HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >

What is your single worst meal ever in the DC/Baltimore area?

s
Steve Nov 21, 2011 06:00 AM

I've always thought this was a difficult question, but no more. I finally had a meal so bad that it stood apart form the rest.

Can anyone else name a meal that you can point to as a monument to awfulness?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. e
    Elyssa RE: Steve Nov 21, 2011 08:30 AM

    Are you going to share with us that horrible meal?

    Probably the worst meal I ever had was 5+ years ago at Notti Bianche. My boyfriend and I went because at the time Tom Sietsema was talking it up non-stop. Most of the dishes were underwhelming but the real crime was the fish dish they served me. There is no doubt in my mind looking back that the fish was way past it's due.

    As the waiter brought the plate through the dining room people were turning their heads because the smell of the fish was so strong. Even the people sitting next to us commented as my boyfriend and I were trying to figure out if it was just a fishy smelling fish, or if there was something wrong with it (I believe it was a whole fish, being offered as part of a pre-fixe menu).

    The next step was our fault---I picked at it, ate the sides around it but did not send the fish back. I was younger and less experienced in restaurants. Plus we couldn't figure out if it really had just gone bad. The next day we realized we should have sent it back, but we were also pissed that a chef who was getting major accolades in the local papers would send a dish like that out. It had to have gone through at least 4 different workers in the restaurant before arriving at my table and if the fish in fact had gone bad, like many of the people around us thought, then it is horrifying that they would send such a dish out in the first place.

    -----
    Notti Bianche
    824 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20037

    1. m
      mdpilam RE: Steve Nov 21, 2011 10:35 AM

      Share yours!

      I would say Tres Reyes Taqueria near Hyattsville was the worst. My girlfriend and I were starving and ordered almost a table full of food, and threw away nearly all of it.

      Marrakech was fairly bad too.

      1. woodleyparkhound RE: Steve Nov 21, 2011 11:19 AM

        My worst was pad thai at Thai Chili at the Verizon Center. It was the worst I've ever had - really sweet, gloppy and full of things like broccoli and cherry tomatoes, which have no business being in pad thai. It was truly inedible (and that is something that I almost never say). It was the straw that broke the camel's back - so vile that I decided then and there to never order pad thai again in this country. I only broke my resolve once - I had high hopes for Thai X-ing, but it turned out to be lousy too.

        So, Steve - what was your awful meal?

        -----
        Thai Chili
        701 7th St NW Ste F, Washington, DC 20001

        18 Replies
        1. re: woodleyparkhound
          agarnett100 RE: woodleyparkhound Nov 21, 2011 12:26 PM

          The Pad Thai I had two weeks ago at Asia Cafe was lousey had poor service from our waitress since we used a gilt coupon which restricted most of the menu - we would have saved money just ordering off the menu as normal.

          1. re: agarnett100
            a
            AsperGirl RE: agarnett100 Dec 14, 2011 08:30 AM

            Thai food was my worst, too.  We went to Ruan Thai in Wheaton, which was fairly well rated in the Post at the time.  It wasn't busy, we didn't go in at some weird hour, but the food was horrific -- watery, tasteless, it was hard to even describe it as "Thai-Spiced"!  

            But the food was just one aspect of the almost surreal experience there.  The same song played on the CD/ sound system, over and over, a droning song about death.  That one song looped the whole time we were there.

            "Goodbye my friend, it's hard to die,
            when all the birds are singing in the sky,
            Now that the spring is in the air.
            Pretty girls are everywhere.
            When you see them I'll be there.
            We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
            But the hills that we climbed
            were just seasons out of time.
            Goodbye, Papa, please pray for me,
            I was the black sheep of the family.
            You tried to teach me right from wrong.
            Too much wine and too much song,
            wonder how I get along.
            Goodbye, Papa, it's hard to die
            when all the birds are singing in the sky..."

            Needless to say, rounding out the surreal atmosphere was the deeply depressed, silent server.  She looked like an aunt or something, not a regular waitress.  Her spirit seemed utterly crushed and solemn.

            We could only wonder at what horrific tragedy had stricken the family.  It had to be bad enough that their lives were destroyed, but not bad enough that they would not open the doors that day and lose a few $$.

            1. re: AsperGirl
              woodleyparkhound RE: AsperGirl Dec 14, 2011 08:41 AM

              Wow. I'm stunned. I've had many wonderful meals at Ruan Thai - it's one of my favorite restaurants. I can only think you hit them on an off day - a way off day.

              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                a
                AsperGirl RE: woodleyparkhound Dec 14, 2011 09:04 AM

                Yeah, it was well rated. I think maybe something terrible happened to them and they decided to open the restaurant even though they were upset.

              2. re: AsperGirl
                s
                Steve RE: AsperGirl Dec 14, 2011 10:57 AM

                Ruan Thai is my favorite for Thai in the area. Just goes to show that a restaurant experience can be so different from one day to the next or even one hour to the next.

                1. re: Steve
                  a
                  AsperGirl RE: Steve Dec 20, 2011 11:44 AM

                  Thanks for pitching in. With all the positive comments here, now I want go back and try again. I feel like we've missed out because of maybe one bad day.

