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Come on Man... or, I Don't Get It...

I wanted to get some of you other foodies' reactions to this topic. I love love LOVE dining out and have tried most of the great, good and fun 'holes' in DC and here is my list of "I don't get it/Come on, man":

1. Dino
2. Central
3. CityZen
4. Citronelle
5. I Ricchi

Anyone care to comment on any of these? Please add your own "Come on Man!" to the list...as in, don't get the hype, didn't love it, maybe didn't even like it...feel free to say why! EAch of these mainly had me underwhelmed by the food or service or both.. like, at I Ricchi one time, my husband went to refill his glass from the bottle of wine on the table, at which point the waiter came and SNATCHED it from his hand and said really loud: "If my boss sees this he'll be jacked..you want to get me fired??" To which my flabbergasted husband said "Uh, no, i am just thirsty...and you weren't here!" Can you say Tiny Tip??? Would love to hear your votes!!

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  1. I've only been to Dino and Central, and while I think neither are great, I think they are both good, but I think Central tends to be more over-hyped (probably mostly due to Michel Richard). I think Dino is good, solid Italian food at reasonable prices with good service, but I do think it tends to be over-recommended on here. Not that it doesn't deserve to be recommended, but I wouldn't necessarily rate it as a "great" or "excellent". But there are a lot of mediocre, over-priced restaurants in DC, so I am always happy to see a good restaurant with moderate prices and good service.

    1. I agree that I Ricchi is not very good.

      Michel Richard's cooking is technically accomplished, but the food winds up covered up so much and so full of extra fat that I lose the point.

      City Zen is superb food, in a weird spot. I like it a lot at the bar. Great wine list. Sommelier Andy is passionate. The food had a sophisticated simplicity that so many chef's food today lacks. I mean I can eat at City Zen for about the same as Graffitiao and less than Fiola and I much prefer the simple foods I get at City Zen.

      Dino serves great food, simply. Also great cocktails, wine, cheese, interesting beers. Maybe that isn't enough for you, but we love it and eat there a lot.

      3 Replies
      1. re: wineo1957

        I do not get Central. At all. Never had a "wow" experience there. Also, don't get Masa 14 (everything so oversalted), Proof (service at the bar can be brusque or dismissive), Bibiana (food has underwhelmed though service is nice).

        1. re: wineo1957

          I guess i am missing something...it would absolutely be enough for me, if i'd ever had that experience!! I like their wine, and cheese and love the free bar snacks. But each time i've had 'regular food" there i have been disappointed. We have eaten at the bar and at regular tables and it's always been the same...just something lacking. Then again it's always been on the weekend...maybe i need to try it when it's less busy. Everyone who loves it can't be wrong...and as far as CityZen maybe we will try the bar, thank you for that suggestion. We've been twice and both times, the best part of the meal was dessert (and of course the box of rolls).

          1. re: DCDOLL

            Box of rolls at Central? Have they changed their bread? (which I have raved about on another thread)

            When I have gone it has been absolutely fantastic sliced bread that I assume they make in house.

            I think some people have too high an expectation from Central . . . .expecting Citronelle at 1/3 the price. I frankly think Central hits all of the right notes for its price point and target market.

            I don't expect a transcendent meal (except for the faux gras) but I expect a perfectly executed "French" meal at a decent price with a fine wine list and good service. . . .and I always get it.

            And then the faux gras causes a gout attack and I limp around for week.

        2. I always enjoy my meal at Dino. I wouldn't argue it belongs at the very top level of restaurants, but he's not trying to do that, and I'd rather have a moderately priced meal that over-delivers than a very expensive meal that doesn't quite live up to expectations.

          I also like CityZen, and in fact I think it probably doesn't get enough credit, but then it's not a place I can afford to eat at regularly so maybe they are not keeping up.

          I agree that Central gets a little too much hype and I never really liked I Ricchi.

          The place I don't particularly like that I see recommended is Vidalia. Also Bistro D'Oc and Bistro du Coin (maybe the problem is me, not the french bistros).

