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Washington DC Restaurant Week, 2004


bilrus
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I'm on my way to Mendocino--will report back!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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List of participating restaurants and link to Open Table participants here:

DC Restaurant Week

Um...I'll have one of each, please.

No? Ok....anybody who has been in years past, what are your top n restaurants to hit, most likely for dinner, since I'll be at work (Unless there's a great potential lunch to be had in under an hour, in the foggy bottom, 'golden triangle' area). Bonus points for being able to eat at the bar.

Edited by Chef Shogun (log)

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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We're going to Bobby Van's for dinner tomorrow on the RW... any hints on what I'll find (I've never done this before!) Will there be a set menu, a set menu with some choices? TIA :blink:

Ana the Librarian

Twins were born June 14th, 2006!!!!!

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Just got back from Corduroy and had a very good meal with one big disappointment (more on that later).

When we arrived at 7:30 the room was about half full, but by the time we left at 9:15 it was pretty much full. Not crazy, but bustling for a Monday night.

We started with a beet, baby carrot and goat cheese salad and a lobster salad. The lobster salad was a highlight for me, a nice portion of small lobster chunks with a chervil mayonaisse, some microgreens served over a thick slice of tomato. Worth the $5 supplement.

Entrees were scallops with a thai curry sauce and lamb sirloin with goat cheese ravioli. Both were very good, especially the scallops, which came with some tender delicate green beans.

In looking back at my post from our visit last year, I realized that my choices - the lobster salad and the lamb were the exact same things I ordered then. No regrets - both were darn good.

The disappointment was that they aren't offering the "Michel’s Chocolate Hazelnut Bars" any longer. And I thought the two desserts we had - a peach tart with peach ice cream and a warm chocolate souffle type cake with vanilla ice cream were just OK. This was a bit of a surprise given Chef Power's background as a pastry chef. The gentleman who took our order said that the fact that the background of the dish (from his time working at Citronelle) had made it into several reports about the restaurant, made him decide to take it off the menu.

All in all though it was a good start to RW and a good value.

Bill Russell

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Just got back from a comically bad dinner at Tosca with my girlfriend. RW 3-courses, no wine. I'd canceled our Vidalia reservation and lateraled over after reading the posts here earlier today.

First thing we noticed was brusque hostility from the waiter. I wouldn't have thought that this would happen, since their whole menu is available for restaurant week, but there it was. He also refused to recommend anything.

Then came a 30 minute wait for our appetizers. We didn't much mind, and the maitre'd came over to apologize. But when we got the appetizers, the waiter told us that we'd have to eat them quickly because the entree was coming right out. I've never had anything like that happen before. Even worse, he came back after a few minutes and reminded us to hurry because the entrees were coming quickly. After we finished our appetizers, we waited 15-20 minutes for the entrees to show up.

The appetizers themselves - duck agnolotti and seafood spaghettini - were both excellent, definitely the highlights of the meal. The agnolotti were bursting with really moist, finely chopped duck, and the spaghetti was really well spiced and perfectly cooked.

The entrees, risotto w/ rabbit sausage and lamb chops - were pretty bad. The sauce for the risotto was bland, the grains were too chewy, and the rabbit sausage was very dry. The lamb was a 3 oz portion, max, and was about 75% fat.

For dessert we had the warm chocolate cake - which was also pretty bland. My girlfriend had had two Balance bars for breakfast and ranked it somewhere between the two Balance bars in quality. The warm strudel was very good.

After we got the check, we noticed that when these same desserts were brought to the table next to us, they included big scoops of gelato, which our desserts had both lacked. I probably wouldn't have said anything, but we really like gelato, and our waiter had been fawning over the adjoining table (no surprise, they bought two bottles of wine) all night. So I complained, and asked for a couple of scoops of gelato.

At this point, our waiter became borderline livid, and entered that hyper-sarcastic "Is everything all right sir?" "Have a good night!" mode. The kitchen sent out an unsolicited/unwanted second chocolate cake - with gelato this time, although almost completely melted. We picked at this for a little bit. After 10 minutes, our waiter brought out two bowls of gelato - also 90% melted.

Thus ended our Tosca meal. This was my first DC restaurant week meal. I couldn't help thinking back to lunch at Gramercy Tavern last NY restaurant week - perfect, gracious service, and not one indicator that it was RW until the bill arrived. I'll certainly take many a train to GT before I get within 100 yards of Tosca again.

