This year's choice was The Grille at the Morrison House. The Morrison House is an old Federalist-style mansion located in old town Alexandria that is now an inn. The Grille, the restaurant located in the mansion, serves a contemporary French American cuisine. Each room is filled with beautiful antiques, several fireplaces, and even a piano bar. Our meal that evening was accompanied by a talented pianist playing Christmas carols in the style of Vince Guaraldi (see A Charlie Brown Christmas).
Our meal began with a fancy cheese platter for the whole table to share. Five glorious cheeses...Ameribella (cow cheese from Indiana), Brabander (a Holland goat cheese), Umber (New York cow), Moses Sleeper (Vermont cow), Cashel Blue (Irish cow). I don't really remember which was which, all I know is that they were all delicious. I haven't met too many cheeses I didn't like. This was a nice variety of mild, sharp, tangy, and creamy.
One of my favorite French dishes is the classic escargot. Yep, snails. If you are a little put off about trying escargot, I always tell people if you like shrimp in garlic butter, you will like escargot. The escargot itself doesn't really have much flavor on its own, it has a similar texture to shrimp, and its soaked in garlic butter. Everything tastes yummy if its drenched in garlic butter. And they are served hot with a nice piece of crusty bread!
Superking also had the Country Pate. It was served with pickled onions, cornichons (tiny pickles), a few greens, grainy mustard, and a crusty baguette. A mixture of salty meat and tangy sharp mustard.
He also had the seared filet mignon served with Yorkshire pudding, sauteed mushrooms, and a bordelaise sauce. I was a little disappointed to discover that Yorkshire pudding is really just a popover. Not that it wasn't tasty, I just thought a Yorskhire pudding should have something in it for the "pudding" part! Oh well! The way I understand it, it is a light fluffy bread thats made with drippings from the meat and thats what makes it special. The sauteed mushrooms were deliciously earthy! The bordelaise sauce is made with a dry red wine, bone marrow, butter, and shallots.
The pan seared Rock Fish, while the skin was a little too salty for my liking it was crispy and the fish light and flaky. It was served over a mushroom risotto and wilted kale. It could've done with a little less kale (which would've been better if it was crispy) but the risotto was delightfully creamy.
A couple people in our party ordered the dark bavarian chocolate cake which seemed to be quite delectable. But I had to go for the Chevre Cheesecake. When we ordered it, the waiter asked us, "you know thats goat cheese; do you still want to order that?" We chuckled and replied, "of course we know thats goat cheese; thats WHY we are ordering it!"
The cheesecake itself was superbly creamy and tangy and it was topped with a shortbread crumble and huckleberry jam, which was a nice balance of sweet and tart as well. Next to the cake were several meringues made with rosemary.
All in all it was a tasty meal and a great time with friends and family!