          I tried Rogue 24 and thought it was good but did not live up to the hype, but I might give it another shot.

          1. Citronelle is closed, so there's nothing to "get." I think CityZen is the opposite of a C'mon Man restaurant - it has outstanding food, beverage and service.
            L'Auberge Chez Francois gets my nod in the "I Don't Get It" category.

            4 Replies
            1. re: crackers

              Thanks -- yep i know Citronelle is closed but supposedly will reopen after the reno. I was really just making a statement that i didn't get the hype over it. I may try again if and when it opens just to see if anything improves.

              1. re: crackers

                Totally agree on L'Auberge Chez Francois!

                Reminds me that 1789 is another place that I think is past its prime (at least I assume it had one).

                1. re: Doh

                  1789 and L'Auberge CF were truly back in the day, but that day was a long time ago.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Have you been to 1789 lately? it's one of our faves! they have a new YOUNG chef who is italian and his homemade pastas rival any in the city. i guess i just love the really good service and the food...and i love the fact that people dress for dinner there (although jackets are now just 'suggested'...boo hoo). if you haven't been in a while you might try it again...and let's not forget that free valet in Geo'town is nothing to sneeze at!

              2. Come on Man

                Dino - You go for the fantastic and exceptionally well priced wine list. The appetizers are the strength but there are some excellent things on the menu. Local sourcing whenever possible.

                Citronelle- closed for the time being. The dining room was somewhat dated, but this is basically an older person's (like me) restaurant. Delicious, whimesical and very formal.

                Central - good food, good service, nice vibe. Special, no, worth going to, yes.

                As to the wine service at I Riccihi, I just tell the server, sommelier, whatever, that I will take care of pouring the wine after the first pour. I make it very clear that I wish to do so and do not want anyone else to do so. I never had a problem, especially after I told the manager that when he came to see how the meal was going.

                1. Not in a million years would I compare I Ricchi to any of the restaurants you listed above. Besides the food being sub par compared to the restaurants you have listed, they also are notorious for poor service.

                  I guess it would be helpful to know what you don't "get".

                  1. In terms of my "I don't get" restaurants, the two (which I've discussed a number of times on this board) are Zaytinya and Obelisk.

                    Zaytinya--I've tried it a few times. I think the place is a mad house, unless you sit outside you can't hear a word from your dining companions and the food is only so-so. A number of the dishes are boring, others are just ordinary. I don't understand why there is always, without a doubt an hour wait just to get a table. Service there has always been fine, nothing spectacular. It's my least favorite out of all of Jose's restaurants.

                    Obelisk--I went here a few years ago for my anniversary. It was after this meal that my fiance and I both agreed that we are never again spending lots of money on a big, expensive meal for our anniversary because this was such a let down. The food was good---but not all the courses. The pasta course was extraordinary, the appetizers were fun (when we could get the waitress to explain what we were eating), and the meat dish was just eh. The big issue was the service. It is a tiny restaurant--there is absolutely no excuse for bad service (seriously---where is your focus going besides the 10 tables in the room?). Our waitress was short and a little snooty with us. We clearly were a couple that was interested in the experience, hearing about all the ingredients and taking part in the process. Instead she would drop off all the various appetizers without explaining what they are. It took awhile to get her attention to finally find out what was in front of us---and thank God we did because one of the dishes was sweet breads and I think my fiance would have passed out if he ate that! We couldn't figure out if it was our age (we were the youngest diners in there by quite a few years/decades) or an off night. My fiancee had been there once before with his Mom and remembered having a good experience. Either way I find it close to impossible to recommend this place to anyone else---especially considering the price.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Elyssa

                      Obelisk remains one of my favorite special-occasion restaurants in DC - it disappoints me to read about your experience there a few years ago. But since it *was* a few years ago (and only one time?), perhaps newer reviews would be more relevant.

                      1. re: crackers

                        Part of the reason I included Obelisk in this particular thread is because the theme of this thread is places that everyone loves and you just don't "get."

