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Jun 11, 2007 12:34 PM

Sonoma Wine Bar in Cap Hill?

Anyone done a review of Sonoma, in Capitol Hill?

It's hard to gauge from the website whether this is a legit location or just another restaurant trying to be trendy and reaping huge margins.


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  1. I think Sonoma does many things well. The selection of cheeses and cured meats is always excellent. The one pasta dish I had was quite good. I like the pizza (though it is a very California-inspired version of pizza). Prices are reasonable. Tables downstairs are close together, so don't plan on having a really intimate conversation.

    3 Replies
    1. re: dcandohio

      As mentioned above I think it is a nice place to meet for a glass of wine and the cheese/cured meet plate. Unfortunately the first course does not keep pace with the entrees. I have eaten there a number of times and I am always disappointed with the main courses be it pasta, pizza or the burger for lunch. In addition I find the service to be inadequate at best.

      1. re: amorgs

        What do you say about Sonoma? Great wine selection, good food, reasonable prices... eh.. not so much. It's a great place if you're wearing a suit and want to sit and have a glass of wine and an appetizer and spend $50 and still be hungry. Wait staff isn't overly friendly but the bartenders are great. Perfect place after a long day to sit and look over your blackberry. Which is why I head to Mr. Henrys. ha ha.

        1. re: jackcyn

          To be fair, I've had good service while wearning shorts or jeans, and the crowd is often a mix of suited Hill types and more casual neighborhood or tourist types. My biggest complaint about Sonoma is that their web site and phone message often contain inaccurate or conflicting information about opening times, etc. It's definitely a great addition to the Hill choices, and it's a great choice if you DO want to be more dressed up than you'll need at Mr. Henry's.

    2. Just had a lovely lunch at Sonoma. I've been wanting to try it for some time, but pretty much never schlep downtown, to the Hill ... especially not for lunch, as there are well over 100 restaurants within 5 minutes of my house. Not necessarily great dining, but plenty of good places. But today I had a business lunch with a colleague who works in that area, so we gave it a whirl. I was very happy with the service - friendly, professional, timely. The food was really nice. I had the albacore tuna dusted with coriander powder and served with a melon salad and a lime sauce. I was worried about the melon because even though it has been a late melon season, the last couple of melons I bought lacked flavor. But the cantaloupe and watermelon served with the tuna were really flavorful. The tuna was fresh and nicely seasoned and seared. The dressing was described on the menu as creamy lime, but in fact was a very light sauce that didn't seem to have any cream or creamy-like substance at all, which was fine with me. I really enjoyed this dish, which was light and fresh and a perfect lunch. Others have commented on the small portions. I like small portions so I thought it was fine. I think we are all so used to oversized portions at restaurants that we've forgotten what normal portions are. That being said, my friend had the basil pesto pizza which was actually quite a good sized pizza for one person, with abundant toppings. He was very happy with it. He also got the pumpkin cheesecake, which was on the small (but to my way of thinking, perfect) size. Especially for lunch, you don't want to walk away feeling stuffed.

      To answer the OP, I think this place takes its food very seriously - the quality, the concepts, and the execution. It didn't look to me like a place that was trying to be trendy or make a killing. Our meals, with iced tea, coffee, and club soda, came to $42. I thought that was reasonable.

      Now, if we could just get these folks to find a location in Bethesda....

      1. Went there with the boyfriend and his mother a couple months ago for dinner. Appetizers were okay, entrees were better: my spaghetti carbonara was pretty good, the boyfriend had the quail (moist and well-prepared, but pretty small portion, even for an entree) and his mother had the lamb, which was the best dish on the table. It doesn't seem to be on the current menu, however.

        The wine list was deceptively extensive: when I ordered a glass of red with dinner, it took three tries before I chose something that they actually had.

        Service was definitely spotty - the waiter openly admitted that he was new and didn't have a lot of experience. When the check arrived, the total seemed a little high, so we reviewed it - they included a $50 glass of wine that nobody had ordered! It took over fifteen minutes to get the waiter's attention and explain the problem, only to have him return with a revised check...that still overcharged for one of the food items. I don't recall if we were comped for anything, but the waiter did apologize.

        I have to say, maybe I'm a glutton for punishment (or just some delicious lamb), but I would try Sonoma again, perhaps for lunch.