Photos by Clarissa Villondo, Words by Kaylee Dugan
Reviewing restaurants can be boring as hell. I’m not trying to complain. I love eating food and writing about food has opened up doors to more restaurants and experiences than I would be able to have if I wasn’t doing this job. But once you’ve been to one opening, you’ve really been to them all. Dishes and drinks and chefs all start to run together. It’s nobodies fault, it’s just what happens in a city that’s going through a culinary boom like D.C.
My last visit to Trummer’s On Main was very different.
Usually restaurants do little in the way of arranging for transportation. The last time I was invited to Trummer’s I had to drive all the way out to the middle of nowhere Virginia (also known as Clifton!), but it seemed worth it to me, especially since they were debuting a hot chicken collaboration. Who the hell is going to say no to fried chicken?
This time, they did us one better. Which is how I found myself steadily getting drunker and drunker in a limousine filled with other food writers and the owner himself, Stefan Trummer. The last time I’d been in a limousine was when I was 15 and one of my rich friends rented one to take us to Dave and Buster’s in Baltimore. This was way infinitely better. We started with a hot cider drink served in one of Trummer’s signature mugs. It was warm and citrusy, with a very delicate boozy burn. It was a session drink, the kind of thing you can have a million glasses of in front of a roaring fire. Or crouched in front of the space heater in your apartment. Same difference.
Next we moved onto a champagne cocktail, that was bright and sweet and brought me out of the cider induced coma. Right before we arrived at the restaurant, we were treated to a saffron concoction that was herbal, but very drinkable. I was definitely drunk at this point and desperately trying not to not black out before dinner.
Of course, another cocktail was shoved into my hand, this time one of the restaurants holiday offerings, the Caramel Apple, which is the perfect combination of sweet and boozy. And by that I mean it’s more boozy than it is sweet. You don’t want your holiday drinks to taste like a 12 year old would enjoy them. You’re an adult. You want adult drinks.
After too many drinks and a fun little tour around the wine cellar, it was finally time for dinner. Trummer’s has recently brought on a new executive chef, Jon Cropf. Originally from Charleston, Cropf is known for working with seasonal products in unique ways. That night, we were treated their Mercy of the Chef program ($103 per person), a six course dinner where the chef essentially brings out whatever the hell he wants. Which is perfect if you’re the kind of person who is always telling the bartender to make you something special (or in my case, if you’re always asking the cheesemonger to pick out cheese for you…)
Dinner was a whir of more experimental dishes and hearty seasonal options. I can tell you right now, their cornbread is the best cornbread I’ve ever had in my life. And I don’t like cornbread. Actually, I hate packaged cornbread. Sometimes I’ll have a slice of spicy cornbread (because I love spicy food more than I hate cornbread), but it’s rarely a dish I’m excited about. Chef uses heirloom red corn for the dish. I don’t know if that’s the reason why I couldn’t stop eating it and I don’t really care. All I know is that I would gladly drive the hour and a half out to Clifton for that bread. And I would spend even more money to have it delivered to my door.
At one point we were surprised with a dish that looked like a scoop of ice cream surrounded by chips. After a few haphazard guesses, we found out it was sour cream ice cream topped with Doritos. It’s what I would imagine would happen if a huge stoner had access to the Iron Chef arena. If I learned anything that night, it’s that chef Cropf and pastry chef Meagan Tighe have a great sense of humor and an even better sense of imagination.
Another favorite was the shrimp and grits, which are creamy and decadent (you can thank the lobster cream for that) and exactly what you want on a cold and rainy night. Likewise, the heirloom beets are garnished with duck prosciutto, goat cheese, and a licorice soil that’s unlike any other beet salad you’ve ever had. Cropf and his team delight in taking familiar concepts and turning them on their heads, and they execute them to perfection.
My favorite of the desserts (we tried three, I felt like I was going to die), was the Textures of Orange, a plate that included an olive oil cake, ricotta, meringue, and fennel. It was sweet, citursy, and full of life, again, highlighting the team’s many capabilities.
We finished the night with Tighe’s take on s’mores, featuring peppermint and caramel marshmallows stuffed with chocolate. Far more impressive than anything you made camping as a kid and more delicious.
If you’ve become bored with the options around you, if you’re looking for a meal that will keep you guessing, and more importantly, if you have some spare cash, consider taking a trip out to Trummer’s. You may be at their culinary teams mercy, but they definitely wont let you down.