Protein Fix

To send me off to Florida and the land of the all-you-can-eat 4pm dinner buffet, my husband and I went to the District Chophouse for dinner Monday night. We hadn’t been there in a while – we’d gone a few times when it was a pioneer on the Seventh Street revitalization project, and had liked it. Unfortunately it seems to be resting on past laurels a bit.

I still love the interior – tall ceilings, shiny brewery equipment, dark wood, and swing music. It’s a great atmosphere,
but atmosphere doesn’t count for everything.

Our waitress started off by commiting my current least favorite faux pas – we noticeably had just sat down, coats coming off, hadn’t yet opened the wine list, and she asks me what I want to drink. Right off the bat. This has been happening more and more when we go out and I wonder if it’s a symptom of the fast-and-furious dining style of power Washingtonians – those lobbyists probably know what they want immediately. I would rather actually rather look at the list for a few minutes and decide based on what I want to eat. Ah well. But that’s a relatively minor point – it was the food quality that really felt a bit of a let-down.

Our spinach and artichoke dip appetizer had a soupy consistency and it was quite a challenge getting it onto the little toasts. The flavor was pretty blah. Salad was good but I couldn’t quite figure out why the tableside preparation – the only modifications were choice of cheese. Then the steak came – of course this was the main reason for coming, to get a hunk of protein. My husband had the New York Strip dredged in peppercorns, an enormous slice of meat that was thankfully delicious. However he was disappointed in the white cheddar mashed potatoes which were quite bland. I’d asked the waitress which was preferred, the lamb chops or the filet mignon, and she had suggested the filet, because “it’s much more tender.” This scared me off the lamb (lamb chops better be prepared medium rare to rare and better be tender!) so I got the filet. Hmm. It was wrapped in stringy bacon, topped with some alcohol-soaked mushrooms, and the sauce was too sweet (I joked that it was probably bottled). And she was right, it was definitely tender. The first few bites were yummy, but after a while the extremely soft consistency got, how shall I say, too gushy. It was more like flesh than steak, no texture at all (ok, I know it IS flesh, but I don’t want to think that while I’m eating it!). For my taste, gushy is not tender. But, to each his own.

We were certainly satiated afterwards, but I doubt we’ll return. When a restaurant is charging up to $30 a plate you should expect more. It also was the first time in a while that we didn’t tip 20% – our wait experience was just not up to par. Disappearing for long periods of time, only asking one person if they wanted another glass when the other person’s glass is also empty (twice), etc. Though how cruel were we really at 15%?

2 Comments so far

  1. Beth (unregistered) on December 22nd, 2005 @ 1:35 am

    A comment on the waitress’ early faux pas: perhaps she wasn’t refering to the wine list, but merely whether you wanted some water or a pre-dinner cocktail? Better to anticipate customers’ needs and perhaps be politely dismissed than have someone feel they’ve been kept waiting. Of course, there are ways to do it so as not to make people feel rushed or in a TGIF’s.

  2. Jenn L (unregistered) on December 22nd, 2005 @ 2:40 pm

    Ah, I knew we’d hear from the professional! Thanks, Beth, you are probably right, that may have been her intention, to try and anticipate. She did say something along the lines of “So-and-so will be bringing you water in a minute, can I get you a drink as well?” But then when I said I’d love a drink but I would need more time, she disappeared for a long time, like 15 minutes… sigh, I guess there’s no pleasing me. ;)

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