Equinox's Local Beef

Today being the vernal equinox, also known as the first day of spring, it seems like an appropriate time to mention DC's Equinox, its own rebirth and some of the cool local product they're serving.

Thanks to the recent revamp of the dining room (above), the restaurant doesn't look its nine years. And chef Todd Gray is cooking with renewed inspiration.

A pioneer of the local foods movement in DC, Gray is now sourcing beef from Camalier Farms in Warrenton, Virginia — it's what locals might call a gentleman's farm. (The prominent local family founded Camalier and Buckley, a retail chain no longer in business, and the farm has not been a commercial venture.)

Through family ties, Gray connected with one of the Camaliers about raising custom livestock for the restaurant. "We met at his farm last September," Gray tells Metrocurean, and "we drove the property in a 4-wheel drive Jeep with his two sons. We talked about all of the opportunities we could have raising wild chickens, heritage breed turkeys and ultimately our own line of custom Angus beef ... no middle man."

After working with the farm manager, who's been tending the line of cattle for 30 years, Gray is now serving the Black Angus beef, raised in a humane and sustainable way. Last month, I sampled a Camalier rib eye, sauteed with mushroom ragout, sweet onion puree and caramelized gnocchi. It had a wonderful deep and earthy flavor.

On lighter note, Gray also has a custom mix of lettuces on the menu, provided by Endless Summer Harvest in Purcellville, Va.

With headlines like this, it's nice to know there are chefs out there with such an intimate knowledge of their ingredients.

818 Connecticut Ave. NW