FIRST LOOK & TASTE TEST: DECANTER
Marie F | Jul 2, 2013 | 11:00AM |

all words and photos: Marie Formica

The downtown familiar St. Regis Hotel redesigned and relaunched their restaurant as Decanter earlier this month. Chef Sébastien Rondier, drawing on a childhood flavor palette from the French Riviera and Basque country, designed a new Mediterranean-influenced menu for guests and DC-elite, alike.

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

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Thursday 03/30
Carlos Mencia from Mind of Mencia @ Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse
$30 / $30
Carlos Mencia is undoubtedly one of today’s most popular entertainers and comics. Whether it is man-on-the-street interviews, studio comedy, commercial parodies, nationwide sold-out tours, or films, Mencia demonstrates an extraordinary ability to connect with a wide and diverse audience. Mencia comes from a humble background, born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the 17th of 18 children. His parents sent him to the United States when he was about three months old, where he was raised in Maravilla Projects in Los Angeles, California by his aunt and uncle. In his early teens, Mencia moved back to Honduras because his family wanted him to avoid the destructive gang culture of East Los Angeles. When Mencia later returned to Los Angeles, he showed such educational prowess that he was immediately promoted to the tenth grade. Soon after, he successfully graduated from Garfield High School. Mencia began his career doing stand-up on amateur night. After he found success on the L.A comedy circuit, Mencia was named “International Comedy Grand Champion” from Buscando Estrellas (the Latino version of Star Search). This led to appearances on “In Living Color,” “The Arsenio Hall Show,” “Moesha” and “An Evening at the Improv.” In 1994, he hosted the HBO comedy series “Loco Slam” and in 1998 he hosted “Funny is Funny!” on Galavision. Mencia released a comedy album in 2000 called “Take a Joke, America” that showcased his brand of humor. Mencia continued his journey up the comedy ladder by headlining “The Three Amigos” tour with Freddy Soto and Pablo Francisco in 2002, which sold out in record time around the United States. He was also featured in the independent films, “Outta Time” and “29 Palms” and starred in guest spots on “The Shield” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” among others. In 2002, he received a CableACE Award nomination for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special for his HBO special. That same year, Mencia was featured on “Comedy Central Presents.” Mencia remained busy and after the success of his solo dvd, “Carlos Mencia: Not For The Easily Offended,” “Mind of Mencia” went into development. The show was an instant hit and after the first season, Comedy Central signed Mencia back for his own original stand-up special, “Carlos Mencia: No Strings Attached.” The special was the first Comedy Central Stand-up Special DVD to achieve Platinum sales status. “Mind of Mencia” debuted on Comedy Central in early 2005. It became one of the strongest shows in the network’s history, averaging about 1.5 million total viewers. “Mind of Mencia” was executive produced by Carlos Mencia and Robert Morton (“Late Night with David Letterman”). In the summer of 2007, Mencia starred opposite Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan in the Farrelly Brothers’ hit feature film, THE HEARTBREAK KID (DreamWorks). In the fall of that year Mencia headlined a nationwide comedy tour titled “Carlos Mencia Live Presented by Bud Light.” The highly anticipated tour brought Mencia face-to-face with his fans from September 2007 through December 2007. Shortly thereafter, Mencia taped a new comedy special for Comedy Central, “Carlos Mencia: Performance Enhanced,” that aired in May 2008. Since 2007, every holiday season Mencia has embarked on a USO Tour to the Persian Gulf to entertain the troops serving overseas. For his 2008 trip, Mencia visited Kuwait to host “Operation MySpace,” an exclusive concert for American Troops in the Middle East alongside Jessica Simpson and The Pussycat Dolls. The special aired on FX in April 2008. Mencia’s 2009 USO tour had stops in Turkey, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Qatar, Afghanistan, and many other countries. In July 2008, Mencia began his tour, “At Close Range” at Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado. The tour was sponsored by Bud Light and co-promoted by Icon Entertainment and Live Nation. Larger than all of his previous tours, Mencia performed in 80 cities across the country. In the summer of 2009, he kicked off a nationwide comedy tour entitled “The Administration of Laughter” which brought him to excited audiences all around the country. In March 2010, Mencia starred in the family comedy OUR FAMILY WEDDING (FOX Searchlight) alongside America Ferrara and Forrest Whitaker. In the last couple years, Mencia chose to go back to his comedic roots, performing at a number of comedy stores throughout the country – allowing him to share his newest material with smaller and more intimate audiences.
>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

 

Decanter’s redesign emphasizes light, open space, with arched windows and white leather furniture. Mod-style accents like the galaxy wall chandeliers and the angular salt and pepper shakers give a playful impression.

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Decanter 6/27/13

 

It’s inviting, but you’ll hardly forget where you are- the original painted 1920s wood ceiling is a glance above you, and two glass coolers on either side of the dining room hold the restaurant’s $450,000 wine inventory. So with a moderately priced menu, you’ll feel like a million bucks for less than .0001% of that amount.

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

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Chef Rondier is friendly and relatable, yet  polished. An example: he speaks eloquently in a refined, thick French accent and also has all nine seasons of Seinfeld. Rondier’s dishes reflect those qualities. He and his team created a family-table-style experience for Decanter using knockout Med comfort food ($55/person for a table of you and your eight closest friends / family).

Decanter 6/27/13

 

The garlic burrata with fresh herbs is not to miss; an irresistible cheese in the mozzarella family, the creamy burrata is satisfying and light topped with green onions, garlic and oil and plunked on toasty, in-house created bread points.

Decanter 6/27/13

The lamb shank flatbread, topped with lamb (of course) humbolt fog cheese and greenery is another easy, classically satisfying bit for the table. The marinated hamachi niçoise, served with half a tiny quail egg, a cucumber  slice, waited under a pile of vegetables (roasted red pepper, sliver of lemon, slice of radish). A crunchy, braised-and-charred Spanish style octopus dish, served with chickpea puree, olive oil and chermoula sauce evoked a dish at a seaside inn.

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

 

The whole braised rockfish “riviera” was served as such, one of the best dishes of the night, tied with the Amish baby lamb shoulder with rosemary. It’s really hard to go wrong with a tender whitefish cut tableside, served with Meyer lemon slices (it’s hard to go wrong serving a ten-hour braised lamb shoulder, for that matter).

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

 

To polish off dinner, they served mini savory/sweet cupcakes (flavors like basil and goat cheese intersect with apple and lemon), a traditional tarte tardin and the stand-out dessert of the night, a chill strawberry soup over vanilla mascarpone ice cream.

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13           Decanter 6/27/13

If you’ve got a few minutes to spare before your dinner reservation (I know you made one after reading our review), also check out the  redesigned bar. They’re serving pre-Prohibition cocktails with just the right punch. They have all those classic 1920s flavors and a lot of that jumbo artisanal ice you’ve been hearing so much about.

It’s a good deal to feel snazzy: Imagine yourself holding a sidecar, french seventy-five or a bloody mary (invented at this hotel in 1934, NBD). You’re sitting in a comfy armchair near the fireplace, under a chandelier literally piled with crystals. Now, go live that dream for $16.

Decanter, in the St. Regis Hotel, is located at 923 16th and K Streets, N.W.

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

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Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

Decanter 6/27/13

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