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Someone must be eating there...

j
Just Visiting Mar 22, 2013 03:48 AM

I've lived in this area (Maryland burbs of DC) since 1986. There are some restaurants that have been around since I moved here, or before, and I don't know a soul who has ever been to any of them. Yet they survive in what is always a brutal business. A few years back, out of curiosity, I went to one of them - Les Vieux Logis on Old Georgetown Road. Old was the operative word. We were the only people under 80. Tommy Joe's is another. Trattoria Sorrento. Aji Nippon. Steamer's (I tried this one 20+ years ago; I am astonished that they are still in business). Guardado's.

I'm not saying that these places are not good. I'm saying that in all these years, knowing all these people who eat out all the time, I don't know of anyone who has been to these places, which seems sort of improbable.

Anyone else notice this kind of place/phenomenon?

  1. law_doc89 Mar 22, 2013 04:16 AM

    More important, would you go back the LVL? Is the quality of the food, service and experience more important or the trendiness? Some the "hot" new spots are also quite mediocre, but the fuss made over them at times is embarrassing.

    41 Replies
    1. re: law_doc89
      monkeyrotica Mar 22, 2013 09:00 AM

      This. I'm always up for a nice high-end meal, but having been burned by so much overpriced mediocrity, I find myself retreating to less buzzworthy fare: simple, unpretentious food served by people who've been doing it for a long time, and don't think they have to crank the stereo up to 120dB to generate "buzz." I'm talking "inauthentic" Chinese-American food, Italian-American food, divey diners, classic bistro fare, etc. Maybe the 80-somethings know something we don't? Or maybe they just want dinner without a lot of buzz?

      And when I hear an eatery described as "trendy," that's my cue to stay the hell away.

      1. re: monkeyrotica
        law_doc89 Mar 22, 2013 11:57 AM

        I have to agree that there is way too much poseur trendiness around these parts, and some of the tried and true places become more appealing as a result. I read some pretentious reactions to the latest “hot” place, and it is all back story about the chef, or the concept, but then nothing that tells you about the food. If the reaction to a restaurant is about the glitz, but the impression of the food reporting is superficial, I tend to believe the emperor might not be wearing any clothes. Some people, after all, buy brand names for safety. If a lot of old people have been going back to a place for a long time, it could be that they like it because it is good, or they are afraid to try something new, or who knows why? But to choose where to dine because you feel that the clientele are somehow not cool is silly. One of the best meals I ever had was in a biker bar in southern Virginia.

        1. re: law_doc89
          f
          flavrmeistr Mar 23, 2013 02:45 PM

          For me, it's about the food. Period. But, you never know about a place until you try it. There are places I've been going to for decades because they're still good and they're still there.

      2. re: law_doc89
        j
        Just Visiting Mar 22, 2013 09:22 AM

        Nope. It was barely mediocre. I thought Sietsema's review (May 2012) was kind. Overly kind. I suppose that too makes me wonder how it survives. It isn't cheap.

        And with all the great crab houses nearby, and given the price of crabs, why would you ever go someplace mediocre at best (Steamers)?

        Yet they survive.

        1. re: Just Visiting
          t
          Teddybear Mar 22, 2013 09:32 AM

          I'm guessing Steamers survives due to the porch -- it certainly cannot be the food or the [lack of] service

          1. re: Just Visiting
            law_doc89 Mar 22, 2013 11:58 AM

            Just curious, what was it about it that made you feel it was mediocre?

            1. re: law_doc89
              t
              Teddybear Mar 22, 2013 02:22 PM

              It was quite a while ago, but as I recall, the dining room had an unpleasant smell and the clams were off. I didn't get the sense of freshness that I look for in a place that specializes in seafood. But I did love that porch.

              1. re: Teddybear
                law_doc89 Mar 22, 2013 03:22 PM

                Oh, I thought you were referring to LVL.

              2. re: law_doc89
                j
                Just Visiting Mar 22, 2013 03:32 PM

                OK sorry for the confusion. The "just mediocre" and the reference to Sietsema's May 2012 review were about Le Vieux Logis.

                Then the other part of my comment was about Steamers.
                And Teddybear's comment actually caused me to remember that long-ago trip to Steamers. It smelled bad and the seafood did not seem fresh. Or even close to fresh.

                1. re: Just Visiting
                  law_doc89 Mar 22, 2013 03:40 PM

                  Steamers seems to be for college students on Saturday night. You know, those who want to remember the haze of spring break.

                  LVL, ate there twice, having memorable duck, while my companion had the Dover sole, which left me for a hankering. I then went back there, had the Dover sole, and it was poorly, slightly undercooked, and not well deboned. The service was friendly and attentive, but I left with the impression it is a very uneven place.

