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Feb 1, 2006 02:43 PM

What are the most overrated DC restaurants?

  • a

For instance, I'd heard amazing things about I Ricchi and decided I had to go. I found the atmosphere stuffier than my grandmother's coat closet and the food was bland, lukewarm, and pricy. Please contribute your thoughts!

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  1. You're in luck. This hot topic was recently raised and I think everyone in DC chimed in. See link below...


    3 Replies
    1. re: Meg

      Inn at Little Washington. Hands down. It is beyond me that anyone likes that place. I see nothing, NOTHING at all redeeming. Being foodies it was given to us as a wedding present. I wanted to like it so much and left feeling so disappointed. Thinking about having paid the entire $500 bill by choice just sent me over the edge. I hope anyone who is saving it for special occassion will consider the opinions here. Much better experience including food, decor and service elsewhere for 1/2 the price.

      1. re: bustersmama

        I haven't been in a couple of years, but I've eaten here many times over the years. Unless things have suddenly changed, I can't believe that The Inn isn't worth every penny. I've never had a bad meal here.

        1. re: pikawicca

          Respectfully, but I disagree. I wrote this over five years ago on our fourth "try" and have not been back: Patrick O'Connell has a fantastic amount of talent. Several years ago there was a dinner at the former Maestro which featured six James Beard Award winning chefs, each preparing a dish. O'Connell's was the best of all. My problem is that I haven't found this level of excellence at The Inn. Sumptuous luxury, yes (unless you're seated in the corridor that is so narrow the "Cow" cheese cart can't roll down it without asking customers to move their chairs forward) but food that was horribly overpriced and not on the same level.

    2. This topic reminded me of a meal I have at I Ricchi a few years ago... but Im sure its no better now... there's no possible way after you read this you'll see why it may be the worst restaurant in the USA... and certainly the most overrated. Terrible in every way.

      Prepare to be amazed. Have you ever heard of a restaurant that had a special of pasta with white truffles. I even asked if I could order EXTRA white truffles at an additional charge. The waitress said she couldnt do that... ok fine. So, when it was served since I didn't taste any white truffles. When I inquired, they said they ran out... not of white truffles (come to find out they NEVER have those, even though they implied they did)... no, they ran out of TRUFFLE OIL! The dish was billed as Pasta with white truffles. Never a mention of running out of anything... no appology, no price reduction. WHAT!!! And after I brought it to their attention... they STILL offered it to new tables as the pasta special. WHAT!!! That shows you how totally screwed up they are. And believe it or not, that wasn't even the worst part of the meal. Next course was a totally overcooked (I mean a dog wouldn't eat it... or should I say, couldn't chew it) rack of veal (another special). Cooked so long you couldnt even cut it.. and it looked horrible. I wouldnt eat it if I could cut it. If these are the SPECIALS I'd like to see the nonspecial items. They admitted that they left it in too long. So, how about NOT SERVING IT...hello. They offered to get me something else. Then they charged me for the VEAL and gave me the next dish (it was cheaper) for no charge. ARE THESE GUYS FOR REAL???? They are such losers I can't even begin to get into it.

      The manager at the time (im sure gone by now) was a complete jerk. So was the owner. Its the only meal I ever had in my life that I told them I didn't want to pay the bill... out of principle. They said they'd call the police. I thought about it but paid and just wanted to get out of that place. Yikes!!!!

      This place should be condemned. So sad, as 25 years ago it was a gem. As Don Amice once said, Things Change.

      2 Replies
      1. re: WineTravel

        I Ricchi has NEVER been any good

      2. A dinner I had at I Ricchi about 7-8 years ago was the worst dining experience I've ever had in Washington. Overpriced, rude service and inedible food - I swear to this day that the pasta I had was Chef Boyardee from a can. The only good thing I could take from the experience is that I learned the Washingtonian Top 100 Restaurant list is a crock (at least until Kliman showed up).

        1. I'll join the chorus of nay-sayers. I went to iRicchi for the first time this year (in the spirit of trying everything once). Ambiance: incredibly crowded and very noisy. Food: mediocre at best and served luke-warm and dry. Price: waaaay overpriced for the quality and ambiance. Service: friendly, helpful , and attentive. Now I can say I have been there. I won't be going back; there is far better Italian food and far lower prices with better ambiance, e.g., Al Tiramisu, Tosca, ...

