Monday, January 29, 2007

Teatro Goldoni - An Italian Restaurant with a Decor that Liberace Would Adore

Bobby: With a group of nine, we went to the K street Italian restaurant Teatro Goldoni. The first thing that bears mentioning about this place is that the chef's name, Fabrizio Aielli, is awesome. I wanted to name my first son Fabrizio for a long time after the main character in Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma. However, the name has become mostly associated with the annoying drummer of the Strokes who dated Drew Barrymore, so it's off the list now. I still like the name, though.

Giada: Bobby? You're a little wierd sometimes.

Bobby: Anyway, it was our second trip to this particular establishment. The first time was about a year ago and I have mostly pleasant memories associated with it.

Giada: Yeah, that was a fun night. Of course, it may have just been that Bobby was the center of an incredibly juicy love-triangle (these were pre-Giada days, natch), and so the conversation masked any possible problems with the restaurant. Still, I was excited to return.

Bobby: Giada? Sometimes you have a big mouth.

The Decor

Bobby: I would describe the decor of the place as busy. On the website, it says that the decor is supposed to be theatrical and Venetian, which I guess it is. Just not my cup of tea. I've always thought Venice, though a fun city in general, had odd styles that the world needs less rather than more of.

Giada: I actually quite like the decor. I think it's whimsical. And I really like the large banquets. Not as much of a fan of the wall of theater masks though -- they're a little creepy.

Bobby: Because we were a group of nine, we ended up with just a so-so table. It was much too close to the entrance of the restaurant, which was particularly annoying on a cold evening because the people at end of the table were treated to a frigid blast of wind whenever the door to the restaurant was opened

Giada: Yeah, that made me happy to be sitting at the end of the table not near the door. But I'm selfish.

Bobby: However, in general, I think the arrangement of the tables is quite nice in this restaurant. They aren't too cramped like so many places in the city.

Bobby's decor rating: 6 out of 10
Giada's decor rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Food

Bobby: As part of my continuing effort to eat more vegetables, I started once again with a salad. I thought the salad was a little dry and the tomatoes a little sour. But it wasn't terrible. A pretty standard issue salad.

Giada: I also had a salad. Way too heavy on the lettuce and not enough cheese and pine nuts. Dressing was super skimpy, so I was left with too much plain lettuce (yum, huh?). Another dining companion that got the same salad said that on one side of the salad, it tasted as though someone had spilled salt into the dish, so it was basically inedible.

Bobby: For the main course, I perused the menu for quite some time and found something that wouldn't make me mad if they brought me. It was the tortelli stuffed with venison sausage. This actually sounded good in the description, although I chose it mostly because the other pasta dishes on the menu were a little boring. Unfortunately, there is way too much meat in the form of the venison sausage relative to the pasta. The pasta was also undercooked. Granted, it is more difficult to cook for a group of nine, but this dish still left me underwhelmed.

Giada: Bobby's dish did look pretty unappetizing. Poor Bobby. I went with linguine in a "spicy" tomato sauce with shrimp. It was fine, the shrimp were decent size, the pasta was cooked well, and the sauce was pretty good, although definitely not spicy as advertised.

Giada: It's probably worth noting that others at the table seemed pretty happy with their dishes, although we didn't try anyone's.

Bobby: Because we had to run to a surprise gathering across town, we didn't have dessert.

Giada: And that made Bobby sad. Especially since he hadn't eaten much. Although his empty stomach made for a much more interesting evening once we got to the bar and started drinking.

Bobby's food rating: 5 out of 10
Giada's food rating: 5 out of 10

The Service

Bobby: Stated bluntly, the service in this place leaves much to be desired. At the end of the evening when the time for the check came, the waiter was no where to be seen. Then when we finally tracked down the waiter it took him an eon or so to bring back the check. This was particularlly annoying because we had made it clear on a couple of occasions that we had to leave the restaurant at a certain time.

Giada: I realize the waiting on large groups isn't much fun, and initially the server did a great job waiting on us promptly and bringing out everyone's food at the same time. However, 35 minutes is way too long for it to take to get the check and pay (while there on a Saturday evening, we finished dining by 7:30 and things weren't too busy. Plus, it's only a matter of paying the bill). Additionally, another dining companion mentioned that when she asked another server where the bathroom was, he was very short with her.

Bobby's service rating: 4 out of 10
Giada's service rating: 5 out of 10


Bobby: I'd probably only go back to Teatro Goldpni if my choices were extremely limited. It has a odd location, the food was just okay, and the service was poor. Definitely overpriced (about $140 for three with no dessert, one glass of wine, and a 15% tip) for such a lackluster place.

Giada: Agreed, especially on the overpriced part. Pasta dishes were around $25, and the place doesn't warrant it.

Washingtonpost reference page (no review)
Washingtonian review

Teatro Goldoni
1909 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

Word on the Street -- A Newby at The Willard?

Ok, it's not so much the word on the street (because frankly it's too damn cold to stand on the street chit-chatting), but rather, the word on Open Table (which, Bobby and I completely adore, btw).

Anyway, perusing Open Table the other night (I was looking to see what restaurants still have availability on Valentine's Day),* I noticed a new listing for a place called Cafe du Parc, which I hadn't seen before. After investigating a bit, it appears that Cafe du Parc will be a french bistro located at the historic Willard hotel. It also appears that opening is scheduled for March 1 (Open Table says that reservations for the bistro are not accepted until then). However, there's very little information on the bistro's website, and a google search turned up little other than the fact that the bistro appears to be hiring. In fact, it seems we've even trumped the veritable Washington Post on this one, although I can't imagine Mr. Tom Sietsema isn't aware of the new venue (honestly folks, what doesn't that man know?).

