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Summer '09 Restaurant Week - plans and reviews

Thought it would be interesting so see what peoples plans, thoughts and information are for this season. So far, I have a made a lunch reservation at Rasika.

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  1. I made quite a few lunch reservations with the intention to keep at least two. I figure it's the best way to try as many places as possible on my student budget :-)

    I have PS 7's, Vidalia, Vermilion, and Zola.

    5 Replies
    1. re: emmaleeb

      > I made quite a few lunch reservations with the intention to keep at least two.

      Doesn't sound very considerate to your fellow diners.

      1. re: Hal Laurent

        Thank you for your judgment. I will most likely go to all of them. I don't think that canceling a reservation 2 weeks in advance is being rude. In fact it's probably fairly normal for RW.

      2. re: emmaleeb

        I cannot find any of the restaurants you named on the list?
        Am I only getting a partial list here? I'm looking on www.baltimorerestaurantweek.com
        What am I missing?

        1. re: jerseygirldawn

          this topic is about DC's restaurant week

      3. I am going to Hook, Vermilion, and Volt! (Volt just got on the list I believe as they were not on the list when it first announced.)

        3 Replies
        1. re: xoxoamy

          AAARGH! That's a nice list, and I'm SO disappointed that VOLT joined late. That's really disappointing for me. We went there for Winter RW and it was AMAZING. The menu for Summer RW looks fantastic and when RW was announced they were the first spot I looked for, but no luck. So we settled, and I'm completely bummed.
          Enjoy your evening at VOLT - and if they are offering the course-by-course wine pairing, we highly recommend it.

          1. re: xoxoamy

            I'm also going to Volt and am totallly psyched about it. I reserved for Sunday the 30th. I think we will actually have the choice of a couple of menus --RW special and brunch menu as well. So looking forward to it.

            Would also be interested in hearing about your experience at Vermillion. I've heard it's very good. Enjoy!

            1. re: xoxoamy

              Volt for dinner on Tuesday for me. Glad to hear they did a good job in the winter, Sabine.

            2. Lunch at Equinox and hopefully a dinner at PS7 if we can get our ducks in a row. Looking forward to Equinox!

                1. re: littlew1ng

                  You'll love Prime Rib! It's such a great deal for RW. When I went I got the ceasar salad, prime rib (not a cut I usually enjoy but this is incredible....juicy and delicious) and the key lime pie (so far my favorite in the city). In addition they let you choose 1 or 2 sides.

                  I did a late lunch with my bf and the dining room was pretty empty. The waiter was excited that it was my first time dining there (my bf has been quite often) and gave us extra sides. He also thrilled us with some fun stories from past customers. Overall a nice experience.

                  1. re: maoj

                    Bastille is excellent. Have a great time, and let us know how you like Vermillion.

                  2. OK so I cannot any of the restaurants named on this thread on the list of restaurants participating in RW except The Prime Rib!!! lol.
                    Can you please provide a link to this extended list you all seem to have.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jerseygirldawn

                      http://washington.org/restaurantwk/ has a list of all participating restaurants. There are some who extended their RWs too.

                    2. Avoid participating restaurants like the plague....some restaurants shouldn't cost more than $35 to start with, others are cutting corners to offer $35 dinners which aren't really representative of their usual food, even more have limited menus, and those that offer full menu at great discounts are packed with budget diners that kill the ambiance....

                      I went to PS7 once during restaurant week, they weren't offering their normal menu so I had to eat off the $35 menu. So screw it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Ericandblueboy

                        I don't think it is fair to make a blanket condemnation of all because of one experience. I think there are quite a few restaurant that do offer their full menu or nearly their full menu. Do you own research.

                        1. re: deangold

                          I've had more than 1 experience but I only recounted the most recent. One of my fonder experiences was at Colvin Run Tavern for lunch, 3 courses of the full menu for $20. But the bad far outweigh the good so maybe I'll go to Dino and get shitfaced at the bar. ;)

                      2. I just made reservations for Rasika, Black Salt, The Oval Room, Taberna del Abardero, Charlie Palmer Steak, and Tosca, I made Tosca and the Oval room on the same day. Which one should I choose? Cant wait for this!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Jeremy303

                          Both Tosca and Oval Room have done RW very well, although I have two criticisms: I noticed service was more rushed and mechanical at Tosca on our last RW experience. And, as you'll see below, I'm not tremendously impressed by the entree choices for The Oval Room this go-round.

                          Tosca gives diners the run of the menu, albeit with a couple of items commanding an upcharge. (FWIW, I've never had a need to order any of the upcharge items.) The Oval Room creates a special menu with three choices for the appetizer and entree courses and two choices for the dessert course. The Oval Room menu is posted on the web site. Head to The Oval Room's web site and follow the links to "Menu" and, then, to "Summer 2009"

                          Looking at The Oval Room's menu, I'm frankly confused by their entree offerings. What is crispy gnocchi? Fried gnocchi? The whole challenge of gnocchi is to make it ethereally light. Why achieve this goal and, then, weigh down the result with frying? And why offer an entree salad only for diners who prefer fish? Bewildering.

                          1. re: Indy 67

                            Thanks for your advice, Given that Tosca offers a pre-theater menu for $35 per person everyday till 7pm I think I will stick with The Oval Room. I am also confused by crispy gnoochi? You're 100% correct in that the challenge of gnoochi is to make it as light as possible. Gnoochi is my favorite type of Pasta and I am always in search of light and delicious gnoochi.

                            1. re: Jeremy303

                              Jeremy, I'm a gnocchi lover too. I make it myself on occasion and 8 times out of 10, I get fluffy pillows...speaking of which, Chef Luigi at Al Tiramisu in Dupont Circle makes excellent gnocchi.

                              As for Tosca and the Oval Room, I've never been to the Oval Room, but have dined at Tosca several times. The food is great, but as others have said, the service can be mechanical and the atmosphere a bit stuffy, IMHO. Will be interested to see what you think of the Oval room. Enjjoy!

                          2. re: Jeremy303

                            Ha! I like your full list. Very nice.

                            I have not been to Tosca or the Oval Room for RW, but Tosca offers a pre-theatre menu every day for $35 (and until 7, which is fairly late-ish for pre-theatre). I don't know what the RW menu is, but if it's similar to the pre-theatre dinner, maybe you should try the Oval Room and hit up Tosca any other night! (When it's probably less crowded, too!)

                            1. re: emmaleeb

                              Thanks for the advice, as I posted up above I think I will stick with the Oval Room, I have not eaten at any of the restaurants I picked, I hope they are all wonderful.

                            2. re: Jeremy303

                              Are you kidding me? You made SIX reservations with the intent of keeping ONE? Please see my Fairly Normal = Fairly Rude post above.

                              1. re: Pappy

                                It looks as if he made six reservations, with the intent of choosing ONE over another, for a total of five.

                                1. re: Pappy

                                  I made six reservations with the intent of keeping FIve.

                              2. I have reservations at Art and Soul and Vidalia. Looks like it will be a Southern themed RW :)

                                I also have a reservation at Sei. Waiting to see their menu to see if I'll cancel it. (Don't worry...I cancel well in advance. At least 2 weeks out to avoid being rude.)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Elyssa

                                  I have been wanting to try Art and Soul, but I wish their RW menu was more descriptive!

                                  And yes, I agree that cancellations made at least 2 weeks in advance escape being "rude". It's not as if these are reservations to Minibar and as more and more RW menus are posted, more people will be trying to get reservations AS WELL AS cancelling.

                                  1. re: emmaleeb

                                    yeah, its a very dynamic thing, RW is.
                                    restaurants are getting added, edited, or subtracted every day, and availability changes as well. i understand the controversy over the reservations though. If a time isn't available for me to dine, I won't choose the place, and I'm not going to keep checking back to see if it "freed up".

                                    My advice: think before you make the reservation. It'll take you like 30-2 hrs tops to map out where you want to go which days and with whom. I understand about having to get feedback about fellow diners, but they should know what RW entails and should respond quickly. In the time it takes for you to get the IM, e-mail, call, or text from them, the reservation will still be open. I would never make conflicting reservations knowing I wasn't going to keep one of them, but that's just me.

                                    I have made a reservation, continued shopping for locations, made the reservation and then immediately canceled the other one (over the phone). but this isn't ho-humming for a few days for no reason!

                                  2. re: Elyssa

                                    D'oh, I'm dumb. They just brought over the "titles" of the dishes from the regular menu. I'm assuming the accompaniments remain the same.


                                  3. anyone know if any participating restaurants are providing their restaurant week offerings this week?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: mindycc

                                      I'm pretty sure PS7 is offering a special pre-restaurant week menu. I think the price is similar to the RW price.

                                      Also Mio will be doing a different Restaurant Week menu for the entire month of August (I think I have the details on that one right).

                                      1. re: mindycc

                                        Dino has a summer special that is comprable to RW I believe... there was something on Don Rockwell, but I can't remember anyone know?

                                        1. re: ktmoomau

                                          from's Dino's website:

                                          Now thru September 13

                                          Restaurant Week

                                          While the RAMW may think that August 24 - August 30 is enough restaurant week, Dino does not! Thru September 13, choose 3 courses from our ENTIRE menu for $35.09. This includes complementary crostini to start and a free glass of house infused grappa, or moscato to end your meal.