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Restaurant WEAK.

Places that decide to participate in this program do so with the obligation of courtesy and hospitality to their patrons. If you want to be a prick to your customers, if you want to treat them like tourbus scum ... DON'T PARTICIPATE.

Thanks for all anecdotes, positive and negative. I'd bet two things (not knowing the answer to either): Nectar has probably not chosen to participate in Restaurant Week - a perfectly legitimate decision - but if they had, they would have chosen to extend novice customers the same courtesy as their regulars.

Expose away. It's a fine time to do it.

And restaurants: feel free to expose nightmare customers (anonymously if you'd like) without fear of sounding like sour grapes. It should work both ways.

Cheers, and carry on, my wayward sons,

Rocks.

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Thanks for the Vidalia "heads-up", I canceled my reservation for Sunday dinner. Those supplemental charges are like getting pecked to death by ducks.

I agree with Rocks either do the RW thing or don't do it.

As for Tosca, I went once, and was treated rudely. Never returned. I think that when Roberto re-vamped his wait staff the ones who left found a home at Tosca. What is the deal with Italian restaurant waiters with attitude ??? And, it seems that complaining to a manager/maitre d' does no good whatsoever. It is management that allows this situation to flourish.

AARRGGHH

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Kicked off RW at Equinox. It was my first time dining there. I won't be back there for another RW but I'm definitely willing to give it another chance on a regular week.

I started with a shrimp salad that was nothing spectacular. The dressing was not well mixed resulting in mouth-puckering amounts of balsamic in certain spots. The appetizer that was described as canneloni was actually a spring roll. Not a bad dish- more like false advertising.

We then waited more than a half hour between our apps being taken away and our entree being brought. My salmon was overcooked- not moist at all. On a happier note, the flank steak was tender and flavorful. As for dessert, nothing about the chocolate cake was memorable, no hint of the bourbon that was supposedly part of the sauce. The cherry soup was refreshing. The pink peppercorn ice cream garnish provided a nice balance to the tartness of the cherries but the cherries tasted slightly artificial.

Equinox did not demonstrate during this meal why they have garnered so much praise these last few years but I would never write a place off based on an RW experience. I will return and hopefully have better things to report back next time!

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Well, Mendocino is definitely "doing" restaurant week, rather than not doing it.

At our dinner there last night, LiamDC and I found our server, Jesse (of the big mop of black curls) to be rather excited by RW, in fact. As was the sommelier, eager to help, advise, chat...we had no sense that he felt put upon by RW customers, nor did he try to upsell us at all. We ended up with a $33 bottle, an 'interesting red' from their list, 2001 Quivira Dry Creek Cuvee, which was an electric blend of several grapes including Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre, ? It was a bit young, but quite likeable, and for bonus points we'll probably visit the vineyard while in Dry Creek next month. (Two small glitches--the waiter removed our wine glasses when told we'd ordered wine, and the sommelier returned with 2 of the same kind; also the sommelier walked over with the wrong bottle the first tme and had to go get the right one.)

I'd suspected Mendocino would be pleasant about it being RW, based on JRage's posting; and indeed, I think many others thought the same--the place was nearly empty at 6:30 when we arrived, but quite full by 7:00 pm. You've already seen the RW menu, since JRage posted it--about 4 of the 9 apps have upcharges (but they range from $2-4); 1 of the 7 entrees; none of the desserts--tho the cheeses aren't included in the dessert list.

Prior to dinner we were served a dish of warm olives--YUM! The warmth was a nice touch, unusual.

I started with the chicken liver bruschetta, sauteed shallots, peaches, duck bacon, grilled sourdough. This was a lovely dish. I really like chicken liver, and I made some just the other day, but thought very highly of these. The peaches added a nice sweetness to the dish that made it palatable for Liam, who isn't a lover of the taste of liver. It was a very generous portion; two big slices of sourdough topped with at least a 1/2 lb of chicken livers.

Liam began with the lamb loin carpaccio, parmesean crisp, baby argula, fennel pollen, saba ($2 upcharge). The lamb was paper-thin, very nice--could have used a bit of black pepper tho, and there wasn't any on the table. Unfortunately, the dish as a whole didn't mesh; the pieces didn't fit together, the parmesean crisp tasted a bit soggy/stale.