          4 Replies
          1. re: Dakota Guy

            i ricchi is not overrated at all, because everyone at all knowledgeable about D.C. food always rates it very poorly, and as a very bad value. It had its day in the sun, back when Francesco was there . . .

            1. re: MartyL

              It was a gem in the days before there were cell phones. Hard to believe a place could be as bad as it is and still be in business. Go figure.

              1. re: WineTravel

                Several lunches there over the past several years where comical in how bad they were. I recall a vegetable topped bruchetta that was unedible. I took one bite and pushed it away. Remarkably, the waiter never said a word as he cleared the plate.

                Like Marty L though, I recognize what an important role they played in bringing quality tuscan food to the DC area 16 years ago?

                1. re: Pappy

                  "Several lunches there over the past several years where comical in how bad they were"

                  Right,,, better to laugh rather than cry about it. The only mystery is how I Ricchi stays in business???

          2. Clyde's in Georgetown is overrated. I've had to accompany friends and business associates too many times for lunch, brunch, and dinner there, and have never had any meal that I thought justified its popularity or longevity.

            24 Replies
            1. re: gina

              Again, although Clyde's is *popular,* I don't think it's highly (or over-) rated.

              Candidates for being overrated (by, e.g., mainstream critics, folks on this board and Rockwell, people surveyed by Washingtonian) include, e.g., Cafe Deluxe, Citronelle, Firefly, Bethesda's Raku, TenPenh, IALW, L'Auberge, Four Sisters, Kinkeads, Bangkok 54 (?), Del Merei, Jackie's, Matchbox, Cheff Geoff's (if anyone still rates that highly), most if not all dim sum places.

              You mileage may vary, of course -- that's the whole idea! [Caveat: I actually like some of these places to a certain extent. Others I haven't eaten at very frequently of late because, uh, I concluded they were overrated . . . but of course I might have just hit them on bad days, or too long ago, etc.] (I haven't even mentioned Zaytinya, Cafe Atlantico and Moby Dick, which are generally great but suffer from inconsistency. On the other hand, how many places *don't* suffer from inconsistency?)

              1. re: MartyL

                Problem is, I've seen Clyde's recommended on Chowhound several times, which leads me to believe that too many rate it highly--since that is our job here, to suggest places we think have good eatin'. :)

                  1. re: gina

                    I think often the issue is the context in which it was recommended. Did somebody say it was a reasonable place to go when you were looking for reasonable food and almost everybody could find something on the menu they liked? I would give it that in a heartbeat. Is it chow-ish food? No, not for a nanosecond.

                    There are certainly places that get recommended here (by me included) that aren't chow-ish, because the OP asked for suggestions that meet certain criteria which are, by definition, not chow-ish.

                    Maybe there are folks here who rate clyde's highly on an absolute level, but I would be surprised.

                    1. re: gina

                      I agree with you 100%.

                      That said, the Clyde's at Tower Oaks is really a spectacular setting, albeit in a Disney-esq kind of way.

                      My son and I go for lunch often at the enormous and grand bar. A few plates of raw oysters and cup of chili with a cold draft beer can make for a very satisfying fall lunch.

                      The remaining menu and the service in the dining rooms leaves a lot to be desired.

                    2. re: MartyL

                      I second the vote for Del Merei as way overrated. It's right up the block from me, so after I was really excited to go after reading such good things. Not impressed at all and our waiter was pretty dismissive. Waiter aside, my main complaint is that the sauces are served on the side, instead of as part of the dish. That seemed really cheap. My salmon was overseasoned and the mac and cheese was underseasoned. It was not horrible food, but we could have had better if we had stayed at home, and we both got bad gas! We're not going back.

                      1. re: aya

                        I third Del Merei being overrated. It was very pricey for average fair. The calamari was below average, fish was so so, and tab was 100+ for two with one glass of wine. My fiance and I both agreed it was one of the places we felt we wasted our money on this year.

