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Sep 24, 2007 01:32 PM

What to order at Willow?

I'm heading there this weekend and I've been reading mix reviews on this board. Anything to order (or avoid?).


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  1. I love their steak dish with the mushrooms. But I really like the place.

    1. The potato wrapped halibut is delicious and the Chef is known for her brilliant preparation of her miniature rack of pork.
      I highly recommend Willow. Enjoy and report back!

      1. I'm a big fan of Willow. With such fresh, high-quality ingredients, it is hard to go wrong. The salads are great. I've heard very good things about the flatbread pizzas, but that's not my thing. I almost always order fish, but companions have ordered all over the menu and have been very happy. I have yet to figure out WHY there have been mixed reviews. Every time we've been there - twice for lunch, a half dozen times for dinner - we've had wonderful food, lovely service, and (unlike some) we like the decor.

        That being said, the menu changes fairly often, so it is hard to give recommendations. I can vouch for the scallops and the potato-wrapped halibut.

        1. Willow -- Yuk! Tracy was a good chef at Kinkaid's, but this place is clueless. I can picture Gordon Ramsay walking in there some day and reinventing it for his Kitchen Nightmares program. Lots of little sculptures and decorations all over little frou-frou plates. Take your great-grandmother there.

          I've eaten there a few times, and while I wouldn't go back at gunpoint, the sandwiches at lunch are only half-bad.....

          9 Replies
          1. re: BigEats

            Yeah, yeah we know we know, this is a "chick restaurant" and you wouldn't eat there even if someone was going to shoot you, I can find you saying this on post after post. But they are going so why not offer specific menu suggestions or things to avoid instead of offering no helpful advice that doesn't relate to their question?

            I have had the flatbreads to and thought they were good, as well. The pepper crusted medallions sound simillar to what was on the winter menu that I loved so much. I still crave it now and then.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              I'm not sure I buy the chick food thing myself, but the menu does lean towards bland spa food made with a rediculous amount of lemon. If Gordon Ramsay could do one thing for Tracy it would be to take away her cooks lemon zesters.

              Our service has been at times disjointed, the layout of the place is bizarre as well. The food was ok, but cheaper, better food with better service in a better atmosphere is all around the Clarendon area just a minute or two away.

              1. re: ktmoomau

                OK, let's start with the Web presence. Who in this world wants to eat at a place that features an emaciated mid-Victorian crack queen as the artistic backdrop of a supposed fine eating restaurant?



                Then let's move to the lunch menu -- "Spring's Lady" is a $17 flatbread (huh?) that is hard to choke down, even if you can get past the name and the price. And make sure you jump all over that "Grilled Flatbread of Choice" with romaine, endive, celery, cucumber salad and balsamic vinaigrette. Yuk! And turn Gordon Ramsay loose on the lunch entrees, with accompaniments like "basil mascarpone cheese mouse" and "fava, corn and radish (really) melange. And I'm just dying to try the "ratatouille and ricotta cheese stuffed squash blossoms" on my next visit, which, by the way, will be at gunpoint.

                Your appetizers at dinner feature the agonizing fusion of "feta and labne cheese raviolis" -- save a few bucks and walk a half block to Aladdin's, and enjoy better flavor and less pretentiousness. Your entrees at dinner are in the $27 range, and should be about half that price based on quantity and quality. The "pastrami spiced yellowfin tuna" is a bad idea and a bad combination, but not quite as bad as the "bacon wrapped Norwegian salmon with asparagus, fennel raviolini, basil and orange (honest!) with a rose wine fumet (I think that's a broth)".

                The chef that Tracy was under Bob Kinkaid was obviously kidnapped by aliens and replaced by a frou-frou spa cook. She is the anti-Bourdain. Throw Gordon Ramsay at this disaster and hope a real restaurant emerges....

                1. re: BigEats

                  BigEats, LOL! Thanks for "The Many Faces of Willow". ;-}

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Happy to oblige. Don't get me started on Willow or 2941 for their undeserved pretentiousness. Luckily, Colvin Run already is shuttered, so I don't have to rant about that one too.....

                    1. re: BigEats

                      BigEats, please dish! I never ate at Colvin Run, but their website had a running water sound that made you think their toilet was stuck!

                      1. re: alkapal

                        A friend of mine who is a major foodie and a Board member at the Tower Club put it succinctly concerning Colvin Run -- "It opened with great fanfare and great lineage, promising sex on a plate, and when you got there and had your meal, you would ask 'why did I shave my legs for this?'"

                        I used to work in the District so I had regular lunch and dinner access to the spectrum of restaurants all over downtown. I live and now work in Virginia, so I am constantly looking for goos ones to emerge in what happens to be one of the more affluent suburbs in the country. But all we get is 2941, Willow, Colvin Run, and the like. Occasionally, Restaurant Eve or Maestro emerge, but those are exceptions rather than rules.

                        Colvin Run suffered from an identity crisis right off the bat. It was the "meat" for Bob Kinkaid's "seafood" but the meat didn't go over that well for some reason. The filet dishes didn't compete with Morton's around the corner, and the "farm-raised" lamb chops were pallid. Eventually they moved back to Kinkaid's "sweet spot" with more seafood dishes, but then it was this confusing melange of new recipes and presentations where you felt more like a test subject.

                        And as to the toilet being stuck, that reminds me of the young and over-attentive wait staff that always asked you how everything was as soon as you put a bite in your mouth, and did it at least five times per course. They also filled your bottled water over and over again, charging you for each new bottle without asking if you wanted a refill.

                        Then there was the space, about as awkward as any restaurant space I've ever seen. This is a restaurant that needed to close, and the pretest we have been given is that the lease was too difficult to renew. Yeah, that's it, it was the lease.....hahaha!

                        1. re: BigEats

                          I had a terrific meal at 2941 Outstanding service (better than you get at some of the highly acclaimed DC restaurants) and excellent food--one of the best meals of 2006. I agree, though, that Willow is an underwhelming experience and that Colvin Run is fine, but certainly not worth fighting through Tyson's traffic to dine. Too bad the chef just left at Maestro. But I find dining in the outer burbs to be palatable only in the summer when everyone's at the beach, which is fine because the DC restaurants always seem to have their B teams working in August.

                  2. re: BigEats

                    Egad, she IS a victorian crack queen!

              2. I ate there once during restaurant week a few months ago. I can't remember what we had but we both enjoyed it quite a bit. But that was $30 for three courses. I'd go back again the next RW.