I first noticed Nora when I was walking to Bistrot Du Coin. Situated on the corner of Florida Avenue and R Street, it’s an inconspicuous restaurant. Looking at the menu outside, what really caught my eye was its proclamation of being “America’s first certified organic restaurant”. Fast forwarding to Monday, I needed somewhere for dinner, and Nora popped into my head. After a couple of clicks on open table, I was on my way.
Once I was seated in the back, I was able to take a better look at Nora’s “new stimulus menu”. After reading about chef Nora Pouillon and her dedication to organic fare, I was impressed, but if $30 entrees are a stimulus special, I can only imagine what her normal prices are.
After ordering, I noticed the bottle of olive oil on the table, Of course it was certified organic, but I was disgusted by the taste. I’ve had better olive oil from Costco. Luckily, about the time I finished getting the taste of bad oil out of my mouth, my appetizer, the housemade charcuterie plate, arrived.
I’ve had my fare share of organic produce, but organic salumi was new to me. Working clockwise from the left, I had bresaola, coppa, duck rilette, and sopressata. I had high hopes for organic housecured meats, but each one of these left me wanting something more, particularly the sopressata. I’m used to well marbled meats, but the lumps of fat were the marks of poor workmanship. To be honest, the best thing on the plate was the dollop of grain mustard, very potent stuff.
Even though I had duck on my charcuterie plate, I was attracted to the idea of an Amish duck breast.
Despite the pleasant presentation, I was quickly disappointed with this dish. While the first bite had crispy skin and full flavored, but dry meat, every piece after that was simply a letdown. Each subsequent bite was colder than the first and the parsnip puree was nothing more than a flavor sponge. Any time I had a piece of duck with even the slightest bit of parsnip puree, all I could taste was parsnips.
I went into Nora with high hopes for this wholly organic menu, but I have the feeling they were trying too hard. When I order a duck breast, I expect to enjoy the full flavor of a well cooked bird, not the product of a tuber and an overeager stick blender. Perhaps a second visit would have yielded a better product, but I’ll have to wait for my next trip to DC for that, but I doubt I’ll make my way back to Nora.