Who said you can’t go home again? Certainly not Daniel Perron, the new executive chef at Trummer’s. Perron returns to the Clifton, Va., restaurant nine years after serving as chef de partie under Clay Miller. Since that time, Perron padded his culinary résumé with stints at Range by Bryan Voltaggio and Fiola Mare by James Beard Award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi. “This is definitely a change of pace from working in the city,” says Perron. “I think I’ve grown much wiser and more patient since my original tenure—now I’m back much stronger and ready to show everyone what I’ve learned.” For example, Perron says he learned from Trabocchi to never compromise on where ingredients are sourced and to think like a dining guest. There are many standouts on the new menu, including the monkfish. “Monkfish is able to take on strong flavors, so I decided to marinate it in pureed kimchi,” says Perron. “It’s then grilled, bone-in, on our new binchotan grill. Then we pair it with cranberry beans that have been cooked in a rich shellfish broth, grilled caraflex cabbage and negi scallions.” The chef also thinks gourmands will love the kitchen’s prime rib. “We get the beef from Roseda Farm in Maryland. We then make a spice that we generously rub onto the rib roast and cook it in our rotisserie. The beef gets a nice, beautiful crust on the outside while the meat stays tender, juicy and flavorful on the inside.”
For spring, Perron says to expect seasonal changes to the menu, of course, but the options will be as surprising to guests as they will be to the chef himself. “I almost never plan what I’m going to do with the menu ahead of time,” he says. “Instead, I get the ingredients and let them speak to me. For example, we recently received this amazing heirloom squash called Crown Prince from a local farmer. I cooked a piece and decided that the flavor was so unique that it needed to star in its own dish. I simply paired it with brown butter and a hazelnut dukkah spice we made to really let the squash shine. My goal is to gain the trust of regulars and new guests alike—and to [encourage them] to try things outside of their comfort zone.” Right now, Trummer’s is certainly a zone worth visiting. 7134 Main St., Clifton, Va., 703.266.1623, trummersrestaurant.com
PUCK STOPS HERE
When I dined at CUT DC shortly before the holidays, the requisite protocols were in place at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant located inside the Rosewood Washington, DC (rosewoodhotels.com). Plenty of space divided patrons and their tables, and plexiglass rose between each cozy, suede booth. The waitstaff, among the best in the city, handed me a mini CUT bag to house my mask.
Everything had changed, and yet nothing had changed—the handsome venue that opened 18 months ago still has its understated swagger. Yes, the steaks here, including a dazzling tomahawk ribeye (aged 60 days) and a Japanese wagyu New York sirloin, take center stage. After all, Puck has made gorgeous slabs of meat, perfectly prepared, one of his calling cards over the years. But the kitchen staff, led by chef Andrew Skala, are taking the menu in decidedly unexpected places since its opening. From the top, surprises include charred leeks—their skins removed to reveal tender morsels accompanied by toasted hazelnuts, Tuscan olive oil and preserved Meyer lemon. Another starter to love: fire-roasted eggplant with green curry, coriander and toasted peanuts. Skala’s team has elevated its seafood game by dishing excellent ceviche like Maine lobster with blood orange and horseradish, and Viking Village scallop with serrano chile and carrot. For entrees, Skala’s grilled Virginia rockfish—brilliantly accompanied by littleneck clams, kohlrabi and fennel—reminds patrons that CUT is much more than steak knives and 18-year scotch. 1050 31st St. NW, 202.617.2424, wolfgangpuck.com/dining/cut-dc
Photography by: Jennifer Chase; Nico Shinco