                        Based on my experience I wouldn't return (frankly it is too expensive to try again and take that risk, plus there are so many high end spots in DC I would rather spend my money at like The Source or Equinox). It was my first time there, not my fiancee's. He is incredibly well-traveled and has dined at some of the best restaurants in the country---he wouldn't return either after our experience there.

                        I imagine newer reviews would be more relevant---I never expect someone to just take my word for it. But I posted my experience because of the theme of the thread.

                        1. re: crackers

                          totally agree.. it is absolutely my fave in DC and it's all about the food. i've never had bad service there, but everything about it is understated..the decor, no music, size...i always figured it is to let the food really shine. The fact that he only cooks awhat he can get fresh at market that day is really important (to me anyway) and the quality of the ingredients is stellar. i am going there tomorrow night w/ a friend who has been dying to try it and i will definitely report back...i'll be completely honest too. :)
                          Elyssa, to explain what i meant, i guess you are right in that I Ricchi doesn't belong in the same category as most of the others (except Dino) but i wasn't really just trying to capture a particular type of restaurant just ones that i don't understand the hype over. I Ricchi seems to be getting panned now more than praised so maybe it needs to come of the "come on man' list.

                          1. re: DCDOLL

                            When was the last time I Ricchi was praised? I mean it must be decades now. How that place is still open is one of the great mysteries of our time.

                            1. re: BrianD

                              Yup...that was my point. i have seen it written up semi favorably over time but usually not in anything LOCAL. which should be a clue...

                      2. Dino is a decent neighborhood spot; not a destination spot. I’m not sure why so many on this board steer people – tourists especially – to Dino. It’s fine for a glass of wine and a few small plates, but I’ve been underwhelmed each time I’ve eaten dinner there. Pasta dishes are always dry and heavy. I’ve had better luck with the seafood, but again, nothing that I couldn’t get anywhere else.

                        The service was unbelievably bad the last time I was there. We had to flag down busboys to ask for menus, drink refills, the status of our food, etc. We wanted to order another bottle of wine during dinner, but by the time our waiter managed to find our table again, we had been finished with our entrees for nearly 20 minutes.

                        We asked for the check then because we didn’t know when he’d be back. The food was fine, but nothing to write home about. My friends were in town from Naples and even they were commenting on the slow service. There are too many good spots in DC to keep giving this place another chance.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: nedh

                          If you go to Dino for a glass of wine, which admittedly they have a fine list of, you just don't get it. Ask for the big wine list and be amazed. Dino is where I send everyone I know that is a wine geek, and it would be fantastic for that reason alone.

                          1. re: dinwiddie

                            Believe me, we had plenty of time to read the big wine list.

                            1. re: nedh

                              But since you are not a "major wine geek" like me, that probably didn't satisfy you. I love reading the list and ordering something I've never had before without spending an arm and a leg.

                              1. re: dinwiddie

                                As said elsewhere, this is DC, and in DC lots of people like what they are supposed to like. Trendy. Local sourcing is the new gimmick. Wine list is big, but you are just as likely to get it served improperly. Agree that it is a good neighborhood restaurant, not a destination. The others are way past their prime. Anyone see the Chopped episode where the chef from 1789 revealed himself to be totally pompous? Face it, it is very hard to maintain the luster over time.

                        2. I have to say that as vegetarian diners, we really enjoy Dino because it's seasonal and the veggie options are different - he's really stepped it up when them. I'm always impressed with the vegetarian options. That's why I recommend it, personally - when my folks visit, we usually go there.

                          As for "come on", I'd say Georgetown Cupcake (though I do LOVE their mini cupcakes, they're great and beautiful for a party).

                          I also agree with Zaytinya - I've always left hungry. And it's loud.

                          Then again, when I go out to eat, I just look to have an enjoyable time and eat food that I'm not cooking myself - that alone is a pleasure, as someone who cooks 6 nights a week!

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Jeserf

                            I think the thing with Zatinya (and most small plates eateries in general) is that you're not supposed to leave the place full. You're supposed to much a few bites over a drink then go somewhere else and continue the munching and drinking. That said, yeah, you can easily go deaf there but, again, for a particular demographic, having to scream at your friends is all part of the "energy" and "buzz." So to that extent, I "get" it, but don't want it.

