Art & Soul - Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner Experiences
Has anyone been to Art & Soul for brunch, lunch, or dinner? I'm thinking of taking friends from out of town there but wanted to check out others' experiences first. How does Art & Soul compare to other DC restaurants featuring southern food? Thanks.
i've been for brunch and had awesome chicken and waffles, and one of my dining companions had a really yummy onion pie. we really enjoyed it. as far as comparing to other places, it was as good as georgia brown's. I enjoyed it more than vidalia, though my vidalia experience was during restaurant week and so probably uncharacteristic.
My sister and I went for lunch for RW, and I found it...confusing. The place is decorated like an upscale asian fusion place - dark, with modern-art lighting and little flat rocks under the knives. Decor is not usually something that makes much difference to me, but I felt strange eating fried drumsticks with my fingers (because that's really the only way) in such a formal environment.
The chicken was outstanding, both with the mashed potatoes like I got it and on waffles like my sister did. Still, I don't know if it was $17 outstanding, the non-RW price. The cinnamon bread we got at the beginning was also amazing. I could've just eaten that all day. The rest of the food was meh. I had the gazpacho, but I can make it better than that. Sis tried the hoecakes with blue cheese, apples and greens. We were expecting something thick and corny, like arepas, but she got some thin, pretty tasteless, pancakes covered in salad. Again, I can do bettter. For dessert we split the lemon pudding cake, which was fine, but not spectacular.
The worst part was that it seemed like it could have been such a great experience if they had just dumped the "upscale" idea and made good, tasty soul food in a friendly environment. It doesn't have to be chafing dishes and paper napkins, but something a bit more relaxed. The best parts were all simple traditional soul food, and the worst parts were when they tried to make it fancy. I loved that fried chicken, but not enough to go back.
Went for RW lunch and enjoyed it very much, although I do understand the comments about the decor. I liked the decor, but it did seem a bit disjointed with the menu and the feeling of the food. Didn't ruin my experience by any means, but it was...odd. At any rate, gave us fodder for chat during lunch. Speaking of which...
All four of us did RW menu. There was warm bread to start, and I was very excited to dig in. Art is famous for his magical hoecakes, so I was hoping to have some killer bread. Sadly, it was just okay. Not bad at all, but just...bread.
Of the four of us, three had the grilled shrimp on succotash starter, and all three of us would have licked the plate if we thought we could have gotten away with it. The portion was great - three sizable shrimp with enough char to give nice flavor, but not so much as to be tough/overdone. The skewer was on a bed of succotash that was great - very sweet, but still tasted fresh. The fourth in our group had chili to start. It was very meaty with a nice heat that wasn't obvious at first. I tried it, liked it okayfine, but I think chili is one of those very personal things and although it was tasty, I was glad to have the shrimp instead.
For entrees, three of us had the fried chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes and sausage gravy. The chicken was really good - nice, light coating with just enough crunch to satisfy. Three pieces - a leg, a boneless thigh and a very large breast. All were juicy, but with my filling starter, I packed up one piece to go. The gravy was nice and creamy, and the sausage flavor wasn't overpowering, letting the potatoes still shine through. Our fourth had catfish, I believe. With sweet potatoes. She liked it okayfine, but didn't seem as enthusiastic as we were about the chicken. She also noted - and I agreed - that the sweet potatoes were a bit overdone - kind of soggy and oversauced.
We didn't find the dessert options to be that appealing, and we all ended up settling on the chocolate cheesecake. We were pleasantly surprised when it arrived - not so much a cheesecake as more of a mousse, with just enough tang to keep it from being cloying. And not grossly oversized. Just right.
We all thought the meal was very good - not amazing - and that the quality and portion size made it a steal for the $20 RW price.
This is helpful information. Thanks, Sabine and mordacity. I may give Art and Soul a try for the chicken & waffles or chicken & mashed potatoes. But I'm not convinced it would make for a great brunch destination for a group. We'll probably stick with the Tabard Inn, but I'm open to suggestion. Always on the look-out for great brunch places in DC.
Just got back today and had a lunch and breakfast there. Enjoyed both completely.
Had the special Restaurant Week menu for lunch. I had the Gazpacho with Avocado Cream, which I found to be very good, just the right amount of spice to it and it had two nice sized shrimp in it which was not advertized - so that was a nice surprise. My entree was the Fried Chicken with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Cream Gravy, the best I've had in years. Incredibly juicy. Ordered a side of Mac & Cheese for the table too because I HAD to try it since we'd eaten at Georgia Brown the night previous and sorely disappointed in their version (the meal in general in fact). Art & Souls was perfect, exactly what I expected it should be; just like mom would make, and really browned on top which I love. I finished with the Peach Crumble which was served with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel sauce. My boyfriend, had the Capitol Salad (apples, blue cheese, greens and candied pecans), the Vegetable Ravioli and the Lemon Cake with Blueberry Sauce. He liked his equally although was somewhat mystified by the entree; expecting I think a cream sauce and received sort of a broth with whole pieces of mini vegetables in it. But once over the surprise, enjoyed it quite well. We both had coffee (mine iced) with desert served with chunks of peanut brittle (this given to us for free because the waitress had forgotten to ask us if we wanted it prior to serving the desert).
Oh and we LOVED the bread they served before the meal - some serious amount of butter happening in that dish!
As for breakfast - may have been my favorite meal of the whole trip. Chesapeake Crab Hollandaise with Fried Potatoes and I ordered a side of Bacon grits ("because" I can't get a decent bowl of grits in NJ to save my life - these were darn good). Boyfriend had just very good basic Challah French Toast with Sausages. Excellent coffee again (sadly no brittle served with breakfast lol).
Personally we enjoyed this 100% more than Georgia Browns. People had mentioned they were "similar" but they certainly do not seem to be at all. For that matter, this put the meal we had at GB's to shame where something was terribly amiss in the kitchen the night we were there (although I do have to say service was much better there).
All in all a great experience and we'd go back for sure. On a sidenote about the atmosphere: We found it to be relaxing, rather quiet and laidback. Even though it has a kind of modern feel to it, not down-home looking, it is VERY relaxed.