of the only times you can get a three course meal of delicious food from quality establishments for an affordable price; and thats exactly what you get at Le Provençal Bistro.

Restaurant Week: Birdsall House

birdsall-house-5213be7b4203c3dbd0000068

This second Hudson Valley Restaurant Week review is coming a little late because I’ve been sick all week, but I am on the mend and am happy to bring you a review of dinner at Birdsall House in Peekskill NY.

Appetizer: Charcuterie – Duck Prosciutto 

20160312_173325

Duck is a great tasting fowl, I have previously called it “the steak of birds”, but it never ceases to amaze me in its flavor. Prosciutto is a meat that is usually ham, so to have it in duck form is a sweet delight.

The meat was thick, and had a great salty sweet flavor combination; and as is seen in the above photo, carried with it a perfectly manicured fat content. I didn’t want to stop eating this, so much so that I just leaned back, closed my eyes, and kept chewing until I could no longer; its that good.

Entree: Fried Chicken

20160312_174810

This chicken was served with strips of ham over a bed of rice and greens; it was served piping hot and had a nice crunchy skin that seemed to have some type of corn element to it. The meat was tender and juicy, very easy to get down, and one piece even had a lemon glaze spread on it.

The pieces of ham were smoky and even a bit spicy, and the rice and greens were pretty decent, although truth be told I’m not a fan of either in general.

Dessert: Maple Bacon Ice Cream

20160312_181810

Ice cream that tastes like maple syrup and bacon while resting on a waffle? Sign me up! The ice cream was sweet and sat in a scrumptious maple syrup sauce, along with a slight bacon flavor and some nuts on the side. The waffle was soft and rather easy to cut; the mixture of all these flavors and textures in your mouth at once is a nice feeling.

I would recommend hitting up the Restaurant Week dinner at Birdsall House; all in all it makes for a nice meal, especially the appetizer, and its one that everyone should try at some point in their lives.

Le Provençal Bistro: Duck Confit

PB_Exterior

Le Provençal is a lovely little bistro located in the town of Mamaroneck, and when my friend came down and was craving some French food, this is where we decided to go.

For my meal I decided to try something I had never had before, duck, and oh boy was that a good decision because this is one of the best cooked birds I have ever had.

20150829_201154

This dish is making me say something I never thought I’d say; duck is the steak of birds; and when I say that, I literally mean it reminded me of a steak.

The meat was thick, but shredded easily enough to consume quickly (unlike some steaks that require you chew for awhile), and the port wine sauce that it was bathed in was sweet and delicious. This meal simply melts in your mouth, thats how good it is.

20150829_201627

I absolutely recommend that everyone who reads this tries this dish, it is one of the best meals, let alone birds, I have ever eaten. Not to mention that for such a fancy and high quality meal, it is very reasonably priced; and their wine selection is quite good.

It is also worth mentioning that, although unrelated to the taste of the food itself, the owners and staff are very nice, knowledgeable, and helpful, making the dining experience a good one. I hope you get a chance to experience it soon.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com