                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                              I understand the concept, but why leave a restaurant hungry (I don't want to be stuffed, mind you, just not still hungry) after a bill that large?

                              <shrug>

                              1. re: Jeserf

                                Oh, I agree completely. If I leave hungry, either you didn't give me enough food or your food sucked so bad I can't stomach it. But Zatinya isn't geared towards me. It's geared towards people who are concerned about seeing and being seen and "buzz" and "energy;" the food is secondary if not tertiary. As for the bill, I know lots of folks who think nothing of dropping that kind of money on meals several times a week. It's just part of the lifestyle they've chosen.

                                1. re: Jeserf

                                  I think that was the original concept of tapas in Spain. I wouldn't say that carries through to small plates restaurants in America. I can't imagine a restaurant in DC saying "Come here, have one or two dishes and then please, take your business someplace else."

                                  I think small plates restaurants in America are supposed to be full service, full meal restaurants now.

                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                    Yes, tapas was bar snacks, essentially. It's trying to morph into something else in the States nowadays.

                                    1. re: Hal Laurent

                                      But isn't that always the case when cuisine migrates from one country to another? It changes depending on the demands of the market and the available food sources, for better or ill.

                                    2. re: Elyssa

                                      Actually, I can see restaurants saying "Eat and GTFO" if you have a party of ten lingering over dessert for hours while there's a line out front. Turning tables over is key to profitability which is why small plates is so appealing: high profit margin, cured foods that just need to be sliced instead of labor-intensively prepped.

                                    3. re: Jeserf

                                      Who goes to Zatinya for the food?

                                      Monkey is right it is the scene on the vibe and the chance to connect with other folks there for the same thing.

                                      Light fare - lots of alcohol - and other people looking to hook up. Who wants to be full when out on the prowl?

                                      1. re: drewpbalzac

                                        What?!?! I love the food there. Although to be fair, I haven't been there in probably 2 years. Has it gone down hill since Mike Isabella left, or did you always think it was more about the scene than the food?

                                        1. re: Bart Hound

                                          Food is great - but it is loud and packed in and full of hipsters out to hook up.

                                          Most people ar ether because it is loud, packed, and full uf hipsters to hook up with.

                                          They could serve a ritz cracker and chopped liver and it would be great to go there.

                                          1. re: Bart Hound

                                            I've always thought the food was only so-so---even when Isabella was there (and I LOVE his cooking at Graffiato).

                                  2. Grapeseed in Bethesda is my biggest "come on" restaurant. I just don't get why its fans are so rabid about how great it is. For me, not so much.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: SpareRib

                                      I think it's because there are like zero other options for upscale food in Bethesda, particularly in Woodmont Triangle (Black's is the only other thing nearby that would qualify, I think).

                                      I went once and I thought it was fine. I haven't seen any rabid fans defend it, though.

                                      1. re: reiflame

                                        I was thinking the same thing-- in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

                                      2. re: SpareRib

                                        Really? interesting...we always sit at the bar and talk to Laura and have wine (awesome BTG selection) and snacks, sometimes a meal. Their fall offerings are very nice. I like small plates though...don't need a doggy bag!

                                        1. re: SpareRib

                                          Agree, mediocre.

                                          I suggest that people try to avoid aiming for high end when it doesn't exist. The better restaurants are those that aim for solid.

                                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                                            I went to Rasika once and thought it was fine, but then the Post gave it four stars and I was thoroughly confused. It is in no way on the same level as places like Restaurant Eve and Citronelle.

                                            1. re: reiflame

                                              The Post is a large part of the problem. We don't have any good variety on restaurant reviews. I have wondered sometimes if I am eating in the dame place. Tried Le Zinc after it was panned by the Post and was thrilled to find dorade on the menu, and an owner with a great sense of humor. Haven't seen it re-reviewed.

                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                What's "dorade"? Is it the same as "dorado", aka "dolphin"--the fish?

