I'm a big fan of Kris Morningstar ever since he used to be the chef at Casey's. I discovered Casey's a few months before the World Cup, and fell in love with the place. It's a wonderful Irish Bar with a very Washington DC, "bricks below the street" vibe. Take a staircase down to the open patio, all dark wood inside. The gastro-pub menu was out of this world. Crab roll, open faced chicken, and especially the Casey's burger (a mimic of the Father's Office burger). Coupled with the steadily pouring Guinness and fab atmosphere, the place was an immediate favorite. When the World Cup got underway and the place was packed with eager fans, it was the best thing in Downtown, bar none.
Well, for some reason or another, Morningstar left. I guess he wanted to do his own thing, and maybe got sick of pub food? Maybe there was pay issues? For whatever reason, he moved to the Loft and started Blue Velvet.
The only reason I go there is for the Casey's burger, now called the BV Burger and fetching 2 bucks more ($14). Big beef patty, spongey bun, thick trimmed bacon and carmelized onion compote, bleu cheese, wild arugula. Casey's was slightly better, with a cracked-wheat dusted bun and gruyere melted on the bleu, but this works. His homemade fries are fantastic. And I love, love, love the house-made buttermilk aioli. Think a more liquidy, gourmet ranch sauce.
I see he has a tasting menu for $85, I'd like to try it some time. I had a smoke with Morningstar outside Casey's once (I think he's only 27 or 28) and he seems like a cool guy. So far, it's a lunch place for me, but I'll be there for dinner soon.
Criticisms? Hopefully he'll get some more comfy chairs, the current ones suck! Also, the downtown tap water is absolutely disgusting. Would it kill to provide even, say, complimentary auqafina? How bout a Brita? You don't have to tell me where it came from, just make it taste good. For the price of the food this is a no-brainer. You can't have a classy restaurant and serve gutter water. Then again, maybe this is a ploy to make people buy the $6 bottles of water. Meh.
Lastly, the service could be better. The waiters are routinely absent-minded. I tried to order a beer (the only one for $6, the rest were Belgian ales anywhere between $12-18) and the waiter disappeared for five minutes and returned saying they were too warm to serve. I said fine and spent the $6 on water. He left the beer on the check. Not a big deal, but far from top-notch.
Having heard great things from LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold about this place, I came with high expectations. Upon arrival I thought the decor was sleek and modern but comfortable. I informed the hostess that 2 of the people in my party will be late, she told me we'll be seated as soon as they get here and the mean while I can get a drink at the bar. My friends arrived 5 mins later and this is where it went down hill. We were waiting for more than an hour before they finally seated us. The service was decent, attentive but not intrusive. The appetizers we got were good(short ribs were excellet), but the pork chop I got for main entre was just warm, with 5 TINY slices of pork. Overall I think it is a good place to get a drink by the pool side but damn lousy place for expensive and inconsistant food.
I went there too hungry and waited and waited and waited for food to come (even though restaurant was not busy). Once the food came, I was just too hungry to carefully enjoy the nuanced flavors and creativity. I was excited about it - but literally sat for 2 hours and ate for 20 minutes...bothers me.