Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 1
Is the food at Matt Dillon’s much-hyped Corson Building good enough to merit the high cost of entry and the long drive to Georgetown? The short answer: If you have time and money to burn, yes. If not, read on.
The winemaker’s dinner I attended in November was quite good. My husband and I had the following; each course was paired with a wine from tiny and very green winery (in their 2nd vintage) O’Shea Scarborough, and the whole thing came to $125 pp…(!)
1) Quillicum oysters
2) Duck rillete with green tomato jam; house-pig prosciutto; chicken livers with house eggs
3) black cod with chanterelle mushrooms
4) quail and fingerling potatoes with Washington black truffles
5) braised elk with kale
6) applesauce cake with chestnuts and vanilla yogurt sorbet
Overall impression about the food: Ingredients handled with respect; classic European-inspired dishes with nice touches of whimsy (loved the green tomato jam and chestnuts). Some problems: Oysters were disturbingly tepid; elk was dry and overbraised and would have benefited from the addition of a sauce or jus; dessert had some rock-hard walnuts in it and was just weird.
In general appeal and execution, Corson Building comes closer to Poppy than to Spinasse. For many people, I see both Corson Bldg and Poppy as occupying the opposite ends of a very similar spectrum (CB is the butch version of Poppy). Both lean heavily on shtick and novelty, both chefs know how to cook and have a rep to live up to, both are presenting their own version of “concept dining.” I’m not convinced that both have long-term viability, especially in today’s economic climate, but I think Poppy’s chances of making it are better than CB’s. Corson Building’s prices are off-puttingly high ($125 pp!!!). We sat with a couple originally from the Bay Area and a group of grannie lesbians, half of whom were from Portland and one from England. All were foodies drawn by the novelty and buzz; all agreed that the food was mostly very good (not exceptional), but no one would say they would absolutely return again–except to say that if they did, they’d do so with a larger group of friends. The couple from the Bay Area said that their time together was so limited (she travels for work), that they really didn’t want to “share” themselves with strangers. I think Seattle Weekly’s Jonathan Kaufman’s weird analysis of Spinasse applies more to the Corson Bldg than to Spinasse in terms of all that postmodern babble he was spouting.
Short summary: More novelty than revolutionary, a grunge, Georgetown version of Wallingford’s Art of the Table (CB’s atmosphere is genius; the food mostly very good). But with starting prices upwards of $80 and the shlep to no-man’s land involved, I’d much rather go for a $34 thali at Poppy…The palpable drop in mood once the checks were presented was VERY noticeable…