                  1. re: AsperGirl
                    s
                    Steve RE: AsperGirl Dec 20, 2011 09:29 PM

                    Go for the spicy boneless duck and the fried watercress with cashews, shrimp, and squid.

                    1. re: Steve
                      a
                      AsperGirl RE: Steve Dec 21, 2011 06:06 AM

                      Thank you for the recommendation! I'm excited now, I'm so looking forward to it.

                2. re: AsperGirl
                  m
                  mdpilam RE: AsperGirl Dec 14, 2011 12:59 PM

                  Ha. I love how you remember the lyrics to the song.

                  1. re: mdpilam
                    Bob W RE: mdpilam Dec 20, 2011 11:33 AM

                    I think you can find the lyrics to "Seasons in the Sun" pretty easily. 8<D

                    Why they would play it over and over is truly mind-boggling.

                    1. re: mdpilam
                      a
                      AsperGirl RE: mdpilam Dec 20, 2011 11:40 AM

                      We must have heard it a dozen times. We were making up alternative lyrics to the song after a couple of loops...

                      "My God this curry's hard to eat
                      When there's flavor in the sauce or meat!"

                      Of course we were trying to have a little fun because they looked so sad we weren't going to complain.

                      1. re: AsperGirl
                        hill food RE: AsperGirl Dec 20, 2011 12:49 PM

                        if only it had been a cover version in a different language. that might have been the degree of separation needed.

                        1. re: hill food
                          a
                          AsperGirl RE: hill food Dec 21, 2011 06:17 AM

                          Oh dear god, no. My husband is an audiophile. That would have sent him screaming off the cliff. He's more likely to rate a restaurant by soundtrack than by food. (That's what made this experience so doubly painful).

                          1. re: hill food
                            f
                            flavrmeistr RE: hill food Dec 26, 2011 10:31 PM

                            As it was written by Jacques Brel, the original language of that song is French. It sounds better when you can't understand the words.

                            1. re: flavrmeistr
                              hill food RE: flavrmeistr Dec 26, 2011 10:52 PM

                              Brel? really? I would never have guessed.

                              you do know he's alive and well, right

                              1. re: hill food
                                f
                                flavrmeistr RE: hill food Dec 27, 2011 10:42 PM

                                Good to hear. Sumbitch owes me money.

                          2. re: AsperGirl
                            alkapal RE: AsperGirl Dec 20, 2011 06:31 PM

                            that is truly hilarious!

                            oh, now i'm gonna have that stupid song in my head!

                            1. re: alkapal
                              a
                              AsperGirl RE: alkapal Dec 21, 2011 06:25 AM

                              It is addicting, isn't it? It's actually possible to make rhymy food critic commentary in words set to that song.

                  2. t
                    tartuffe RE: Steve Nov 21, 2011 11:51 AM

                    2 candidates, both many years ago. One was ata place called Tarragon in Towson which received great revies just when Baltimoreans were getting interested in serious food. The apps were still frozen, one entree never showed, and dessert never arrived. it still took 2.5 hours. tarragon closed soon after.

                    The other was at the Brass Elephant where a waiter carrying lobster and hot butter stumebled and spilled it all over the next table and its patrons. i got some of it--a very unpleasant experience.

                    -----
                    Brass Elephant
                    924 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                    1. Manassas64 RE: Steve Nov 21, 2011 11:56 AM

                      In Old Town Manassas there used to be a restaurant called Heros, then Jakes and now Mackey's. When it was Hero's, I went there on a date and I ordered fish. It was very old fish, you know when the edges are all hard and dried.

                      I've never been able to go back even though it's changed hands over the years.

                      1. The Chowhound Team RE: Steve Nov 21, 2011 02:00 PM

                        Folks, just a quick note. We have specific guidelines against accusing restaurants of having caused food poisoning or other illnesses or discussing health code violations in general. So if you've had meals where the food was flavorless or otherwise no good, it's fine to post about them. But please omit those meals you feel made you ill -- that's a subject that's off the table for our site.

                        Thanks.

                        1. s
                          Steve RE: Steve Nov 21, 2011 04:37 PM

                          Thanks for all your responses so far.

                          Woodleyparkhound - although I like Thai X-ing, I agree the pad thai there is abysmal. I'm not even sure what it is.

                          drsmoke - Gettysburg is across the board bad for food, so I imagine the buffet you had was the 'greatest hits' of bad food.

                          However, the place I am referring to I have been before. It was never a place I'd recommend on Chowhound, but never quite this bad.

                          Kabob Palace in Crystal City is now so disgusting that it may be the worst in the area. The place looks like the bathroom at a bus station. The 'steam table' is in no danger of producing steam and contains pools of room temperature, unidentifiable glop of varying shades of brown. Even the rice is brown, and I am not convinced this is for nutritional reasons.

                          The rice clumped together like it was modeling clay, and the flavor was of mud. The slime of lentils on top was tasteless, thank goodness. The kabobs (bone-in chicken and lamb) were not cooked at a hot enough temperature, looked bad, felt rubbery, and tasted greasy. This was the worst tasting and worst looking food I've had ever.

                          There are several reasons why this was so bad. apart form the fact that it looked and tasted bad.

