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oohs & aahs?

after moving to the neighborhood 6 months ago, i finally made it to oohs and aahs. what did i miss? we ordered fried wings and short ribs (with bbq sauce). sides: cornbread, mac and cheese, and yams. none of it was worth writing home about. the short ribs were super fatty (beyond the usual short rib fat) and the wings were just eh. i had heard so much about the place. what did we do wrong?

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  1. You thought for yourself and didn't buy into the crowd about this place? Seriously, this place is so overhyped it's insane.

    1. Maybe you don't really like down home Southern food? It happens.

      If you go back, try one of the seafood things--I believe they are from the coastal Carolina area and seem to have a good touch for that. Shrimp for example, maybe the crabcakes (those vary however) and even the salmon--get something that Indiah smothers with her sauteed onions and peppers thing. Also the fried chicken. BTW the correct spelling is Oohhs and Aahhs, which is important only for future searches on this board.

      4 Replies
      1. re: johnb

        They also now do late nights and on that menu have chicken and waffles.

        1. re: johnb

          Salmon is not a Southern fish. And certainly not "down-home," except possibly the canned variety. Neither is that style crabcake.

          1. re: MakingSense

            I never said they were. I opined on why the OP may not have liked what they ordered, which was down home type selections. Some things on the O&A menu are down home and some aren't. Nothing wrong with that. The style of much of what they offer is Carolina coastal.

            Salmon can be found on just about any ethnic menu these days. Salmon tacos for example. Nothing wrong with that either. Food changes.

            What "style" crabcake are you referring to? What is a down home style crabcake, as opposed to a non-down home style crabcake?

          2. re: johnb

            While the OP did not exactly order badly- I personally would avoid two starches- I suggest on the next visit, if willing, he/she tries the greens, rice with gravy, and the shrimp.

          3. Well, I guess there are three possibilities:

            1) It just wasn't your day. It happens everywhere.

            2) This is part of some downward trend.

            3) Everyone's taste is different, and you are entitled to your opinion just like everyone else!

            I have been to Oohs and Aahs six times. Four times it was over-the-top delicious. I shook my head in disbelief at how lucky I was to be eating this food. Two times I didn't do so well, with limited success at the broiled cajun fish or the fried catfish. (For fried fish, you need to check out the masterful catfish lunch on Fridays at Colorado Kitchen.)

            In response to jpschust, you seem to be questioning:

            The sincerity of the raves for Oohs and Aahs, as if those Chowhounds are just afraid to speak out, unlike the maverick that you are.

            That the people who have seriously loved Oohs and Aahs are easily manipulated by rave reviews. Well, I suppose this is a possibility, but if this proposition only applies to restaurants you don't like, then I believe you are selectively using this theory to insult others. I mean, if folks agree with you about a restaurant you rave about, do you call them a bunch of sheep? Or do you bask in the warmth of your infinite wisdom?

            Me, I bask.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Steve

              I concur wholeheartedly. Just because the masses/critics love it doesn't mean it's overhyped. Personally, I don't get Citronelle but I wouldn't call the place overhyped. I can understand the love, but it's just not my kind of love. Then again, I could stand to give it another chance...or two, not writing it off based on one or two trips.

            2. I've been twice. So far one really good meal (shrimp, potatoes and gravy, collards) one middling (chicken wings, mac and cheese, cornbread). I'll still go back and try some other items, but I'll still get my mac and cheese, cornbread, or collards at Levi's beforehand.

              1. My speculation is that after the buildup of the place's rep, there were operational and quality control issues... it takes hours for the savory flavors of Southern dishes like collards and gravies and yams to gel (which is why I think the steam table at Levi's "works" just fine)... all of a sudden there's a rush of business and you've got to figure out how to manage your stock consistenty.

                1. This is an incredible place, that has never been or probably ever will be about atmosphere. I tell all my friends, that before chowing down in the "makeshift" seating area upstairs waiting for my food, I become a foodie snob. I expected something more posh after reading the Washintonian...but don't let the outdated paint and plastic forks fool you.

                  I had an out of body experience when I had the macaroni and cheese and baked chicken.


                  1. I'm a Boston girl with a serious love of down-home Southern cuisine (don't ask...no one knows where this comes from). Since there seems to be mixed reviews of Oohs and Aahs (never been btw) what other real soul food places would you suggest in DC?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Elyssa

                      In DC, I go to Levi's Port Cafe off 8th Street SE near the Navy Yard. Barbecue, meatloaf, fried chicken and fish, collards, and for me the best macaroni and cheese in town. Georgia Browns is overpriced and oversalted. B Smiths is about the same.