                                          We will sweeten our Restaurant Week offering even more: Wine Madness 7 days a week until September 13!!! All wines over $50 33% off!

                                          The dreaded legalese: Some menu items may carry an up charge.

                                          It looks like the also have an early-bird three-course deal for $25 if you order before 7pm, but only Sunday-Thursday and NOT during RW or the week after.

                                          1. re: emmaleeb

                                            I would like some help.
                                            I live 45 minutes from DC. I will be coming there to try some of the higher end restaurants during RW. I just want to make sure I'm choosing the correct places.
                                            For instance restaurants like Ruths Chris, Flemings and Sullivans have prix-fixed 3 course menues for $30-$35pp. So there is no deal there. I am also not familiar with most of the restaurants and I hear paying $35pp is actually MORE than I would normally pay for some of them.
                                            Can you please help me pick 2?
                                            I like all types of food. I dont care about ambiance. My main thing is taste and deal. I would prefer choices from places that I normally pay alot more to dine at.
                                            Please give me your picks so I can try and get some reservations. Thanks in advance :)

                                            1. re: jerseygirldawn

                                              I would check out 1789, Prime Rib, PS7, Zola, Tosca and Acadiana. These places tend to do Restaurant Week well and offer a large portion of there menu (in some cases) and tend to be pricey.

                                        2. re: mindycc

                                          Mio and Il Mulino on the 1100 block of Vermont are both offering specials all month. I went to Mio the other day for lunch since it's right next to where I work, and it was delicious, but I think they might scale down the portion sizes for the Restaurant Week specials. But, it's still plenty of food.

                                        3. Any recommendations on what to order at Rasika?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: cybera97

                                            I don't know what is on their RW menu, but if it includes the palak chaat (the crunchy spinach) you must, must, must get it. It was incredible! My bf even ordered a 2nd dish of it, it was so good! :)

                                            We also liked the Mango Shrimp and the Tandori Salmon.

                                            1. re: Elyssa

                                              Thank you Elyssa; it looks like palak chaat is on the RW menu!

                                              I also made reservations at Seacatch, Bombay Club and Hook. If anyone has recommendations as to what to order at these restaurants, that would be great.

                                          2. The Washigntonian just posted a pretty comprehensive list of RW menus: http://www.washingtonian.com/print/ar...

                                            1. ok, I could have sworn that Equinox was on the list, and now I don't see it - I have reservations with former coworkers there for the Friday, and it's gone from the list...

                                              anyone know?

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: Jeserf

                                                I am not sure, but I know they just sent out a deal about a four course dinner it might include a cocktail, but I can't remember... I think it was from Cityshopgirl.

                                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                                  yeah, we have a lunch reservation....I totaly saw it on the list...I can change places, but I REALLY though

                                                  Also - coco sala's menu looks good - but are the portions at lunch insanely small? anyone know?

                                                  1. re: Jeserf

                                                    I thought I saw Equinox on the list as well. But just make a quick call over to double check.

                                                    I just got an email with CoCo Sala's menu and thought it looked good as well. If their portions are the same for lunch as dinner then it was totally fine when I went. You think going in that it might not be enough good but everything ends up being filling---especially because you want to leave room for dessert.

                                                    1. re: Elyssa

                                                      hm, I'll try giving them a call - but I'm glad I"m not the only one!
                                                      I DID see 'em on the list!

                                                      Do you have any other recommendations in that general neighborhood? I'm going to PS7 for dinner, so I'd rather avoid that for lunch.

                                                      1. re: Jeserf

                                                        How about Bombay Club? That should be good for a vegetarian and it's right across the street from Equinox. They usually participate in RW (although I don't know about lunch).

                                                        At 17th and L is Spezie. I've never been but I hear really good things from friends and a co-worker who loves it there. It's Italian, so that is usually good for a veggie dish.

                                                        Or you can try Siroc (again never been but it's on my short list). A good foodie friend goes all the time for lunch and really likes it there. It's located at 15th between K and Eye. They seem to have a number of vegetarian items (even more if you ask them to leave off the bacon, shrimp etc.)

                                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                                          I think we're picking between Coco Sala, Cieba and TenPhen....but, have to call Equinox first.

                                                            1. re: Jeserf

                                                              I've never been to CoCo Sala for Restaurant Week, but in all honesty I don't think you can go wrong with any of those. Ciebe and TenPhen do Restaurant Week really well.

                                                              1. re: Elyssa

                                                                I just went to Coco Sala for the 1st time and adored it. Scrumptious food and fun atmosphere.

                                                                1. re: chicken kabob

                                                                  great! We made reservations there!
                                                                  They were all booked on open table, so I called - and he was very nice and accomodating!

                                                                  1. re: Jeserf

                                                                    I am sure everything is great- and of course, being Restaurant Week, the menu may differ- However, I loved the chopped arugula salad w/ dates, manchego cheese, carmelized nuts, oranges- the mac & cheese w/ choc bacon! and the THREE course "Childhood Favorites" dessert!! Enjoy and please report back...

                                                  2. re: Jeserf

                                                    I have never seen Equinox on any lists and thought that maybe I was missing something... they're also not on Opentable's list. But I've heard alot of people say that they have resvs., so I have no idea what's up.

                                                    I've never been to Co.Co Sala but I am interested to try it out. I have heard sort of lackluster things about the dishes though, and have heard they tend to be quite small. But it seems that they are offering quite a spread, though with the amuses and the tapas-esque selections and the dessert and elixer so I'm sure it would be enough!

                                                    1. re: emmaleeb

                                                      The day I looked at the list, I could have bet that I saw 'em!
                                                      But, alas, it does not look that way and I need to replace my reservation!

                                                      My old coworkers are at 12th and K, so it need to be replaced with somewhere near that with at least one vegetarian option.

                                                      Anyone have a recommendation?

                                                  3. after reading all of this i am now hungry!! i just want to know one thing: How does everyone manage to eat out so many meals in a week span and not get fat?? Even though $ is not an issue for us in going out, i am terrified to out more than about once a week, even during RW, for fear of not fitting into my clothes. Any tips? Do you all just eat a portion of each course and either leave it or take a doggy bag??? I want to eat!!!!

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: DCDOLL

                                                      Share meals?
                                                      or, just don't worry about it an enjoy yourself?

                                                      you only live once.

                                                      1. re: Jeserf

                                                        "you only live once" ... this is my favorite mindset. :-)

                                                        eat light the rest of the week, have a healthy snack on a day when you're going out instead of making another meal, and double-up on your exercise routine the week after :-)

                                                        1. re: emmaleeb

                                                          if it's that much of a concern, don't partake in restaurant week.
                                                          That's probably the best advice among the other sensible living tips offered.

                                                          You'll never 'get fat' off one one or two meals, but like I said, if you're worried - don't go. you won't be missing that much.

                                                      2. re: DCDOLL

                                                        During Restaurant Week I pretty much go the "just don't think/care about it" route. haha It's Gluttony Week and I'll deal with it later.

                                                        That being said I usually only go out twice. Though it is significantly cheaper it still isn't so cheap (with wine, tax, and tip) that I can go out every night. I also don't do RW lunch and dinner in the same day....that's too much food for me. I usually also try not to do back to back dinner but this year because of scheduling I'm going to Vidalia Tuesday night and Art and Soul Wednesday night. That's going to be a lot of good Southern eating back to back. We'll see how I feel come Thursday :)

                                                        Also depending what I order in years past I've taken a dobby bag home...especially if I was eating steak or something and they were giving a generous portion. You can always ask that your dessert get wrapped up to go.

                                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                                          I think most people would feel it both with tight pants and a shrunken bank account to go every night. $35 without tax, tip, or a drink isn't cheap.

                                                          1. re: Jeserf

                                                            True but we budgeted for it - financially anyway so we could sample some of the restaurants and decide which ones we wanted to return to after RW was done. It's been a fun experiece for the most part - Vidalia was seriously disappointing.

                                                        2. re: DCDOLL

                                                          I don't gain weight that easily - maybe it's because I'm still pretty young (23) so my metabolism hasn't slowed down as much. I think most people can eat pretty much whatever they want if they are active enough.

                                                          I usually eat everything at a meal and if I can't finish it, I take it home and save it for lunch the next day.

                                                          1. re: DCDOLL

                                                            Limit your bread, carbs, deserts and it should not be a problem.

                                                            1. re: DCDOLL

                                                              I usually eat my appetizer, eat a bit of my main course, have it wrapped up and eat as much of the sweets as I care to (no sweet tooth to speak of here). I'm never stuffed to the gills and I have awesome leftovers.

                                                            2. Anyone know what's up with PS 7's menu? Are they offering the whole thing? I know in the past they have offered a scaled back, but still extensive selection of dishes. I haven't seen anything about this summer, though, and I have reservations in a week and I am curious! I have an obsessive-compulsive-online-menu-reading problem and PS 7's isn't helping me out in the least!

                                                              13 Replies
                                                              1. re: emmaleeb

                                                                HA I've been doing the same thing :)

                                                                1. re: emmaleeb

                                                                  If it's not on their website send them an email. I've done this in the past during RW and they usually respond pretty quickly.

                                                                  1. re: emmaleeb

                                                                    Just got emailed the PS7 menu. I'm guessing you want dinner but if you want lunch, let me know and I'll cut and paste for you. I'm sure it will be on their website as well soon. Also it was announced that they are extending RW until Sept 5th.

