Friday, October 23, 2009


This month we headed to 1862, Martin Hamann's new restaurant at the Union League.

Jess’ Take:
This was a super schmance dinner for the Foodies, and I loved every bite! We made our reservations on the first day the reservation lined opened up were told a few days prior that the restaurant was booked for a solid month, so I was surprised to see so many open tables when we walked in, but maybe that was because the Phillies were playing game #4 of the NLCS. Regardless, this just meant more servers to hover over our table. I’m not complaining.

Shortly after sitting down we were greeted with a very tasty amuse bouche of lobster salad with truffled celery. It was amazing, rich and flavorful. Also most appropriate served as a bite and no more. A full appetizer would probably have taken a few days off my life.

To start I ordered the butternut squash soup, which was served with a fried cheese ball and bacon. It was rich and delicious, really perfect for the cool fall day that we were having.

For the main entry I had the grilled grouper, which was served with cockles, artichoke hearts and fried potato sticks. The fish was perfectly cooked and delicate and it was a pretty sizable portion. The potato sticks were interesting, but a little bland. The cockles added a nice, salty flavor to the dish.

The desserts were definitely the highlight of the meal. Although we could have ordered every one on the menu they were all so intriguing, we settled for just three. Of the three, my favorite was the one served with bacon (of course). It was a small brioche French toast topped with maple ice cream and sprinkled with candied bacon. The whole thing was served on top of a sweet fruit compote. This dessert was decadence to the max and I loved every bite of it.

1862 isn’t a restaurant we’ll hit often because of the price tag, but I’ll definitely be back, and the whole time I’ll be anticipating dessert.

1862, I give you 4 out of 4 little pieces of candied bacon.

Dave's Take
My first course was a braised rabbit stuffed rigatoni. Yes, rabbits are cute and some people keep them as pets but if you have not tried it, please get over it and give it a go. Rabbit is excellent and this was no exception. Succulent rabbit stuffed in two rigatonis with a hint of peppercorn, mustard and vinegar. It was excellent and I will order again, but I have to admit, not as amazing as those empanadas from the ribbon cutting.

Next up I ordered the Sautéed Pennsylvania pheasant with chestnut and foie gras “paquet,” Brussels sprout leaves and natural sage jus. I love pheasant. It’s what chicken is supposed to taste like and this was cooked to perfection- tender, juicy and full of flavor. The herbal sage jus complemented the richer pheasant flavor without overpowering. The foie gras “paquet” was a unique execution of foie gras and reminded me a little bit of a souffle. The taste was rich and flavorful but as often happens with me and foie gras, became too rich for me and I had to surrender.

I should point out at this point that our service was excellent- Friendly, amazingly attentive and for only the second week in business, fairly familiar with the menu. Dishes were delivered at precisely the same time and cleared in a timely manner. We were more than content after the mains but asked to take a look at the dessert menu since we had tasted some amazing treats at the ribbon cutting and were looking forward to what was to come. We agreed on 3- The chocolate soufflé, a ginger cake with milk stout ice cream and an amazing brioche French Toast over fall fruit compote with, and here is the best part, maple bacon ice cream. This was THE BEST ice cream I have ever had and if you have ever smiled when watching the syrup on your plate slowly make it way over to the side of bacon, you know how good that combo can be. Sweet and salty. The ginger cake was excellent and the idea of beer ice cream would have been mind-blowing if it was not sitting on the same table as bacon ice cream. Oh, and the chocolate soufflé was the best I have ever had since we had it at Fountain.

Wade's Take:

Yeah, we were excited to be "in" at this place. Our chance to eat somewhere before most professional reviewers! The pressure was on to beat the other bloggers to the scoop... then I waited to blog about 1862 for nearly a month. D'oh.

I was sold on 1862 by the bread plate. Particularly, a rosemary flat bread that had me entranced. If I was an old lady with a purse, I would have scooped up the remaining breadbits into my purse for later.

Instinct dictated that I order the sweetbreads as my appetizer. Good move. The sweetbreads were crisped on the exterior, and packed the sweetened tang of a classic internal organ. It was plate roommates with kale and a white bean puree that had a punch of saltiness that went well with the sweetbreads.

I went against my cardinal rule of not ordering salmon out at a restaurant (it's almost always better at home) with my entree. The salmon was a generous portion, sprinkled with peppers and chili powder and grilled just right. It sat on a cheese/cauliflower puree that was fairly good - although it left me pining for a missing ingredient I couldn't quite place. The roasted garlic, shell and all, was a great additional side to this dish.

Then there was dessert. How I loved thee. The chocolate souffle was world-changing. Overflowing and gooing from the large rameking, the fluffy chocolate cake blanketed with a semi-sweet chocolate layer, which was emblazoned with a Union League logo. If this were my restaurant, I'd mark a dessert like this with my brand, too. I'd be very proud. The souffle was spongey, moist, warm and had a whipped cream and chocolate shaving accompaniment. Perfection.

For the appetizer, bread plate and dessert, I give 1863 high marks. The salmon? Not so much.

3 out of 4 scoops.

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