Falls Church / Modern American / $$$$
There’s no dining experience that will whet every appetite quite like a tasting menu. The anticipation that builds as you wait for the grand reveal of each course, the satisfaction as it arrives in front of you looking irresistible, the sharing of a dish with the person by your side—it’s all a routine likely to whip you and your companion into a frenzy.
And no one in NoVA does this theatrical hurry-up-and-wait with the same gusto as chef Bertrand Chemel. The first step to ecstasy is reading the menu, with its creative offerings that only hint at the artistry to come. What exactly is Canary Islands branzino “bulgogi”? you wonder. The fish course, also available made with maitake mushrooms for the vegetarians, is a flaky fillet with crunchy skin that indeed tastes like Korean barbecue, but is served over a matsutake-mushroom-and-shoyu foam with pinpricks of crispy black rice.
It’s one of five courses that your server will proffer, each with both an omnivorous and a veg-friendly option. They’ll include diverse ingredients; a Japanese sea scallop starter is comprised of green almonds, apricot, Thai chile, and mint. And somehow, Chemel makes them all sing in harmony, harnessing manifold flavors in a way that remains unfussy.
Desserts, from pastry chef Kimberlyn Turman, are forgivingly light, leaving you and your guest ready to take on the rest of the night.
See This: Drive into the woods, where you’ll arrive at an office building surrounded by water features, including a waterfall and a koi-filled pond. And that’s just outside the art-filled indoor space.
Eat This: Get the tasting menu and trust the chef.
Service: As close to perfection as you’ll find. A team tends to your every need with efficiency and a sense of humor.
When to dine here: Your date is as much of a foodie as you are.