                                                  1. re: law_doc89

                                                    Maybe the next time I go to the Mediterranean.

                                          2. Mine is Freddy's Lobster and Clams in Bethesda. We have tried it three times and each time - nothing bad, but just meh. The quality of the clam bellies was great but fried food needs to be served very hot and all three times, it was lukewarm by the time it got to us. The fries were not worth eating. We tried fish & chips once, too. Just nothing to write home about. Really disappointing because we love this kind of food and were really looking forward to it being a regular go-to.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Just Visiting

                                              Taylor Gourmet - the sandwiches are nothing special and are overpriced. Any hoagie place in South Philly would put them to shame I stopped by Cosmi's Deli in South Philly this week and grabbed two hoagies for almost have the cost of Taylor Gourmet.

                                              1. re: agarnett100

                                                But you didn't factor in the cost of driving to South Philly from DC. 8<D

                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                  I'm pretty sure that's why Taylor stopped getting their bread from Sarcones. It was costing too much and was unreliable. Were they still doing it, I'm sure those sandwiches would cost even more by now. Anyway, the Pattison Avenue is pretty good, but I tend to stick with their fried risotto balls, which are pretty awesome.

                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                    I'm not a Philly guy, so to me the Pattison Ave is very good. As for the fried risotto balls, have you tried them at Pupatella in Arlington? Pretty darn good, and big!

                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                      Will have to try them. What makes Taylor's arancini is the marinara. Not too sweet, with a little spiciness and just enough acidity to compliment the fattiness of the meaty/cheesy risotto.

                                                  2. re: Bob W

                                                    Taylor Stopped getting their bread from Sarcones awhile ago see link - http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/bl...

                                                    My 85 yr old aunt who lives on South St swears that Pauls Pizza on 716 Sansom St is the best.

                                                2. re: Just Visiting

                                                  I think Freddy's has some really good food, but not anything that they fry. I'm fairly certain that they're just frying at too low a temperature, and then when they plate it, it's in tiny bowls that mean the stuff at the bottom steams and gets soggy and the stuff at the top cools too quickly. I also don't like their fries, but that's just not my favorite style of fries.

                                                  Their soups, burgers, lobster stuff and apps are all pretty good though, and the beer list is the best you'll get in Montgomery County.

                                                3. Pretty much any of the Great American Restaurant chains. I've tried Artie's, Mike's American, Sweetwater. I can't for the life of me remember anything I've ordered there. About the best I could say is that it was competently prepared and totally forgettable. I just don't undestand the lines.

                                                  27 Replies
                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                    I think it has to do with consistently good food and service at a good price. I was at Carlyle last night for my daughter's birthday - - 4 adults, 2 kids - - 2 apps, 6 entrees, 1 bottle of wine and 1 dessert for $213 (before tip, but after tax). You can't even walk into minibar for that price as a solo diner! I realize that's an apples and oranges comparison, but I think a lot of places are just prohibitively expensive for families and/or people who like to eat out a few times a month.

                                                    1. re: Bart Hound

                                                      I agree with Bart Hound's assessment. What I "don't get" about Great American Restaurants is why they don't have a good selection of wines by the glass. I would enjoy my "competently prepared" prime rib (or whatever) a whole lot more if they had something more interesting than Kendall Jackson to go with it.

                                                    2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                      GAR seems to know how to train people to run restaurants, too.

                                                      Both Blue Ridge Grill in Leesburg and Brambleton, and Ford's Fish Shack in Ashburn and soon South Riding, are run by GAR alums. They even have some of the same stuff on the menu -- banana pudding, chopped salad, the green cole slaw, etc. And they are consistently packed too.

                                                      Competency and consistency and good value go a long way when people just want to get out of the house and not eat garbage!

                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                        That's a good description of the GAR chain. They're solid places to go when people aren't adventurous and want to know what to expect. It works well for the Cheesecake Facotry crowd and I'd rather eat at one of the GARs than the CF.