                          First, it epitomizes why people avoid hole-in-the-wall places. It gives 'dives' a bad name.

                          Second, it is sometimes mentioned on Chowhound.

                          Third, the alternative of going to a good place like Ravi Kabob, adds to the disappointment.

                          A Middle Eastern restaurant that fails this badly at rice? The only reason is because they know they have a captive 'late night' audience - this was about 9:30pm on a Sunday.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Steve
                            g
                            gregb RE: Steve Nov 22, 2011 06:51 AM

                            My most recent experience wasn't quite as bad as yours, but very disappointing. The flavors all seemed muted, the rice wasn't fresh, the salad was wilted, and the yogurt sauce tasted watered down. I've been guilty of recommending Kabob Palace on here and elsewhere but think those days have passed. Ravi kabob is next on my list!

                            -----
                            Kabob Palace
                            2333 S Eads St, Arlington, VA 22202

                            1. re: Steve
                              b
                              Bart Hound RE: Steve Nov 22, 2011 07:00 AM

                              Wow! I recently started work in Crystal City and saw that place and thought it looked interesting....like one of those wonderful dive places that look bad but are really great. I guess maybe it's better to judge a book by its cover here.

                              1. re: Bart Hound
                                g
                                gregb RE: Bart Hound Nov 22, 2011 09:54 AM

                                If it's convenient, I would say to give it a shot and prove us both wrong! I do believe it has fallen way off since I first started going there.

                              2. re: Steve
                                alkapal RE: Steve Dec 6, 2011 05:03 AM

                                LOL STEVE!

                                you are in fine form with this: --->>> """Kabob Palace in Crystal City is now so disgusting that it may be the worst in the area. The place looks like the bathroom at a bus station. The 'steam table' is in no danger of producing steam and contains pools of room temperature, unidentifiable glop of varying shades of brown. Even the rice is brown, and I am not convinced this is for nutritional reasons.''

                              3. ktmoomau RE: Steve Nov 22, 2011 01:05 PM

                                Bistro Europa now closed used to be in Old Town Alexandria. Recently was extremely disappointed with the Pad Thai at Thai Basil it was icky sweet.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: ktmoomau
                                  Bob W RE: ktmoomau Dec 5, 2011 02:10 PM

                                  We live near Thai Basil. We love Thai food. We have not been to Thai Basil in years.

                                  I so wanted to love this place and make it my own but it's just not great. Definitely not awful, but so very meh.

                                  1. re: ktmoomau
                                    chowser RE: ktmoomau Dec 6, 2011 04:21 AM

                                    That's the restaurant I was talking about below with the Bobby Flay throwdown. The name escaped me at the time and I didn't notice it in your post until now. We left most of it on the plate. And, wonder how good any of the throwdown challenges are now.

                                  2. kukubura RE: Steve Nov 23, 2011 12:12 PM

                                    The recently incinerated Mt Washington Tavern in Baltimore once served us absolutely rancid mussels. When we pointed out to the server that they were basically completely spoiled he said "I thought I smelled something." Yeah, thanks for looking out for us buddy! Hell with that place.

                                    Also, Blue Agave in Federal Hill served us an absolute pile of inedible garbage and a lunch at the Brass Elephant consisted of plate after plate of straight trash.

                                    1. chowser RE: Steve Nov 23, 2011 01:27 PM

                                      I don't know if it's fair for a place I've only been to once but Bobby Flay did a pad thai throwdown so we had to try the place out. It was very sweet, noodles fell apart; we could barely eat it. I don't know if that's the worst, but it was most disappointing.

                                      1. i
                                        ILoveBacon RE: Steve Dec 2, 2011 01:15 PM

                                        C.B. in Baltimore's Little Italy. I ordered the Frutte Di Mare and what came out was a plate of watery, over-cooked spaghetti (there was a ring of water all around the outer perimeter of the plate) with two tired looking shrimp, a scallop and a few rings of calamari. The whole thing also smelled faintly of ammonia. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

                                        1. f
                                          ForFoodsSake RE: Steve Dec 3, 2011 08:16 AM

                                          I had a memorably awful brunch at Founding Farmers with friends.

                                          Almost everything was tasteless, just blah, and our server completely forgot us for about an hour. We had the cornbread (that was actually good, the only thing that I liked), bacon lollipops (basically just fat on a stick, not much actual meat), the popcorn (nothing special), sirloin chili (tasteless, gristly), and the stuffed french toast (bone dry).

                                          I'm still mystified as to how they got named as one of the best new restaurants in DC (even if it was by Food Network Magazine). There are tons of better options out there!

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: ForFoodsSake
                                            e
                                            Elyssa RE: ForFoodsSake Dec 5, 2011 08:02 AM

                                            I went to Founding Farmers after seeing their deviled eggs on the Food Network's Best Thing I Ever Ate. The eggs were delicious until I got to my 4th one and started to taste something crunchy....the crunchiness would just not go away. It turns out there were big chunks of egg shells in half the deviled eggs! I thought that was pretty inexcusable. I understand how this happens but it's never once happened to me in a restaurant before. It ruined the whole dish for me.