                  It brings to mind La Ferme, another geriatric restaurant. I went there for a society dinner, and we each ordered steaks to be cooked in different ways. Everyone at my table got medium regardless of what had been ordered, and I remember the veggies cooked to mush. Perhaps the worst restaurant in the DC area, but raves and lauded in things like Zagat,

                  1. re: law_doc89
                    j
                    Just Visiting Mar 23, 2013 04:18 AM

                    We are in violent agreement on La Ferme. I loved it years ago, even though it was always more for the older set. But back then, the food was always great. I hadn't been there for at least a decade when, about two years ago, I took an elderly friend there for dinner because she also used to love it. It was dreadful. The vegetables were as you said - mush. Tasteless mush. Her venison was inedible. My meal had so little flavor that I can't even remember what I had. The service was terrible. She didn't want to be near the piano so we asked for a table far away from the piano. They walked us to a table near the piano. We had to ask them to move us. They never checked on us once. I asked to have just one flavor of the sorbet and they told us they couldn't do that as it would screw up availability for later customers. I looked around. It was 8 p.m. on a Sunday night and the place was nearly empty. What later customers?

                    1. re: Just Visiting
                      law_doc89 Mar 23, 2013 06:48 AM

                      Sounds like we are violently AGREEING about LaFerme. It is dreadful but, somehow, well loved by a lot of people.

                      1. re: law_doc89
                        m
                        MjDematteis Mar 27, 2013 08:38 PM

                        you can always depend on any Clyde's restaurant for great food & service, especially Tower Oaks in Rockville or forever-there Old Ebbits.

                        1. re: MjDematteis
                          j
                          Just Visiting Mar 28, 2013 03:16 AM

                          Well, I'm not sure I would have included any of the Clydes restaurants in this "someone must be eating there" category to begin with. We've found that Clydes operations go up-and-down. We happen to like the one in Tysons but we have had some really lousy meals and some really enjoyable meals. Tower Oaks is uninspired; nothing wrong but just not good value and the decor is distractingly kitschy. They should have dialed that down a bit.

                          1. re: Just Visiting
                            m
                            MjDematteis Mar 30, 2013 09:04 PM

                            sorry, disagree. A Tower Oaks chef was featured on Food Network & is nominated for Chef of the year. We eat there often and the food is great, well plated and delicious. The decor is beautiful. Go & see.

                            1. re: MjDematteis
                              j
                              Just Visiting Mar 31, 2013 04:28 AM

                              Actually, being featured on Food Network pretty much says it all. Not exactly an honor these days. And it is Restaurant Association of Maryland Chef of the Year. The winners are chosen by customer voting, not by other chefs. Decor is a matter of personal taste, but to me, it feels like someone tried too hard. Oh, it is a British theme! Tally ho! Haul out the fox hunting bugle and tack it to the wall!

                              http://www.weatherhillcompany.com/restaurant_design.php?intProjectID=9

                              It's rustic! Quick! Glue some snowshoes to the wall!

                              http://www.weatherhillcompany.com/res...

                              1. re: Just Visiting
                                law_doc89 Mar 31, 2013 06:02 AM

                                Celebrity and competence are not the same are they?

                                Read a study on preference years ago where people were presented with reviews of restaurants, some good, some bad. After a time interval, they were asked to pick a place to eat from a list that contained the names of the previous restaurants mixed with other ones. The participants picked the ones they had heard of before, and the bad reviewed ones were chosen equally with the good, but the new ones were overwhelmingly/ People seek what they have heard of and fear the unknown and do not make choices based on quality at all for the most part.

                                1. re: law_doc89
                                  h
                                  Hobbert Mar 31, 2013 06:09 AM

                                  "People seek what they have heard of and fear the unknown and do not make choices based on quality at all for the most part."

                                  I doubt that's true on this forum. I'm always skeptical of generalizations, but particularly so here.

                                  1. re: Hobbert
                                    law_doc89 Mar 31, 2013 06:13 AM

                                    Of course, all psychology studies elucidate general probabilities, but even on this site, one can see that there are many people who follow trends, and they cannot tell you why. The old people who go back to these dated, tired restaurants no doubt ossified in their preferences years ago, but many younger people are ossifying in their preferences now. Why else would Clyde's prosper?

                                    1. re: law_doc89
                                      h
                                      Hobbert Mar 31, 2013 06:21 AM

                                      Perhaps because the food is good? It may not be your preference but its condescending to declare that anyone who eats at Clyde's, for example, is some sort of lemming with standards that don't live up to yours. There are many restaurants and dishes I don't care for but I don't feel superior to those who do- we just have different tastes.

                                      1. re: Hobbert
                                        law_doc89 Mar 31, 2013 06:27 AM

                                        "I doubt that's true on this forum."

                                        Hm!

                                      2. re: law_doc89
                                        f
                                        flavrmeistr Mar 31, 2013 08:49 AM

                                        Why does Clyde's prosper? Probably because they have food that is generally inoffensive and a liquor license. That's about all it really takes.

                                        1. re: flavrmeistr
                                          law_doc89 Mar 31, 2013 10:29 AM

                                          You've hit it squarely on the head;
                                          Said it better than I have said!
                                          "Inoffensive" is the key:
                                          And leads to mediocrity.

                                          1. re: law_doc89
                                            f
                                            flavrmeistr Mar 31, 2013 12:52 PM

                                            Doodah.

                                      3. re: Hobbert
                                        Bob W Apr 1, 2013 07:09 AM

                                        This is the Clyde's Willow Creek Farm dinner menu. It's got the usual standards plus some more interesting stuff. (Nice cheeses.) Obviously it's not all cutting edge, but anyone who cannot go here with some less adventurous eaters and find something acceptable and even interesting would fit the definition of "food snob" to a T.

