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In The Kitchen With Pinea: Southern Europe & Mediterranean Inspired

We have to admit we were saddened by the news that J&G Steakhouse closed their doors in the W Hotel recently. Having grown quite fond of Executive Chef Philippe Reininger’s kitchen concoctions (his crab cake is still one of our absolute favorites) we struggled to imagine what could possibly take its place. Would it be another steak house? Or perhaps something more bar-centric? Would the recent interior renovations and decorations stay the same, or would someone opt to make their own design thumb print?

October 1 welcomed Pinea and Executive Chef Barry Koslow to the space previously occupied by J&G. Walls were transformed from dark and stuffy to a beautiful Mediterranean blue – that we couldn’t stop gushing over – with white wall accents and white curtains. For the first time we noticed the giant windows and several details we had previously missed.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Pinea offers contemporary Southern European and Mediterranean Inspired dishes, with a specific focus on France, italy, and Spain. Diners can expect citrus, lavender, rosemary, and olive oil flavor profiles meant to enhance the seasonally and locally sourced vegetables, meats and seafood. We’re quite thrilled that Pinea is not replacing a steakhouse with another version of itself. In fact, Pinea’s menu hosts all of one steak selection; Charred Strip Loin (fava bean mash, pistachio, piperade, bordelaise, poached egg). Instead, Pinea’s menu includes handmade pastas, housemade spice blends, and a relatively impressive variety of seafood options.

Pinea’s drink menu includes 8 beers, 3 ciders, 8 aperitifs, a fun selection of craft cocktails – all mostly American traditional with a twist – and an extensive wine menu offerings wines from the esoteric Southern European regions of Campania, Valencia and Languedoc Roussillon. When it comes to wine, we’re a little lost most of the time. However, we found Pinea’s staff knows what is what and suggested/selected the perfect complimentary wine for our individual courses. We’re more of the mixed drink type of people, and made sure to sample a couple including the Kir Normandy (Foggy Ridge Virginia Dry Cider, Domaine Sathenay Creme De Cassis), and the Charlemagne (Domaine Dupont Calvados, Cardamaro, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur). Both delicious in their own rights, we have to say the Normandy is one we could see on a brunch menu and was the winner of the two.

Pinea is not by any means a “tapas” restaurant, so one shouldn’t expect to share everything ordered. However a portion of Pinea’s menu is dedicated to sharable dishes. From the “Merenda” portion of the menu guests can expect treats such as the sweet and juicy Roasted Serrano Ham Wrapped Figs (with Cabrales Cheese), flavorful Mixed Grill Brochettes (with Green Sauce), and our ultimate favorite, the lightly crunchy, creamy-with-a-kick Crab and Guanciale Croquetas (with Spicy Remoulade). With the portions being quite small on some of the Merenda dishes (3 figs, and 2 brochettes), we suggest if wanting to share with more than a few people to order the croquetas.

With a selection of 5 pasta dishes – we barely made it past the risotto options before remembering that we’ve had our eye on the Spaghetti Nero (house pancetta, clams, crab, calabrian chiles) since seeing a photo of the nearly pitch black pasta. Spaghetti is absolutely the last thing we’d ever order, but this mildly spicy dish is our exception. Borderline macabre, the chiles – don’t eat them, there’s a reason they’re not cut up into the dish – clams, and greens stand out against the house made black twirling pasta creating something of an art. Spaghetti will never be the same for us again.

Another dish we’ve been daydreaming about since photo spotting is the Roasted Whole Branzino (farro, fennel, picholines, red onion, mint, lemon). Intimidated by the whole fish? Someone can help you remove the inedible parts and de-bone it. But if you’re feeling brave, there are only a few steps: remove the head, remove the tail, remove the fins on the back, and the fins on the stomach. Then open the fish (it should open in half) and run a spoon along the underside of the spine to remove the majority of the bones. Then, carefully scrape or pull out the rest. See? Easy. Nothing makes one appreciate their food more than getting down and dirty while eating it, well… perhaps other than growing and cooking it yourself. We loved that this was a very “one pot” feeling meal – with everything necessary to round out the dish; protein, grains, greens, and a splash of citrus.

We’ve decided every restaurant should offer the dessert menu at the same time as the dinner and drinks menu. As we’ve said before, we want to know if there’s a dessert offering worthy of saving space for (and if so we’d order it before our appetizers). Fortunately we were thinking ahead and knew dessert was a must. Can we just say not only are Pinea’s desserts gorgeous, but they’re stupidly delicious too. Not quite sure what to expect from the menu description alone, we ordered the Coconut Cremeaux (passion fruit sorbet, champagne sabayon) figuring we’ve had great luck with coconut desserts recently. Garnished with a bright red flower and some sort of gelee, we’re convinced this sweet beauty was all in our imaginations.

We’re absolutely loving Pinea’s debut in the W Hotel. We couldn’t think of a better suited restaurant to take the place of J&G, and we’re hoping everyone agrees with us. Whether you’re staying in the hotel or not, Pinea is a great spot to gather with friends, business partners, or even your significant other whether it’s just a Tuesday date night or a special occasion. Now we just hope someday they’ll serve brunch. *hint hint*

515 15th street NW
Washington DC 20004
(202) 661-2400
Pinea on Urbanspoon

Rebekah (Editor)

About Rebekah (Editor)

Rebekah spent much of her childhood on the coast of Maine where she cultivated her affinity for local seafood. Her lust for traveling extended beyond her New England borders and so she spent time traveling to Nepal, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and various parts of the U.S. before taking up blogging and spawn rearing as her full time gig. A transplant into the DC Metro Area, she has a newfound enthusiasm for gastronomy, and finding the best indulgences in the District. Rebekah's photographs and writing have been published by various media outlets, however her love of adventure would find her constantly on the go exploring new places and cuisine.

25 thoughts on “In The Kitchen With Pinea: Southern Europe & Mediterranean Inspired

  1. You had me at five pasta dishes… oooey… I love, love, love pasta and this sounds like a place I would really like to go.

  2. The Tiramisu Bread Pudding looks interesting, I’m a big fan of tiramisu so this is something I would be interested in trying. I’ll have to look into visiting Pinea next time we’re in DC!

  3. That looks amazing and the whole place sounds really delicious. Will have to tell my dad about the place – he takes business trips out there all the time and it always looking for dinner places to try. – Katy

  4. Pingback: W Hotel DC’s New Root Cellar Whiskey Bar Offers Happy Hour 5-8pm Monday through Friday | Exploring Food & Drink in D.C.

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