                                            1. re: Elyssa
                                              alkapal RE: Elyssa Dec 6, 2011 05:05 AM

                                              shells in eggs are always so jarring and repulsive. on par with grit in mussels or clams. my teeth shudder. (is that even possible?).

                                              1. re: Elyssa
                                                b
                                                Bood RE: Elyssa Dec 20, 2011 07:52 AM

                                                I had an awful brunch at Kramers and Afterwards (I know people are going to kill me, but it's true...) and I haven't been back since. I go to the bookstore all the time! It's my local bookstore of choice, but I steer clear of the food. Sorry :-(

                                                1. re: Bood
                                                  hill food RE: Bood Dec 20, 2011 10:27 AM

                                                  last time I was at Kramer's was one gorgeous Spring evening, 4 of us outside on a 4 top, gargling drinks and ordering apps, not hogging the table, racking up more than a bit of a tab, certainly no slouches (and not rowdy) then the manager asked us in a not very nice way to leave since we weren't ordering a proper dinner. umm isn't the mark up on wine and liquor vastly higher than on food? good bookstore, lousy cafe service-wise and apparently profit-wise as well.

                                                  1. re: Bood
                                                    monkeyrotica RE: Bood Dec 21, 2011 05:51 AM

                                                    Don't be sorry! I've been going to Afterwords since the mid 1980s, and the place has always been a joke: long lines where you're ignored by rude or indifferent servers who take HOURS to give you lousy food and burnt coffee. The only reason it's in business is because it's across from a subway station and it's open late. Can't comment on the brunch because I've never felt the need to pay extra to be treated like an idiot with a wallet attached, but every meal I've had there was an experiment in boredom and malevolence. Once I discovered Vesuvius diner across the street, I never looked back. Shame it's gone. I miss those gyros and the insane people you'd find there at 1am.

                                                2. re: ForFoodsSake
                                                  f
                                                  Flaxen_Vixen RE: ForFoodsSake Feb 1, 2012 08:31 AM

                                                  I've had dinner, brunch and drinks at Founding Farmers - I could never understand what all the hype was. Service is abysmal, food mediocre and the price point too high for the quality and service. I did like it's sister restaurant - Agraria on the Georgetown waterfront a little more - the service wasn't as hostile or shoddy there, but the food wasn't much better.

                                                  1. re: Flaxen_Vixen
                                                    Dennis S RE: Flaxen_Vixen Feb 2, 2012 06:32 AM

                                                    I've eaten at Agraria. Didn't know they were sister restos. Agraria was okay, but nothing to shout about. Service was good the time I went.

                                                3. a
                                                  anakalia RE: Steve Dec 3, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                  Our worst meal in DC was actually served several years ago when we came out here for trip (we've since moved to the area). We tried "Indebleu," thinking that it sounded like a French-Indian fusion place,and that that would be really interesting.

                                                  Not so much. It was utterly disappointing and horribly pretentious and overpriced. There is absolutely no excuse for charging $15+ for a bowl of bland, oily dal (I think it was dal makhani). It was horrible, and all I kept saying was that my mother-in-law's dal blew this place's out of the park. My husband's meat dish was beyond bland. The icing on the cake, however, was a martini that we still joke about -- it was supposed to be spicy, but all they did was sprinkle garam masala on top... yes, so the martini was grainy as you sucked it down. I remember the dessert being awful, too.

                                                  Our experience was so bad that we turned the word "Indebleu" into a verb, with the meaning, "to try, but fail, in the attempt to fancy-fy Indian food" (I've indebleu-ized many a meal at home, sad to say).

                                                  This place so turned us off to the idea of "upscale" Indian food, that it took us 2+ years to try Rasika. Fortunately, we finally did, as it's become one of our favorite restaurants!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: anakalia
                                                    p
                                                    piafoodie RE: anakalia Dec 4, 2011 06:04 AM

                                                    Mercifully - Indebleu closed! It was TRULY awful and the service was way over-the-top snobbish as well. They acted like they were doing us a favor for having us in their dining room.

                                                    1. re: piafoodie
                                                      hill food RE: piafoodie Dec 5, 2011 12:46 AM

                                                      Indebleu was such a good idea and the menu always looked so interesting and then...

                                                      ya'd walk in and think "oh so if when I was 25 and had some money and wanted to play 'grown-up' not knowing I'm getting jacked, this is where I'd go!"

                                                      it DID sound good on paper. but the idea of dinner quickly changed to just nibbles and drinks

                                                    2. re: anakalia
                                                      p
                                                      pamelak52 RE: anakalia Dec 14, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                      I had an absolutely stellar meal there once in early 2008 and looked forward to returning. I heard, however, that they lost their chef and then restaurant went downhill quickly from there.