                                                                    choose one

                                                                    Sarah’s Salad (V)
                                                                    Mixed field greens, fresh strawberries, toasted sunflower seeds, rosemary-black pepper crouton,
                                                                    mascarpone, lemon dressing

                                                                    Warm Spinach Salad
                                                                    Mustard-thyme dressing, red onion rings, bacon, wild mushrooms, feta

                                                                    Tomato and Saffron-Steamed P.E.I. Mussels
                                                                    Sweet peppers, parsley, toasted croute

                                                                    Market Chopped Salad (V)
                                                                    Romaine, queso blanco, market vegetables, champagne vinaigrette

                                                                    Roasted Onion Soup
                                                                    Roasted onions, gruyere, rye croute

                                                                    Caprese Flatbread (V)
                                                                    Basil pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella

                                                                    choose one

                                                                    Cornmeal Fried Trout
                                                                    Tomato gazpacho, roasted onions, Bibb lettuce, bacon

                                                                    Sautéed Atlantic Salmon
                                                                    Summer squash ragout, red wine orange vinaigrette

                                                                    Tuna au Poivre
                                                                    Crisp potato, roasted onion, tomato, asparagus gremolata

                                                                    Wild Mushroom Risotto (V)
                                                                    Shaved Reggiano, roasted wild mushrooms

                                                                    Beef Tenderloin au Poivre
                                                                    Potato puree, mushrooms, “Liquid Gold”

                                                                    Ballotine of Chicken
                                                                    Rosemary mousse-stuffed breast, dark meat croquette, wild mushrooms

                                                                    Stuffed Pork Loin
                                                                    leeks, spinach, bacon, parmesan, thyme pan jus

                                                                    choose one

                                                                    Blueberry Brown Betty
                                                                    Buttermilk ice cream

                                                                    Strawberry Tasting
                                                                    Strawberry sorbet, lemon pound cake, marscapone cream

                                                                    Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
                                                                    Peanut Caramel, chocolate sauce, whipped cream

                                                                    Red Velvet Cake
                                                                    Vanilla icing, raspberry sauce, cocoa reduction

                                                                    1. re: Elyssa

                                                                      wheeee red velvet cake! Can't wait to go with my ladies!

                                                                      ETA: It is definitely a better deal for meat/fish eaters. I wish there were one other option - risotto in the summer is pretty heavy...and again - the mushroom thing. It's summer, summer squash risotto would make a bit more sense.

                                                                      1. re: Elyssa

                                                                        Oooh thank you! I'm less-than-wowed by the selection of apps, but the rest sounds good. Anyone that will serve me pork two ways in one dish is a-okay in my book.

                                                                        1. re: emmaleeb

                                                                          The aps look right off the menu - if you eat mussels, they're probably good (and a good value)

                                                                          PS: every dish has a lot of mushrooms...anyone else think that in the height of summer, there'd be something else?

                                                                          1. re: Jeserf

                                                                            You're right Jeserf. I guess that I am just less-than-wowed by their apps in general. Can't speak though, I've never been.

                                                                            And yes, that surprised me, too.

                                                                            1. re: emmaleeb

                                                                              Asparagus and strawberries are not in season locally either.
                                                                              I've sent it to my girlfriends to see if they're still interested in the place for dinner...the desserts sound wonderful but a $35 dessert?

                                                                              1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                I acutally have lunch which could be more "worth it" depending on the selections ...

                                                                                Elyssa - Could you please post lunch if you have time? I would appreciate it immensely! Thanks for emailing them. :-)

                                                                                1. re: emmaleeb

                                                                                  Nevermind, they're up online now.

                                                                                  Has anyone had their short ribs? (PS 7's that is)

                                                                                  1. re: emmaleeb

                                                                                    The shortribs at PS7 are delicious. Probably one of my favorite items on the menu there.

                                                                                  2. re: emmaleeb

                                                                                    Here's the lunch menu:

                                                                                    Sarah’s Salad (V)
                                                                                    Mixed field greens, fresh strawberries, toasted sunflower seeds, rosemary-black pepper crouton,
                                                                                    mascarpone, lemon dressing

                                                                                    Tomato and Saffron-Steamed P.E.I. Mussels
                                                                                    Sweet peppers, parsley, toasted croute

                                                                                    Market Chopped Salad (V)
                                                                                    Romaine, queso blanco, market vegetables, champagne vinaigrette

                                                                                    Roasted Onion Soup
                                                                                    Roasted onions, gruyere, rye croute

                                                                                    Caprese Flatbread (V)
                                                                                    Basil pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella

                                                                                    choose one

                                                                                    “Hot Brown”
                                                                                    Pan-seared turkey breast, rustic bread, mornay sauce, seared tomato, bacon

                                                                                    Pete’s Deli Reuben (The No. 7)
                                                                                    Open-faced, pastrami, house-made rye bread, Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut, Gruyere

                                                                                    The PS7’s Burger
                                                                                    Served on a house-made brioche bun with L.T.O. and pickle
                                                                                    Additions bacon ($1.00) Gruyere, Gouda, Blue Cheese (.50)

                                                                                    Roasted Chicken Salad
                                                                                    Toasted almonds, grilled scallions, fennel, apples and basil cider vinaigrette

                                                                                    Steak Salad Au Poivre
                                                                                    Romaine lettuce, portobello mushroom, blue cheese, roasted peppers and onions, creamy balsamic dressing

                                                                                    Cornmeal Fried Trout
                                                                                    Tomato gazpacho, roasted onions, Bibb lettuce, bacon

                                                                                    Sautéed Atlantic Salmon
                                                                                    Summer squash ragout, red wine orange vinaigrette

                                                                                    Wild Mushroom Risotto (V)
                                                                                    Shaved Reggiano and roasted mushrooms

                                                                                    Boneless Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast
                                                                                    With red bliss potato salad and watermelon

                                                                                    Braised Beef Short Ribs
                                                                                    Red wine braising jus, potato puree and wild mushrooms

                                                                                    choose one

                                                                                    Blueberry Brown Betty
                                                                                    Buttermilk ice cream

                                                                                    Strawberry Tasting
                                                                                    Strawberry sorbet, lemon pound cake, marscapone cream

                                                                                    Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
                                                                                    Peanut Caramel, chocolate sauce, whipped cream

                                                                                    Red Velvet Cake
                                                                                    Vanilla icing, raspberry sauce, cocoa reduction

                                                                        2. re: emmaleeb

                                                                          Had RW dinner at PS 7's last night. Went with my husband and a couple of friends. It was our first time dining there, and thought the food was excellent!

                                                                          To start, I had the mussels and my husband had Sarah's Salad. The mussels were fantastic, tho they don't give you enough bread to sop up all the great flavors of the liquid left over (nothing the half-shell of one of the mussels couldn't fix). The salad was also nice. Turns out the dressing is creamy...seemed like a lemon aioli to me; so if you don't like creamy salad dressing, maybe not the best choice (and certainly not as good a value as the mussels).

                                                                          For our main course, we chose the tuna and the tenderloin. Both were nice, but the clear winner was the tuna au poivre. We were a little unsure about ordering the tuna, as we had just returned from a beach holiday where we ate a ton of fresh-off-the-boat tuna. Boy are we glad we did order it, however. The kitchen cooked it to a perfect medium-rare, and tho I don't quite recall everything else on the dish, it all worked well together. I was a bit confused about how the onion, tomato, and asparagus were going to turn into a "gremolata" -- at least the type of gremolata I've seen in the past. Lets just say that the ingredients were served chunky on top of the tuna, and the term gremolata was used...loosely (IMHO). The tenderloin was different enough for me to enjoy when my husband and I swtiched plates, and the beef was tender, but it was certainly not prepared med-rare as requested. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable and quite filling! The crispy potato stick-like things on top added an interesting dimension to it all as well.

                                                                          For dessert, we got the chocolate peanut butter bar and the strawberry tasting. The strawberry tasting was very nice, with just the right lightness I needed (even still, I didn't finish it). The chocolate peanut butter bars (there were two strips) were delicious, if you like that sort of thing, and actually lighter than they appeared (they looked incredibly dense). One of our friends got the red velvet cake which turned out to be a very pretty cupcake, and also lighter than expected.

                                                                          We all left very full, and definitely enjoyed our food and evening. Start to finish with a half-full dining room, dinner took about 2 hours. The service was ok (but not notably excellent), and our waiter was friendly. This is a place where my husband and I differed: I thought the service was tolerable...nothing too bad, nothing too great. My husband thought that the service should have been better, and would have rated it a 3 out of 10, given the kind of service one typically expects at a restaurant of that caliber. Upon reflection, we did have to ask for more bread after some time, and one of our friends was consistently without water (not so great), despite the number of waitstaff looking for things to do. Maybe I was just overfocusing on the great night out we were having! Not such a bad thing to do, I'd say.

                                                                          All in all, we'd both recommend the place, and very much enjoyed their RW offerings. Hope this helps, for those of you planning or considering a visit!

                                                                        3. I've never been to DC but I'll be going for the first time during RW! I'll be doing lunch at Rasika and dinners at Coco Sala and Cafe Atlantico.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: jamtart

                                                                            I have a reservation at 701. I haven't read anything on these boards about them and restaurant week. I believe they have a new chef. Thoughts?