My entree was the grilled wild king salmon, horseradish potato salad, purslane, keta-chive creme fraiche. Most of this dish was the potato salad ( a huge heap), the creme fraiche (which included plenty of salmon roe) and the lovely purslane. There was a relatively small piece of salmon on top; that said, it was cooked perfectly to medium-rare, and was quite fresh. My only complaint about this dish was its surprising heaviness--the combination of potato salad and a creme sauce actually made this plate feel like a large large portion--I have half of it here with me for lunch today.

Liam had the grilled marlin puttanessca, bucatini pasta, cherry tomatoes, green garlic, olives, capers, anchovy, chili flakes. Again, oddly, while the components were nice, this dish didn't hang together well. The marlin was very good, again medium-rare, but it sort of sat to the side of the pasta dish. And unfortunately, while I love bucatini, I thought it didn't hold this particular light sauce very well. And there was quite clearly too much oil--oil was left all over the plate.

We ended with a blueberry/peach cobbler with cinnamon ice cream (me) and chocolate pot de creme w/ whipped cream (Liam). The cobbler was good but wasn't served hot. I didn't get a taste of the pot de creme!

All told, food and bev came to about $100. This certainly isn't a bad deal, especially for G-town, and overall, I thought the food was above average--and one definitely didn't leave hungry. Most importantly, the restaurant dealt with each customer ( I could overhear conversations at the 2 neighboring tables) with plenty of respect, and actual enthusiasm for RW. That's nice, for a change.

Tonite, on to Yanyu!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Equinox did not demonstrate during this meal why they have garnered so much praise these last few years but I would never write a place off based on an RW experience.

It's too bad to hear that about Equinox. My first RW experience at Equinox was great in 2002. Last year when I went, it definitely was not as impressive. It seems like they aren't trying as hard during RW as they once did.

I'm going to Corduroy tonight. I did the notice last time I was there that the Hazlenut bars weren't on the menu, bummer.

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I just sent my boss to lunch at Mendocino. He came back with a big smile and gave me the thumbs up. I was on the phone so didn't get to ask what he ate but it seems like he had a better experience with the food then Sara did.

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Just got back from a comically bad dinner at Tosca

Yikes! We were planning to go on Thursday night. Now I'm leery. Any great suggestions, anyone? Went to Yanyu last night and enjoyed it. Had the second set menu, not RW, same price, shown in an earlier post. The crispy garlic shrimp were especially wonderful. We sat upstairs and the service was cordial and efficient. My husband even asked for "the rest of the duck," and was brought a plate with legs and bones which he and our companions ate on happily.

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Went with some friends to DC Coast last night. They have a decent RW policy-- soups or salads for first course, anything off the menu for an entree (with supplements for the lobster or steak) and basic desserts (panna cotta, choc cake, creme brulee). The whole fried sea bass was the best dish, I thought, followed by the nut-crusted tilapia in a pesto cream that was the special of the night. Service was excellent-- free of any RW condescention (though this often varies inversely with the size of your wine bill, our server seemed genuinely enthusiastic about RW and making sure we had a nice meal).

Chris Sadler

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I don't think BdC has ever participated. :rolleyes:

Just got back from Ceiba with Busboy and Mrs. Busboy. Like DC Coast and TenPenh, where I have previously enjoyed RW meals, the options were fairly generous...three soups, a salad or a ceviche as a starter, any entree, and one of three desserts for the special price.

I had a "Hemingway mojito" at the bar before lunch; the basic difference between this and a standard mojito is a splash of sparking wine instead of soda on the top. Like the mojitos at Cafe Atlantico, it comes with a sugarcane stick. Monica, you may want to add this one to your list of mojitos to explore...though I think it'd be best if we ganged up on Mrs. Busboy and bodily forced her to whip us up a batch of her own.

I ordered the shrimp ceviche, pulled pork and chicken tostadas, and flan for my meal. The ceviche was a small, extremely tart portion in a little double-shot-sized glass. The shrimp were medium-small, and there were chunks of tomato and avocado in the red sauce. It came with a few tortilla-type chips. Refreshing but a little too much on the senses, which diasppointed me since I'd heard so much about the ceviches. I sampled Mrs. Busboy's black bean soup: pretty good for a non-Cuban-style version (it was thinner and less robust than she'd anticipated). The entree was two tostadas piled very high with mojo-flavored shreds of pork and chicken, topped with a crisp slaw and a few slices of radish. Again, pretty good but a little too much on the senses...I would have preferred less meat so I could have perhaps picked up and eaten my tostadas, and the meat got to be cloying after a while despite not being super-sweet. The flan was probably the highlight of the meal for me--we all ordered it, though, and each flan looked somewhat different from the others. Mine had a disk of hard caramel (like brulee coating) on top which I rather enjoyed. They all came with nut-encrusted cookies that seemed to be made from compressed puff pastry.

