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Jun 13, 2007 08:54 AM

Restaurant Eve- overrated?

I am in the minority here, but I think Restaurant Eve is overrated. I have only been there once, but it was for the full-on tasting menu. And I have plenty to compare it to in my travles both of area restaurants and other great food cities like SF and NYC and parts of Italy. Now, perhaps I have not given them enough of a chance to shine by going back another time or two, but, for that one experience, I'd say it was overrated.

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  1. Overrated how though? It's up there for me with the quality of cooking of Eleven Madison Park, Citronelle, etc.

    6 Replies
    1. re: jpschust

      Below are my posts on another site about my experience there. Hope this helps...

      I don't really want to go over the whole course by course experience, now that I have a few moments to go in to more detail. But I'd rate the whole experience just 'good'.


      It is a nice place. It's well designed and tastefully designed. We were well attended to. The food was good. But....just 'good'.

      We ate in the Tasting Room. Our 2-top was a little too close to the next two-top for comfortable conversation until the room filled with a bit more noise. The table itself was a bit long, which was welcome for both of us as we are long legged, but it further hindered close conversation.

      The food, well, we opted for a 9-course tasting things. It was good. Especially the first scallops course. But after that, well, it was just OK. Don't get me wrong, the food was good. But not wow food to me. Nowhere near. I'd heard this place had been compared to Palena for its seasonality and creativity. This is a rung below Palena, IMHO.

      What I look for in a truly wonderful dining experience is well, there's a lot. A nice room, that is not too noisy. The tables are reasonably far apart enough from each other that allows each table its conversations to be at least somewhat private. I expect it to be nicely appointed. I expect the service to be attentive but not too attentive. I prefer a BYOW friendly restaurant, but I can live with a well-chosen and reasonably marked up menu (with a few 'easter eggs' for those with a bit of knowledge can find on the list). And I want the food to rock. I like the food to taste amazing, with layers of flavors and textures and smells -- ideally in a way that best accentuates the ingredients (not overly complex, mind you, or trying too hard either). Not every meal has to do this for me, but when I go out to a very nice meal, I try to choose places that I hope I can experience what I have just described.

      My RE experience just did not execute on all of these levels.

      It was a reasonably good dinner. But the QPR on it was somewhat not as good as I had hoped (even factoring the wine out of the equation).

      For me, I'll probably not go back but not because of just this one experience (only partly so). I live in Laurel and this is a bit of a drive for me. If it truly was great, I'd drive almost any distance. But this wasn't that amazing to me. Each restaurant is different and each restaurant has different ideas of what they want to be and to achieve. Restaurant Eve was good, just not good enough for me to make the trek again most likely.

      (made some minor edits -- I have food course comments coming soon (which I will post separately), as I was waiting for Cathal's chat to end per DR's request).

      My comments are not meant to slam RE or their staff or owners or chefs, etc. My comments are merely what they are. Take them for what they are -- just my own humble opinion. You mileage may vary.

      I think I have already commented that the food was good. I think I have already commented that the service was good as well as comments about the room (a bit too noisy, the tables just a tad too close together, the tables themselves a bit too long (so as to hinder conversation where you could actually talk with each other). All that goes.

      I do not remember every exact course as I did not get a copy of the menu nor did I take notes. But here we go ----- The amuse bouchee sampler was quite nice, tasty and inventive. Lost of nice and fresh tastes. The first course was a scallops thing that was probably the course of the night for me. Just great. There was a spring onion veloutte(?)/soup, that was nice, but nothing really special. I opted to pay the supplement to get the foie gras course and this was nice, too, perhaps better than most of the other courses, but it did not really wow me either. Still, good. There was a fish with jasmine-'sticky' rice that was probably the least desirable (to me) course of the night. The rice was not sticky, but perhaps that is why it was in quotes. The fish was barely warm and it was a bit flavorless and too sweet. Actually, a lot of the courses that we had that evening struck me as too sweet overall. I am not sure why, but that does resonate with me. Why did a lot of the stuff border on being too sweet (or actually cross that border)? Hmm. There was an acceptable quail stuffed with a foie and mushroom thing and it was tasty enough, and it was prepared well enough, but it failed to really make me revel in the food experience. There was also a gnocchi thing (I can't remember if it was on its own or as a side to something else) which was good. Still no wow, but good enough. I know we had a lobster cremem brulee thing in there as well and that was tasty. I also forgot about the drinks we had to stat the night. My wife had a very nice Sidecar (not the best she has ever had, but well made and tasty nonetheless) and I had a, what was it called 'Modern Gibson' or something like that which was just OK.