                                        http://www.clydes.com/willow/menu/din...

                                        1. re: Bob W
                                          h
                                          Hobbert Apr 1, 2013 08:26 AM

                                          Oh, I completely agree. I've been to that Clyde's a couple times and was always perfectly happy. I can't understand this requirement that every single meal be sublime and utter perfection. It must be exhausting.

                              2. re: MjDematteis
                                s
                                Steve Mar 28, 2013 04:52 AM

                                'Great' food at Clyde's? Is it also 'amazing?'

                                1. re: Steve
                                  Bob W Mar 29, 2013 01:30 PM

                                  In my now 20+ experience with Clyde's, I'd say the food is never amazing, rarely great, usually good to very good, and never rotten.

                                  Our worst experience was at the Tysons Clyde's -- the service was awful.

                                  Now we usually go to the Willow Creek Farm, which has been very dependable.

                                  1. re: Bob W
                                    monkeyrotica Mar 29, 2013 01:39 PM

                                    My worst Clyde's experience was Georgetown. Second worse was Chinablock. Tyson's was fine. Neither over nor underwhelming. The best you could say was that I was whelmed. Clyde's is where I go when I want to feel whelmed.

                                    1. re: monkeyrotica
                                      j
                                      Just Visiting Mar 31, 2013 04:29 AM

                                      Great word! I will be stealing it. And yes, that is exactly how I feel about Clyde's.

                                      1. re: Just Visiting
                                        t
                                        The Big Crunch Apr 1, 2013 08:22 AM

                                        Weird to see all the hatred for Clyde's. I've had a few good meals at their places. I liked the pork chop I had at the Chevy Chase location a few years back and I've had good bites in the bar before the occasional Wizards' game in Chinatown. Service was always fine and while it's not the best food in DC, I found it to be tasty. Seriously, what's wrong with you people? You honestly don't understand how a restaurant that consistently makes good middlebrow food survives? Are you that out of touch with what most folks can afford and find enjoyable? Guess what, most restaurants don't turn out AMAZING food on a nightly basis. Sometimes being consistently good-enough means success.

                                        1. re: The Big Crunch
                                          Bob W Apr 1, 2013 08:56 AM

                                          When my brothers visit, we go to some place like Hong Kong Palace. When my in-laws visit we go to a place like Clyde's.

                                          There are always going to be people on websites like this that simply cannot admit that they could get a good meal at a popular place. Perhaps they have never noticed that even the esteemed Chowhound has a "Chains" board.

                                          1. re: Bob W
                                            f
                                            flavrmeistr Apr 1, 2013 11:37 AM

                                            Yep. You can do better, but you certainly could do a lot worse.

                                            1. re: flavrmeistr
                                              hill food Apr 2, 2013 01:21 AM

                                              yes, the worst one can say about any of the Clyde's is yawn, not for my birthday, please, but otherwise sure, I'll go.

                                              1. re: hill food
                                                p
                                                Pappy Apr 2, 2013 11:57 AM

                                                Unless you want 6 types of oysters, perfectly cleanly shucked, and served quickly, by a decent bartender, with a cold, tasty, craft beer, in a wonderful setting, and 1/2 off $ between 11am and 4pm on weekends. Where do I sign up!

                                                1. re: Pappy
                                                  hill food Apr 2, 2013 06:32 PM

                                                  I said I'd go, it's just not the sort of place that pops into mind for an "event"

                                          2. re: The Big Crunch
                                            monkeyrotica Apr 1, 2013 09:01 AM

                                            http://1-media-cdn.foolz.us/ffuuka/bo...

                                            1. re: The Big Crunch
                                              j
                                              Just Visiting Apr 2, 2013 12:00 PM

                                              I don't see any hatred for Clyde's in this thread. I see people describing their experiences, which is basically "food is usually OK, sometimes really good, sometimes not, and not very creative." Not just "Clyde's bites." And of course my comment about the banal yet too-much decor at Tower Oaks, which is hardly hatred.

                                              You are setting up a straw man argument here where none exists. No one is saying that middlebrow food isn't OK.

                                              And actually, as I said before, it is rather surprising that someone even mentioned Clyde's in this thread.

                                              1. re: Just Visiting
                                                f
                                                flavrmeistr Apr 2, 2013 12:36 PM

                                                Clyde's works it's way into a lot of threads on this board, usually by people who don't like it very much.

                                                "I am of two minds on the subject, more or less in agreement with each other."--Peter Ustinov

                                                1. re: Just Visiting
                                                  Bob W Apr 3, 2013 06:28 AM

                                                  Well, there was a comment that lumped Clyde's in with "tired, ossified" restaurants, and it is not that. That menu I posted upthread includes pork belly and excellent cheeses such as Cabot Clothbound, so give them some credit for trying to keep up. 8<D

                                    2. re: law_doc89
                                      p
                                      Pappy Apr 2, 2013 11:55 AM

                                      La Ferme died a slow, agonizing, painful and finally deserved death. But as Just Visiting mentions, it served well in the 90's, only to become an unrecognizable shell in the 2000s.

