If you read this blog regularly you might wonder: why the dearth of negative reports? Well, as a typical Type-A Washintonian--at least when it comes to dining--I voraciously read reviews, Ask Tom chats, many food blogs, and the most reliable source: word-of-mouth from my foodie friends. So before B & I head out, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Of course, this system is not foolproof and this past week, we had three major misses.
1. Spider Kelly's used to be a single store-front low-key restaurant and bar with excellent, cheap fried chicken and delectable mac and cheese. But they closed last fall, tripled the size, and recently re-opened as a pre-game spot for the boys and girls on their way to Clarendon Ballroom next door. We went to Spider's new digs for the first time last weekend, and were blown away, and not in a good way. The crowds are huge, the music is loud for 6:30pm, and there is nothing low-key about the place anymore.
But the fried chicken is quite good, and only $10, and comes with a side of pickled veggies and rich mac and cheese. They also now have a good selection of draft beer (prior to the renovation there were only bottles). While their fried chicken is worth stopping in if there is no wait; the new surroundings make for an long wait with the aforementioned crowds if you stop in as we did on a Friday at 7.
2. Quail Creak Farms. In the past I have sung the praises of this local farmer's market staple. But not this weekend. We had the worst dessert I have ever tasted: a raspberry Chambord mousse in a ladyfinger cup with white chocolate savings. Sounds good, right? Wrong! The texture was terrible and spongy; the flavor non-existent. Sucked on all counts. I had one bite and I was done; this is a real rarity for me when it comes to dessert! Our $6 could have been better spent pretty much anywhere else.
3. After running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler this weekend we went to Chef Geoff's Downtown for brunch. Having heard great things, I expected the post-run experience to be both relaxing and filling. Again, I was wrong, and on both counts. The fruit and pastries that come with each brunch entree could best be described as miniature and anemic. The service was the worst we have ever encountered in this city. Asking for more water, ketchup etc. required at least four requests, that is, if we could find our waiter.
Our entrees took over an hour to arrive and then my egg white omelet was made with eggs. Inexcusable. This caused B to march the entree back into the kitchen (since again no waiters were to be found), something neither of us has ever done. Management was apologetic, comped our brunch, and quickly remedied the situation.
I appreciated their explanation (they were "just slammed, all at once") and attentiveness after we complained, but our experience appeared to be the norm that day as several ravenous tables of runners waited at least an hour for their food. Were there a lot of people? Yes. Were they slammed? Probably. But this race is an annual event that they should have been prepared for--and given their proximity to the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, there must be many other similar events that cause such surges. I will say their egg whites were incredibly fluffy, but given the lack of service and the quality of the other food items, we will not be back -- at least to the downtown location. (B works near their original location in Tenleytown and had a very pleasant experience there at lunchtime a few months back.)
Also, brunch is not cheap--between $14 - $20 an entree. Good thing we paid in full what this particular brunch was worth--$0.