      I guess I went in expecting something.....different. The foodstuffs were fresh and were largely put together capably. The flavor combos generally worked (except for the general sweetness of things), but there was no real thing there that made me want to rave about the place. Except for maybe the scallops. Everything else about the experience was good enough, too. But I'd say that, based on this one experience, returning there is not a high priority for me. Perhaps choosing my courses next time might be the way to go if/when I go back... While I'll probably eventually go back to try things out again, I am not in any rush to do so.

      1. re: Pool Boy

        That sounds a lot like my experience at Citronelle. The food was good, but it wasn't special. It didn't make me say "wow". For Citronelle prices I expect better than good.

        We didn't get the tasting menu there. Maybe we should have. But for those kind of prices you shouldn't be able to order badly.

        1. re: Pool Boy

          I am glad you are going to give this place another try. I love Eve, but I do live much closer than you so I can try it multiple times without driving so far. I have never done the tasting menu, but I love their food. I have never had a meal there I didn't think was good to very good. I think what I have had was better than Palena, but I haven't eaten at Palena as much as Eve, so Eve has had more shots to wow me I guess.

        2. re: jpschust

          do you really want to compare eve w/ eleven madison park??w/ the new chef from san fran getting it 3 stars from frank??

          1. re: curious4food

            I really do, and I've been there since Danny Meyer has been at the helm (and I was there beforehand). I really think the food at Eve is at that same level.

            1. re: jpschust

              got the name.. i think it's daniel humm from s.f

        3. Try going back to Eve but skip the Tasting and eat at the Bistro. I think quality and talent get lost in the noise with a tasting menu. Cathal Armstrong is extraordinary. I wish the Bistro menu were a little broader (I miss some simple salads and soups, more vegetables) but I agree with jpschust about the quality of this place. Locally sourced, fresh food at its best, beautifully prepared with creativity. This place will be around long after tasting menus fade out of fashion.

          3 Replies
          1. re: MakingSense

            I think we'll do just that at some point. But I am in no rush as it's a bit of a drive there from Laurel.

            1. re: Pool Boy

              I hope you do go back and give Eve a fair shake. You can't compare dining at Palena to the way you describe your experience with the tasting menu. At Palena, you ate entire courses with time to savor them. You described your food at Eve as a "scallop thing," "mushroom thing," and "gnocchi thing" along with other stuff coming at you like Burma Shave signs along a highway. Relax and enjoy Armstrong's skills. You'll enjoy it more in a less hectic atmosphere too.

              1. re: MakingSense

                Well, we probably will give RE a fair shake sooner or later. Perhaps at the Bistro instead this time. You'll have to forgive the abbreviated comments in the prior posts. I did not take notes while dining there and was doing the original posts from memory. Plus there were a couple of weeks between when I went there and when I wrote those two (combined here as one) posts.

                By the way, I didn't really think the tasting menu was delivered to me at a hectic pace at all. The pacing was pretty good, and service was fine if a tad impersonal. I guess I just expected a lot more for the price being paid and all of the rave reviews I'd read before going there. Maybe now two years later is a good time to go experiment there again.

          2. I've only been once for lunch so it's not seeing a restaurant at its best but I agree. I love the concept of it, love restaurants that use more environmentally friendly food. The service was excellent, wine recommendations very good. We were close enough to the table behind us that we could hear their business deals. But the deciding factor was the food. It didn't wow us. Even the bread that I'd heard so much about was dry, as was the gianduia waffle dessert. I would not rate it anywhere near one of the best meals I've had. If we ate at restaurants like that more, I'd try it again but there are so many restaurants in the area I want to try before we move that I'm not sure I'd go there rather than trying Maestro, 2941 or the many other restaurants in the area. And, given that I've had excellent meals elsewhere, if I were making a return trip somewhere, I'm more likely to choose one of them, except I'm really tempted to return for the tasting menu.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowser

              I want to add, though, that I had the best cup of coffee I've ever had in my life, by far, there. Hope it doesn't sound belittling but it is rare to get a great cup of coffee and that cup was definitely a "wow" moment.

            2. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I personally disagree; [and I too have plenty with which I may compare it]. I think RE is one of the top 5-10 restaurants in the DC area. Admittedly, however, I have never eaten in the bistro section of RE.

              1. We've moved a digression about high expectations leading to disappointment to the General Chowhounding Topics board at