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anyone tried Darlington House?

Has anyone tried Darlington House, in the old Childe Harold space?

I only went to the lower level, with a pub atmosphere and sort-of publike food. I don't think I would recommend trying it yet. The gnocchi with mushrooms, ramps, and asparagus were wonderful, in my opinion, and the molten chocolate cake was really good (though when isn't molten chocolate cake good?). Also, good fries.

The bad: the crunchy chorizo ravioli were soggy, the tuna sliders were overcooked (in my opinion--my husband liked them) on stale-tasting brioche, and the worst thing of all was the schizza (like a flatbread pizza) with sausage, pesto, and ricotta salata. It literally tasted like no one had salted or seasoned any element of it at any point--there must have been no parmesan in the pesto either.

Did I say that was the worst part? That might have actually been the waiter, who brought all four dishes at once (to our tiny little two-top table), spilled beer on my husband, and took away our salt and our ketchup before we were done eating to give them to another table, and when we complained about the totally unseasoned schizza (literally, I swear, the first time in my LIFE I have ever complained to a waiter about a dish--normally I just chalk it up to experience, but this was AWFUL), told us, "The chef doesn't really believe in using salt" and walked away (funny, when nothing else seemed to be undersalted--a bit to the contrary, in fact).

Mostly I am just amused by how comically absurd the whole place was. All this being said, I could still see myself wandering in by myself one weeknight just for a bowl of gnocchi... it is around the corner from me, after all. Anyone else been? Maybe my experience was unusual--certainly my waiter seemed to be uniquely incompetent.

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  1. I've been meaning to post about this place. I haven't eaten there yet but I've walked by it a number of times and have wondered about it. Sounds promising...always nice to have a decent neighborhood spot and the Childe Harold was a great location. Hopefully they fix the service issues.

    Here's an write-up from The Daily Candy:

    When it comes to local restaurants, it seems that they’re either too stark or all chintz. It’s rare to find a spot that’s just darling.

    Or, more precisely, Darlington.

    Dupont’s new Darlington House brings three dining concepts to a former house (don’t miss the Victorian molding and lighting). Chef Alexander Schulte relocated from The Modern in New York to cook seasonal, primarily sustainable dishes. The menu includes house-made pastas (try the fettuccine with calamari), peppery line-caught salmon with sweet and sour vegetables, and flourless chocolate cake with coconib crunch.

    Downstairs is a casual cantina, but don’t let the flat-screen TVs (or wooden deer heads) fool you; the flatbread pizzas, charcuterie plate, and rib eye with shallot compote are a far cry from wings and nachos. The third floor library will soon offer Wi-Fi, cappuccinos, and breakfast pastries for lounging.

    It’s enough to make the House a home.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      I don't always trust everything Daily Candy says. Often they review places before places open and have no idea about the food.

      However, I would like to check it out at some point.

      1. re: Jacey

        I don't always trust what Daily Candy is saying either in terms of restaurants. But one thing is for sure---they usually talk about places with a buzz (or are about to have a buzz) , so that's what I pay attention to.

    2. Had a very similar experience last Friday. That schizza was in desperate need of seasoning. Or, at least, a more flavorful sausage. But we had one other schizza -- with prosciutto and mushrooms and gorgonzola -- and that was very good. Still, our waiter (sounds like the same guy) was beyond lost. He clearly hadn't been trained. At all. We would have stayed longer if not for him. Weird, because when I stopped in for a drink just a couple days after they opened, the bartenders were really friendly and very good at their jobs. Hopefully the waitstaff will catch up.

      1. Any new updates? I was thinking about trying it out this week or next.

        1. Going with a bunch of people on Friday - has anyone been back with new reports?

          2 Replies
          1. re: anunez

            Anyone gone since these last reports in May?

            1. re: KWynn

              If anyone is interested, Sietsema has reviewed Darlington House: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

          2. I went to Darlington House opening weekend, and it was delicious. Although I can't remember specifics (sorry, bad foodie, and the menu changes) I could not complain about any of my food. That is a first. It was worth the price. Service was great, perhaps because it was the opening weekend. However, my girlfriend went a few weeks ago and she enjoyed her DH experience as well! I think the decor of the main level is appropriate and cute.
            I have not been to the basement or the upper floor (is it open? the cafe?) but as for the main floor, I highly recommend.

            1. Can anyone tell me about the bar area? Is it as big as it was at Childe Harolde? And is it in the lower level or main floor?

              2 Replies
              1. re: katecm

                The bar area is in the basement - its the same floor space as Childe Harolde, actually amost exactly the same look, dark etc but with nicer TVs over the bar. The difference you will find is with the menu. I ended up going for my birthday in July and they were really great about reserving a big section for me and tending to my friends (would definitely recommend them for throwing parties). The food was pretty good as well, had a tuna sandwich i think and other people in my crowd were pleased with their selections but it was a little pricey given the atmosphere. Would definitely go back however since its hard to find a bar downtown with decent food.

                1. re: anunez

                  But there's also a nice bar upstairs, that's the only part of it I've been to. I don't remember what I drank (and ate nothing), but it was pleasant.

              2. I dined for the second time at Darlington House on Saturday night. I had enjoyed it the first visit, which happened to be restaurant week, but was disappointed this visit. We arrived at 8:30 pm and the restaurant was about one-third full. Nevertheless, we were told that several items on the menu -- which was hardly extensive to begin with -- had already been sold out. My friend asked if the chicken was very oily and the waiter responded that it wasn't -- only for the chicken to arrive quite oily indeed. I also found it disappointing that the waiters rushed to clear each individual's plate from the table without regard to the fact that others were still eating. But the waiters never came over to inquire about our food, and there was no manager in sight. For the neighborhood and food quality, I found the restaurant to be overpriced, with most entrees approaching $30. I love the space and want the restaurant to succeed, but given the entree prices and service, I don't expect to return.

                1. Last night I finally checked out the menu at Darlington House (this summer I had some great mojitos there with friends and sampled the calamari but that's it).

                  Maybe it was the weather or the fact that I'm starting a low-carb diet soon (shoot me now...I'm participating in solidarity! haha) but I really enjoyed this place. It was dark and rainy outside but the feeling inside Darlington House (at least the dining room) is very cozy. It feels like you are dining inside someone's dining room with the wallpaper and chandeliers etc.

                  I ordered a lightly dressed green salad which was a nice, light starter. I then had the home-made gnocchi with wild mushrooms and asparagus. It also had a light olive oil and slightly crushed tomato sauce. Fresh black pepper and parmesan cheese were offered up on the side which was a nice touch. Overall it was very enjoyable. The gnocchi was light and fluffy and the veggies added a nice, early crunch.

                  It wasn't anything spectacular but it's a great neighborhood find---it reminded me of the old Mark and Orlandos in a way. My friend said the bread was delicious (I didn't sample...trying to be good).

                  I will certainly return. I really respect also what they are trying to do in terms of sustainability and being an eco-friendly restaurant. Even the wine list includes bottles that are "environmentally friendly."

                  I'm curious if anyone has tried their brunch? I'm meeting a friend in Dupont for brunch this weekend and am always open to new places.