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Well having had a similar R.W. at DC Coast as mentioned above, I'm sticking with the same family and hitting Ceiba in exactly one hour! I'll report back tommorrow. I was just saying to someone, "I would be very surprised if they put ceviche on the restaurant week menu." Let's hope it applies to the dinner menu as well as the lunch.

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Well having had a similar R.W. at DC Coast as mentioned above, I'm sticking with the same family and hitting Ceiba in exactly one hour! I'll report back tommorrow. I was just saying to someone, "I would be very surprised if they put ceviche on the restaurant week menu." Let's hope it applies to the dinner menu as well as the lunch.

The mojito and the super spicy yellowfin tuna ceviche together were a mistake. Too much spice, sugar and acid. Pretty much shut down my taste buds for the night...The soups and the mojito work especially well.

I didn't go for RW, but they have enough ceviche to offer it, I think.

See if you can get the grilled octopus salad. It LOOKS really good.

Edited by morela (log)

...

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Went with some friends to DC Coast last night. They have a decent RW policy-- soups or salads for first course, anything off the menu for an entree (with supplements for the lobster or steak) and basic desserts (panna cotta, choc cake, creme brulee). The whole fried sea bass was the best dish, I thought, followed by the nut-crusted tilapia in a pesto cream that was the special of the night. Service was excellent-- free of any RW condescention (though this often varies inversely with the size of your wine bill, our server seemed genuinely enthusiastic about RW and making sure we had a nice meal).

I'm very glad to hear this. Will be going to DC Coast on Thursday for RW, based upon the positive feedback here. I haven't done a RW at all since a vile experience at Tosca that left me with poor thoughts about this promotion. Not to mention poor thoughts about Tosca which I have never returned to.

Assuming the tilapia will not be repeated on Thursday, any other suggestions aside from the sea bass?

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Liam and I hit Yanyu tonight. This was a very good value for RW. I had three courses: tuna tataki (very clean, Japanese), big duck (excellent pekeing duck), and roasted sea bass (melting, delicious); along with two glasses of paired wines (South African sauvignon blanc and pinot noir), for $40.04. Liam had a tasting: lily bulb dumpling, big duck, crab cucumber sunomono, honey roasted sea bass, jasmine rice, crispy garlic shrimp; along with three paired wines (chardonnay, fume blanc, malbec) for $45.04. Thus, two different menus were offered, each $30, each with an optional wine pairing. Service was very polite and prompt; but the atmosphere was a bit lacking, probably due to an inexperienced rw crowd--several women were yapping loudly on their cell phones! Argh...

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Went to Corduroy tonite, overall very enjoyable. For appetizers we had the Buffala Mozzarella Porcupine & lightly fried Soft-Shell crab w/wilted greens (+$5). For the entrees, we had a special of boneless filet of Blue Fish overtop "spicy" Tomatoes, and Buffalo Sirloin w/garlic mashed potatoes & beans(+$5). For desserts, the chocolate tart w/caramelized bananas & vanilla bean ice cream, and a trio of homemade ice creams (vanilla, peach & blueberry). The tart was very good, but the trio of ice creams were 3 small scoops w/3 berries, nothing that special. I think the desserts could use some work now that they took away the hazlenut bars...Who really wants another creme brulee? As has been stated, the whole menu is available, and the upcharges (on a couple items) are reasonable. Corduroy is usally known for being pretty quiet, but there was a LOUD group of ladies there tonite. They seemed to be having a good time. Oh & the service was very polite & we didn't drink wine (only beer), sometimes things were a little slow, but that's to be expected during RW.

Edited by MCJB2 (log)
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After successful RW adventures last year at Equinox and Yanyu, this year we decided to try Ceiba and Tosca for dinners. Tonight was Ceiba, and it was a joy. Overall, excellent food and service, with only a minor slipup at the start.

