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Indebleu 707 G St. NW
Christiana vodka Apricot nectar Orange blossom water Chinese five-spice Chambord for color A splash of soda …and, as a nod to Demuth, a bit of gold leaf!
Brian’s take: While walking the dark streets of DC in the chilly hours of early morn—cane in hand, top hat on head, corn-cob pipe in mouth—I often find myself pondering the big questions, like, “What is art, and why does it matter?” The other night, the folks at Indebleu gave me a tasty answer: “The Figure 5 in Martini.” This artini endeavors to make drinkable a Charles Demuth painting of the number 5, and like any important piece of art, it is a divisive beast indeed. Some people at Inde Bleu—myself included—really enjoyed this novel drink. Others thought it tasted like shampoo. I maintain that the “Figure 5 in Martini” was an inspired little fella, tapping into sundry muses and sundry ingredients as diverse as orange blossom water and gold leaf. I felt transported to a Japanese garden-meets-Italian cathedral, with maybe just a dash of Herbal Essences thrown in for good measure.
On a scale of 1 to 5 olive branches: 4.273
Oh, and a note on Indebleu’s food. What a delight. Gina and Paul were generous enough to give us a sampling. I ordered the caper-crusted diver scallops, an incredible dish featuring spiced cauliflower, citronelle curry, and a black pepper/raisin purée. The scallops were of the melt-in-mouth variety, and when garnished with equal parts curry and purée made for a taste experience of transcontinental proportions. There is a phrase that I reserve for only the highest of culinary experiences, a phrase I have used once in reference to the Gotham’s foie gras and once in describing the prosciutto al melone at the Hostaria di Bruno a block from the Stazione Termini in Rome. The phrase is num-numz, and though it may sound inconceivable (not to mention juvenile and bizarre), I can proudly say with regard to the diver scallops, “Num! Numz!!!”
On a scale of 1 to 5 popadoms: 4.75
Ted’s take: The ‘Figure Five in “Martini,”‘ based on Charles Demuth’s famous Figure Five in Gold (based on William Carlos Williams’ ‘The Great Figure Five’), is a drink of strong derivation, venerable artistic roots, and a fine finish. The flavors are full-bodied and multi-dimensional, like the collage-aesthetic of the Demuth painting and the reductio ad simplicissimum vibrancy of the original poem. The Chinese five-spice, one must admit, packs something of a punch, and the beverage is far spicier than sweet, but—in the opinion of this critic—these things are all for the best. Kudos to Paul et. al. at Indebleu for one of the most artful martinis so far.
On a scale of 1-5 olive branches: 4.5
This review, however, would be far from complete without a few glowing words about Indebleu’s rather remarkable menu. While dining in unparalleled comfort, Indeblue restaurantgoers can treat themselves to the most successful fusion I’ve experienced in the Capital. While I wasn’t able to try the tandoori pizza (with a special naan crust), I was privileged to hobnob at length with an amazing plate of ahi tuna tartar, garnished with Indebleu’s noteworthy sweet pepper mousse and jalapeño raita. A selection of paper-thin papadoms brought some much-needed crunch to the cushioned suppleness of the exquisite tuna—and I was more than happy to follow Paul’s advice by mixing the mousse and the raita into a Christmas-y confection that defied description. Above all, the plate—like the artini—was a feat of balance…as any good fusion really ought to be.
On a scale of 1 to 5 papadoms: 5
Artistic invocations: Kandinsky, Rubens
Be sure to visit Chancy’s blog, ‘A Not So Capital Idea.’ Not only is she covering the artini madness with a tenacity to rival ours, but she has included an almost inconceivable number of photographs on her site featuring the boys from the City Paper!