                        2. t
                          Teddybear Mar 22, 2013 05:24 AM

                          I've been to Trattoria Sorrento -- although not recently. But as I recall it was a good value. Like Il Panetteria across the street, it's mainstream Italian that is well prepared at a fair price. Not an occasion restaurant, but a pleasant enough place to meet friends and enjoy a meal without breaking the bank.

                          1. d
                            Doh Mar 22, 2013 05:47 AM

                            When did Guardado's open? 10 years ago? I think it's a great place-- for a while I thought it was one of the hidden gems of Bethesda and I still like to go.

                            I've only been to Aji Nippon a couple of times but I liked it and I know people who swear by it.

                            There are certainly places I've never been (Monte Carlo, Olazzo, Cesco, Assagi) but I guess I don't assume that I would know everyone who goes out to eat in the area.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Doh
                              j
                              Just Visiting Mar 22, 2013 09:18 AM

                              I don't assume that I would or do know everyone who goes out to eat in this area. I just find it surprising that I know so many people who eat out frequently - at least 3x week - and have done so for years. And, of course, you can also get a sense of where people are eating by looking at this board and other local food boards. Certain places seem never to be mentioned.

                              So perhaps it is an index of trendiness - the same kind of people who post are the kind of people who are not likely to be going to these places. Auto-correlation, in other words.

                              1. re: Doh
                                r
                                reiflame Mar 23, 2013 12:03 PM

                                Olazzo is always packed. Its good enough red sauce Italian.

                                1. re: reiflame
                                  t
                                  The Big Crunch Apr 1, 2013 08:37 AM

                                  Agreed. They make some tasty meatballs as well as a perfectly good lasagna. Prices are cheap and the staff has always been friendly. The Washingtonian has included it a number of times in the 100 Best Cheap Eats issue.

                              2. monkeyrotica Mar 22, 2013 08:55 AM

                                You just need to hang out with more 80-year-olds.

                                1. l
                                  laststandchili Mar 29, 2013 05:58 AM

                                  http://www.redsquarecaviar.net/index.php

                                  My wife and I get to Rehoboth every other month or so, and always walk by Red Square just to see if anyone is in there.

                                  We've never seen anyone eating there. Pretty much convinced it's some sort of mob front.

                                  1. a
                                    arglebargle Mar 29, 2013 07:44 AM

                                    Essy's Carriage House in Arlington seems like it has been there forever, but I have never known anyone to actually go there.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: arglebargle
                                      b
                                      BookGuy Mar 29, 2013 08:45 AM

                                      I was there a few months ago with a very small crowd on a Friday night, three tables filled max. The food is OK, standard American, but there is no real reason to go except that it was there and, of course, the curiosity factor of what is this place?

                                      1. re: arglebargle
                                        alkapal Mar 29, 2013 02:56 PM

                                        i've been to essy's a few years back, as an old friend (as in elderly) liked to go there. it was surprising inside, as they had white tablecloths and silver-plate tableware. the food was OK, but overpriced. it defintiely caters to an elderly clientele.

                                        1. re: alkapal
                                          alkapal Mar 31, 2013 06:07 PM

                                          essy's carriage house was quite busy today as we drove back by from eating lunch at fettoush! LOL

                                      2. j
                                        Just Visiting Mar 29, 2013 09:41 AM

                                        Another one that amazes me is Cafe Italia in Crystal City. The food is horrible. The decor is ridiculous and the place "feels" dirty. The service is lousy. Gordon Ramsey never took on a place this bad. We didn't know. It was cold and rainy and the four of us couldn't agree on anything else that night. We were standing in front of Cafe Italia and that's how we ended up there. I don't think that more than three tables were occupied the entire time we were there. We nearly got up and left, that's how slow it was.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Just Visiting
                                          f
                                          flavrmeistr Mar 29, 2013 01:20 PM

                                          Reminds me of the old Bella Vista, which sat atop a riverfront condo building in Rosslyn in the 70's. Nice view, alright. Terrible food.

                                        2. c
                                          cb1 Mar 29, 2013 03:38 PM

                                          Calvert House Inn in College Park/Riverdale comes to mind. I was recently over that way and was surprised it was still there.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: cb1
                                            monkeyrotica Mar 30, 2013 04:53 AM

                                            What I find interesting about Calvert House is that all of the withering comments online mention how the interior "hasn't been updated in decades," ignoring the fact that (1) most of their regulars probably like it that way and (2) the rest probably aren't there to look at the interior. When I went to U of M, the place was a regular faculty haunt. Totally unpretentious old school surf and turf fare.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                                              law_doc89 Mar 30, 2013 05:52 AM

                                              I suspect the same for Mrs. K's Toll House, which I am disinclined to try.

                                              1. re: law_doc89
                                                Terrie H. Mar 30, 2013 05:56 PM

                                                My grandparents liked Mrs. K's Toll House 30 years ago, so I "got to" go. I doubt it's going to be a destination for you or anyone who seeks out great food. Sort of like La Ferme - they cater to older patrons who feel good about the dressed up surroundings and plain cooking.

                                                1. re: Terrie H.
                                                  f
                                                  flavrmeistr Mar 30, 2013 07:07 PM

                                                  Actually, I went to a dinner there a few years ago. Mrs. K's has a beautiful garden. The food wasn't exciting--roast beef, chicken, 'taters, vegetables--but it was well prepared and, dare I say, tasty. It was not too shabby.