                                                                          2. For anyone interested I heard Charlie Palmers Steakhouse has a rooftop terrace (No tables up there) with an amazing view of the Capitol. If you call them and say its a special occassion they will have your waiter take up there. I called yesterday and told them that and they have set up these arrangements for when I am there next week for RW. This is going to be a great surprise for my GF.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Jeremy303

                                                                              I went to Siroc last night with five friends. Everyone really enjoyed the food. I had the scallop app which was full of flavor and cooked well. Then the gnocchi w/bolognese which was surprisingly light. Finished the meal with the almond cake which was a little dry but the sauce balanced that out. I also got a chance to try the lobster main dish which was good but very rich.

                                                                              The service on the other hand was lacking. I know it is to be expected somewhat during RW but I have been to several other restaurants that it hasn't been an issue at all with. The other complaint was that it was really loud since the restaurant is so small and fully booked.

                                                                              I would definitely go again but still prefer Tosca more.

                                                                              1. re: italy531

                                                                                I'm sorry to hear the service wasn't up to par. Personally I don't think people should expect to have sub par service just because it's Restaurant Week. If servers are going to cock an attitude with me during RW then that's their prerogative but a) they won't be getting the nice tip I was planning on giving them and b) if it's my first time at the restaurant there is a good chance I won't be returning.

                                                                                I use Restaurant Week to try out places I can't usually afford on a regular basis to see if I would like to return for a nice dinner or special occasion. Pissy service during RW usually factors in to that decision.

                                                                                1. re: italy531

                                                                                  I was just coming to post about my dinner at Siroc last night as well. We sat outside since it had cooled down enough to want to be outside. Our waiter was friendly and more importantly knowledgeable about both the menu and wine list. Two of our party were deciding between two entrees and he gave his opinion on the 4 different options and informed one of them that while the lobster is on the regular menu, the gnocchi was a restaurant week special. Anyway back to the food, we tried 3 of the appetizers (the highlight being the housemade pork sausage) and 4 different entrees. I had the lobster w/roasted corn which were light and just right for a cool summer night, my gf had the free range veal cheeks which were tender and cooked perfectly. the other dishes were duck breast w/a tarte which was filled with tallegio and turnips (this was wonderful) and the gnocchi which were light but the sauce was just ok. desserts which i normally skip made me glad i did not skip them. i had the almond cake and mine was far from dry, moist cake and the blueberries and zabaglione sauce added to the whole rather than overwheleming it. overall i think restaurant week should make you want to tell other people about your experience and return again, Siroc delivered on both.

                                                                                  1. re: italy531

                                                                                    Why should service be lacking during restaurant week?

                                                                                    1. re: Jacey

                                                                                      i would agree that service should never be lacking but having been to RW and seeing what people do and expect during RW, i can see how servers start to lose their cool. 2 fun examples, i watched a diner eating at a high end french restaurant ask question after question about a salmon dish, order it and then asked for a bottle of ketchup which she poured all over the salmon, it was cringe worthy. my other favorite was watching a diner stare at a cinnamon stick, take a bite, his teeth bounced off of it and he took his knife and flicked it into the center of the floor as if it was to blame for him biting it. again service during RW should remain high but go easy on your servers this week.

                                                                                      1. re: Jacey

                                                                                        I think there's a distinction between disdainfully bad service during RW ("Oh. You're just hear for RW, how cheap") and slammed service (wherein the restaurant is just crowded due to RW deals). In the first case, that is definitely a no-go for me and I won't return. In the second, I'll treat it like I do any other time a restaurant is slammed- if the service is rushed, a bit confused but still within professional bounds I'll give them a pass. Just think there's a big difference between the two and I'd be curious to hear what type italy531 experienced.

                                                                                        1. re: mjhals

                                                                                          It was definitely the "we are slammed" variety of poor service otherwise I would not consider returning. Our waitress was definitely knowledgeable about the food but we just had overly long waits between courses.

                                                                                      2. re: italy531

                                                                                        Unfortunately, I don't think you encountered any special Restaurant Week problem. I ate lunch at Siroc several weeks ago with a friend and I have to think our waitress had never done this work before - AND was poorly trained by the restaurant.

                                                                                        First, my friend had to ask for a knife - and before I could, too, she'd walked off. So I had to ask her to go back for a 2nd.

                                                                                        Then, my friend asked for extra parma - and she offered one teaspoonful - never asked me if i wanted any, too - and walked off. So I had to ask her to go back for it a 2nd time. And my friend then had to ask for a 2nd tsp.

                                                                                        At bill time, my friend had to leave suddenly - but she never asked or offered to go ahead and bring my bill, too - so it was a 2nd trip for that, too! She wasn't a young kid - just clueless.

                                                                                    2. Anyone have a list of places extending RW (esp lunch)?

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. Volt did a great job; a surprisingly large segment of their menu was represented, the service was good, the pacing was good and the food was good.

                                                                                        1. Sea Catch Restaurant is offering a 50% discount on bottles of wine! Had a great meal there; the grilled salmon and Idaho rainbow trout stuffed with spinach and jumbo lump crab meat was great. Had a nice view of the canal.

                                                                                          1. My husband and I are doing 6 restaurants in 5 days. Here's what we thought of our first dining experience at the Oval Room.

                                                                                            Day 1: Oval Room (www.ovalroom.com
                                                                                            )Overall Rating: RRR (out of 5)

                                                                                            Ranked 9 in the top 100 restaurants in Washington, Parry and I expected a culinary journey and we weren’t wrong. Too bad the trek was filled with exciting menu concepts that for the most part fell flat on the plate.

                                                                                            Chef Tony Conte is imaginative offering up plates like Parry’s appetizer of seared scallops in a coffee mustard dressing. The scallops while overly salted were cooked to perfection and the coffee mustard dressing was surprisingly delicious. My duck confit with grilled peaches, and frisee pleased the pallet but didn’t ignite any fireworks.

                                                                                            Parry opted for a main course of Wagyu skirt steak with roasted Chinese eggplant, miso and fried potatoes while I selected the organic chicken breast with roasted zucchini puree, savory granola, coddled egg, and squash blossom. The skirt steak was sinewy and tough and Parry felt the Wagyu sauce overpowered every other flavor on the plate.

                                                                                            My main course fared slightly better. The organic chicken was cooked sous vide so it was tender and moist and the roasted zucchini puree was a smokey delight. The coddled egg provided a rich contrast to the plain chicken and the savory granola, while too sparse, was scrumptious.

                                                                                            Dessert proved to be the biggest let-down. Parry’s choice of chocolate custard, pistachio ice cream and espresso cream mimicked an upscale version of a frozen McCain chocolate cake. The custard, more cake than pudding forced the rich pistachio ice cream to claim centre stage. My vanilla cheesecake with graham cracker streusel and Bing cherry compote failed to inspire a second bite.

                                                                                            If the food failed to delight, the service downright disappointed. The Oval Room is reputed to be the restaurant of choice for local politicians and media celebrities. Parry and I paused to wonder why then the waiters failed to collect finished plates and when they did, why they elected to clear Parry’s plate before mine. We also questioned why our coffee was served when we were only half-finished our glasses of wine. This lack of attention to detail made Parry and I feel that the Oval Room is priced high-end while providing a mediocre dining experience.

                                                                                            At $35 for a three-course meal, the Oval Room is a decent meal out but would we return at the usual $85 per person? No way!

                                                                                            We are going to post reviews of the remaining 5 dining experiences at http://restaurantweekindc.blogspot.com/ if anyone is interested in how our culinary adventure progresses.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: capitolhillfoodies

                                                                                              Had a ladies restaurant week lunch at CoCo Sala yesterday and had a great time. The menu is up on the site and each of us greatly enjoyed our tartes and chickpea salad selections and barely had room for the best part at CoCo, desert!
                                                                                              We were in and out in about an hour (a HUGE plus for RW) and throughly satisfied. This was my first time going for a full meal, so i'm not sure what it compares to usually, but we encountered no service issues.
                                                                                              Next stop, blue ridge...

                                                                                              1. re: mcmullek

                                                                                                That's great to hear! Going on Friday with 4 other ladies, so I'm now looking more forward to it!

                                                                                              2. re: capitolhillfoodies

                                                                                                6 meals times 3 courses in 5 days is a lot of food! I know personally I would get overloaded with that much rich food. Have you felt it yet?

                                                                                                1. re: Jacey

                                                                                                  The journey has just begun so no ill effects as of yet - ask us in a couple of days! We do expect to gain weight this week but we will work it off. We just don't want to miss the opportunity to explore the city's finest. Tonight we're off to Teatro Goldoni and the menu looks exciting.

                                                                                                2. re: capitolhillfoodies

                                                                                                  I think service at the Oval Room has declined in the past year. I work in the neighborhood and it's always been on my RW lunch list. Service was always good - and very welcoming & polite considering I'm not on expense account and can only go on these "special occasions".

                                                                                                  However, last winter, at my suggestion, my entire dept. (6 people) went and service was awful. It took forever - and half of us were finished eating before the others got served. Some had to go ahead and leave. Therefore, this summer, for the first time in 6 years, I took a "pass" on the Oval Room.

                                                                                                3. Hi all,

                                                                                                  We ate Teatro Goldoni last night and it was FABULOUS! See our review below.