                                                    3. s
                                                      SpareRib RE: Steve Dec 4, 2011 09:08 AM

                                                      The one that stands out for me was years ago at 1789. I had booked the table almost two months in advance and told them is was a special occasion. When we arrived they sat us at a table just inside the door in the bar area. Not only were we jostled by everyone trying to get into and out of the bar, but the table also happened to be next to the drinks refrigerator and every couple of minutes the wait staff were in and out of the fridge next to us. Of course, whenever anyone came in or out of the bar we were hit with a blast of cold air. As far as the food went, my husband said his was good (although I was never sure if he said this because he didn't want to make a bad situation worse) but mine was a disappointment. I don't know when my lamb had been cooked, but it certainly wasn't when I ordered it. It was stone cold with white congealed fat attached. The rest of the plate was hot, so I've no idea what happened to the meat. I didn't complain at the time because I didn't want to ruin the evening any more than it already had been. Looking back I really should have made a fuss at the time, but I just kept hoping it would get better I guess. Of course, despite wonderful reviews on the restaurant and the fact that this (hopefully) was a one-off lapse on their part, we have never been back.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: SpareRib
                                                        w
                                                        wayne keyser RE: SpareRib Dec 5, 2011 12:27 AM

                                                        Tales like this abound, whether here, or on other similar sites, or in the weekly online chat with Washington POST food critic Tom Sietsema. I have never understood how someone can say something like "the meat was still frozen in the center, and the staff barely served us, and the order was wrong and they griped about correcting it ... and on and on ... and then the kicker: "the bill was over $200, I expected better, do you think we should return?"

                                                        Am I odd because I go back through the drive-thru (politely) if my order is missing a $1 burger? For $200 my etiquette would go entirely away until I'm entirely satisfied, and I'd certainly not return for more of the same treatment!

                                                      2. alkapal RE: Steve Dec 6, 2011 05:17 AM

                                                        top bad meal, shortly before its final throes -- hands down: bombay palace. i sent back the butter chicken (which USED to be stellar in its heyday) three times (of course, this was a stupid gesture; i'm now certain that they did nothing but warm the serving dish and re-garnish). i then gave up so disgusted and didn't eat anything. it was utterly flavorless. how can you have so many rich ingredients and it be flavorless? i'd have eaten better on the holodeck. as for mr. alka, i think his was terrible, too -- and it was probably lamb. that restaurant deserved to die. i think we just said "this is inedible" and left, of course never to darken their door again.

                                                        (we used to be regulars from when it was in the old below street-level location further east on k (like the blue lagoon with all the niches for brass deities) and were friendly with management; back in the day, their food was stellar, and service was the best. but after so many years, and once their empire started to crumble and talent was defecting, they stopped caring at all).

                                                        second worst meal involved a "chef" at Two Nineteen http://www.219restaurant.com/ in old town who INSISTED -- nay SWORE -- that the chicken shreds in the snapper gumbo were snapper. this was years ago…. uh, yeah sure, chef, they look and taste just the same. (i see they now use the generic "seafood gumbo" on the online menu).

                                                        worst service ever: in the last months of les halles. one of the idle waiters turned around, saw us come in (this was the patio) and resumed his conversation with the other idle waiter. we were THE ONLY PEOPLE on the patio. for quite a while they studiously avoided further eye contact. it did not get better that meal, and we lamented that such a great hangout after seeing museums, with good mussels and red chimay, was no longer….

                                                        it had become an ex-restaurant.

                                                        1. j
                                                          Jeserf RE: Steve Dec 6, 2011 05:34 AM

                                                          1) the now-closed Starfish cafe at Barrack's Row. Wow it was terrible.

                                                          2) Heritage India - only fitting now, but the still-frozen vegetables weren't even the worst part. The worse part was them losing a customers credit card between picking up her check and returning everything to her - 10 feet away, maybe, to process it? They didn't even offer her dessert/coffee while they searched (or offer her to call the credit card company to cancel the card in case someone stole it...between table and processing) - they asked her to come back tomorrow or leave her number in case they find it.

                                                          15 Replies
                                                          1. re: Jeserf
                                                            e
                                                            Elyssa RE: Jeserf Dec 6, 2011 06:04 AM

                                                            Ugh Starfish was the WORST! I worked in Barrack's Row for 5 years and we constantly had to go to this place for birthdays and other celebrations because we had a vegan in our group and this was the only place he could eat. It was terrible!! I was so happy when Old Siam finally opened up so we could go there instead.

                                                            1. re: Elyssa
                                                              j
                                                              Jeserf RE: Elyssa Dec 6, 2011 09:26 AM

                                                              Interesting - I went there when I was more strict about not eating meat and I was at a total loss when we were there!
                                                              SO glad things have changed in the area. It makes going to 8th and I much more fun

                                                              1. re: Elyssa
                                                                f
                                                                flavrmeistr RE: Elyssa Dec 6, 2011 09:27 AM

                                                                I think the serial incidents of the group being held hostage by a lone vegan is probably the most appalling aspect of your story. This takes it to a whole new level.

                                                                1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                  alkapal RE: flavrmeistr Dec 6, 2011 09:53 AM

                                                                  seriously. i thought the same thing.

                                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                    e
                                                                    Elyssa RE: flavrmeistr Dec 6, 2011 12:08 PM

                                                                    Oh do not even get me started. The year we had to celebrate MY birthday at Starfish---not good.

                                                                    1. re: Elyssa
                                                                      hill food RE: Elyssa Dec 6, 2011 04:53 PM

                                                                      Starfish was good when it opened in 2001, for maybe the first 6 months. after that the chef just couldn't deliver a plate not slathered in cream sauces (a few sure, but the entire menu? uhnh uhnh) the fish was never bad when I 'd been there, just over powered, it never stood a chance.

