It’s Thursday Night … I Must Be at National Harbor

I decided to be a tour guide tonight and take a fellow writer to National Harbor … specifically to visit Moon Bay Coastal in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center and give my friend the quickie tour of the hotel's food and beverage operation.

She parked outside Rosa Mexicano and called me for help in finding the hotel (a real newbie to National Harbor). I decided to walk down from the hotel to find her in the ever developing restaurant/retail area outside the resort. With some accidental, investigative reporting I found Rosa Mexicano has been open for three days … I've given up on help from the PR people of the developer — I'll just have to go personally to the site every couple of weeks to keep up with the progress of restaurants opening. I don't understand why they wouldn't be celebrating each opening but Rosa Mexican itself did a pretty good job of keeping it a secret.

No secrets at Gaylord. With chefs like Duane Keller at Moon Bay Coastal and Wolfgang Birk at Old Hickory Steakhouse, they have two quality chefs to join any local culinary conversation. Before going to dinner at Moon Bay I stopped by to see my friend at Old Hickory … the maitre d'Fromage Carolyn Stromberg. It was great to see her manning one of the finest cheese carts you'll see … anywhere in DC. Take a look yourself — it is a thing of beauty. I couldn't stay, I had some seafood to eat tonight, but I will be back to visit Wolfgang and Carolyn.

Moon Bay Coastal is one of those hotel dining rooms that can take on many personalities. It can be the place to be for a full-house hotel on their own for dinner … it can transform into a home for parties of 2, 4, 8 or 20 or more. But on a night like tonight, it's a fine seafood restaurant where you can sip on a glass of wine and enjoy dinner. The shrimp bisque is rich with flavors of the sea without being heavy. The cobia sashimi is pristine. The quality of the sushi was a pleasant surprise. Then Duane surprised us with a scallop cooked through with a translucent center followed by a paella chock full of mussels, chorizo and chicken. The rice had a nice bite to it, yet it was tender inside. I just realized I'm starting to sound like a review and I don't do reviews anymore. I guess I've gotten caught up in the moment of enjoyment that any of us can experience. Just one more thing … NATIONAL HARBOR 04 1008
Duane came out to talk at the end of dinner and we found out that the Canadian chef became an American citizen last week. It's nice to know people still want to be one of us.

On a final note, look at the dessert shots that serves as the sweet tray at the end. Yes, sweet and smart.

About the Author

Michael Birchenall is Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly, a regional trade publication covering the foodservice industry of the Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, VA). Foodservice Monthly has been recognized as the Restaurant Association of Maryland's Allied Industry Member of the Year and by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington as the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year.

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