                                                                                                  Day 2: Teatro Goldoni (www.teatrogoldoni.com
                                                                                                  )Overall Rating: RRRR 1/2 (out of 5)

                                                                                                  In 2009, Teatro Goldoni won the prestigious RAMMYS Award for Favorite Restaurant and after dining there last night, Parry and I understand why. Chef Enzo Fargione isn’t just a chef to watch, he is a chef to experience – over and over again.

                                                                                                  We started our culinary journey with seared potato-leeks-pancetta and crab cakes over cream of basil and a chickpea powder texture. The savory cakes were moist and flavorful and Parry felt the chickpea powder added a welcomed crunch to the dish.

                                                                                                  Next, we dug into roasted cauliflowers dressed with bread crumbs, capers, roasted garlic, basil and Ligurian black olives over a carpaccio of roasted red and yellow peppers with polenta crackers and red beet chips. We expected this dish to be less savory and blander than the first because it is comprised solely of vegetables. We couldn’t have been more mistaken. The dish sang with flavor and as a self-confessed hater of beets I must acknowledge that the even the beet chips warranted a thumbs up.

                                                                                                  As good as the appetizer experience was we were unprepared for the delicacy and scrumptiousness of our main course. Parry’s dish of roasted monkfish wrapped in pancetta and served over a reduction of Merlot red wine and oven baked artichoke hearts was awe-worthy. The monkfish was succulent, the artichokes delightfully seasoned and the reduction made Parry want to lick the plate.

                                                                                                  After sampling Parry’s dinner and swooning I eyed my own plate of Teatro lithograph saffron pasta sheet cannellone filled with smoked and buffalo mozzarella, porcini mushrooms and served with arucola pesto and parmesan cheese foam. I commented that branding pasta can be deemed pretentious unless it is truly the most phenomenal pasta in existence. The first mouthful of the cannellone convinced me. Chef Fargione has every right to place his mark on this dish. The stuffing was culinary genius. The cheese was rich, creamy and smoky, the mushrooms delicate and the pesto intensely flavorful.
                                                                                                  Parry and I wondered if a kitchen skilled in creating and producing savory dishes could deliver a sweet ending to an almost perfect meal. Fortunately for us, Teatro Goldoni ends the way they begin – with a bang.

                                                                                                  The orange chocolate torte was a dreamy mix of quality dark chocolate and cocoa, zesty orange caramel and fresh pistachios. Parry, who normally rejects anything that combines orange and chocolate scraped the plate clean.

                                                                                                  My dish of chilled strawberries and sweet rhubarb macerated minestrone with basil sorbet, poppy seeds and crunchy meringue was a refreshing surprise. The minestrone was sweet but not syrupy and the strawberries soft and tangy. The basil ice cream however, stole the show. The flavor was delicate and opulent and I must admit that I desperately wanted another scoop.

                                                                                                  At this point, you get that Chef Fargione and his culinary team delivers innovative menus comprised of award-worthy dishes. But there is more to this story. From the second Parry and I walked in to our final moments in the restaurant, we were treated to exemplarity service. The Manager took the time to greet us personally, the bartender provided helpful suggestions regarding the wine list and our server Sayid was warm, skilled and attentive. It was obvious to Parry and I that everyone employed at Teatro Goldoni take pride in their job and their place of employment.

                                                                                                  If the purpose of Restaurant Week is to introduce the masses to the finest food Washington has to offer, then Teatro Goldoni succeeded. Without question, Parry and I will return – over and over again.

                                                                                                  1. My PS7 review is in the other RW thread. Not sure which one we're supposed to post in. I guess 1 RW thread wasn't sufficient...so go there if you want to read it!

                                                                                                    1. Hi everyone,

                                                                                                      Yesterday, I had lunch at 2941. Here's what I thought.

                                                                                                      Day 3, Lunch: 2941 (www.2941.com
                                                                                                      )Overall Rating: RRR 1/2 (out of 5)

                                                                                                      Today’s double feature began at 2941 where Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel, a native of the Auvergne region of France and recipient of three stars from the New York Times, is reputed to have transformed this restaurant into an earthy manifestation of French cuisine.

                                                                                                      My lunch companions, a friend who has dined in the finest restaurants Europe and North America has to offer and her six year old daughter. Yes, that’s right, I said six year old daughter. I know what you are thinking, why introduce a kid to a menu crafted for a sophisticated palette or force her to sit still amidst 2941’s lush landscape of lake, koi pond and floor to ceiling windows?
                                                                                                      For the record, this isn’t your average six year old. Besides displaying only the best behavior that I wish some adults would emulate, this child has refined tastes and can down squid, steak and carpaccio with the best of them which is precisely what she did.

                                                                                                      This sophisticated child started her meal with Hawaiian Red Snapper Carpaccio that featured a citrus gelee, cilantro and heart of palm. She liked the way the citrus interacted with the snapper and thought the fish was worth finishing. She did however reject the hearts of palm, finding the texture and flavor a bit odd. I agree. The snapper was fresh and full of flavor and the citrus gelee provided a refreshing burst of flavor reminiscent of a stylish civiche. While I ate the heart of palm and liked the texture it added, I didn’t feel its presence contributed to overall the flavor profile of the dish.

                                                                                                      Her mother opted for the Chilled Pea Soup with poached shrimp, summer truffle and orange oil. The soup arrived in an amazing bowl that literally tilted downward which made finishing the last few spoonfuls of soup that much easier and more refined.

                                                                                                      I suspect my companion liked but did not love this soup. I say this because like her daughter, she is extremely well-mannered and if she can’t say something nice she isn’t likely to say anything at all and while she ate the soup she did so without much comment. Her daughter, the brave eater, also sampled the soup and her reaction which was a mix of confusion and scowl was more telling. “What are the sticks in the soup,” she asked. Sticks? I looked at her mother who confirmed that were indeed stick-like objects in the soup that she couldn’t quite identify. I wondered if they were the summer truffles but as a huge fan and occasional connoisseur of truffles I can’t imagine them being stick-like in character or flavor. And so the sticks hidden in the soup remained a mystery, one I think both dining companions could have done without.

                                                                                                      For the main course, the kid and I ordered Veal Cheek Ravioli with tomato confit, butter poached lobster, and parmesan. The lobster was moist and flavorful, the veal cheek ravioli decadently rich, and the tomato confit’s acidity provided a wonderful balance to the dish.

                                                                                                      The little one finished the lobster but didn’t fall in love with the veal cheek ravioli. She tried it, a couple of times, before deciding she would have preferred this homemade pasta be stuffed with cheese instead of veal cheek. Her mother and I disagreed finding the veal cheek delicious but I have to remind myself that despite being a child extraordinaire she is still a child and what kid doesn’t want cheese ravioli?

                                                                                                      Her mother ordered the Grilled Pacific Monchong that was lightly grilled and stained with turmeric. Basmati rice, lychee and curry leaf accompanied the fish. Both the child and I sampled this vibrant dish that featured a small piece of fish swimming in a bright green sea. The fish had an almost meat-like texture and was well-seasoned and moist. The sauce burst with flavors that reminded me of one of my favorite Thai dishes, a blend of curry, coconut and basil. Why then didn’t I love this dish? It failed to come together as a whole. The fish was good, the sauce was good but they didn’t tango and that caused the dish to disappoint.

                                                                                                      For dessert, I ordered the Raspberry Parfait with fromage blanc panna cotta, lemon balm and warm madeleines. My companions decided upon the Ice Cream Sandwich comprised of dark chocolate cookies paired with mint chocolate chip ice cream. The raspberry parfait was a delight. Imagine a soft, creamy construction paired with fresh raspberries and a perfect cookie. The ice cream sandwich fared less well. Just to further demonstrate the refined palette of this six year old, I will share with you that she opted to eat the dark chocolate portion of the dish and rejected the ice cream.

                                                                                                      By now, you know that I am passionate about food and so my reviews thus far have either been ripe with praise or cranky with criticism. Why then does this review of 2941 seem like a lackluster endorsement (yes, the oxymoron was deliberate)?

                                                                                                      Our lunch was good not fabulous and yet I experienced moments of greatness like the freshness of the snapper, the succulence of the lobster, the richness of the panna cotta. Thankfully, these moments are enough to ensure that I will give 2941 another try but next time I hope that all of the dishes sing.

                                                                                                      1. Day One for us was Tallula in Arlington. It started out a bit rough, we were early for our 8:00 reservation so went into Eat Bar to wait for our table. There we asked about a few of the reds by the glass and the waitress gave us a sample of a malbec, zinfandel, and a much too young bordeaux. After sampling we decided on the malbec and zin and ordered a glass of each, but apparently the background noise in the bar was a bit much because we ended up with two glasses of the zin. After being made aware of her mistake the bartender offered a glass of malbec at no charge, a very nice move. We ordered a cheese platter while waiting and enjoyed it very much.

                                                                                                        As it got past 8 I went to check with the hostess on the status of our table and was told it would be a few more minutes. So we went and settled our bar tab and waited near the hostess desk for another 5 or so minutes (now about 8:15) before finally being brought back to the dining room only to find several empty two top tables. After we were seated the service was prompt and friendly and the food was great. We started with the corn and crab chowder and tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella and both were excellent. The extensive wine by the glass offerings including half and full glass sizes allow you to easily pair wines with each course which we did. We then shared a pasta dish that was also good and for mains I had the salmon and my GF had the skirt steak. Her steak was a bit chewy, but very flavorful, the salmon was fabulous. We finished it off with an Italian Trifle dessert of banana bread with dark chocolate mousse and chantilly cream paired with a glass of port.