                      In Falls Church, there's Flavors Soul Food.

                    2. For this Southern boy, there is a surprising dearth of good "meat and three" Southern/soul food restaurants in this area and no single one seems to do it all well (for me that equals fried, baked, or grilled meats, baked casseroles and stewed veg sides, mac'n'cheese, crackling corn bread and biscuits, and sweets like pound cake, sweet potato pie, etc) .

                      Depending on my location and desire for a particular dish, I find myself gravitating towards Henry's Soul Cafe, Levi's, Horace and Dickies, Southside 815, Cracker Barrel (no joke there), that church in SW DC that has jazz on Friday nights and sells "dinners"...I hear good things about Flavours but have never been there.

                      I avoid Florida Ave. Grill, Wilson's and any number of the awful, awful carryout places in this area that are worse than elementary school lunchrooms.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jay

                        I've heard of this church but have never been...maybe I'll check that out. Where are the other places you mentioned located?

                        1. re: Jay

                          Have you eaten at Florida Avenue Grill? They do, IMO, a very breakfast and lunch. I live 1.5 blocks from the place, and I've eaten there probably 15 times in the past two years (not good for my cholesterol, but -shrug-), and I've never had a bad meal. It's not to everyone's tastes, to be sure, but that's just soul food.

                          The lunch specials are particularly good, IMO: very nice greens, yams, cornbread. I love the salisbury steak, which is a bit unusual.

                        2. Henry's has a spot in Oxon Hill and one in Mitchellville, MD
                          Levi's is on 8th St. SE (Barracks Row) and somewhere else in MD,
                          H&D is on 12th NE (around H)
                          Southside 815 is Old Town
                          The closest Cracker Barrel is down I-95, in Prince William Co (?).

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Jay

                            Nope, there is a cracker Barrel up in Fred Neck Maryland. just off 270 at 85.
                            You cant miss it.

                            1. re: RobertM

                              There's also one in Manassas, on 234 just north of I-66, at the northern end of the Sudley Road strip that Michael Eisner famously mocked a few years back when he tried to jam a Disney monstrosity into the Virginia countryside.

                              The one south on I-95 is in Fredericksburg, in the Massaponax outlets. That's Stafford County.

                          2. As Mississippi natives, my wife and I were very excited to read the hype on Oohs & Aahhs - finally some decent southern food. When we arrived, it sure looked great too, you can't beat the hole in the wall atmosphere here.

                            But the food was a huge disappointment, possibly the worst meal I've had in the DC area in years. The turkey cutlets were horribly overcooked and dry, the cornbread was crumbly and hideously sweet, turnip greens all wrong. Mac & cheese was okay, according to my wife. Much worse than the Florida Avenue Grill, which is about average.

                            If you want good (not great) southern food, Flavors in Arlington remains the best local choice I know about (but I haven't explored Horace & Dickeys or Levi's). Southside 815 is good too, but it's really "modern" southern, not traditional.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Mississippi Snopes

                              Sorry about your experience at O & A. It is much better on average than you experienced. However, it shines much brighter in the area of Carolina coastal and seaboard fare in general than what I imagine is the Mississippi type soul food that is your apparent reference point. There are those who like the turkey cutlet, but I agree it has been dry when I've ordered it. With apologies to Steve, IMO the turkey chop is far from their best item.

                              Another soul food possibility which I don't recall being mentioned above is Saints Paradise Cafe, which is in the basement of the House of Prayer for all People (Daddy Grace's Place) at the corner of 6th and M NW. I have written about it on this board previously (do a search). It is cafeteria style, and the line moves slowly. But it is very popular and it's not hard to see why if you like soul food.

                              1. re: Mississippi Snopes

                                Dear Mississippi, as an Alabama native and foodie, I long ago decided that great southern food kinda stops at the NC/VA state line! there are a few exceptions, but not many.

                              2. Good call on the UHOP; that's the real deal and the folks are very friendly.

                                1. i agree, this place is overhyped, well the chicken and waffles dish is anyway.