                                                                      1. re: hill food
                                                                        e
                                                                        Elyssa RE: hill food Dec 7, 2011 06:26 AM

                                                                        Cream sauce was never the issue. It was just the most thrown together, mediocre food with often times confused service.

                                                                        1. re: Elyssa
                                                                          hill food RE: Elyssa Dec 7, 2011 09:37 PM

                                                                          I can see why you might say that. to me it just seemed as if the sauces covered for any other (present or absent) ingredients or technique. I gave up on the place around 2005 so can't really say more. given it was by the same folks as Banana, the service issue isn't too surprising.

                                                                          1. re: hill food
                                                                            e
                                                                            Elyssa RE: hill food Dec 8, 2011 08:19 AM

                                                                            Oh wait!!! I was thinking of Banana Cafe NOT Starfish! Banana Cafe was the place the vegan made us go that I couldn't stand. Starfish Cafe was the place I "chose" to go for my birthdays because it was the better of 2 awful restaurants. I mixed the 2 up.

                                                                            You are right, Starfish relied a lot on heavy sauces. And was also pretty damn awful. There are so many great options in that area now (which all pretty much opened up right as I was switching jobs). What I wouldn't give to have spent all those office celebrations at Zest or Ted's Bulletin.

                                                                            1. re: Elyssa
                                                                              alkapal RE: Elyssa Dec 9, 2011 04:07 AM

                                                                              i liked banana cafe -- esp. the carnitas and the zarzuela de mariscos.

                                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                                monkeyrotica RE: alkapal Dec 9, 2011 08:18 AM

                                                                                Banana Cafe is maddening because there's nothing really good and nothing really bad about it, so naturally, it's the one place that EVERYONE in the office agrees to go to for lunch so they can take home leftovers which they only end up throwing away because they didn't like them all that much to begin with.

                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                  hill food RE: monkeyrotica Dec 16, 2011 03:56 PM

                                                                                  still I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Banana for a sunny Friday afternoon in April 'let's play hooky from work and have a pitcher of margaritas on the terrace' kind of place.

                                                                                  'off-site team-building meeting'

                                                                                  1. re: hill food
                                                                                    monkeyrotica RE: hill food Dec 19, 2011 02:07 PM

                                                                                    Fair enough, but I've found the pours at Las Placitas across the street far more generous. I prefer their cooking as well.

                                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                      hill food RE: monkeyrotica Dec 19, 2011 03:11 PM

                                                                                      you notice I didn't recommend the food, right?...(smirk)

                                                                                    2. re: hill food
                                                                                      e
                                                                                      Elyssa RE: hill food Dec 20, 2011 07:29 AM

                                                                                      Probably for drinks only it's fine.

                                                                2. f
                                                                  flavrmeistr RE: Steve Dec 6, 2011 10:36 AM

                                                                  Chinatown in DC. Little Italy in Baltimore. So many abominations, so little bandwidth.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                    w
                                                                    wayne keyser RE: flavrmeistr Dec 6, 2011 06:31 PM

                                                                    There is nothing of a real "Chinatown" in DC's Chinatown. We call it "redevelopment", loudly applaud the opening of each Starbucks where once there was a tiny mom & pop store or eatery, and we smile at how progressive we are.

                                                                    1. re: wayne keyser
                                                                      Bob W RE: wayne keyser Dec 7, 2011 09:01 AM

                                                                      Do people still call it Chinablock, or is even that too generous now?

                                                                      1. re: Bob W
                                                                        hill food RE: Bob W Dec 7, 2011 09:39 PM

                                                                        it's "FranchiseTown" now

                                                                        as in 'fuggedaboutit Jake' - well for Chinese food anyway (ok there are a few exceptions for some things).

                                                                        1. re: hill food
                                                                          alkapal RE: hill food Dec 7, 2011 09:49 PM

                                                                          even before then…some 20 years ago, the restaurants there were not very good.

                                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                                            m
                                                                            mdpilam RE: alkapal Dec 8, 2011 09:15 AM

                                                                            Stick with Matchbox or Graffiato when eating in Chinatown.

                                                                  2. JonParker RE: Steve Dec 16, 2011 09:06 AM

                                                                    the worst meal I had was at michaels in Cockeysville. it was simply horrible. Dried out veal on top of overcooked pasta with canned spaghetti sauce. Ugh.

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: JonParker
                                                                      f
                                                                      flavrmeistr RE: JonParker Dec 26, 2011 10:43 PM

                                                                      I had the same meal at Sabatino's, with the addition of watery frozen spinach and frozen bread, served by contemptible little wise guy wanna-be's.

                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                        i
                                                                        ivysmom RE: flavrmeistr Dec 27, 2011 04:18 AM

                                                                        The one and only time we went to Sabatino's we were sitting cheek to jowl with the tables next to us. It was SO cramped, for a "white tablecloth" place that any thoughts of an intimate conversation were thrown out. Honestly it was as if we were at a large group table rather than our own table for two. The food was less than mediocre, service was lousy. We never understood the draw and never went back.

