This weekend brought a series of disappointments from tried and true friends. First Sex and the City 2 let me and much of its fanbase down more than I ever thought possible--I am still getting over this insulting attempt at a movie-- and second, more relevant to this Blog, Dino was a disaster on Sunday night.
As readers know, my first impressions of Dino were lukewarm, but after a few visits the restaurant's charm, fresh preparations of locally-sourced ingredients of Tuscan and other Italian specialties, together with terrific weeknight specials (including free corkage Monday through Wednesday), made it onto my book of DC go-tos. But today, it is gone from Eating Around's top five list.
Why? Last week, Dino's owner sent emails to its listserve, encouraging reservations for the long holiday weekend, offering all their weeknight specials. So, we decided, why not make the trek from Courthouse to Cleveland Park? Well, the best part about the evening turned out to the wine...which we brought!
We both opted for the higher-priced of two prix fixe options, which for $37 gets you a first, second, and dessert, along with a glass of homemade grappa or moscato with dessert. This is not cheap, but in the past has proven a good value based on the quality of the food. The pastas were just okay; B's mushroom tagliatelle with mushrooms and his duck were both good, if small. My Hawaiian swordfish originally came out having barely touched the grill, and after sending it back, it became obvious that there were much bigger problems than an inattentive chef. The fish was awful and tasted it as if it came out of the deep freeze and right onto the grill with a texture to match. I think another culinary innovation (full disclosure: never tried it) must be better. It was truly disgusting. And I am appalled that Dean Gold would even consider keeping the item on the menu for the night, not least because because the Hawaiian swordfish I ate on a previous visit was nothing less than sublime.
Despite the owner's presence and passion for food, I guess I am now with Tom in his belief that consistency is not Dino's strong suit. When on its game, Dino is a unique and satisfying experience, but I realized on Sunday that I am not willing to take this chance anymore, nor recommend that others do. From now on when I want Tuscan or Northern Italian I will head back to a place that is both phenomenal and 100% consistent: Tosca.