                                                        OTOH, I don't read many reviews for them that claim to be more than that. People (and I do, too) recommend them for the right occasion/crowd. But, I've never read a stellar review and they've never been put in the same category as, say Restaurant Eve.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          300+ reviews on Yelp. Solid four stars. The biggest complaint is about the lack of adequate parking. Agree with the posters above: when you're surrounded by inept service and poor food, competency and consistency definitely stands out.

                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                            Wow, but not that surprising, I guess. I don't mind the restaurants and given the alternatives with some of my friends, it's the best option in the areas. Where else would you go in Springfield w/ unadventurous eaters? As you're saying they're not great as much as better than the alternatives. That said, this is why I'm leery of what I read on Yelp. Cheesecake Factory in Fair Oaks, 4 1/2 stars.

                                                            http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-cheesecak...

                                                            I'd go to Sweetwater before that.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Fortunately, I don't know any "unadventurous" eaters, but if I were stuck in Springfield with them, I'd steer them towards Delias or Hard Times I suppose. I tend to steer clear of crowded restaurants anyway. I hate having to deal with crowded parking lots, waits for tables, and noise, all of which Mike's American has in spades.

                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                I was so happy when Walkers Grille opened nearby. I do prefer Mike's to Deila's and Hard Times but never go at busy times and haven't been in, maybe close to two years. We parked across the street in the Fischer's (now defunct I've been told) parking lot.

                                                          2. re: chowser

                                                            Amen, the mechanics of a restaurant are important, but there is more to a restaurant than mechanics. Penn and Teller have staged some pranks that show how much the experience of dining influences the perception of the food. Very funny, but show how easy it is to fool low sophistication diners.

                                                            1. re: law_doc89

                                                              "show how easy it is to fool low sophistication diners."

                                                              Sadly, yes. Not just "low sophistication" but many. There was a study where they passed cheap wine off as expensive and it generally received good marks.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                This is why I always decant my Carlo Rossi Paisano in my crystal decanter. Guests just rave about how delicious the stuff is.

                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                  You always give us a smile, Monkey... Even we, the easily-fooled, low-sophistication diners.

                                                                    1. re: law_doc89

                                                                      That would be cruel, except the people were kind of pretentious. Brooshetta would give it away, as would "De-vohnn" clotted cream, even if you didn't eat the food. But, I wonder how many people they tried to fool to get those three who they eventually did. Who can't tell between fresh and canned tomatoes?

                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                    monkey - smoke and mirrors, sometimes it is just smoke and mirrors. the sad part is you can never reveal that sleight-of-hand (unless you think they're a bunch of pretentious idiots in the first place).

                                                                    law_doc - I wouldn't do it to fool people, just, I dunno, make it more special with what's available.

                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                      It is their way of making a point, which their prank certainly does. I have been to some of these GAR places, and found them to be appalling. Poor quality, over cooked food with extra strong seasoning to cover the mishmash of stuff. I always get suspicious of over long menus with cuisines from everywhere,

                                                                      I am not trying to knock the people who go there, but it is a shame that factory food is what passes for quality, and for about the same prices, there are truly good and interesting restaurants available. My knock is the lack of curiosity and adventure, and the unwillingness to learn. That is why, I fear, that the DC restaurants are topped by the list in the OP. It is to look at reviews on some of the other CH discussions. If you look at the reports from Paris, for instance,or New York, you will see some interesting descriptions, and more informative,

                                                                      1. re: law_doc89

                                                                        For every good and interesting eatery, I can name you three horrible inept ones. GAR eateries are a known quantity; for the most part competent and adequate. Not every meal has to be an orgasmic adventure. Sometimes you just want a burger cooked to order or a plate of fish that doesn't come from Mrs. Paul. For their customers, GAR is good enough. Because in the land of the blind, the one eyed men are kings.

                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                          " Not every meal has to be an orgasmic adventure. Sometimes you just want a burger cooked to order"

                                                                          I do. I know where to get just such a burger in Glen Burnie.

