- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If man could live by bread alone, Inox would be the place to stay. In his new Tysons Corner restaurant, Jonathan Krinn, one of the chef-owners, has brought along his father to bake the daily bread. And what bread it is.

Diners who enjoyed Mr. Krinn’s cooking at Restaurant 2941 remember Dr. Mal Krinn’s artisanal loaves as one of the highlights of dinner. So they are at Inox, recently opened next door to the Ritz-Carlton at Tysons II by Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson, the other chef-owner.

It’s what is not ordered at Inox that makes any meal memorable: warm, crusty slices of olive, wheat, rosemary or pumpernickel bread with little square tubs of butter; a delectable amuse bouche, a rose petal of pink beef carpaccio topped with a dot of creme fraiche, a touch of citrus and a wisp of dill; and the superb petits fours that conclude the meal.

What comes between is imaginatively composed and elegantly presented. The chefs cook with invention and boldness, yet within a classic framework. For example, a “compressed” endive salad combines flattened red and white endive leaves with little knobs of blue cheese and a handful of spicy pecans. The surprise comes with three date pearls - small balls of medjool dates - nestled on blood orange segments that add an unexpected soft sweetness to the crisp salad. Delightful.

My favorite dish one rainy night was a starter of a plump soft-shell crab, crisp and lightly seasoned, resting on a lobster brandade, a mix of pureed potatoes with a touch of lobster jus and small chunks of lobster meat, topped with a sprinkling of toasted sliced almonds. Complex, yet simple, with an amalgam of complementary flavors, this was a superb version of a local springtime classic.

A dish of skate wing and sea scallops was not so successful. The two scallops were tender and juicy but lacked luster, although accompanied by a tasty combination of minuscule chunks of beets and blood oranges. The small square of skate was overcooked and dry. Coated in crushed pretzels, which could make a nice crunchy crust, it came to the table soggy, and the fish was excessively salty. Even the two paper-thin beet slices and a touch of a mustard emulsion that tasted of a delicate hollandaise couldn’t compensate for the failure of the fish.

Rib-eye steak was cooked as ordered, a fine cut of meat. A ragout of diced vegetables enhanced with bits of crunchy sausage added just the right contrast.

The menu offers many interesting and original dishes such as pirogi of house-cured pork belly with peas and spring onions, served in a delicate broth; butter poached lobster paired with wine-braised short rib ravioli; and a steak Rossini, except that the foie gras rests on a venison steak.

Given the perfection of Dr. Krinn’s breads, we couldn’t resist the chocolate olive bread pudding. The warm bread pudding is closer to a molten chocolate cake than a classic pudding with its rich, dark chocolate flavor. The olives incorporated into the dessert lend both the pudding and the accompanying ice cream a faint, delicate and slightly mysterious hint of olives. It works.

Inox is a large, elegant, open space. Floor-to-ceiling windows run the length of one side of the dining room, opening onto a view of a landscaped parking garage. Tables are nicely spaced. Piped-in music is subdued and diners can actually have a relaxed conversation. The service is professional and attentive.

John Wabeck, formerly chef at New Heights and at Firefly in the District, has assumed the sommelier role. His list comprises hundreds of bottles from all over the world. The choice is vast, and prices range upward from the $30s. Wines by the glass reflect Mr. Wabeck’s interest in serving good wines at moderate prices.

The restaurant’s name is another word for stainless steel. One look at the semi-open kitchen, a few steps below the main dining room, and the name becomes apropos. The kitchen, a symphony in steel, is only a few steps short of magnificent.

RESTAURANT: Inox, 1800 Tysons Blvd., Tysons Corner, 703/790-4669

HOURS: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, until 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday

PRICES: First courses $9 to $18 (lunch), $12 to $21 (dinner); main courses $15 to $24 (lunch) $22 to $39 (dinner); desserts $12. Four-course prix fixe dinner $68; three-course prix-fixe lunch $28

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: Complimentary valet parking

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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