The seductive allure of a leisurely, well-done meal holds a sway over today's culture of instant gratification. The recently renovated and reopened Jefferson Hotel (1200 16th St. N.W.) has launched a new resto called Plume, where an exceptional mindset inspires a long-forgotten lifestyle.
Everything from the décor, to Chef Damon Gordon's simple and short menu, to the 51-page novel of a wine list, was inspired by the hotel's namesake: Thomas Jefferson.
We were comfortably ensconced in a corner booth, propped up by full, fluffy silk Duponi pillows and lulled by tranquil lighting. The white and red wines were quickly suggested by the very serious, very knowledgeable Sommelier Michael Scaffidi. But we literally spent an hour reading through the wine menu -- a first. The list was built upon two years of research, encapsulating both what Thomas Jefferson did drink and would drink today.
Our white wine was the A. Christmann, Riesling, Pfalz, from Germany
. The 2008 varietal ($13) was bright and a fruity rather than a saccharine sweet. As for the elegant and gentle red Littorai, Pinot Noir, Les Larmes, from Anderson Valley
2008 ($16) -- well, we now have a new favorite.
Down to the food: the caramelized veal sweetbreads ($19) and the gateau of sole with black truffle ($34). Chef Gordon's sweetbread was visually arresting in its display. Stacked like a napoleon, the seasonal summer mushrooms, Chervil and light vanilla Veloute complemented the caramelized veal. Amazingly enough, the entire structure held its shape as we methodically demolished it.
The gateau of sole came with a side of potato gnocchi, dressed with a preserved tomato and warm truffle dressing. The slightly sweet gnocchi balanced the saltier sole.
A quick macchiato -- smooth, strong, solid -- accompanied the cheese entry. We requested just a sliver of the Strotocenere, made with truffle oil, in order to save room for dessert. The server added other cheeses, but it was the Strotocenere that stayed with us -- and the side of wild honey flower a pleasingly, sweet flourish.
Dessert came in three parts. The chef graciously offered a tasting of the Lime Miroir. Made with what looked like a shot glass' worth of freshly pureed raspberry sorbet, the dessert had a fascinating build-up of taste with its sharp fruit base and then its streusel and almond milk topping.
Our main dessert selection was the chocolate palet ($16). A bed of pecan brownie was topped with a construction of a slivered, chocolate, rice krispy wafer; praline ice cream; cocoa nibs, and edible gold garnish. Perfect.
Finally, a mini-tray of a truffled chocolate, a hazelnut macaroon, a pistachio chocolate and a coconut lemon tart was also set on the table. Each was gorgeous, and its intense flavors captivated different tastebuds.
The restaurant is small -- a mere 17 tables -- making it possible to hear the chatter of other diners, but rather than being annoying, it was soothing. The food, wine and ambiance was the perfect end to a stressful day. We left wanting for nothing -- not even the names of the wines which are printed out on parchment paper and placed in a gift bag for each diner.