Bethesda Resto Week Disappointment: David Craig
Bethesda Restaurant Week is winding down this weekend. DAVID CRAIG on St Elmo AV turned out to be a be DISAPPOINTMENT.
It is a seemingly hot/popular spot because we could only get a reservation for 9PM on a Thursday night! Issues with the restaurant are far ranging (see list below) but the core issue is that the restaurant manager did nothing proactively to correct the issues even though he was witnessing, privy to the mishaps. I WOULD SKIP this place until management changes to support a seemingly decent chef. After leaving DAVID CRAIG, I went home at 11PM and fixed myself a sandwich to eat.
-COLD DINING ROOM: front dining room by the entrance was cold so we ate with our coats on.
-OUT OF MENU ITEMS: Both the appetizer and the dessert I ordered were OUT even though our waiter promoted the chocolate bread pudding as a recommended dessert. DAVID CRAIG ran out of brown bread, too? when we requested additional bread in our basket.
-FOOD WAS COLD: The soup was served cold. 2 of 3 entrees were served cold.
-LONG TIME TO BE SERVED: even though we were the only table in the front dining room after 9PM, there was a 45 minute lag between our appetizer and our main course!!
-FOOD WAS UNDERCOOKED: 1 of our entrees (seafood) was undercooked and my dining partner was afraid to eat it.
-SMALL PORTIONS: the Wali filet served was 3oz. in size. I could have eaten at least 2 fish of this size. The salad portions were ridiculously small.
-LACK OF SERVICE: I tried to swap the dessert I ordered (because it had a lemon flavor which was not indicated on the menu) for a substitute bowl of berries or the like and the waiter stalled. The manager overheard the dispute and forced the waiter to find a reasonable substitute.
My wife and stopped by there Wednesday night at 5:30 and they were booked solid. We went over to Grapeseed.
We didn't know it was Restaurant Week. If we'd known, we'd probably have stayed home. I could be imagining this, but whenever I dine most anywhere during RW, I get the sense that the staff doesn't take us very seriously... assuming we're fly-by-night diners who are just out at the restaurants because there's a bargain to be had. The whole town just has a different "feel" to it, both the diners and the staff (if the staff is making negative assumptions about the clientele that week, maybe they're correct!).
I ate there at 7p on Thursday, and had exactly the opposite experience. We had the table in the back overlooking the kitchen. Great service, amazing food. Portions were ample - I was full at the end of the meal. RW choices were 5 or 6 options for each course, which is a majority of the menu.
I had the "P.E.I. Mussels. Spanish Onion. Garlic. Hot Pepper. Sherry Cream. Croutons.", and would have used bread to sop up the sauce - but the bowl came with a spoon, and I put it to good use! The tiny croutons were precious. My wife had the soup - I don't remember what it was (corn, maybe?), but that was because it was gone before I could ask for a taste.
We shared the "Braised Veal Cheeks. Parmesan Semolina Gnocchi. Swiss Chard. Golden Raisins. Pinenuts." and the "Hand Cut Fettucine. Meat & Wild Mushroom Ragu. Cream. Parmigiano Reggiano." The veal cheeks were excellent, and the quick crisping on the semolina gnocci was a great contrast in textures with the veal. The bitterness of the chard kept any sweetness from the raisins in check. The house-made pasta was excellent, and the ragu really spoke of mushrooms. I thought at first the plate was small, but it was rich enough that the portion size was just right.
My wife had the "Chocolate Bread Pudding. Caramel Sauce. Vanilla Ice Cream.", which she thought tasted great, though she didn't care for the consistency of the bread. I went with the lemon meringue tart - perfect.
Our service was first rate - water and tea refilled at half-mast, bread on the table immediately, plates cleared promptly, etc. The courses were spread out enough for a good conversation, but not so much that you wondered where things were.
I will definitely go back.
Unknowingly, I've been a David Craig groupie. I went to Pesce a couple of times when he opened it, and then Black's when he was there as well.
I have eaten at DC several times, including this years restaurant week. I have to disagree with the negative review posted above. The food and service have all been fantastic at each of my visits.
I had excellent PEI oysters, superbly prepared veal cheeks and I finished with the signature bread pudding. Others at my table raved about the seared tuna and roasted quail dishes.
I have to wonder about the first reviewers comments, especially because the only fish dish on the RW menu that i remember was 'seared yellowfin'. This is is generally not something that makes a diner 'afraid to eat it' for being undercooked...
I do understand how someone in a rush could become impatient by the speed of the service. A 3 course meal at DC is fairly leisurely paced. However, my party of 6 found the timing to be perfect and enjoyed the pacing between courses.
Although I didn't go during RW, I went roughly one month ago and had a totally different experience. Good food, well prepared, gracious server and I found the host (manager?) to be quite friendly.
Did you speak directly with the manager about your experiences? You state he witnessed it all, but it's hard to 'witness' cold food and some of the other problems you mention.