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Disappointed in The Heights

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I’ve been reticent about posting something critical concerning The Heights restaurant in Columbia Heights. But after eating there numerous times, I feel that I’ve given them a fair shake and want to share my experience with the other members of this board. I moved into Columbia Heights two years ago when there were barely any restaurants nearby. When The Heights opened, I was thrilled. The menu seemed promising with a selection of comfort food, fish, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and pasta entrees.

I went several times this past summer for dinner and the food was so-so. Not fantastic by any stretch, but not abysmal either. Over the past year, I’ve tried their burgers, tilapia, an omelet (for brunch), and a few salads. Again, nothing to write home about but edible.

Then last night, I went with a friend and ordered the crab cakes. For $17, I got two crab cakes and some grey-colored mashed potatoes. The crab cakes were mostly filler with a tiny amount of mushy crab meat that was definitely not of the highest quality. I managed about two bites of the crab cakes before pushing the plate away in disgust. I guess my thought is this: The Heights isn’t serving haute cuisine or anything even close. The dishes, for the most part, are simple and shouldn’t give any kitchen worth its salt (pun intended) any difficulties. But for some reason, they don’t seem to be able to turn out even the most rudimentary dishes.

Why is it that some casual dining restaurants get it right time and time again (Café Deluxe, for instance, comes to mind)? The folks behind The Heights aren’t beginners—they own a slew of other restaurants around town and seem to have a formula. Each restaurant is pleasant enough inside with friendly wait staff, yet for some reason, they're missing the mark on consistently good, tasty food. I’m wondering if anyone else has had similar dining experiences at TH. I don’t want to bash the place—rather, I would love to see them improve so that I can continue supporting them.

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  1. Yeah, I agree. All the restaurant in that group (Logan Tavern, Grill Fish and Mercado)--IMHO--suck. The menu always sounds so much better than the actual product. I also find the quality of their ingredients are not as high as many other mid-range places in the area.

    1. Yeah, I go there more often than any other place in CH because it's there, and like you, when I moved there two years ago, nothing was. The first time I had brunch there, I had the benedict with crab cakes and decided to never again order crab cakes there, and have warned off others.

      I do, however, love the benedict with smoked salmon and spinach and almost always get that for breakfast. I also like the Circle Burger and fries. I liked the Stoly Doly until I had one that was kind of sour.

      Wait, why do I keep going there for just okay food? I too want to support them because of the lack of options nearby, but given the crowds in there since DCUSA has opened, maybe I can switch my support to other places nearby. But where? I wish Red Rocks had a little more variety (and consistency). And Rumberos sucks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: colhghts

        I actually like Rumberos better than the Heights--with the caveat that there are really only a few things on the menu there that I would order. Stick to tapas or a steak. Definitely skip the paella!

        1. re: foodiejourno

          I've tried the tapas and the steak. Sometimes the tapas are very good, sometimes not, and many are overpriced, especially when it's such a crap shoot. The steak can also be very good, or half fat -- which I don't want. I don't want to have to throw away half of my order. I do believe it's the nicest place in CH decor-wise. I just wish I actually wanted to eat there!

      2. I live in the area, too, and have not yet been to the Heights (have tried several times, but it was never open when we walked up that way...I hear they do lunch now? Maybe even brunch?) Anyway, everything I've read has been mediocre to bad. Such a bummer- we need some great places up there! Oh well, there's always Julia's Empanadas!
        Have you tried Ulah on U Street? Decent casual dining. I was there with a friend last night.