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Joe H

Laboratorio Dates

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http://www.galileodc.com/restaurants/laboratorio/

Generally, Roberto is in the Lab 3 or so nights a week. This is an extraordinary experience lasting 3 to 4 hours, totalling 12 courses. Laboratorio is a restaurant "within a restaurant" (inside of Galileo) with its own open exhibition kitchen, mirrors over the ranges and a staff of four dedicated to serving the 20 to 28 people who occupy the 8 tables. Table #7 is a four top that is literally within 5 or 6 feet of where he stands. Usually, Laboratorio books up within days of when the dates are announced, even two months out.

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i gather you've been and have had a good experience? i tried the laboratorio a little over a year ago and frankly was very disappointed. for the money, palena is a much better deal all around.

the intimacy of laboratorio's setting notwithstanding, i found roberto and the wait staff cold, disengaged and a bit arrogant. i expected roberto to say a few words during the meal (say, about what we were eating, etc.), but we didn't even get a "hello" or "thank you." when i pointed out that the first course's recommended wine was corked, the waiter looked at me like i couldn't possibly know what i was talking about, then appeared very inconvenienced by having to open a new bottle. (he wisely let me taste the subsequent wines first, but clearly wasn't very happy about it.)

the food was good, but not particularly memorable. in fact, out of the 12 or so courses, the only one i do remember is a mushroom risotto that was well-paired with a very nice italian chardonnay. but, that's a pretty pathetic report for a nearly $900 dinner for four.

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Each October I arrange a blowout dinner at the Lab for 30 people, having done this for the two past years (and will do it again this Fall). I've also had at least seven or eight other dinners in it since it opened including two Smithsonian dinners which sell out within literally days of opening.

I am convinced that Laboratorio as well as Maestro are the equal of any two Italian restaurants in America. I have actually called them America's two best over the years and am sincere in this statement. I also believe that Roberto, were he in Italy, would be one of the country's finest chefs. With all due respect to Palena, Laboratorio is on another level and one of this city's three best restaurants along with Maestro and Citronelle. Also, this Sunday night Roberto challenges Morimoto on Iron Chef. The fact that he was picked to challenge Morimoto speaks volumes. The only other Italian chef from an American restaurant was Mario Batali. Laboratorio is also one of the most difficult reservations in this city-this is why I posted this.

I am surprised at your comments. In four years on another board I never read a post where someone had a less than an excellent and worthwhile experience at Laboratorio. (Not Galileo, but Laboratorio). I have also made at least a dozen different dishes from Roberto's cookbook and found each to be exemplery.

Sorry, but I have a great deal of loyalty to Roberto Donna and believe we are fortunate to have him in this city. I respect your opinion and your experience but am very surprised.

As an addendum I have never done the wine pairing at the Lab outside of the Smithosnian dinners. But when ordering off of the Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list I have found that every time this is one of the few restaurants in DC with proper service, i.e., decanting and coating each glass with the wine served at the proper temperature. My complaint, though, is that his markup on wine is high. Still corkage there is $15 which is remarkably low.


Edited by Joe H (log)

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In four years on another board I never read a post where someone had a less than an excellent and worthwhile experience at Laboratorio.

Actually, I posted about a disappointing dinner at the Lab on the "other" board a few years ago and you disagreed with my assessment.

I actually went back, largely due to the huge amount of attention bestowed upon it by you and others on the "other" board. Sadly, I was again, disappointed. That's not to say that the food was not good, to very good. It was. A few dishes were even excellent. I just found very little value in the experience (Saturday night, $130pp), and was not impressed.

I greatly enjoy reading your reviews, Joe, but I just respectfully disagree.

As an aside, the wine mark-ups are so egregious they should be criminal. Terruzi & Puthod Terre di Tufi was, I believe $60. A 400% mark-up, and it was their best value white wine. I almost opted to drink NO WINE, but cooler heads prevailed (my wife's) and we went with the wine pairing instead. $60. They were very generous with their pours, but not a single bottle would retail for more than $12.

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We're going on 4/8. My wife and I were there a few years ago, and it was one of the best meals we've had anywhere. We took the wine pairing, and it was very generous. The service was very good, and Roberto was cordial, engaging and humorous. This time we're going with friends, which I would not do if I had any "reservations". :wink:


Edited by Bricktop (log)

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