                                                                                                        Overall a good experience once we got seated and I would definitely try Tallula again outside or RW.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: ChrisVA

                                                                                                          Thanks Chris. We'll definitely give Tallula a shot after reading your review.

                                                                                                        2. Okay folks, I know many of you like or love Vidalia...last night's experience there was HORRIFIC. Can a fan of Vidalia read the review below and explain how this could happen?

                                                                                                          Day 3, Dinner: Vidalia (www.vidaliadc.com
                                                                                                          )Overall Rating: R 1/2 (out of 5)

                                                                                                          Vidalia, owned and managed by experienced and respected Chef Jeffrey Buben and his wife Sallie, is presumed to be one of the finest restaurants in Washington, D.C.. To date, the restaurant has received a wealth of recognition including the prestigious DiRona Award by the Distinguished Restaurants of North America and the Washingtonian has annually awarded it a four-star rating. It wasn’t just the hype that made Parry and I eager to sample this restaurant it was the immaculate reputation of James Buben. Much to our horror and surprise, Vidalia turned out to be the worst dining experience of Restaurant Week.

                                                                                                          Parry and I were hungry. I know that those of you kind souls who are following our culinary adventure and graciously reading our reviews will wonder how that was possible since I had lunched at 2941 the very same day. But we were, ravenous in fact. As such we opted for the five-course tasting menu.

                                                                                                          Parry started with Vidalia’s Rabbit Mortadella with red mustard greens, spiced pecans, rabbit bacon and truffle-honey vinaigrette. I am ethically opposed to eating rabbit so I didn’t partake but Parry described the dish as something short of good. He found the mortadella a little bland and the dressing more honey than truffle.

                                                                                                          My starter of Toigo Orchard Cucumber Soup far exceeded my expectations. The soup, which was served chilled, burst with flavor and I couldn’t help but wonder how Chef Buben’s team made a cucumber taste that good. If only the following courses were half as pleasing as the soup.

                                                                                                          Parry’s Grilled Octopus was bland and rubbery and my dish of Frogs Legs served in a parsley emulsion proved tough, tasteless and flat. The next course, Vidalia’s signature dish of Shrimp and Yellow Corn Grits provided us with a sampling of severely overcooked shrimp in a sea of rich and creamy grits.

                                                                                                          By the time our fourth course arrived we were nervous. Parry ordered the Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder with eggplant caviar, pot belly farm fig mostarda and grilled garlic while I had selected the Braised Red Waddle Pork Cheeks with crayfish, okra, guanciale, étouffée. They sounded great on paper but based upon the previous courses could the kitchen really deliver these complicated dishes? The sour expression on Parry’s face after the first bite of lamb told me all I needed to know. Nothing frustrates Parry more than a piece of dull, poorly cooked lamb.

                                                                                                          My dish fared slightly better. The pork cheeks were tender but lacked the richness that usually accompanies this dish and the crayfish, well, in reality they were two of the tiniest pieces of crayfish I have ever seen or eaten and they were so overdone that one would best describe their texture as wallpaper-like.

                                                                                                          At this point in the meal, Parry and I seriously debated skipping dessert. We’re glad we didn’t. My dish of Meyer Lemon and Goat Cheese Bavarian with black berries, olive oil génoise and candied black olives boasted complex flavors including a delectably rich and creamy cheese topping. I could tell that the chef hadn’t skimped on ingredients because the cheese was of superior quality. Parry’s Georgia Pecan Bar was ripe with lush caramel and savory pecans. We both agreed that dessert was by far, the best part of dinner.

                                                                                                          After we paid the bill and were preparing to leave the server asked how we enjoyed the meal. Parry and I exchanged looks. This is that embarrassing part of a bad meal where guests feel compelled to lie. We opted for the truth.
                                                                                                          Parry asked to speak with the manager and seconds later Michael Nevarez, the General Manager of Vidalia appeared. We carefully and somewhat gently explained that we had been eager to dine at Vidalia because of Chef Buben’s reputation and the rave reviews many have afforded the establishment but that we were gravely disappointed in the five-course tasting menu because so much of the food was either bland or overcooked.

                                                                                                          I suspect many of you will doubt what you are about to read but Parry and I swear it is the absolute truth. Mr. Nevarez responded by telling us that the dishes we were served fell short of our expectations because it is Restaurant Week and that in order to provide the five-course tasting menu at the price of $45 the chefs had to cut costs and use inferior ingredients. I swear Parry’s mouth slipped open during this horrendous explanation. I wish I’d had a camera with me to capture it.

                                                                                                          My response differed from Parry’s. I looked right at Mr. Nevarez and asked why Vidalia would risk their fine reputation by participating in Restaurant Week if doing so meant serving shoddy food. His response? In this economy, Vidalia wouldn’t survive if they didn’t especially since Congress is out on a break and business has been so slow.

                                                                                                          Mr. Nevarez was making me feel badly for Chef Buben and his wife but only for a second and not for the reason you may assume. I started to wonder what comments like that could do to tarnish the reputation of a respected chef like Buben and then I remembered he or Sallie hired this individual to run his operations so who really is at fault here? And more importantly, Parry and I can only assume that Chef Buben and Sallie are aware of the happenings at Vidalia and that means they approved of the cut-backs to the food budget during Restaurant Week that according to Nevarez was responsible for the absence of flavor we experienced.

                                                                                                          To add insult to injury, Mr. Nevarez tried to tempt us to give Vidalia another shot by offering us free champagne if we returned during a normal week. We politely explained that our complaint wasn’t designed to score free alcohol and that quite frankly we didn’t appreciate the offer. We further explained that we love food and that’s why as new residents to Washington we are sampling 6 restaurants in 5 days, to determine where we want to dine this year. Our response didn’t penetrate and Mr. Nevarez dismissed us with a smile and brisk handshake.

                                                                                                          Here’s our dilemma. Tonight, we are scheduled to dine at Bistro Bis, the other restaurant owned by Chef Buben and his wife. After our horrific experience at Vidalia I want to cancel the reservation. Parry thinks we should give it a try. Maybe he argues, Chef Buben is more committed to French food than he is to high-end southern. I seriously doubt it.

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: capitolhillfoodies

                                                                                                            I actually strongly dislike Vidalia and love Bistro Bis, fyi. I am not sure what is on the RW menu at Bis, but if they have the red wine escargot that is really good if you like escargot. I haven't been to Bistro Bis for RW, but normally really enjoy it, while I have not enjoyed Vidalia during RW or at other times, but people really like Bis for RW so I would think about keeping the reservation. Sorry you had such a poor experience. I keep reading good reviews of Vidalia, but I just don't love it though I try to. BTW the cucumber soup recipe is on DonRockwell under the thread for Vidalia.

                                                                                                            1. re: capitolhillfoodies

                                                                                                              Todd Kilman specifically called out Bistro Bis in his article in Washingtonian on RW because of all of the up charges http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarti...

                                                                                                              The purpose of RW is to get people who wouldn't normally come out during a slow time of the year to go out to eat and to try new places they might not otherwise. So why in that context would someone want to serve inferior food? If they can't keep up the normal quality and stay with the RW cost then why participate? Seems to me it would do more damage than help unless they think their place in the Washington dining scene is so secure as to not be hurt by it.

                                                                                                              1. re: capitolhillfoodies

                                                                                                                Just curious...on what grounds are you ethically opposed to eating rabbit but ok with veal cheeks?

                                                                                                                1. re: Jason1

                                                                                                                  Hi Jason,

                                                                                                                  It's illogical, I know. But I just can't eat a rabbit...I see them like dogs and cats. When I was little my parents convinced me that veal was its own animal so I would eat it...it worked even though I finally figured it out.

                                                                                                              2. I'm going to Adour tonight with 3 friends and will report back.

                                                                                                                My approach to RW (since NYC days) is always to include something "old" (a place I liked and want to revisit) and something "new" (this summer, it's Adour for me) - nothing "blue".

                                                                                                                As a strategy, as others have suggested, if the RW prices aren't a significant savings - then I'd skip it. That's a place I could go any day of the week - when it's less crowded and I can see it on a more "even" or "normal" keel.

                                                                                                                So I leave the most expense place to the dinner slot - and fill a lunch slot with something slightly-more-pricey than I would normally spend for a lunch - but not crazy expensive. If it's crazy expensive - it's going on my dinner list.

                                                                                                                I am delighted that some of the places I went in NYC on RW 10 years ago now have 4 stars and I probably couldn't possibly afford. Now THAT'S a good RW investment - in time and money.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: jqw3827

                                                                                                                  That's actually a wise way of approaching RW. I always choose 2 new restaurants and sometimes end up with a dud. But I've been thinking that perhaps I should start (at least once or for lunch) returning to an old favorite that I can't always afford.

