Chef Marzelli is no stranger to the D.C. food scene and has cooked in the kitchens of Sfoglina, Garrison, and Vidalia, to name a few. It is no wonder Cherry brought in a local master to lead the open-fire kitchen and embody their website credo, “the primal art of smoke & flame.”
The new winter menu aims to play up what makes Cherry so unique – the wood-fired oven powered by cherry, hickory, and oak. With so many hearth-prepared dishes, one of the most tempting was wood-grilled oysters. Five plump oysters were presented on a bed of rock salt with charred lemon on the side, offering up a bit of zest to the creamy and toothsome oysters. The oysters come lightly breaded, which allows for extra flavor retention, soaking up all the smoky, green onion BBQ butter.
Is there anything better than fresh, flakey bread? Yes, if it’s wood-fired. This sophisticated yet straightforward item from the “fire starter” section of Cherry’s menu is quite impressive for the $4 price point. It is baked to order and covered in just the right amount of flaked sea salt with a side of Vermont butter. This crisp, yet moist bread was perfect for sopping up any remaining green onion BBQ butter and just as tasty on its own.
For the entrée, I went with the fire-roasted whole fish. The full branzino came charred in a lemon-artichoke vinaigrette. The crispy skin cracked open to a moist, flavorful fish. More charred artichokes and lemon halves accompanied the branzino to incorporate more flavor in each bite.
We went a little overboard with sides, and I have no regrets. The ‘Kung Pao’ Cauliflower has been the talk of the town, so that was an absolute must and certainly did not disappoint. The flawlessly scorched cauliflower was immersed in a garlic-soy ginger sauce and tossed with peanuts and red chiles. There was certainly no lack of flavor in this well-balanced dish.
Roasted brussel sprouts are quite common, but I find mastering a good crisp-balance between burned and soggy sometimes is hard to accomplish. These were perfect and offered some slight variety to your usual side dish with a honey-lime flavoring.
Lastly, we come to the Roasted Amish Farm Carrots, my favorite of the veggie sides. A perfect balance of earthy sweetness, these mouthwatering carrots arrived on a bed of citrus yogurt and pistachios. Simple ingredients, yet when combined, they created the perfect harmony of tastes.
Chef Marzelli’s plans to light a fire under the D.C. restaurant scene and aims to create an evolving menu with the changing seasons, and what better place than this stunning restaurant in the historic W Hotel.