I had another “first” experience recently, so naturally I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. Normally I’d tease out the suspense, but since I have so much to share I’ll get right to it. I had the opportunity to indulge in a 20-course tasting experience. (All foodies collectively swoon here!) If your eyes widened and your mouth watered a little bit, you had the same reaction I did when I first heard about Elcielo Restaurant in my hometown of Washington, D.C. This quaint, Michelin-star restaurant serves Colombian cuisine and offers a unique fine dining tasting experience that you will be sure to never forget.
If you’ve experienced, or have at least heard of a tasting with courses in the double digits, consider yourself fancy. But for the majority of you reading this blog, prepare to be just as impressed as I was by all Elcielo has to offer.
Don’t worry, I won’t ruin all the surprises for you by documenting each part of the 20-course menu. I will, however, document some of the highlights here, just in case you decide to indulge.
It’s the details for me…
Let’s start with how much attention to detail was evident with every course. They say you eat with your eyes first, so Elcielo certainly knows how to make a great first impression. The presentation with each course was superb. Each plate was so beautifully decorated and well thought out that it had you savoring each bite, while also eagerly anticipating the next dish. They don’t call it the Elcielo “experience” for nothing.
I loved how with each course, our server thoroughly and carefully explained the dish and shared the history or the thought behind its conception. It’s as if they are fully invested in you getting as much as you can from your time there so that you can leave full, both literally and figuratively.
I should also point out that this is not an experience for gluttons. Rather, this is an experience for the adventurous. They call it a tasting menu, because it’s just that. You get to taste, or have a small bite, of a variety of dishes as they take you on a journey of different scents, sights, and tastes you’ve never had before.
And the winners are…
There was not really anything I didn’t like on the menu, but a few of the dishes shined above the rest. My absolute favorite dishes were the Truffle buñuelos, Guajira’s dry shrimp rice, Tree of Life, the corn soup (believe it or not), and the quail, wild onion & rice.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention the Coffee field. It was an elaborate display of the Colombian coffee-making experience that included sights, smells, tastes, and a few other sensations that are hard to describe. A photo would not have done it justice.
Roundabout course 7 or so, my bestie and I looked at each other with faces of overwhelm. We asked each other, how in the world is there more? Some of the dishes were more than just a couple of bites, so we made it a point to pace ourselves and try not to eat all of those dishes. We won and lost some battles lol.
What I was not impressed by…
I only had one source of complaint for this restaurant. From time to time, I’ll lay off the adult beverages and opt for mocktails. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the bill and saw the mocktail had an upcharge on it. There was an extra $5 itemized as “Don’t Take.” Of course, I had to ask the server what that meant. Do you know they charged me an extra $5 to NOT put alcohol in my drink? (Insert shock and awe here.) The audacity.
Fortunately, I had experienced some of the best food of my life, so I decided to remain in a space of gratitude. Needless to say though, it’s not something that I’ll easily forget and most certainly had to share!
You get what you pay for…
As you can imagine, an experience like this is going to cost you. In fact, your meal is paid for at the time of the reservation, and they do not allow you to cancel and get a refund. You either have to reschedule (but make sure you do it more than 2 days in advance) or transfer it into someone else’s name. So make sure you’re committed before you go.
That being said, I would only recommend this restaurant for true foodies, and those with a fair amount of discretionary income. For two people with tax and gratuity charged before you step foot in the restaurant, it will cost you about the price of a two-night stay in a four-star hotel these days. Perhaps it’s something you reserve for a very special occasion. I don’t know what the value of an experience like this is worth to you, but what I can say is that if you do choose to indulge, you will not be disappointed!
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