                                                                                                                2. Been to 2941, Art & Soul, Acadiana (2nd time), and Blue Ridge so far.

                                                                                                                  2941 was very nice, tranquil setting. Food was good but not great. Their olive bread was the best part of my meal really... haha. I had the red snapper carpaccio and the veal cheek ravioli (which were more like box-shaped dumplings). I'd go back if I was in the area or someone invited me but it's not really worth the trip out there otherwise imo.

                                                                                                                  Art and Soul was very good. Had the gezpacho which was so-so and tasted kind of like salsa, but the Fried Chicken was AMAZING and overshadowed everything else about my visit (in a good way, of course). Also a MASSIVE portion, be warned! Service was pretty slow but other than that no complaints.

                                                                                                                  Acadiana was awesome as usual. Had the corn & crab soup and duck. Don't really need to say much about it aside from if you have not been, GO GO GO. The PassionFood Group's restaurants are always constantly great and well-managed.

                                                                                                                  Went to Blue Ridge today. They are offering their entire menu (appetizer + entree + dessert, PLUS a "snack" which is an appetizer shared by the table --- very generous). It was very empty when I went, and quiet. The waitstaff was incredibly friendly and definitely made me feel good. The food was good but a bit underwhelming. We had the "barrack-worst" snack, which was nice and juicy with good yogurt sauce, and then I had the heirloom tomato salad, which was delicious although a bit soggy, and then I had the fish of the day which was Mahi-Mahi from North Carolina. I found myself wanting the hangar steak after ordering it though. There was more okra on the plate than fish :-/
                                                                                                                  The rootbeer float for dessert was awesome though!

                                                                                                                  this weekend heading to PassionFish and Vermillion.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: beema

                                                                                                                    Euuwl I love Passionfish- their soups are really good fyi (although it hasn't really been soup weather lately). We went for Easter brunch and it happened to be freezing cold and we all got different soups and I loved them all (tortilla, blue crab and corn chowder and gumbo). The entrees were very good too, but the soups really impressed me.

                                                                                                                  2. RW lunch at CoCo Sala today.
                                                                                                                    Very good experience, good value

                                                                                                                    had the buratta and tomato salad, the mac and cheese, and the peach dessert. everything was delicious. The service was good, but I do think the timing could have been better. And, 5 of us were at a 4 top which did not comfortably fit the plates.

                                                                                                                    However, the meal was great and I'll definitely be back

                                                                                                                    1. Okay folks, Parry and I have to fess up. We sent Chef Buben and his wife Sallie a copy of our review of Vidalia and after a brief exchange with Sallie, we decided to give this culinary team another shot - this time at Bistro Bis.

                                                                                                                      The food was FANTASTIC. We were too rash in saying that Chef Buben isn't serious about providing Washingtonians with great food - our review of Bistro Bis (below) proves that. We don't seek to minimize our negative experience at Vidalia but we should have been less quick to judge the culinary team as a whole. So, please take a couple of minutes to read the review of Bistro Bis - and book a RW reservation there if you can.

                                                                                                                      Day 4: Bistro Bis (www.bistrobis.com
                                                                                                                      )Overall Rating: RRRR 1/2 (out of 5)

                                                                                                                      Tonight, we dined at Bistro Bis, the self-proclaimed poor cousin of Vidalia and our dinner was nothing short of incredible.

                                                                                                                      We’re not a fan of eating crow especially when it isn’t roasted by a talented chef but tonight we are willing to swallow it raw and whole. In our review of Vidalia we doubted whether or not celebrated Chef Jeffrey and his wife Sallie were committed to providing the same superb fare to Restaurant Week diners that they lavish on their regular customers. Our outstanding meal at Bistro Bis proved we had misjudged this culinary duo.

                                                                                                                      Parry started his meal with Moules a la Piperade which translated is mussels steamed with heirloom peppers, linguiça sausage and oregano-tomato broth. The mussels were small but extremely juicy and tender, the sausage was exquisitly spiced and maintained its consistency in the broth and the broth itself was an ocean of rich flavor that inspired Parry to gulp spoonful after spoonful of it. I abandoned my indifference to bread and used copious amounts of it to soak up this succulent potage.

                                                                                                                      My appetizer of Steak Tartare Atilla served with capers, onions, spicy aïoli, cornichons and garlic potato chips was just as remarkable. The chopped sirloin was well seasoned and the potato chips provided the ideal textural contrast to the delicate meat.

                                                                                                                      If the appetizers delighted our palettes the main course can only be described as orgasmic. My lamb steak arrived with a compliment of buttery mashed potatoes and an au jus that is best described as something mom would make, only better. The lamb was incredibly tender and flavorful, so much so that I swear the charcutier tasted it every ten seconds during the cooking process.

                                                                                                                      Parry ordered the Duck Confit Façon Tarbais, a garlic-herb rendered duck leg with Toulouse duck sausage, tomato concassé and a ragout of white beans. We are uncertain if the duck was marinated, air dried or pre-steamed but we can state for certain that it was moist, savory and perfectly cooked. The big surprise for Parry was the beans. Normally, he has a hate-on for these little white pearls but tonight he greedily wolfed them down. When I asked Parry about his sudden change of heart he explained that the beans prepared at Bistro Bis were soft but not mushy which to him made all of the difference in the world.

                                                                                                                      For dessert, Parry ordered a flourless chocolate cake infused with orange and a healthy heaping of crème fraiche. While it was challenging to detect the zest of citrus, the cake was moist and a satisfying way to end the admirable meal.
                                                                                                                      I opted for the Crème Brûlée which is my all-time favorite dessert. While the flavor came close to meeting my admittedly high standards, the texture failed to please. The interior reminded me more of scrambled eggs than creamy custard. I must confess however that the textural issue with the brûlée didn’t matter much because up until that moment I had experienced such a superior meal that this tiny glitch didn’t phase me.

                                                                                                                      Our attentive and charming server Lateef vetoed our request for double espresso and insisted on bringing us Bistro Bis’s French press coffee. We fretted a little because we have a penchant for strong coffee and as such, worried that regular joe wouldn’t cut it. Once again, Bistro Bis proved us wrong. The coffee was good, probably one of the better cups of coffee we’ve had during Restaurant Week.

                                                                                                                      Parry and I don’t like to be wrong, our egos are just too big for that but tonight we are prepared to fess up and take the hit. Vidalia did disappoint us but we were too rash in concluding that Chef Buben and Sallie aren’t dedicated to providing Washingtonians with awe-worthy food. Our meal at Bistro Bis more than proves that point. So, what do we think now that we have bellies full with rich, luscious food? That we’re hooked on Bistro Bis and that during the regular season, we might just give Vidalia another try.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: capitolhillfoodies

                                                                                                                        I went to Bistro Bis once for brunch and it was great. Never been to Vidalia though.

                                                                                                                      2. I am rarely moved enough to post a restaurant week review, because most places deliver SOMETHING, but it's usually mid-range and nothing hair-blowingly good. Tosca was good...but not memorable enough to write about it, and we were there last night.
                                                                                                                        Volt, however, has moved me. I remember reading a poster rave about, going on a diatribe about how table 21 will someday be the equivalent of the french laundrey and el bulli. Bold words, but he certainly had me excited. Now, we were no where near Table 21 tonight, but if they even come close to what they achieved during a restaurant week, then i need to get in line for a seat.
                                                                                                                        The amuse was this peculiarly clever little "beet macaroon", delivering quality beet flavor, "merengue" texture, and an injection (not a "burst") of foie gras. It set the tone for an inventive yet fulfilling meal. And I dont even like beets.
                                                                                                                        Then my s.o. got the corn chowder. In credibly consistent throughout, with an "every once in a while" textural piece of happiness with the "popcorn" element. Avocado ice cream mixed in to provide impressive flavors.
                                                                                                                        I had the yellowfin tartare with lulu avocado, yuzu vinaigrette, chili oil, culantro, soy air, sesame lavash. I didnt expect the chili to be so present...it was...but every other flavor still found a way to make itself known, and balanced! A very generous portion, to boot.
                                                                                                                        Next up was the pork belly...and I know no 2 pork bellies are alike. this was cooked for 48 hours and mixed well with the moustarda that came with it...it also had citrus elements. It was good, but i prefer my p.b. to have the m&m quality a tad more (melt in mouth...)
                                                                                                                        For the 3rd course, we both had the flat iron steak. Cooked perfectly medium rare, the steak alone would have been splendid. but it was seasoned so darn well...add to that a distinct tomatillo sauce lining the plate beautifully, with whipped garlic on the side and what seemed to be mini onion strings on top to add the crunch and onion. All of this on top of a gorgeously creamy polenta....the kind with corn chunks mixed throughout it. It was a perfect example of good food that got inventive and really gave me some tastes and combinations i have not had ever or in a long time.
                                                                                                                        Dessert was the peach tart, which was delish and simple, and I had the chocolate 4 ways. I have a weak spot for white chocolate, so the mousse never had a chance of surviving on the plate. It was good. Dessert is usually dessert for me, and i think i have rarely been slapped-in-the-face-amazed by a desssert (although citronelle's apple concoction was pretty memorable).

                                                                                                                        I know volt was the late horse in making its RW presence known, but i got lucky in more ways than just the reservation tonight. volt is worth a trip(s), and for me, worth the hype. hop on the bandwagon, or leave more for me...

                                                                                                                        stick a fork in me....im done.