                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                            Monkeyerotica, I was given a gift cert to GAR and was near Silverados so I went in and had a rib eye. The rolls were good, the service was fast and attentive, the app was good and the steak was... Well, I don't think it was a ribeye, but it was 'grilled' medium rare as ordered and it was spiced (black pepper) enough that steak sauce was superfluous. It was definitely not a Prime cut, and it might not have even been Choice, but it tasted pretty good and I would do it again. The baked potato was pretty good as well. Would I go there again before Ray's? No way. But it was a good meal at a good price. And I think that was your point.
                                                                            But I have to admit, Ford's Fish Shack in Chantilly is run by a GAR alum and I am DEFINITELY going to be there within a month or two.

                                                                            1. re: Ziv

                                                                              Your steak was probably frozen and over tenderized, with poor chew quality I would bet, so probably ribeye. So why would someone go out to have food such as that.

                                                                              Serious diners should know the following about restaurants:

                                                                              http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/famil...

                                                                              1. re: law_doc89

                                                                                Lawdoc, I am from Montana and my family owns a cattle ranch, so I am familiar with overly tender and bland east coast steaks. This wasn't a bad steak, but it wasn't a very good one, either. What it was was a fair steak prepared the way GAR mandates, slightly overseasoned and piping hot. It wasn't as good as a steak at Ray's but his cuts aren't as good as you get when you butcher your own cattle, either. Ray's does a better job, has better cuts than GAR and they don't try to overpower the steak, but your Mom can still grill a better steak than Ray's can serve if she raises it herself.

                                                                                Is GAR great? No. Is it bad? No. It is a niche market that makes fairly good food and serves it in a professional, friendly manner. I wouldn't go out of my way for it, but it wasn't bad, and this omnivore thinks that a decent steak is usually a better meal than some pasta or such.
                                                                                And as to the chew quality, I think ribeyes tend to have more flavor than most other cuts, it may be tougher, but it is worth it.

                                                                                The reason I went there is I was given a gift card, but it wasn't a bad experience. But for the money, I have other places I would go that would be better.

                                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                                    The crab and rock shrimp fritters at Coastal Flats (and other GAR restaurants) are the kind of 'big city' food with lower prices that typify the success of GAR. If they were served at one of those hip downtown places, people would be raving about them.

                                                                    Their flagship restaurant, Carlyle, went through some changes years ago and no longer produces the same kind of tremendous value they used to represent. Coastal Flats is the only one that still represents that value. Artie's in general has very good food, maybe their largest menu, but is a bit more humdrum than CF.

                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      I like Coastal Flat's shrimp with grits. I haven't had them in a few years but they were always my go-to. And, for dinner entree salads, they're probably some of the best in the area. If I were hosting CHs from another area, I wouldn't put any of the GARs on the list of "must eats." But, if I had friends visiting and they didn't particularly care about food and we wanted a solid meal, sure.

                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                        GAR knows their niche and fills it well. given my druthers, it would be very low on the list, but since I was taken in as a lost infant by The Cautious Fusspots and raised as one of their own (God bless 'em), GAR and the ilk comes in handy on an as needed basis.

                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                          Exactly. In an ideal world, all our friends and family would be CH who are up for eating at more adventurous places. IRL, some of us have to deal w/ the CF (is it fitting that Cautious Fusspots have the same initials as Cheesecake Factory) and the GAR are easy. Sometimes a meal is about people getting together and not about the food. I will say I've only had the salads and Coastal Flat's shrimp and grits there and once a year, I can deal. I could sit and roll my eyes about how unsophisticated everyone is for being happy with the food or I can go with the flow. I choose the latter.

                                                                2. OK, I don't get "small plates" - anywhere. They're so popular nowadays. A small plates meal might work well if you're two really hungry people, or four people with normal appetites, so you can order one plate each plus a couple of others. But since I mostly dine by myself, two small plates is a little too much food and a lot too much expensive.

