Written by Anita
March 30, 2014
Spring has FINALLY sprung in DC and with it comes the fresh flavors of this verdant season. We recently visited Jardenea (its name derives from the French word for garden) and got a first taste of executive chef Nate Lindsay’s new spring menu. Nestled inside the newly renovated and modernized Melrose Georgetown Hotel, Jardenea offers farm-to-fork cuisine in a sophisticated setting.
Start your visit in one of Jardenea’s three chic lounges. Every day (including weekends) between 5 and 7pm, you can enjoy its 5-5-5 Happy Hour—featuring five $5 special cocktails, five $5 happy hour menu items (plus two soups), $5 off dinner, and $5 valet parking! Specializing in martinis and cocktails featuring fresh ingredients, the lounge drink menu includes a cucumber martini (Tito’s homemade vodka, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, cucumber, and fresh cilantro, finished with a cucumber wheel) and the Fountain of Youth (housemade infused orange vodka, pineapple juice, and grenadine, garnished with a Maraschino cherry). Menu items include Jardenea’s bacon and blue chips (fried Idaho potato wedges, Applewood smoked bacon, and Maytag blue cheese) and Chesapeake Bay chicken wings (free-range chicken with Old Bay-Lemon emulsion and a blue cheese vinaigrette). A popular soup selection is the Chesapeake Bay crab bisque with Basciani Farms Shiitake mushrooms and chive oil. Not a typical Maryland-style bisque, it is thickened with crab roe.
Chef Lindsay’s menu focuses on fresh, local ingredients. “I like to meet with local purveyors to see what is available,” he notes. “Unlike other chefs, I do things backwards; I find local fruits and vegetables and then decide what proteins will best match them.” He also creates several dishes to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diners, and works to satisfy those with any dietary restriction.
Meals start with warm crusty baguettes, served with thin disks of rich butter from a creamery on the Eastern Shore. We enjoyed several spring-inspired appetizers, including a lump crab and avocado tian (red pepper and crabmeat salad layered with thinly sliced avocado and served with cherry tomatoes and a white truffle vinaigrette). A delicate asparagus salad (rocket arugula dressed in a grain mustard vinaigrette and topped with wafer-thin curls of fresh asparagus, velvety confit artichoke, shaved parmesan, plump cherry tomatoes, and orange supreme) also provides a taste of springtime.
Jardenea makes all of its pastas and sauces in house, which helps to explain why the hand-rolled pappardelle tastes so rich and luxurious. The dish features ribbons of fresh pasta mixed with house-smoked bacon, fresh English peas, parmesan cream, and cherry tomatoes—finished with an ooey-gooey fresh poached egg from Lancaster County-based Kreider Farms. We stuffed our cheeks with the braised veal cheeks, accompanied by a creamy sunchoke puree, crispy fried veal sweetbreads, tender carrots, cherry tomatoes, and capped with crunchy matchsticks of watermelon radish. If you save room for dessert, make sure to order the warm dark chocolate soufflé topped with Grand Marnier crème anglaise—decadent!
Want to find out for yourself what’s springing up this spring? Then check out Jardenea’s Easter Sunday Brunch. And if you’d like your experience to blossom into a full weekend, you have until April 27th to book the Melrose Hotel’s Cherry Blossom Special, which includes 20 percent off of deluxe accommodations. So what are you waiting for? Spring forward!