                                  I was visiting DC and decided to try chicken and waffles for the first time with some friends. I was charged 16 for the chicken and waffles platter(I read on another review website that other people were charged up to 20) There was no “chicken and waffles” on the menu and based the experiences of myself and many others I think they may be charging whatever they want based on how much the customer looks like he/she willing to pay. WTF

                                  For 16(not including DC’s 10% sales tax) I got 6 small pieces of chicken, 1 waffle and a small amount of greasy eggs and potatoes.

                                  The service was extremely slow considering the fact that we were the only customers in the joint. We sat in the upstairs dining room, which was nothing special and smelled like the fried foods from the kitchen downstairs.

                                  Over 16 dollars for chicken and waffles at a place like this? Give me a f*ckin break, I could’ve bought myself a steak dinner with the money I spent at this place.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: don k

                                    Yeah, something's going on. I had the chicken and waffles about 2 years ago. It was on the late night menu, and was around $10 (I think it was $8.95). Appropriate portions of both, none of the other things you mentioned (eggs and potatoes). And it was GOOD.

                                    Sorry to hear they're doing this.

                                    1. re: don k

                                      Are you sure you're talking about Oohs & Aahs? Their chicken dinner is around $12, not $16, and I don't think they serve waffles with theirs The $16 chicken and waffles is at Marvin up the street.

                                      Anyway, this thread is over two years old and yet O&H still seems inconsistent.

                                      Places like Florida Avenue Grill and O&H are in all the tourguides. They get a fairly constant stream of tourist dollars so they don't have to try that hard. So the prices go up while the quality becomes hit or miss.

                                      For consistent real-deal soul food in Shaw, without breaking the bank, you need to go to Henry's or Torrie's at wilson near 930 Club. Collards, chitlins, fried chicken, pigs feet. They've been around for decades...for a reason. Or you could just go to Marvin



                                      2007 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                      Henry's Delicatessen Carry Out
                                      1704 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                      Torries@Wilsons Restaurant
                                      700 V St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                        Oohs and Aahs - I don't believe - ever had chicken and waffles on their regular daytime menu, but they did have a late night menu for a time, and it was on there.

                                        I think that Steve reported only a few months after I went there late night that they had discontinued. Therefore, I'm fearing that don k's post is true.

                                    2. I recently tried Henry's in the U St. neighborhood and found it pretty satisfying and a very good value! $10 for half a chicken (or you can opt for 4 wings instead), two large sides (I got collard greens (good, not overcooked) and yams (a little too heavily spiced for my taste)), and corn bread. The chicken was not particularly flavorful but it was freshly fried, and dipped in the accompanying barbecue and hot sauce it was pretty awesome.

                                      1. I just found this post on a google search. My son had seen "Oohhs and Aahhs" on an episode of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" with Guy Fierri on the Food Network. As we were visiting a museum over the holidays in DC, we decided we just had to try this place. It certainly is a dive, which qualified it for Fierri's program, but I was baffled by what he found so appealing in the food. I had the crabcakes with potato salad and green beans. The crab cakes were dry and flavorless, the potato salad mushy and bland and the green beans tasted like they came right out of a can. My son had buffalo wings, which were greasy. My daughters had the fried chicken, which was dry. The only thing I found worth eating was the mac and cheese, which was very good. I don't think I will ever eat there again.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Lolac

                                          I think you hit the Chowhounds' favorite at Oohs and Aahs, the mac and cheese. Though I believe there's been some good words about the fried chicken.

                                          1. re: Lolac

                                            You must have hit it on a bad day. I just tried the broiled crab cake a few weeks ago and thought it was delicious. I have also enjoyed the cajun-spiced fish and shrimp, the meatloaf, and the lemon-pepper wings which I found deliciously bad-for-you-satisfying. Fried chicken is not supposed to be their strength, though I would be willing to give it a shot after those wings.

                                            1. re: Lolac

                                              I think it's hit or miss, too, and found the fried chicken to be dry, almost inedibly so. And, I wonder why they only have white meat fried chicken when dark is better IMO for fried. But, the mac and cheese and the meatloaf makes it worth the trip. It's not crab season here and I have no idea where they're getting their crabs at this point, or whether the cakes are frozen but I wouldn't order crab cakes right now in this area anywhere.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                I'll third O&A being hit or miss. I've had the lemon pepper wings when they're fresh and when they've been sitting around in the fryer bin. The difference is night and day. The crab cake at Sullivan's Seafood is a consistently superior and more generous product. And I still find the mac & cheese more to my liking at Levi's.