Vidalia has consistently made Washingtonian’s list of the Top 100 restaurants in the DC area, and is usually in the top ten. Its cuisine is more mid-Altantic/Southern, of the sort you’d find in Charleston. It has a lovely dining room and, fortunately, not a loud one, so conversation is easy.
We had a wonderful server, who was friendly but not at all obsequious. His command of the menu was impressive and we relied on his suggestions. He was also very accommodating and said the kitchen is always happy to entertain special requests.
For starters, we sampled the crab cake with creole mustard butter, country ham and a bit of cabbage and kale; agnolotti with shrimp; and the signature appetizer, a Vidalia onion stuffed with country ham, red-eye gastrique, and mushrooms. The crab in the crab cake was the star of the show–very little filler and the sauce did not overpower. The pasta was light and fresh and beautifully presented. The onion didn’t live up to its billing, but onion lovers would nonetheless enjoy having a dish that focuses on what is typically just a lowly ingredient.
Yellow fin tuna with oxtail fritter, sweet onion fondue, roasted heirloom carrots, barley, port city porter was not as exciting as it may have sounded, but the tuna itself was excellent. The seared scallops with smoked bacon, grit cake, spring onion, collard green marmalade, cracklings, barbecue butter was the most complex, both in terms of texture and flavor. The shrimp and grits with smoked bacon, grit cake, spring onion, collard green marmalade, cracklings, barbecue butter reminded us of what we’ve been enjoying recently at Bluestem, Webster House and Genessee Royale Bistro. It was fun to see that the grits were from Anson Mills, which I profiled in a recent Kansas City Star story.
While at Vidalia, we also had our first ever bottle of wine with a glass cork in it! It’s really quite stunning. An elegant and definitely more upscale alternative to the screw top, it also does the job of cutting down on corked wine that can result from a traditional cork.