                                              2. re: monkeyrotica
                                                agarnett100 Mar 30, 2013 07:02 PM

                                                Monkey - I remember that back in the U of M days Calvert House was the fancy spot you took a date to

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                  c
                                                  cb1 Apr 2, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                  My Grandmother who passed away last summer at 90 used to love Calvert House. As well as Sir Walter Raleigh in Greenbelt. Got a chuckle out of someone saying Mrs K's Toll House. I remember my brother taking his Senior Prom date there in 1980. He was going big time!

                                                  Anyone know if the Golden Bull is still there? Same general area. That place was tacky back in the early 80's, but people loved it.

                                                  1. re: cb1
                                                    Terrie H. Apr 3, 2013 03:57 AM

                                                    The Golden Bull location in Gaithersburg is still there. I dated a very nice guy about 10 years ago that lived nearby and loved that place. It was his way of showing me a high time, by taking me there. I'd forgotten that there was one near UofM.

                                                2. re: cb1
                                                  4
                                                  4X4 Apr 1, 2013 01:06 PM

                                                  It used to be a great restaurant. I haven't been in years, but apparently it's really gone downhill.

                                                  Another one that used to be good was 94th Aerosquardon. it really got bad before it went out of business.

                                                3. b
                                                  braver Mar 30, 2013 05:41 PM

                                                  Pier 7 restaurant at the channel inn in Southwest DC http://www.channelinn.com/default.asp... is the one I always wonder about, as I live nearby. I imagine the menu has not changed in about 40 years (all vegetables served with hollandaise sauce? chopped liver as an appetizer? Seafood Newburg?) and it seems like a place my 85 year old grandma would really like if she came to visit--truth be told, it seems quite similar to some places I've visited with her near her home in Florida.

                                                  It's too expensive for me to want to try it without some confirmation that it's really good. Plus I don't eat pork or shellfish and that cuts out a lot of the menu. But yes, someone must be eating there.

                                                  1. law_doc89 Mar 31, 2013 06:36 AM

                                                    One thing fascinating is that so many don't understand that often they are eating the very same thing from one restaurant to another. DC is home to Cuisine Solutions, a truly innovative venture. While so many people are following trends without discernment, they don't realize that what they eat is often prepared outside the restaurant and really only finished in the establishment.

                                                    Don't get me wrong, because with all the, trendy fuss, Cuisine Solutions pioneered a revolution in food preparation , raised standards in many establishments, but did promote uniformity in the process.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: law_doc89
                                                      w
                                                      wineo1957 Mar 31, 2013 07:08 PM

                                                      Cusine Solutions is just the latest incarnation of boil in the bag foods. It amazes me that his is considered cutting edge. A huge swath of the Central menu is "outsourced" to these guys. Real cooks cook, others call SYSCO and Cuisine Solutions

                                                      1. re: wineo1957
                                                        law_doc89 Mar 31, 2013 10:08 PM

                                                        You need to learn more about what sous vide is. You are eating it all the time in restaurants that don't tell you. Used mine to cook a leg of lamb for Easter diner.

                                                        1. re: law_doc89
                                                          alkapal Apr 1, 2013 06:19 AM

                                                          .

                                                          1. re: law_doc89
                                                            w
                                                            wineo1957 Apr 3, 2013 05:58 AM

                                                            Sous vide is the long term immersion of food, sealed in vacuum bags in water at a specific temperature. It is a variant of boil in the bag in that sense.

                                                            Here are inaguable facts about sous vide vs higher heat, slow cooking....

                                                            Sous vide can never go above 212 degrees and usually is done at much lower temperatures. Oven braising at 225 or 250 can create chemical compounds that sous vide simply cannot. There will be a crust on a slow roasted or a firm edge on braised meat that sous vide, with its cook then sear methods cant replicate. And if you sear first with sous vide, the firming benefits of the sear are totally lost.

                                                            Sous vide uses plastic bags which may contain harmful chemicals like plasticizers and becaue of the long cook times, this may result in a far greater transfer of these compounds to the food.

                                                            Sous vide does not render fats as effectively and the main ingredient retains much more water than higher temp slow cooking. So even with a final searing, the maillard reaction is just not the same. Very high heat is often recommended to sear because of the extra water content, but this just results in a burnt flavor instead of the glorious maillard.

                                                            Whilelong time sous vide can result in a bacterially safe product, in the longer time to get the pasteurization effects, the balance of flavors contributed in sous vide by bacteria will be different. Just as with Michael Mina's butter poaching of steaks giving them a "blue cheese" flavor, noted in several articles on the subject, so too dos sous vide meats cooked for 48 or 72 hours have a "funky" flavor. Some like it, I do not.

                                                            Gelatinization of connective tissues is different at 140 degrees than at 225 or 250. The rich mouth feel is not the same.

                                                            I butterflied my leg of lamb and grilled it on the girll for 15 minutes to 128 degrees, had a perfect crust, juicy lamb with a contrast of inner redness and outer chewier more done parts. Nothing lacking in my book.

                                                            And as far as restaurant using sous vide, I really think that a lot of restaurants do tell you, but some like Central don't. In any case, I can tell the difference between a long braise and sous vide. I prefer the former.

