D.C. Trip, June 18-21, 2005

Here's a quick recap of the restaurants I ate at during my trip to D.C. for the JDRF's Children's Congress 2005.

Old Ebbitt Grill, June 18, 2005

Petit Filet Mignon sandwich
Foggy Bottom Ale draught bottled
According to the website, the ale is a pale ale made from pale and caramel malts, hopped with Tettnang, Hallertau, and Cascade hops and the name refers to the DC neighborhood where the pre-prohibition Heurich Brewery stood. According to me, it was a very tasty and drinkable pub beer. I'd order this again in a heartbeat.
The petit filet sandwich was average at best, featuring a below average bernaise sauce, old school "Burger King-style" french fries that were okay. Oddly, instead of lettuce, it was served with bean sprouts. It filled my stomach and that's about it. The Grill is a great old D.C. establishment where you can almost feel the presence of the politicians of yesteryear. I'd return again for a lunch. Service was annoying. They seemed to be reenacting the 1830s with their dialogue and salesman-like demeanor.

Gordon Biersch Brewery, June 18, 2005
After walking around downtown and checking out the majority of the Natural History Museum (extended viewing of the Gems and Geology exhibit), my colleague Joana and I stopped off for a drink and a snack. For drinks, she had a watermelon mojito that was sweet but well made and I had a Lynchburg Lemonade that hit the spot. We also noshed on garlic fries and calamari. The fries had chunks of garlic on them which was a bit of a turnoff and the calamari was quite spicy, which we liked. Overall, a great place to sit outside with a drink and some apps, and perfect if you are checking out the museums, especially the (sold-out today) International Spy Museum, which is right across the street.

Corduroy, June 18, 2005

Corduroy strives to be like Blue Hill but doesn't come close to hitting the mark. The ingredients, though fresh, often organic and mostly local, are, as promised, "cooked simply", and indeed they are - perhaps too simply. There is no oomph to any of the dishes. The Caesar salad was very good, but still standard for a better restaurant. Not much you can do with a caesar. My crab cake appetizer was good, but again too simple. No flavor that stood out.
My lamb loin dish was good but a bit sinewy and undercooked. My colleague's salmon dish seemed to be unevenly cooked. This place has a lot of potential, but I am doubtful that it will ever acheive its fullest. The decor was equally as wishy washy, with ugly-upholstered chairs, beveled mirrors that really distracted the person facing into them (seating along the back wall) although the lighting was good. I asked what "corduroy" had to do with anything other than the corduroy-covered menus. His response was that the chef didn't want the diner to have any preconceived notions about what the food would be like. I think he may have been right, but instead, it seemed, and this is just one man's subjective opinion, that everyone in the restaurant this night was someone who probably wears (and enjoys) corduroy, myself included (perfect for crisp days in late September). Take that for what its worth...

Georgia Brown's, June 19, 2005
The one good thing about the Capital Hilton is its proximity to a ton of restaurants, in fact every one of the one's listed here were within walking distance. Georgia Brown's was nearly the closest, and after a long day of being on my feet, something close to the hotel was much needed. I had a Dominion beer, another local brew, that went quite well with the "everything-I'd-hope-they'd-be" fried green tomatoes and the slightly "thin-on-the-meat" gumbo I ordered. The gumbo had a pretty tasteless and chewy andouille sausage and shreds of crab flesh. Otherwise it was broth and okra. Good, but lacking any real substance. The broth was thick, which helped in filling my belly. Their crab cake was very good though and the batter dipped fried chicken looked pretty good if a bit dry. Great service - in fact it probably gets the vote for best service. Not intrusive. There when you need it.

Restaurant Kolumbia, June 20, 2005

Arguably the worst restaurant experience I've ever had. The waiter was also the bartender. The server was also the sous chef. The two bussers stood around and did nothing. The hostess took five minutes to get to the front of the house. The chef, as we'd find out later, looked like he was strung out on hardcore drugs or woke up with a hangover an hour earlier. The restaurant looked like a Kandinsky nightmare and the pricepoint for this tripe was ridiculous.
Drinks: My colleagues had wine, I had two 7 and 7s that failed to have a hint of alcohol in them.
Eats: The girls had scallops wrapped in bacon and shared a ricotta gnocchi appetizer. The sauce for gnocchi (our waiter called them Ga Nocki) was actually pretty good but the gnocchi itself was very heavy. Not expertly made at all. They enjoyed and finished all of their well-seared scallops, which I was thankful for. The lobster and she-crab soup I had tasted like campbell's soup with even extra salt added to it. Inedible. I chalked it up as a loss and hoped for a good entree. It never came. The crabcakes served to me would definitely have caused me to vomit profusely if I continued to eat them. The one bite I took made me gag. I asked the "waiter/bartender" to take them back and take it off my tab and he said he'd have to ask if he could. The hostess, embarrassed, sent them back and offered a replacement. I told her I didn't feel safe eating the chef's food. The meal was seriously unsafe. With only 10 people in the entire restaurant, it should never have taken as long as it did to receive our plates and should never have been this bad. The chef came out and, sweating and looking haggard, begged our forgiveness and offered to "show us the proper service and quality of food next time we came back". Uh huh. He went on to say that he must be having an "off night" and that he is "usually here" so that we "should come back and try it again". Right. I will personally try to see that his restaurant closes as quickly as possible for the horrible service (or rather, lack thereof), unsafe food and the most awful interior of a restaurant I have ever witnessed. Please shut this place down now.

Olive's, June 21, 2005
Had lunch with a colleague after a long and successful day at the Hart Senate Building. We split a really tasty caesar salad with crispy prosciutto and each got some pasta dishes. She had green colored ricotta ravioli in a spicy red sauce with spicy italian sausage. Very good. I had the remarkably rich goat cheese dumplings in a yellow tomato mash of sorts. Also very tasty but heavy yet fully edible for the truly hungry. Both the green and black olive tapenades were tasty (served with the bread) but the iced tea was two tea bags too strong. I like the place, especially for a chain. Service was better than satisfactory and quite friendly (despite a delay in getting us water/refilling our tea). Music was good too. Booths near the kitchen, however, were somewhat uncomfortable and not conducive to eating at the tall tables (you sunk a bit into the booth).


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