24 March 2013

At Equinox, I scored a great dinner and a wonderful new cookbook

In the previous post, I explained that I faced a travel delay on one of my trips to Washington in early March. So I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner. I was staying downtown (at the Donovan House, a Kimpton hotel) rather than near Capitol Hill. I’d eaten at Equinox before and was sure that I’d get a great meal there. So after a day on the Hill and a few hours working in my room (including the incident of computer abuse described in the previous post), I walked over to Equinox. (You can read about some of my previous meals at Equinox at these links: July 2012 and August 2006.)

On the menu for this particular Wednesday night, they offered two tasting menus. Both looked good, but even though I was treating myself, they were a little pricy, so I looked at the regular entrĂ©es instead. I’ve had lamb at Equinox before and liked it. They had a saddle of lamb roasted with rosemary that looked good so I ordered that. (It was excellent.) I was having trouble deciding on a starter. I thought one of the salads on the winter tasting menu looked good. I asked if I could have that instead of one of the items on the regular menu. My server graciously accommodated me.

When I arrived, I noticed a poster promoting a cookbook by the chef, Todd Gray – The New Jewish Table, co-written with his wife Ellen Kassoff Gray. I asked the server if there was a copy I could look at while waiting for me food. He brought a copy right over.

I looked through it. The book has beautiful photos and an interesting narrative about the comparative culinary background of the husband-wife team. I saw a recipe for a quinoa salad with figs and scallions that I thought would be good for Passover. But the book was $35, so I decided to pass.equinox

At the end of dinner the server asked me if I wanted the book. “If you do, the chef will sign it for you.” H-m-m-m. “Is Chef Gray here tonight?” I asked? He was. So I changed my mind and said I’d love to buy the book.

In just a few minutes, Chef Gray appeared at my table with a new copy of the cookbook and a pen. He signed it, and we chatted for a few minutes. I don’t usually get star-struck. But I was kind of in awe of having the chef there making small talk. I told him about the first time I’d eaten at Equinox and had chive flowers on my salad. It’s a unique ingredient I use to this day with chive flowers from my own garden.

I was feeling pretty excited during my walk back to the hotel. I called my wife, forgetting that she was at a book group and couldn’t talk. (We talked later when she got home from book group.) And I’ll soon be making the quinoa salad.

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