                                                                        1. re: ivysmom
                                                                          alkapal RE: ivysmom Dec 27, 2011 08:04 AM

                                                                          i think sabatino's was probably good 30 years ago. i know one locally notable italian lawyer /politico that made that a destination if we had to travel to baltimore from d.c. on a case.

                                                                          remember their salad dressing that they sold in grocery stores for a while? that was really good -- a creamy italian, parmesan & romano combo, as i recall.

                                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                                            monkeyrotica RE: alkapal Dec 28, 2011 04:37 AM

                                                                            I'd really like to meet someone who's had a decent meal there. Because the last time I was at Sab's was in 1989 and it was pretty much as described. Crowded, mediocre, and the sort of indifferent service that's cute at a truck stop diner but irritating at this price point.

                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                              alkapal RE: monkeyrotica Dec 28, 2011 05:13 AM

                                                                              ah, that is only 23 years ago.

                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                l
                                                                                lalajane RE: monkeyrotica Jan 31, 2012 07:38 PM

                                                                                agree, b/c I never have either. And it cannot even qualify for "sauce joint" good.

                                                                              2. re: alkapal
                                                                                t
                                                                                tartuffe RE: alkapal Jan 31, 2012 11:11 AM

                                                                                Sabatino's has NEVER been good--and I habve been there every five yrs since 1964. (Mostly other people's dime)

                                                                        2. e
                                                                          emcentar RE: Steve Jan 28, 2012 05:28 PM

                                                                          Ugh. I never had one for this list until tonight. I finally decided to check out Himalayan Heritage in Adams Morgan as I live nearby. I cook pretty good Indian food myself, so it's not usually what I frequent when going out.

                                                                          I ordered the Nepali Goat Curry. It should have been called, "Pile of Goat Bones and Gristle Curry". I managed to pry three bites of actual meat off two cups of 'curry'. In an attempt to try anything on my plate that might be edible my fourth bite was a mouth full of gristle so vile, I almost threw up. The rice wasn't bad, so I poured some of the curry sauce (1/2 goat fat, 1/2 spice) on it and ate that. I should have just eaten the white rice plain and left - that was so greasy my stomach still hurts.

                                                                          All for $17.95 with tax. This is one of the area's Cheap Eats! I walked up the road and got a $4 felafel sandwich that was 100xs better than what I just had.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Himalayan Heritage
                                                                          2305 18th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20009

                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                          1. re: emcentar
                                                                            woodleyparkhound RE: emcentar Jan 28, 2012 09:52 PM

                                                                            I was in Nepal for two years in the Peace Corps. Sounds like you had a very authentic meal! :-) The goat was so horrible there I told people I was a vegetarian so I wouldn't have to eat it.

                                                                            1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                              e
                                                                              emcentar RE: woodleyparkhound Jan 29, 2012 07:02 AM

                                                                              Bwaaah! You know, the only reason I didn't just send it back to the kitchen was I'd never had Nepalese food before, so I kept thinking, "what if this is actually what they eat?" The dish is one of three on the "Chef Recommends" very short Nepalese section of the menu. If that's the best Nepalese cuisine has to offer, I'm going to use your trick if I ever travel there, and pretend to be vegetarian.

                                                                              1. re: emcentar
                                                                                e
                                                                                emcentar RE: emcentar Jan 29, 2012 07:19 AM

                                                                                PS Something like this did happen to me when I was traveling in Portugal, by the way. I ordered some grilled whole fish that were so small I spent an hour trying to remove the skin and fish from the bone. Although what I did get off the fish was delicious, I left the restaurant hungry and my waiter was very unhappy with me, for reasons my Portuguese was too inadequate to understand fully.

                                                                                When I told this story to a friend from Portugal, she said, "You are supposed to eat the fish bones and all". "Really? You can eat fish bones?" I mean, my vet won't even let me serve fish bones to my dog. So while the staff was watching me trying to remove meat from the knuckle-sized bones of my curry, I kept wondering, "Maybe I'm supposed to eat the goat bones." Since that's all there was on my plate, it was hard not to wonder.

                                                                                1. re: emcentar
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  Steve RE: emcentar Jan 29, 2012 09:40 AM

                                                                                  Eperlans are tiny fish from Lake Annecy which are fried and eaten bones and all. See photo link (not my photo):

                                                                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/thenextw...

                                                                                  For larger fish, Chef Li at Grace Garden in Odenton, MD filets the fish and stir fries the filets with vegetables. He then takes the rest of the carcass and deep fries it so you can polish off the whole thing, bones and all.

                                                                                  Sichuan chicken dry-fried with chili peppers comes out as tiny morsels on the bone. You push away the mountain of chilis and you have to nibble on the bones. As much sport as it is food, but can be terrific.

                                                                                  I have never heard of eating goat bones, and I was not impressed with HH on my one visit.

                                                                                  1. re: emcentar
                                                                                    alkapal RE: emcentar Jan 29, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                                    my husband spent a good deal of time in england dutring his youth, and he loves these deep-fried sprats! http://gastrogeek.wordpress.com/2011/...
                                                                                    crunchy crunchy!