                                                            But my point is that if you buy out your foods from Cuisine Solutions, or dessert components from Sysco, and you don't disclose, you are committing fraud as a restaurateur.

                                                            Did I miss anything about sous vide?

                                                            1. re: wineo1957
                                                              law_doc89 Apr 3, 2013 06:39 AM

                                                              Yes, because it is a totally different way to cook based upon reaching and maintaining internal temperatures for very precise denaturing of proteins. Nothing boil in bag about it.

                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wiw_EqGA8IA

                                                              I will bet you cannot recognize many SV things, some are obvious. But that is for a different thread than this.

                                                              But you prove my point, as you have a strong opinion, but could learn more about the technique.

                                                              Cuisine Solutions has capitalized on the storage properties of SV that allow cooking to stop, the item be frozen, and finishing 2 years later with no discernible effect. They have huge SV baths and put out huge quantities of uniform, high quality products that are simply finished at the restaurant.

                                                              It is a lot more than Central palming it off.

                                                              BTW, the plastic bags you should use are special formula so there is no problem with contamination; if you don't use special ones, there is.

                                                              http://topics.nytimes.com/top/referen...

                                                      2. t
                                                        The Big Crunch Apr 1, 2013 08:22 AM

                                                        I've actually thought about this a lot and in some cases, I honestly think the places may be fronts for money laundering. You laugh, but I've actually heard a few people (some being former employees of questionable places) who thoroughly believed it.

                                                        I'm not going to speculate based on the quality of the food, because to some degree that's quite subjective. If you wanted to be an aloof snob you could ask (seriously) how it could be that Red Lobster stays in business. The short answer is that it gets people in the door to buy the food to make the profits to stay in business.

                                                        What confuses me is places that have been around for years, and are ALWAYS empty. Take Ghana Cafe in Logan Circle. I live a block over from it, and as such, I've walked by that place maybe seventy or eighty times, in the afternoon, evening, and late night, and at best you may see a couple eating and 3-4 people at the bar. Usually no one is in there. How do they stay in business? Roger Miller in Silver Spring is another one. I ate there once and the food was mediocre (though not bad), they didn't have numerous things that were listed on the menu, and the service was the worst I've ever experienced. Most of the time, no one ever seems to be there...and yet...they're still open? Even stranger is that I think they've closed and re-opened a couple of times, with the same name and menu!

                                                        If a restaurant always has people in it, then it will stay open, regardless of the food. But when restaurants stay open year-after-year, with seemingly no one ever in there when you look through the windows...well, I just don't understand how.

                                                        23 Replies
                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                          monkeyrotica Apr 1, 2013 08:54 AM

                                                          There was a pizzeria near Columbia Heights that closed down a few months ago, but had been open since the 1990s. The place was notorious for not delivering pizzas within an hour, getting your pizza "lost," being open on the weekend but being "out" of ingredients, belligerent cashiers, etc. Turns out the place was closed by the Feds as part of a drug sting.

                                                          1. re: The Big Crunch
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                                                            flavrmeistr Apr 1, 2013 11:32 AM

                                                            The old P&P Chili Lounge in Falls Church was a boogie joint for decades. They sold beer and took track bets. They had "chili" on the stove for the occasional stunod that wandered in, but that was it. Before that, it was the Homoco Delicatessen and a few other things, but it was never more than a beer 'n book joint.

                                                            1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                              j
                                                              Just Visiting Apr 1, 2013 12:29 PM

                                                              I am from NJ. I do not laugh at money laundering. I take it quite seriously. When I first moved to DC, we went to AV and couldn't help but notice the guy who came in the back door, went into what looked like a large closet, and then came back out with a stuff gym bag. Whereupon my NY husband and I said, "they're running numbers! this place is the real deal!" I still miss it.

                                                              Funny you should mention Ghana Cafe. I just tried it and it was great but as you said, very little business.

                                                              1. re: Just Visiting
                                                                t
                                                                The Big Crunch Apr 1, 2013 01:07 PM

                                                                One thing that may be keeping them in business is that they provide a substantial portion of the food served at the P Street Whole Foods' hot bar. I don't particularly care for it, but, that's just me. Still, how do you stay in business in that neighborhood when you appear to have maybe 5-10 customers?

                                                                1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                  law_doc89 Apr 1, 2013 02:44 PM

                                                                  Growing up, it was rumored that the pizzerias were all money laundering fronts.

                                                                2. re: Just Visiting
                                                                  alkapal Apr 2, 2013 07:34 AM

                                                                  haha about AV -- it used to get all the "raves" about old-style red sauce places. cracks me up about the stuffed gym bag. (i only went once, though it was near our office).

                                                                  i also often think certain businesses are fronts. won't name names here. there was a group of cheap cuisine with similar names here in NOVA that you may know…..

                                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                                    Bob W Apr 2, 2013 08:00 AM

                                                                    Since most if not all of them are gone, may I take a guess that they all started with "Pines of..."?

                                                                    1. re: Bob W
                                                                      alkapal Apr 2, 2013 09:38 AM

                                                                      umm, well i didn't say that. ahem.