                                                                  On occasions, I've inadvertently made my own "small plates" meal from a side dish and a salad or appetizer which comes out to a reasonable sized meal at a decent price. Good thing they haven't caught on to me yet. ;)

                                                                  I can appreciate some variety, but for that, I go to different restaurants, or make a return visit to order something different.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: MikeR

                                                                    I do that quite advertently! No one seems to mind, I usually end up spending at least as much. But so many places just have more interesting apps than entrees these days, so I get to try more things. Or maybe I just get bored faster at my advanced age.

                                                                    1. re: MikeR

                                                                      Either your small plate places are not giving you proper small plate or you are not much of an eater. I plan on three small plates per person at the table.

                                                                      Two people sharing a "small plate" should each get about 2-3 bites of the dish?

                                                                      If I could eat two small plates - I wouldn't get it either.

                                                                    2. I don't get people's love for 2 Amy's or Red Rock's.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mdpilam

                                                                        Well, first of all, 2 Amy's has the most authentic D.O.C. approved Neapolitan burnt pizza soup you're likely to find. And I don't know of any other place where you can enjoy it in an authentic nursery atmosphere.

                                                                        I like their fried stuff, though.

                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                          I'd rather go to Vace and eat my pizza in the bus shelter. A better dining experience than 2 Amy's, on the whole. Certainly better pizza.

                                                                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                            Vace is awesome and a bargin for the quality

                                                                            1. re: agarnett100

                                                                              OMG have you ever gotten their refrigerated case offerings? the pastas and sauces to fix at home?? they are SOOO good! wish i was there now!

                                                                      2. I totally agree that Georgetown Cupcake is a BIG nothing.... it just seems like a prime example of good advertising and marketing creating a "persona" while there is really nothing special at all about those cupcakes....nothing.....

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: laraffinee

                                                                          There's nothing special about cupcakes, period. I don't fully understand the recent mass cultural obsession with cupcakes. We've become a nation of infants. Pie is where it's at.

                                                                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                            My feeling about the whole cupcake craze, too. The ratio of overly sweet frosting to cake isn't appealing. But, even in the cupcake world of meh cupcakes, Georgetown doesn't stand out.

                                                                            I think whoopie pies have far better ratios. Pie is great but even harder to get right.

                                                                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                              I think the next big pastry trend will be gourmet twinkies, snowballs and fruit pies.

                                                                              1. re: 4X4

                                                                                Snowballs in all colors to fit the Holiday - green for st patty's, etc.
                                                                                Also, bring back fried pies for a really bad memory of the munchies

                                                                                1. re: nickdanger

                                                                                  fried pies? nooo, those are the good memories.

                                                                                  or you weren't really mining the depths of what sounded good.

                                                                                  cupcakes - Sex and the City and Magnolia Bakery in NYC's village. same retro-aesthetic that brought back the mac'n'cheese'n'(add in expensive ingredient) and pigs in blankets (ok I still like those, but you can't get precious)

                                                                              2. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                Do you think maybe it's because people want something they feel guilty about but don't have to have an entire cake taunting them? if they eat a cupcake, it's 4 bites and gone...

                                                                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                    Me too...can we get cup "pies" somewhere?? coconut cream, please!

                                                                                    1. re: DCDOLL

                                                                                      LOL Wegmans has mini-pies. They are devilish, those Wegmans.

                                                                                      1. re: DCDOLL

                                                                                        Try the Pie Sisters in Georgetown. They have mini-pies, apparently trying to compete with Georgetown Cupcake.
                                                                                        www.piesisters.com

                                                                              3. Do you mean to tell me I Ricchi didn't close in the '90s? (Maybe this thread started in the '90s?)

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                  Should have...didn't. Someone must still be going ...tourists maybe? But who would give them a good write up??

                                                                                  1. re: DCDOLL

                                                                                    Expense account lunch crowd - the same folks who go to the Palm when they want someting other than steak.

                                                                                2. I totally agree about Dino. The best I can say is that they are hit or miss. One day the free-form lasagna is delicious, the next time it's like I'm being served something several days old. I've been there 5 or 6 times, but now have crossed them off my list. I don't get the raves for Bistro Lepic, La Chaumiere, or Bastille, but I've only been there once.

                                                                                  1 Reply