Let me preface this article by saying I am not a food critic, nor am I paid to rate restaurants; I am however a lover of cooking, food and friends and will certainly give my opinion on this establishment. This story actually starts in October 2009. Yes I know that was a while ago, but I think it is relevant. I was planning my husband’s birthday for that year, (cruise to the Caribbean) I wanted to give him a write up of the cruise and pics of the boat at a nice dinner. But where to go??
I was on Facebook at the time and had a friend request from Chef Duane Keller, he was from the area I went to school in and was chatting to me about what we had in common. (as a side note, Milton Hershey School has introduced me to many amazing, interesting and remarkable people) I told him I was getting ready to celebrate my husband’s birthday and he invited us out to the Gaylord where he was the Chef at that time. After much consideration (the length of which it took to type YES) Of course I would love to go there and meet the chef and celebrate another year with my partner in crime. Chef Keller was astonishing; bringing sampling to the table throughout the meal and he made a special birthday cake for Stephan! It was a magical evening. Unfortunately, although we stayed in touch online we let life get in the way and have allowed several years to go by without getting together. Fast-forward to March of this year. I met an aspiring Chef through work; he invited me to come to where he was working and sent me the link to the restaurant. Walkersgrille.com . What a small world, I saw the executive Chef was our old friend; I told Mike that I knew the Chef and would be coming out for dinner to yet again Celebrate a new Chapter in my Husband’s career.
We arrived at Walkers Grill (it is in an executive building) don’t be discouraged by this location, the restaurant has a large outdoor patio that has comfortable seating and eating areas. Walking into the restaurant it was pretty busy, but we were greeted right away and our reservations made on opentable.com were available right away. Very nice ambiance, the menu selection was refreshing. The décor is clean and fresh, the seating is done well, and we were not packed on top of another table, which is a pet peeve of mine! The waiter came over to take our drink order and suggested the Cherry blossom menu which was a special menu created for the cherry blossom festivities in the area. I tried the Cherry blossom martini and the hubby got a draft beer. The martini was yummy, and I love that they link a menu to the local celebrations.
We perused the menu, and were greeted by Chef Keller and Chef in training Mike; we were told that some surprises would be coming out and that we would not have to order dessert as they had a special dessert for us this evening. Of course we went ahead and ordered some appetizers to share. I ordered the lobster flatbread and Stephan ordered the seafood dip, lobster, scallops and shrimp.
As we are merrily sipping away at our drinks, taking in the atmosphere a surprise tasting by Chef Keller came to us; a mushroom risotto topped with a luscious scallop. Oh my gosh, I adore scallops and this one was so delectable, it just melted in your mouth, the risotto was creamy and flavorful and accompanied the scallop perfectly.
Our appetizers came out and I have to commend the waiter, he was very knowledgeable about the menu and certainly was trained in up selling. I appreciate this, there is nothing like going to a restaurant and the wait staff does not know what is going on. I also made sure to let our waiter know he was doing a great job, as I of course ordered another martini =)
Back to the appetizers, I again had a lobster flat bread; it was sweet and tangy and had the perfect crunch. I loved the way the bread gave you a nice texture, the sweetness of the lobster melded wonderfully with the sauce which was tangy and finished the bite wonderfully. Stephan’s seafood dip was superb, and he kept saying how great it was while he ate the entire bowl! I did try it and although I am not a big fan of shrimp I did go back for several bites. It was velvety and so absolutely scrumptious. I have to say there is a reason Chef Keller has won so many awards.
By this time we realize there is no way we will be able to fit an entire meal and dessert into us, so we shared a horseradish encrusted cod over lobster mashed potatoes and asparagus. The presentation was beautiful, they split the plate for us and both plates looked amazing. The fish was perfectly flakey; the crust was crispy and fully covered the fish which was delicious. I loved the lobster mashed potatoes, wow!!! All of the players on this plate worked in unison and each bite was remarkable. ( It was all worthy of the hashtag foodporn!)
As promised dessert was plated and I could not have been happier; I am not a dessert sweet tooth person, so having a sampling of several desserts was great. The chocolate pate was genius; the truffles melted in your mouth and the mixture was marvelous. All of the items were amazing. We again were able to chat with the Chef as he sat and discussed the restaurant with us; we talked about family and travel. Just an overall great evening and for both my husband and I another one we will talk about for years to come!
Before leaving Mike came out to wish us well and we gushed over the food and presentation. I envy you Mike!!!
I love good food, I love a pleasantly presented plate, I love good service and a great atmosphere. I can say without a doubt this is a restaurant with all of the above, and we will be going back for more!
Let me end by saying walkers Grille was voted one of 50 BEST RESTAURANTS: WALKER’S GRILLE see the link here http://www.northernvirginiamag.com/50-best-restaurants-walkers-grille/
Also Chef Keller has an amazing array of awards such as ;
- James Beard Certificate
- DiRona Award
- Gold Spoon Award
- Red Seal Award
- Wine Spectator Award
- Florida Top 100 Award
In addition to these honors, in 2002 Keller helped Julia Child celebrate her 90th birthday with dazzling gastronomic creations; he has been named frequently in Washingtonian Magazine as one of the areas top chefs hailing in their “Top 100,” “Top 50,” and “Best Brunches,” and he was featured in Gourmet Magazine when head chef at the 17th century Ashby Inn in Paris,Virginia.
please visit Chef Kellers’ website at chefduanekeller.com or on facebook at facebook.com/ChefDuaneKeller.
If you should partake of this fine establishment please let them know you saw it on my Blog!!