                                                                      anyhoo, the first one i knew about was on glebe near pershing and it was so cheap, and CASH ONLY, but you would get large servings of pasta. then there was another one concurrently operating on wilson blvd. for a while (right across from clarendon whole foods -- probably even pre-dating it -- when it was "fresh fields"). we had food there probably 20 years ago, and it was quite good -- i remember the shrimp diavolo i had and it was a very good value (and i think it was not a cash only place). now there is a pines of florence on fairfax drive and it is pretty good, too. nicer atmosphere than you'd expect inside, with nice white tablecloths and a modern interior. when we've been there, it has been sparsely populated (but usually a couple,of young men in the bar area), and i think it is run by some iranians (?). just sayin! (they say they are not related to any other "pines.") but it is a quiet place where you can get a decent zuppa de pesce and have a conversation with good service. and their shrimp are from texas! (AMEN!).

                                                                      i guess it was the proliferation of them, and at first being cash only that made me go, "hmmmmm."

                                                                    2. re: alkapal
                                                                      monkeyrotica Apr 2, 2013 08:44 AM

                                                                      Pines of Florence maybe? There's also Il Porto and A la Lucia. I've been walking past these places for decades, looking inside and at the menu, and kept walking. Maybe it's just because I'm not in the mood for Italian. Maybe they get enough hotel and tourist business to stay around.

                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                        t
                                                                        The Big Crunch Apr 2, 2013 09:31 AM

                                                                        I have no idea about the Pines of Rome in Bethesda, though it always does seem empty and is legendary for its terrible service. A co-worker of mine went there once and said the red sauce tasted like they had simply poured a can of crushed tomatoes over spaghetti. That said, there are several older co-workers in my office who love the place and have been going there for decades. Go figure, eh?

                                                                        Another one of those always empty places in Bethesda is Strombollis, although I highly recommend it. It's not that the food is particularly good, because it's average at best. The thing that is remarkable is that the interior does not appear to have been altered since the early '80s. It was like stepping into a time machine of my childhood! They even still have a framed restaurant from the WaPo on the wall from 1981 in which the writer takes the time to explain what a stromboli is! You could pay the most hipster designer a fortune and he could not create such a retroist interior. Some folks on Yelp have complained about the dirty and old interior, but they're completely missing out on the fact that they are stepping into a living, breathing (though perhaps, barely breathing) pizza joint circa 1981!

                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch
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                                                                          flavrmeistr Apr 2, 2013 09:35 AM

                                                                          I think all those "Pines of..." places are owned by Lebanese.

                                                                          1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                            r
                                                                            reiflame Apr 2, 2013 01:55 PM

                                                                            I'm fairly certain they're owned by Salvadoreans.

                                                                          2. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                            monkeyrotica Apr 2, 2013 11:17 AM

                                                                            Reminds me of Astoria Pizza in Woodbridge. They've been around since 1976 and damned if the place hasn't changed one bit, down to the small and large pizza pans nailed to the wall. Growing up in Bowie in the '70s, it reminds me of long-gone places like Happy Italian Delight and the Railroad Inn. Or even the Italian Inn in Landover Hills, which is still cranking out Ledos style pies. Don't think they've changed their decor or recipe since the 1960s: lots of wooden booths and stucco and recessed lighting. They even have a wooden phone booth.

                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                              4
                                                                              4X4 Apr 3, 2013 04:43 AM

                                                                              The Pizza Oven in Riverdale has been around since 1957 and hasn't changed much. They still serve thin crust square pizza and have paitnings by the same artist who decorated the Irish Pizza Pub in Laurel.

                                                                              1. re: 4X4
                                                                                monkeyrotica Apr 3, 2013 06:42 AM

                                                                                The Broiler, Burger Delight, and the Fairlington Pizza Shop all have the same somewhat seedy '60s-70s decor and vibe, down to those curvy orange booth seats. "Desperately needing an update" for some, but I wouldn't have them any other way.

                                                                                http://s3-media1.ak.yelpcdn.com/bphot...

                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                  Bob W Apr 3, 2013 07:24 AM

                                                                                  I'd be shocked if Anthony's in FC has been redecorated in the slightest since it opened in 1973,

                                                                                  1. re: Bob W
                                                                                    alkapal Apr 3, 2013 08:00 AM

                                                                                    hahaha, bob, you are correct. i also think it is the same group of lanky, wandering philodendrons snaking along the window ledges! LOL

                                                                                    1. re: Bob W
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                                                                                      flavrmeistr Apr 3, 2013 08:46 AM

                                                                                      Anthony's is 3 times the size it was in 1973. It was originally just the end unit with a pizza oven, a grill, a counter and a few little tables. Before that, it was a Pizza Box with a sister operation on Old Lee Highway near Lorcom Lane.

                                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                                        Bob W Apr 3, 2013 08:53 AM

                                                                                        Well they did a fine job of making the additions look just as cheesy!

                                                                                        1. re: Bob W
                                                                                          f
                                                                                          flavrmeistr Apr 3, 2013 09:40 AM

                                                                                          I wish they made the same steak and cheese sub as they did in 1973. They don't even toast them in the broiler nowadays. But, unlike the old days, they serve beer, so that's progress.

