Flight, Fields, Fins and Farm

The categories Flight, Fields, Fins and Farm accurately divide the menu at the Melrose Hotel’s newly unveiled, Jardenea restaurant. The menu’s tagline, “The farm is the beginning of the food chain, knowing where your food comes from, has gone from being a trend to being a necessity,” although grammatically suspicious, does reflect the increasing emphasis that restaurants are putting on responsible and sustainable food choices. I had a beautiful meal there, but was dismayed by the low attendance in the dining room. It’s only a few weeks old, true, but folks–it’s definitely worth a try!

I was lucky enough to win a weekend stay at the Melrose Hotel through a work event, and so I chose the weekend leading up to the GRE to hole myself up in the gigantic room and study my butt off. After a day of studying, I was absurdly ready to put my books away and enjoy a meal downstairs. I was with someone who has an allergy to tree nuts, so we needed a completely nut-free (and corn-free, of course) meal. When we explained our dietary needs to the waiter, he decided to retrieve the chef so we could talk to him in person. The chef Nate Lindsay was extremely personable, and was obviously enthusiastic about accommodating our preferences by switching out sides or picking and choosing dishes to create a safe meal. It was a fantastic attitude, and it was clear how excited he was about making our dining experience safe and enjoyable.

To start, we ordered the Prince Edward Island Mussels with toasted curry, elephant garlic and heirloom tomato consommé. I’m a late starter to mussels so this was a bit of a stretch for me. Thus, I was damn delighted to find that I really enjoyed them! The broth was heavenly with massive pieces of the roasted garlic and a hint of spice from the curry (very little of that broth remained at the end…thank goodness for nice crusty bread to soak it all up!). As far as the mussels themselves go, I am assured by my dining partner that they were cooked to perfection!

MusselsOur mains were lovely, literally. I ordered the Colorado Lamb Rack, prepared to look like a sprig of holly. Garlic showed itself again, accompanied by roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes, haricots verts and roasted beets. The lamb was perfectly cooked, and although quite fatty, it had a beautiful flavor. On the other side of the table, three medallions of beef were surrounded by potatoes mousseline (the creamiest mashed potatoes ever) with a shallot demi-glace. Unfortunately, the beef itself didn’t have too much flavor, but the sauce made up for the lack of taste.

Rack of Lamb

Lamb, potatoes, haricots vert

Beef medallions

Unfortunately, we were too stuffed for dessert–we even packed up the last of the beef and potatoes to re-purpose later! It was a truly lovely meal, with impressive attention to detail, and most importantly, an understanding and accommodating attitude from the chef and waitstaff. Whoever wrote the menu clearly recognizes the prevalence and seriousness of dietary restrictions: “Our chefs will accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and most special dietary needs; please speak with your server if you have any requests.” Nice.

Earlier that day, I had witnessed other guests requesting that the chef come to the front desk as they were checking out. Although Nate looked a bit nervous upon arrival (who wouldn’t be?), it quickly turned to relief when the patrons commenced their resounding approval of their beautiful meals there. If you need any more convincing, take a look at the Washingtonian’s slideshow of some of the other dishes you’ll find at Jardenea.

Jardenea | Washington DC Melrose Hotel | 2430 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037