                                                                                    i mean, they also eat the crunchy frogs, coated in the most delicate swiss chocolate. ;-)).<shout out to you MP fans>

                                                                                  2. re: emcentar
                                                                                    woodleyparkhound RE: emcentar Jan 29, 2012 07:53 AM

                                                                                    The people are very poor, and grow their food in "kitchen gardens". Most Nepalis are subsistence farmers. A goat is killed for a special occasion only.

                                                                                    The best Nepali food I had was with a wealthy family in Kathmandu, where a variety of foods are available and the family was of a caste known for good cooking -- she was just great. Like everywhere, there are people who can cook there and people who can't. Brahmins are famous for being bad cooks.

                                                                                    A big reason why I thought the goat (and chicken) was so awful there is because of the way they butcher it. They don't cut it into breasts, thighs, legs, etc. like we do here. They use a cleaver to chop it willy-nilly into small pieces - each of which contains substantial amounts of fat, bone and gristle, and very little meat.

                                                                                    I'm talking about my experience living in a small remote village. If you go there as a wealthy tourist (and if you are there as a tourist, you are VERY wealthy by Nepali standards) you get a much different quality of food.

                                                                                    An authentic Nepali meal would be dal bhaat - a huge mound of rice, lentils, a vegetable or two and an "achar", some small flavorful item, like stewed tomatoes .

                                                                                    http://www.food-nepal.com/ingredients...

                                                                                    If you are lucky, a fried egg could be added to this and/or ghee could be poured on top of it. If you are VERY lucky, you could be served rice straight out of the field, which is so much better than the rice we get you can't believe it is the same thing. (Like the best homemade, hand cut pasta compared with the cheapest supermarket brand you can find.) Also lucky would be to be served a glass of water buffalo milk or a glass of homemade raksi, especially some reserved from the special family supply.

                                                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raksi

                                                                                    Dal bhaat is eaten with the right hand and served twice a day - in the morning and at dusk. In the village, there are Nepalis too poor to eat this. They eat a gummy pile of unsalted, cooked millet.

                                                                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                                      agarnett100 RE: woodleyparkhound Jan 29, 2012 03:59 PM

                                                                                      I many countries they eat the bones for the marrow it contains more protein. In most countries meat is a luxury item

                                                                                      1. re: agarnett100
                                                                                        alkapal RE: agarnett100 Jan 30, 2012 05:16 AM

                                                                                        i've never heard of people eating bones of anything but small fish. marrow yes, but bones? how do they digest bones? mammal, amphibian, reptile, poultry? and where are the places they eat bones? i'm really curious.

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                          agarnett100 RE: alkapal Feb 2, 2012 11:11 AM

                                                                                          I never heard of it either until I watch several of my friends from Jamaica eating chicken in front of my eyes bones included. Meat in many countries is a luxury item nothing goes to waste

                                                                                          1. re: agarnett100
                                                                                            alkapal RE: agarnett100 Feb 2, 2012 12:19 PM

                                                                                            your friends eat the bones of the chicken? agarnett100, i am not wanting to naysay, but i find this incredible. i don't know you nor your friends from jamaica, but eating bones is not something i've ever heard about.

                                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                                              p
                                                                                              PollyG RE: alkapal Feb 3, 2012 06:44 AM

                                                                                              When I was a kid, my dad and I would crack open the drumstick bones with our teeth to get the marrow. I assume this was a behavior dad learned from his own parents, who raised 3 boys during the Depression. We never ate the bones themselves, just the marrow.

                                                                                              1. re: PollyG
                                                                                                alkapal RE: PollyG Feb 3, 2012 06:48 AM

                                                                                                marrow, sure.

                                                                                                i would think chicken bone shards could pierce the digestive tract. and i can't imagine gnawing them down or getting them digested to a harmless crumble, like a cow and its stomachs. ;-)).

                                                                              2. Manassas64 RE: Steve Jan 29, 2012 01:54 PM

                                                                                I was in Leesburg yesterday and remembered a horrific meal that I subjected myself to TWICE without realizing it. It was about 15 years apart.

                                                                                I don't even know if it's still in business, I think it was called The Green Tree. Just bad, tasteless slop.

                                                                                I remember the second time I went in there with a group for some event. As soon as I walked in I remembered having been there before. I ended up having iced tea and salad and left. Just walking by the food was enough.

                                                                                1. Mulan RE: Steve Feb 2, 2012 10:35 AM

                                                                                  It was maybe 5 or 6 years ago when Dino first opened. I had a couple of dinners there and really liked it. Then I dragged my husband to a New Years Eve meal. Big mistake. I don't recall all the horrors but there was a steamed fish with no flavor and hardly any fixings. There was a mushroom tart where the pastry was obviously prefab and hard as a rock. Needless to say, my husband never went back. The worst part was how expensive it was for a so-called special meal. I've been there since because I work around there. It is always hit or miss. Not a big fan.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Mulan
                                                                                    monkeyrotica RE: Mulan Feb 2, 2012 10:54 AM

                                                                                    Your fish comment dredged up horrid memories of a meal I had at Rustico shortly after it opened. For some reason that escapes me (probably alcohol induced) I ordered the "lime vanilla cod." It smelled like low tide and tasted like a daiquiri. I've stuck with the burgers and pizzas ever since.

                                                                                  Show Hidden Posts