                                                                                    2. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                      f
                                                                                      flavrmeistr Apr 3, 2013 08:54 AM

                                                                                      And, of course, Mario's. The addition of the Carvel in no way impinged upon the venerable funkiness of the original location. Some things you just don't mess with.

                                                                                2. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                                  j
                                                                                  Just Visiting Apr 2, 2013 03:46 PM

                                                                                  Nostalgia squared - an old Phyllis Richman review of Pines of Rome: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/...

                                                                                  Actually, the pizza (red or white) is quite good and they do a big take-out business. I haven't actually eaten a meal in the restaurant in years - it is getting a bit too dirty for me - especially the ceilings - for me to enjoy my meal. I can't say if it is always empty since we just pick up and go and I wait in the car while my husband runs in. On weekends, it seems very busy and I've seen quite a few recognizable faces there over the years.

                                                                              2. re: alkapal
                                                                                w
                                                                                wayne keyser Apr 2, 2013 03:08 PM

                                                                                I'm shocked! I've lived here since the 70's, never once heard about "shady doings" at AV ... just always that it was a revered "old school" holdout in a deteriorating neighborhood. The Post described it as "the grand old" AV Ristorante. Even heard many sources claim that it was the best pizza in town when everywhere else was a desert of "chain/delivery" mediocrity.

                                                                                I only went once. My pizza was burned to inedibility. Nobody cared. Considering that I'd braved a pretty rough neighborhood already, I adjourned to the biker bar a couple of blocks away, and found the best blue-cheese burger I'd ever had.

                                                                          3. d
                                                                            DCDOLL Apr 1, 2013 12:09 PM

                                                                            yup... I ricchi. food meh, service brusque to the point of rudeness (we got yelled at for serving ourselves from our bottle of wine, even though our glasses were empty), expensive. i think the only people who go are tourists. surroundings are pretty but that's not enough.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: DCDOLL
                                                                              alkapal Apr 2, 2013 07:31 AM

                                                                              even when it was supposed to be a good place 20 years ago, the food was "meh" in my book. then it was a "see and be seen place" for dc glitterati (ha!). even then they were rude.

                                                                            2. t
                                                                              The Big Crunch Apr 1, 2013 01:20 PM

                                                                              Also worth noting, Tommy Joes does quite well. I'm not a terribly big fan, but it is a very popular happy hour spot for the hordes of office workers here in Bethesda, and also does good numbers later in the night as a bar. Supposedly they also do big numbers for football games. Not my cup of tea exactly, but I used to date a girl in Bethesda who dragged me there once or twice with her friends on a saturday night a year or so back and it was packed.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                                4
                                                                                4X4 Apr 1, 2013 06:54 PM

                                                                                I've been meaning to check that place out. I was good friends with the owner when we were kids and I haven't seen him since high school.

                                                                                1. re: 4X4
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  The Big Crunch Apr 2, 2013 04:52 AM

                                                                                  Tommy Joes proves that location can be everything. The beer selection is bad, the food is mediocre even by bar food standards, and the ambiance is non-existent. However, they have a few flat screens to show sports, do karaoke on tuesday, and turn into a club on friday and saturday nights for the twenty-something frat boy and sorority types of Bethesda to do jaeger bombs, drink cheap beer, and grind to current top 40 rap. We've got a space across from my office about two blocks over that has basically done the same thing under three different owners, only to go out of business each time.

                                                                              2. law_doc89 Apr 2, 2013 03:41 PM

                                                                                On the other hand, because of a friend in town, ate at Il Portofino for the first time in maybe decades. Very surprised by how much I enjoyed the meal (decor was definitely decades old) I am inclined to do a review post, but I have a caveat, one of the guests is Italian, jabbered away with the owner in Italian, so I don't know if I had an unusual meal.

                                                                                1. law_doc89 Apr 6, 2013 08:17 AM

                                                                                  Just got an invite in the mail to go to Mrs K's for a financial planning seminar!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: law_doc89
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                                                                                    flavrmeistr Apr 6, 2013 01:08 PM

                                                                                    I went to a thing there a few years back. It was rather pleasant, on the whole. If you go, tell us about it.

                                                                                  2. law_doc89 Apr 16, 2013 06:51 PM

                                                                                    So, I went and ate at Mrs. K's. Awful. Aging, shabby decor. Served a decent salad of freshly sliced greens, a nice raspberry vinegar dressing, but the main course consisted of what I think was poached chicken breast with a rubber consistency and virtually no flavor, coupled with a salmon fillet that was so fishy flavored as to be inedible. There was some white sauce, I wasn't sure if it was a tartar, an aioli or what, but not enough to rid the fish taste from my mouth. Slightly overcooked green beans and slightly overcooked rice. A nondescript bread pudding did nothing to remove the fish taste. Yuk!

                                                                                    I guess if the guests are senile enough, they don't notice.

                                                                                    I won't be going back.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                      f
                                                                                      flavrmeistr Apr 17, 2013 06:53 AM

                                                                                      Well...if you find yourself there unavoidably in the future, get the roast beef.

                                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                                        law_doc89 Apr 17, 2013 08:29 AM

                                                                                        I'll pass.

                                                                                        1. re: law_doc89
                                                                                          f
                                                                                          flavrmeistr Apr 17, 2013 08:40 AM

                                                                                          Yeah, me too.

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