Farrah Olivia

I was really excited to try Farrah Olivia, as Chef Morou Ouattara from the Iron Chef is the owner and chef. I love that we have a local celebrity here! My foodie coworker had recently been there and loved it, so I took her advice and organized our team dinner there. Overall, I was very pleased with the restaurant and would definitely return. The restaurant is located in Alexandria, right next to Balduccis. The location is a little secluded. But, it’s very pretty, and Chef Morou adds a personal touch by decorating it with candid photos of his daughter taken around the metro area. It gives the restaurant a very homey and welcoming feel.

Dishes can be ordered a la carte, or as 5, 7, or 14 course tasting menus. They even offer a substantial vegetarian tasting menu for less than the regular tasting menu. We decided to do a la carte. The night started off with a lovely Malbec that was actually under $40! We were presented fresh breads with an eclectic selection of spreads: bok choy pesto, sundried tomato pesto, fig jam, and honey-lavender butter. The butter was awesome! We then ordered a cheese plate. It was this night that I discovered my new favorite cheese, Bonne Bouche, a Vermont goat cheese that is just so creamy, mild, and heavenly. You can find it locally at Cowgirl Creamery or Cheesetique. I’ve even seen it at Whole foods once, but that’s rare. Moving on, we were presented a nice amuse bouche from the kitchen, but I can’t remember what it was…it was tasty though! We moved on to appetizers and entrees below. We’re a pretty laid back bunch, so we all tried each other’s selections too. I’m glad we did! Originally from the Ivory Coast, all of the food that Chef Morou prepares has an African influence and a very diverse use of spices. Her goes:

- Diver Scallops w/ bacon powder and melon seed milk- This was delish w/ 2 huge scallops swimming in a lovely, creamy sauce. The scallops were seared to a perfect crisp as well.
- Cinnamon Quail w/ Figs- I didn’t really care for this one. The quail was very tender, but the cinnamon flavor didn’t work for me. But, it was cool how he wrapped two of the quail legs in figs…that part was yummy.
- Shocked Escolar w/ soy pearls and wasabi- Now this was a really fun app as the “soy pearls” were tiny “caviar” balls that burst in your mouth with flavor. Chef Morou makes them using agar powder, oil, and flavoring. It really is the coolest thing ever! The escolar was also excellent with the wasabi sauce. I would have liked to see more sauce on the dish though.

- Slow roasted lamb- This was just amazing and cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was covered with a really tasty spice blend too. The sauce that accompanied it tasted very close to an Indian tandoori sauce, but not exactly. Again, wish there was more of the sauce
- Venison w/ sweet potato truffle- Extremely tender, very pretty. The cuts of meat looked like absolute perfection. The flavor was good, but I have preferred the Venison at Mark & Orlando’s and Proof to this one. The sweet potato truffle was decadant.
- Filet of beef w/ corn truffles and raisin emulsion- I really liked the raisin emulsion and corn truffles more than the meat itself
The portions are on the smaller side, so I suggest you order an app and entrĂ©e, or do one of the tasting menu options. The presentations of all the dishes were beautiful with most of the plates having a “deconstructed” theme. Most of the spice blends were extremely flavorful. However, I have to admit that the spices/sauces presented on the dishes just weren’t enough, and left me wanting more. I wanted to have the spice flavor on every bite. Maybe that’s the Indian in me. Can’t get enough spice!

I wasn’t as impressed with Farrah Olivia’s desserts. We ordered the following:

- Chocolate brownie w/ toasted marshmallow and raspberry beet sorbet- I thought the chocolate brownie was on the dry side, and didn’t care for the marshmallow topping. I personally didn’t like the flavor of the beet sorbet either…it was just too weird for me.
- Lemon cheesecake- This was perfectly light and tasty. It had a nice thick crust too. But, I didn’t find it to be better than cheesecakes elsewhere, or even ones that I make at home.
- Selection of Sorbets- I’m just not into sorbets, especially ones with flavors such as beet. But the person that ordered this at our table really liked it.

But, Chef Morou did send us a special nightcap of macaroons, in all sorts of flavors. They definitely rate as some of the best macaroons I’ve had, being perfectly crispy, moist, and having a wonderful hint of nuttiness.

Overall, we had a really great experience. We were definitely all “giddy” by the end of the night. I think we were there close to 4 hours!!! At one point, Chef Morou was kind enough to come out and greet us. He really is such a nice, completely unpretentious individual. He even remembered my coworker that had recently been! He spent a decent amount of time talking to us, as busy as he is, and explained how he makes those very cool “caviar” balls. He uses 1 tsp Agar powder to 1 cup flavored water and the droplets go into room temperature oil, where they solidify. My dad works at the Washington Hospital Center, so I got some syringes, and hope to try this at home :)

I forgot about our waiter. He was young and very friendly. He was also honest. We wanted to order the poached lobster, w/ tapioca pudding (one of the pricier items on the menu), and he pretty much said it wasn’t one of his favorites, and he found it too sweet. I like honesty.

I definitely recommend going to this restaurant if you are feeling adventurous. All of the unique flavors you will taste in one night are nothing like you have had before. It is on the pricier side, so not really for a casual night out.

Farrah Olivia
600 Franklin Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

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