                                                                                                                        1. I guess my original post was deleted so I'll cut and paste my 3 Restaurant Week experiences from my blog.


                                                                                                                          The last time I was at Vidalia I was 19 years-old and had traveled from Boston to DC with my father to start my very first summer as a DC intern. This was 8 years ago and from what I had heard, a lot had changed at Vidalia. I had fond memories of Chef Buben’s classy Southern cuisine. But just a few years ago there was a much publicized revamp of the menu. I was excited to share my meal with my Southern food-loving friend Allison. Unfortunately the complete meal didn’t live up to my high expectations.

                                                                                                                          It should be mentioned first and foremost that the service was wonderful. You often hear about rude or lazy service during RestaurantDSC00751 Week but everyone at Vidalia treated us as if it was any other night—probably not the easiest task when you are seating double the amount of tables you normally would on a Tuesday night.

                                                                                                                          Vidalia offers a very generous menu during Restaurant Week, with few up-charges. They also allow you to choose from a 3-course menu for $35.09 or a 5-course menu for $45.09 (an incredible deal, if you ask me). 5-courses seemed a bit too much, so we went with the 3-course tasting. For me, the appetizers were the high point of the evening. I ordered the sweet garlic velouté with fried frog legs and a meyer lemon dip. DSC00750This was a pitch perfect first course. The frog legs were delicately fried and rested in a thick garlicky soup. It all came together beautifully and hinted at a refined quality of Southern cuisine. My friend’s appetizer looked beautiful (I did not get a chance to taste it). She ordered a raw copia with some sort of coco sauce and a mint gelée. The flavor combinations sound odd at best but she said it was delicious.

                                                                                                                          It was the entrée section that both Allison and I felt the meal fell short. I try not to eat pork products as much as possible. Many of the entrees included pork so in order to steer around those options I went with the roasted leg of lamb. It was served with small, whole eggplants and a delicious fig jam. There was nothing wrong with this dish, it was perfectly cooked. It just cDSC00752ame across as boring and a little uninspired, especially compared to the amazing appetizer selections. Part of this might have been my dish choice. But I also think there are ways to make lamb Southern and exciting and this wasn’t one of them. My friend ordered the one vegetarian option—the caramelized Vidalia onion crepe with a fried hen egg on top. While the dish looked interesting, the crepe had very little going on inside besides onions. After awhile it all became a bit too much. Perhaps if they had included other vegetables, it would have been a tastier dish.

                                                                                                                          Dessert helped our meal end on a high note. Whenever I mentioned to someone that I was going to Vidalia for dinner they told me I must try Lemon Chess Cake, so naturally that’s what I went with. This dessert did not disappoint. It was light, sweet, and tangy. I would love the recipe for this cake because it tastes so fresh and light and therefore not that bad for you (but I’m sure it is). Allison ordered the pecan bar served with vanilla ice cream.

                                                                                                                          Overall this was a nice meal, but I came out feeling a bit disappointed, especially with the result of our uninspired entrees. I often find the first course offerings at restaurants are more interesting than the second courses. Vidalia just might be one of those places.

                                                                                                                          (For pictures see statedinner.wordpress.com)

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                                            Was it lemon chess pie or cake? I can send you a recipe for lemon chess pie, that is the tradtitional southern recipe. I don't know if there were any tweeks, when I have tasted it before seemed like what you normally get down south.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                                                                              It must have been a pie...but it almost tasted like a cake. Is there a difference?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                                                Well the pie would have a crust then a tangy inside- similar to key lime pie, but not exactly the same. Cake would be more bready...

                                                                                                                          2. My 2nd night of Restaurant Week I went to Art and Soul:

                                                                                                                            For my second Restaurant Week dinner I headed up to the Hill to check out the new hot spot Art and Soul. Coming right off the heals of his appearance on Top Chef Masters, Art Smith (Oprah’s personal chef, from the days when Oprah was fat!) opened his first DC restaurant at the beginning of the year and it has been a tough reservation to get since then. So my friend Jen (from the wonderful Beets and Bonbons) and I booked well in advance. I was a little skeptical about booking a second Southern restaurant right after eating at Vidalia but I had been dying to try out Art and Soul, so I forgot any semblance of a diet and dived right in. In my opinion Art and Soul did not disappoint.

                                                                                                                            It had been a long, tough day with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, my personal hero, occurring early that morning, but the minute I walked into the stylish and vibrant Art and Soul I knew I was in for a mood lifter. The walls are covered in pop art of famous leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. And the tables were decorated fresh herbs.

                                                                                                                            Art’s menu is hard to choose from because everything sounds so good. While we were deciding on our orders the friendly waitress brought out a cast iron skillet filled with light, fluffy bread that peeled off into leafs. I’m not entirely sure what type of bread it was but it was fresh and delicious.

                                                                                                                            For a first course I went with the grilled shrimp served with a mildly spicy chili limon sauce and a grilled corn succotash. The shrimp was prepared perfectly and paired well with the light sauce. My only complaint was it was speared on a sugar cane stick that made it close to impossible to take off. I almost had a Pretty Woman moment where a shrimp went flying across the room. Despite the difficulty I had eating this dish, it was delicious. Jen ordered the gazpacho soup with shrimp. From what I could tell she didn’t love this dish. She said it tasted like “a bowl full of bloody Mary mix.” Probably not the most delightful thing to eat with a spoon.

                                                                                                                            The second course was a win-win for both of us. I ordered the crispy whole trout that was lightly dredged in cornmeal and pan fried. It was served with a vinegary spring bean salad and a perfectly-matched rhubarb vinaigrette. This dish was incredible! All the flavors went together perfectly and balanced each other out. I would order this dish again and again. Since Art Smith is known for his chicken, Jen ordered the chicken with goat cheese drop biscuits and a wonderfully thick gravy. This dish sang the songs of the South.

                                                                                                                            A quick note on Arts plating: I love it! As you can tell from the pictures, the kitchen takes a layering approach to the plating, which I really appreciated. Some how this presentation helps to marry the flavors and bring the whole dish together.

                                                                                                                            Even though I was starting to feel full, I couldn’t pass up dessert…it was included in the $35.09 price tag after all. Again, this course was delightful. I ordered the chocolate cheesecake. Art and Soul’s rendition of chocolate cheesecake is beautifully light, almost mousse-like with a delicate crust. It was very rich, a chocolate-lover’s dream come true. Jen ordered the peach pecan crumble with vanilla ice cream. It tasted like a single-serving version of peach crisp.

                                                                                                                            Overall this meal received two thumbs up in my book. I will certainly return again. They put their best foot forward during Restaurant Week, which only leads me to believe that they can perform excellently under pressure and just as well during regular service.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                                              Great review, Elyssa. Thanks for sharing. Am glad you had a good experience at Art and Soul. The chocolate cheesecake sounds divine.. I'm going to try to check it out soon.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Gigi007

                                                                                                                                You should...I really enjoyed my meal there. I look forward to trying it again.

                                                                                                                            2. For my final Restaurant Week adventure I made a last minute reservation for brunch at Firefly to catch up with old friends. At $20.09 this was a great deal. I had been to Firefly a few times for drinks and dinner but lately it seemed to have fallen off my radar screen, which was pretty odd considering it is only a few buildings down from my apartment. I’ve always liked the charming décor at Firefly and thought it would be a fun place to enjoy a relaxing Sunday brunch on a sunny afternoon.

                                                                                                                              Our server seemed a bit scattered, placing our bread basket down only to quickly pick it back up and bring it to the table next to us. He also forgot a few drinks and only seemed to refill my friend’s coffee on a regular basis. But that aside everything ran pretty smoothly.

                                                                                                                              The Restaurant Week brunch menu gave you the option of a cocktail, main course, and side. They were very generous with their portion sizes and had a pretty full menu to choose from.

                                                                                                                              I started with my favorite morning cocktail, a mimosa. Firefly sticks to the classic version of the drink, which I appreciated. For my main course I ordered the Sun’s Special, a mushroom and cheddar omelet served with crispy home fries and marble rye toast. Since my dish already came with a few of the side dish options, I ordered the mixed greens with a sherry vinaigrette as my side. The salad was quite large (a full-sized dinner plate) and lightly dressed. While nothing was overly fancy or exotic everyone seemed really happy with their meal. We didn’t feel rushed or hovered over, so we were able to sit back and catch up for over an hour.

                                                                                                                              After taking part in Restaurant Week at Firefly they are back on my radar screen and I will make sure to place them in my rotation of Dupont Circle brunch places.

                                                                                                                              (For more info and pictures you can check out my blog).

                                                                                                                              1. Two friends and I went to Adour at the St. Regis after work on Friday night. I was not disappointed. The portions were sufficient and we were not rushed, though the restaurant did fill up and get a tiny bit noisy toward the end.

                                                                                                                                We all tried (and liked) the gazpacho with watermelon. Two of us had a lamb chop - cut into a lollipop with a bit on the side - and the third chose the salmon. The lamb was cooked perfected and seasoned well. If I had any quibble, it would have been that the vegetables were skimpy - but we could have ordered a vegetable side.

                                                                                                                                For dessert, two of us chose the light vacherin and the third chose a dark chocolate Sachertorte. We added a carafe of sauvignon blanc at a reasonable price to complete the meal.

                                                                                                                                Normally, Adour would be a bit out of my price range for dinner - but if they do RW again - I would encourage anyone to try it.