April 20, 2010

Restaurant Review: Branch Water Tavern

For our monthly supper club, we ventured to a Washington area restaurant - Branch Water Tavern.  Branch Water is run by Chef David Grossman, who also worked at Reef and Gravitas. He opened up Branch Water with the vision of making "classically inspired modern American cooking." The decor is really fascinating. When you walk in, to your right is a bar lounge with this awesome black and white XXX wallpaper...I forget the design but will update once I remember!  The restaurant itself is a little mixture of old fashion warehouse, brick with a modern twist.  The restaurant isn't incredibly large or incredibly loud, which is always a big plus to be able to hear the person sitting across form you.

Let me back up a little and talk about how we select new restaurants.  Our "selection process" for new eats consists of I want to try this place because of xxx, and this place for their xxxx and oh, this place too.  Surprise, we never really omit places, we just keep adding them to our list.  So of course we took a peek at the menu before going and of course, saw the duckfat popcorn which sold us as the March choice. 
We shared several appetizers, which I actually think were the best part of the meal.
Duckfat Popcorn - It's popcorn folks. No matter where you are, once you have some, you can't stop popping them in your mouth. There some crack in corn that makes you keep eating until you realized you've eaten an entire container.  So, the duckfat did not hit you in the face but every once in a while, you take a bite and get a "oh, THIS is what duckfat popcorn is all about."  It's good but will not be a driving reason for me to come back.
Crispy stuffed olives - Very large olives that had a good combination of fried-ness w/saltiness.
Chicken fried oysters w/celery root slaw - Um, these were amazing. I would have this for my entree if it was an option.  I worry when I see fried oysters that they come out on the dish the size of a quarter and you end up taking the fried crust more than the actual oyster. These were medium size so you were able to taste the meat of the oyster and when combined with the slaw and a pinch of the sea salt bed it came on - pretty fantastic!
Jumbo crab cake with thai salad "som tam" - This was suprisingly delicious.  A clear winner for crab cake is if you notice lump crab more than the seasoning or the bread crumbs that hold it together.  It has to have a majority percentage crab to everything else. This hit it right now and each bite was lump crab goodness. 
So for my entree, I had the venison medallions - which was my first time.  I'm not a fan.  It's not due to their cooking or the quality - which was perfectly cooked without any game-y taste - but it's just one of those experiences you have to go through to know, okay, I don't like something no matter how well it's cooked. 
Friends had the seared scallops which were pretty good and plentiful.  Many times you only get three or four scallops for the 25 bucks you pay! but here, they gave plenty to be full by the end.  
Overall, I enjoyed the atmosphere but simply due to the my newfound dislike of venison, this place sits lower than it really should with a 3 stars out of five.  The appetizers were really good but the meal was a tad pricier than I anticipated as well.  My meal of shared appetizers, no drinks and entree was $50.  Not outrageous but I'm not completely sold what I ate was balanced with the price.

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