                      2. re: MartyL

                        I respectfully and strongly disagree with Matchbox and Moby Dick being overrated. I find both places consistently delicious!

                        1. re: chicken kabob

                          I think Moby Dick's is fine, but to me it belongs on the over-rated list because of the number of people who list it among the top (or the top casual) restaurants in DC. I like what I've gotten there, but I wouldn't describe those meals as all that special.

                          Other over-rated restaurants for me are 1789 (bad service, so-so food-- went back and was still unimpressed), and L'Auberge Chez Francois (didn't even go back a second time -- I do not get the love for that place at all).

                          1. re: Doh

                            Totally agree with you about 1789, Doh. The space there is so strange, and the food entirely forgettable. We did have good service last time we went, on the positive side.

                            1. re: Doh

                              I totally agree with this about Moby Dick. It gets so much praise but it is just blah and expensive casual mediterranean food. You can get everything they have at Moby Dick at Levantes (in the Dupont/Bethesda locations of MB) and it is way, way better. Better hummos, better babaganoush, and much, much better pita bread (which is free at Levantes). For about the same price even though Levantes is a sit down restaurant.

                              1. re: masonuc

                                I still stand by Moby Dick. I think it is INCREDIBLE and consistently good.

                              2. re: Doh

                                Definitely agree with you there- nothing to write home about at Moby Dick's.

                                1. re: thoma3am

                                  I've tried on and off for several years (and at several locations) to understand the praises Moby Dick's earns here because I've picked up so many great tips from this board. But at best it's been decent. Usually the overcooked meet and tasteless sides are completely underwhelming.

                                  1. re: repete

                                    Something can be good to most people but not thrill your particular taste buds. That is what makes the world go round. It would be pretty boring if everyone agreed 100% on everything. As for me, I am most likely heading to Moby Dick tonight!

                                    1. re: chicken kabob

                                      It depends which Moby Dick's you go to.

                                      1. re: Jacey

                                        The Kentlands and Bethesda ones are excellent

                                        1. re: chicken kabob

                                          The Fairfax one not so much. Georgetown is still good though; so's Dupont. Have yet to try the one in Kingstown.

                            2. re: MartyL

                              I would agree with you about Jackie's and Firefly. However, I took my girlfriend to Citronelle this past Friday and the whole experience was delightful, if rather expensive. The chef, Michel Richard even walked around the entire dining area, taking a moment to chat at every table.

                            3. re: gina

                              Just Clyde's in Georgetown? Try Clyde's ANYWHERE and you'll find an identical experience. Even at Old Ebbitt, apart from the oyster bar, I've had bad luck.

                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                How sad. I went to Clyde's in Tysons once and thought it was pretty good, but that was 15 years ago!

                                Agreed on Old Ebbitt--their food is dull at best.

                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                  Clydes, Old Ebbitt, etc are what they are...local chain casual dining restaurants. In my experience they have been fine albeit many items overpriced. They at least attempt to give the places a decent atmosphere/theme though typically not to my tastes. And as my many posts on the topic would suggest, love the oyster service at Old Ebbitt. I really think Clyde's is fine for what it is...if I was (or was trying to pass myself as) a fine dining type I probably would scoff at the place. Not sure about everyone else but my life often requires "safe" casual american dining places that don't come at you with that gourmet attitude when I have people visiting. Since I live in NoVA, I have the Great American Restaurants readily available to serve this purpose, but if I didn't Clyde's would probably be on the list.

                                  I actually was stuck in Reston town center the other was getting late and I didn't feel like cooking so I went in and grabbed a buffalo burger. Pretty solid, cooked to order, decent fries, and I was stuffed for 10 bucks. I don't really get the heavy metal "FILTERED WATER" pitchers they have introduced at every table.

                                  1. re: Lowbar

                                    Old Ebbitt is very consistent and I think that the take-out side (inside the building) is a bargain. As those in the business know, consistency is king-- it makes or breaks your business even more than triumphant food produced sporadically. I worked near there for a number of years and at lunch at its price point Old Ebbitt is fine. I don't see the moon and stars when I go there, but I don't feel like I've been ripped off either.