We got there for a 7:30 reservation and the place was buzzing with activity. Though seated right away, it was a few minutes longer than appropriate before the server came to take a drink order and deliver the menu. That was the only downside in an otherwise tasty and filling evening.

The only RW limitations on the menu were the appetizers and dessert, but the limitations were not enough to spoil the evening. For appetizers, the RW customers could select the shrimp seviche or any of the three soups. Any entre was fair game, and there were three dessert selections. Fair enough, I thought.

For appetizers we had the shrimp seviche and the golden gazpacho. Both were excellent summer selections--very flavorful and refreshing, with an appealing mixture of textures and flavors. The gazpacho presentation was interesting--the server presents a long, narrow, glass boat of a bowl with the solid ingredients spread on the bottom, then pours the liquid over it.

For the main course we had the spicy chicken and the moqueca "bouillabaisse." The chicken was good but not outstanding; nicely done and moist, but could have used more flavor "kick." The moqueca was, in fact, outstanding--whole shrimp, mussels, a half lobster tail, rice, onions, red bell peppers, all in an exquisitely flavored sauce.

A bottle of Albarino Morgardio was a good complement to the food. The wine list had a good selection of countries of origin (largely Chile, Argentina, Spain, and US) and varieties at what I thought were reasonable prices compared with many other DC restaurants..

For dessert we had a terrific chocolate cake and a flan. The flan was predictable, meeting high standards for texture, consistency, and flavor. The cake was a nice interplay of several chocolate flavors and textures.

We certainly did not go away hungry and felt it was a good value for what we received. Kudos to the server (Cindy), too, for her professionalism. This was our first time at Ceiba, and we certainly will be back.

Friday it is off to Tosca, with the ominous shadow of posters' experiences hovering over our heads. We shall see....

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Sorry Ana, didn't check back in in time to answer that. Hope it was good.

Anyway, in contrast to the laid-back West Coast atmosphere at Mendocino on Monday, Butterfield 9 looked about to melt down at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with every table in their big, beige 14th St. dining room taken and a knot of reservation-waving RWers besieging the hostess station. To their credit, they dealt with the backlog quickly and politely and it was only a few minutes before me and my mate Big Media Al were seated in an alcove off to the side of the ground floor. Their Restaurant Week menu is short but sweet and, as a bonus, will apparently be on offer for an extra week for those who can't make it before the official event runs its course. In general, I'd recommend it; our six courses yielded two that were excellent, two that were good and two that were OK -- not a bad hit rate for a kitchen cranking that hard and definitely good value for your $20.04. Best by far were the great house-made ravioli of the day (eggplant that day) and the Mexican chocolate souffle cake, doused with a thick sherry cream. The lamb kabobs were nicely cooked, if slightly plain, and the watermelon sorbet was exactly what you would expect. The rice paper duck roll had a nice crunch, but could have used a bit more duck and a sauce less reminiscent, in consistency, of takeout sweet-and-sour pork. The rockfish, again, was well done and well presented but to my taste would be better off without its pea-soupy accompaniment. Service was very smooth, with our waiter dealing deftly with us and the neighboring 10-top that came in at the same time.

Another bonus, Butterfield 9 has an attractive bar tucked away off to one side at the front of the restaurant and has just picked up one of DC's coolest bartenders, Shaven-Headed Scott from CP Steak, a mean mixer and Simpsons mimic so skilled that the show's voice cast should think seriously before they strike for more pay next time. Hey, it's one more alternative to the Old Ebbitt crush if you work in the neighborhood...

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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Second what's appeared opn this and the other RW thread re: Mendocino. Went there for lunch yesterday, solo so I sat at the bar. The RW lunch menu is simple -- soup or salad/sandwich/dessert, but everything on it is innovative without being fussy. Incidentally my first sandwich (the Mufaletta) since I started on the South Beach Regime. Commiserated with Jared who is still on phase one, but he lived vicariously through my enjoyment of real bread :smile: with some tasty viands in between. Since I had already decided to call it a day as far as the office was concerned had two glasses + two tastes off their wine list. Someone else mentioned the Diamondback, and that is indeed lucious. Also had the Turley Zin, and was offered the last of the Parradux Zin (yum, but it's a blend). Wasn't too crowded, but still worth calling ahead to ensure a seat.

Tonight on to Yanyu!

Edited by FunJohnny (log)

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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