In a part of town we don’t frequent often resides Station 4 – a modern American restaurant located directly across the street from the Waterfront Metro. Aware that Station 4 is a Lalou Group restaurant along with Ulah Bistro and Lupo Verde, we had set our expectations high. The 56-seat outdoor patio gave no hint about the “swank” we would find once through the doors. Plush red booth seats, golden-brown upholstered dining chairs, mirrors, and sparkling glass baubles hanging from the lamps, we momentarily thought we had accidentally wandered into the Rouge Hotel.
With a penchant for supporting local farmers, Executive Chef Orlando Amaro plans to debut a new menu this week showcasing new seasonal ingredients including jalapenos that are grown on Station 4’s patio. One will find he changes his menu twice a year for just this reason and we got a sneak peek this time around. Much of Amaro’s produce: peaches, blackberries, watermelon, and bean sprouts come from various locations in Virginia including Crown Orchards, Parker Farm, Westmireland Berry Farm, Lois Produce and Herbs, JC Beans. Honey is also sourced from Virginia – purchased from Local Food Hug. Tomatoes arrive from Hummingbird Farm while beef comes from Roseda Farm, crab meat from Hoopers Island, goat cheese from Cherry Glen Farm, and Oysters from Chesapeake Gold Oysters – all in Maryland. What Amaro can’t find locally he purchases from California.
“It’s always good to work with products that are in season. They cost a little more but we have to help our farmers. Why buy corn that comes from Guatemala when we have some 2 miles away from the restaurant?”
New cocktails, created by Amaro and Managing Partner Maryna Masciandaro, also graced the drink menu recently including a creative take on a margarita and thus the Diablo Verde Margarita (Milagro tequila, Plymouth gin, green chartreuse, jalapeño muddled in agave nectar, fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice) was born. Take a guess where the jalapeños come from. An interesting combination of spicy and sweet, it vaguely reminded us of Zengo’s Spicy Siam. Absolutely delicious, but one will probably be enough unless you’re a glutton for spicy punishment. We also recommend the Sweet Lady (Plymouth gin, St. germaine, fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, Cadillac bordeaux dessert wine, green chartreuse garnished with colored peppercorns). Delicate, sweet and easy to drink, it proved a nice palate cleanser in between dishes and wine pairings.
What we loved most about Station 4 was the uniqueness of the menu. Each dish played with color, and texture combinations in new ways (to us at least). And, while the paella was probably the most approachable dish, we were ultimately intrigued by its peculiar appearance. So, from start to finish, here’s our look into Station 4:
First presented with Poema, Cava Brut, our wine was poured and we went ahead and Googled “crudo” as it was on the menu and we don’t hide our ignorance when it comes to food terminology. (It means “raw” if you’re wondering.) The Crudo of Scallops (passion fruit-sambal gastrique, daikon sprouts, grapefruit segments, fig carpaccio) was an obvious pairing for the Cava Brut and also matched the Sweet Lady we were sipping on in both delicacy and sweetness. The scallops, like butter, gave that salty taste the fig and fruit-sambal needed to round out the dish. We immediately knew Station 4 was going to be a treat for all of the senses.
Hall, Sauvignon Blanc was then poured and out came a dish of Burrata Cheese decorated with local heirloom tomatoes, yellow watermelon, pickled Persian cucumbers, sea beans, and baby beets. A rainbow of colors and flavors, we only wished to have a crunchy bread to go along with it. We made due with the complimentary olive and sardine thin bread sticks. A generous portion, this dish might be one to consider sharing with your dinner partner(s).
Next came the pouring of Opalia, Pinot Noir and what is quite possibly the most surprising dish of the evening, Morcilla (with seared quail eggs, sweet paprika, sea salt, red sorrel) aka Blood Sausage. We were not those children who have fond memories of blood sausage. In fact, we have no memories of it at all. It just wasn’t served in our homes. We loved the quail eggs, and the flavor of the sausage was spot on. We do think however it may have been over cooked seeing as we couldn’t exactly cut through it with a knife.
We expected a paella dish to make it to the table at Station 4 knowing that Amaro competed against 120 chefs in New Orleans for the title of “Best Paella” which he notably won. Station 4 also hosts Paella nights every Wednesday with $15 sangria carafes. We knew our hunch was correct when beautiful glasses of sangria arrived at the table quickly followed by Amaro’s Squid Ink Paella (shrimp, squid, piquillo peppers, sea beans). Although the rice could have probably cooked for another minute or two (it came out a tad crunchy), the dish was wonderful and we kind of marveled at the distinctive black coloring from the squid ink.
And finally we experienced those freshly procured peaches of Amaro’s in a Peach Trio (peach semifreddo, pickled peaches, strawberry foam, peach jam) paired with Domaine Les Grandes Terres, Semillion. Another beautifully plated dish with gorgeous colors of feminine pink and orange with contrasting greens, it was almost a shame to dig in. Another light, sweet dish, it was the best way to end the meal.
It appears that Station 4 has made great strides since first opening in 2011. We thought the menu was playful without being overly done, and respect Armano’s dedication to sourcing locally as much as possible. He was kind enough to share his Crab Stuffed Piquillo Peppers recipe which you can find below. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, we think this is a great option, especially if you’re hoping for a new food experience. However, we’re curious what their patron traffic is typically like since we were one of few people in the restaurant at the time of our visit. We actually watched more people carry food out than sit down and dine.
- ½ Cup - Mayonnaise
- ½ TBSP - Dijon Mustard
- ⅛ Tsp - Salt
- 1 Tsp - Chopped Fresh Tarragon
- ½lb - Fresh Lump Crab Meat
- ⅛ Tsp - Ground Red Pepper
- ⅛ Tsp - Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 4 - Piquillo Peppers (roasted & seeded)
- Combine mayonnaise and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Gently stir in crab meat.
- Fill peppers with crab meat mixture, and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 375 F degrees for 5 to 7 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
1101 4th St, SW
Washington DC 20024
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