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January 2005: Equinox

Many chefs claim to use “the freshest regional products,” but few have been as conscientious about seeking the best local sources as Gray.

Blue Ribbon Award Winner

When chef Todd Gray left Galileo after seven years in Roberto Donna's kitchen to open his own restaurant, he surprised his fans by turning away from Italian cooking in favor of the foods of his native Chesapeake Bay region. The chef's return to his roots has paid off. Many chefs claim to use "the freshest regional products," but few have been as conscientious about seeking the best local sources as Gray. He and his wife and business partner, Ellen Gray, have also been active in promoting humane animal care; dishes made from animals raised according to guidelines of the Humane Farm Animal Care Program, which include a diet without antibiotics or hormones, are indicated on the menu.

Lunch may be ordered à la carte at Equinox, but the dinner format is now a chef's tasting menu—three courses for $55, four for $70, six for $85. Diners may choose from three or more options in each course. The restaurant asks that the number of courses be the same for each diner at the table. The payoff for diners might be a dinner consisting of a bowl of delicious cream of parsnip soup topped with fried Chesapeake oysters; pan-seared Carolina grouper with Virginia ham and mushrooms; braised shanks and roasted loin of lamb from Jamison Farm; and a caramel bread pudding with maple bourbon ice cream.

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