According to it's information page on Open Table (which is authored by the restaurant), here's the scoop on Cafe du Parc:

Cafe Du Parc highlights fresh local inviting flavors modest in presentation embracing classic bistro cuisine such as Pot-au-Feu, Steak Frite, and Bouillabaisse a la Provencale. In addition to the savory offering, the Café boasts an array of house made patisseries all artfully prepared by our Café Brigade under the supervision and guidance of our Executive Chef, Daniel Kenney and famed Michelin-starred Chef Antoine Westermann of Strasbourg, France. The main floor with street front and hotel connect access is a lively space with a focus on pastry and take away serving custom blend, specialty coffees and a selection of teas . Here we showcase our house made morning pastries and baked items as we open the doors in the early am. Transitioning to lunch we display gourmet sandwiches, salads and sweets. Moving to the afternoon and evening the theme shifts to our signature "Petits Plats" and specialty pastries.

We'll keep our eyes and ears open for more news regarding Cafe du Parc, and if you hear of anything, please drop us a comment.

*For those of you who haven't already made your V-day plans, time to get cracking. CityZen is already booked up (just ask Jason Storch at DC Foodies), along with 1789, Mie n Yu, Citronelle, Kinkead's, Vidalia, and many others. Not that I'm worried -- Bobby made a reservation at CityZen weeks ago (such a lucky girl, aren't I?).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cashion's Eat Place -- A Solid Neighborhood Restaurant

Bobby: After an exciting cab ride from downtown in which the cab driver was unable to find the restaurant despite our giving him the address and cross-streets, we made it to this fairly small place in Adams Morgan.

Giada: The cab driver was awful. The guy rode the brake the entire time, had no idea where he was going, and seemed to think "stop" meant "stop and linger until the girl in the backseat is ready to pull out her hair." But DC cabs are a story, or a post, for another time, I suppose.

The Decor

Bobby: The decor of the place was fairly cool, except for a naked painting that Giada didn't particularly care for.

Giada: The restaurant was decorated with small black and white photographs covering the walls, which looked pretty cool. However, over the bar (and facing into the restaurant area) was a huge painting of a naked woman, laying on her side, propped up on one elbow. The perspective was from the back of the woman, so it wasn't obscene or anything, but it was completely out of character for the rest of the decor, and as such, stood out too much.

Bobby: Also, the entrance of the restaurant had one of those curtain type things that don't really make any sense to me. I always get a little caught in them and feel stupid.

Giada: Bobby's not the most coordinated of individuals.

Bobby: But overall, the decor of the place was very nice. The bar looked cool and was fairly crowded, although it was a Friday night.

Giada: Tables were about as crowded as any other DC restaurant, which means that you hope you're not seated next to anyone obnoxious. Despite the relatively small size of the place, the noise level was pretty low. The kitchen is an open kitchen, which I'm usually a fan of, but in this case, it wasn't a particularly nice kitchen (e.g., Citronelle, Restaurant Eve), so I didn't see the point. The back wall behind the bar (facing out to the main floor of the restaurant) is a mirror, which makes the space look much larger and is an excellent touch.

Bobby's decor rating: 8 out of 10
Giada's decor rating: 7.5 of 10

The Food

Bobby: I had a salad to start out as part of my ongoing effort to eat more real vegetables.

Giada: His main source of fuel is sugar. Seriously.

Bobby: Ahem. It was actually very good. As a bonus, the pieces of lettuce were fairly small. I'm not a fan of salads with really large pieces.

Giada: I had the bone marrow. I'd never had marrow before, but have heard it mentioned as the new trend, so I thought I'd give it a go. The waiter gave me an odd look when I ordered it, but I think it was because it was a uncommon choice for a preppy woman in her late 20s (I'm betting most order salads, or the goat cheese tart that also sounded tastey). Anyway, if you've never had it, bone marrow is served (or mine was, anyway), actually still in the bone, and you use a little spoon to scoop it out and eat it. The dish came with a small salad and bread crisps, which the waiter helpfully told me to mix with the marrow, to off-set the fattiness of the marrow. Overall, while I think it was very well prepared, I think I'm not really a marrow kind of girl. It's basically just flavored fat, and I'd probably prefer something with a little more to it.

Bobby: For the main course, I went with the wild boar. Excellent choice by me. The boar was quite tender and had a surprising amount of flavor. Highly recommended.

Giada: I went with the flounder. It was quite a large peice, and very good. Prepared with a little butter and seasoning, so simple, but very good. I also asked the waiter to bring a glass of white wine to go along with it, and while the wine itself was good, I didn't think it paired all that well with the flounder.

Bobby: For dessert, I shared the vanilla ice cream and hot fudge with Giada. She asked for whipped cream, but the restaurant didn't have it. As a result, the waiter gave us the dessert for free, which was really nice and unnecessary. The ice cream was a little icy, but not bad. The rest of the dessert selection was a little boring and as we all know dessert is the most important part of any meal.

Giada: I agree that the dessert selection was a little underwhelming, although there was a gingerbread cake option that sounded good. The ice cream itself was much too icy, and the chocolate sauce wasn't very flavorful (it tasted like they didn't sweeten the chocolate enough, and so the sweetness of the ice cream overwhelmed the flavor of the chocolate).

Giada: Also, I think it bears noting that later in the evening, the restaurant seemed to run out of almost all of their steak options (based on what we overheard the waiter tell other patrons). There was a list at the bottom of the menu of about 4 or 5 different steaks, but the waiter said only the 26 oz. portion was left.

Giada (again): We also ordered a side of garlic mashed potatoes, which were very light and fluffy, and not overly garlicy. Not quite as good as those at Capital Grille, but good. Probably was also a good move ordering the side, since the main dishes tend to focus heavily on one thing and don't come with much accoutrement.

Bobby's food rating: 7 out of 10
Giada's food rating: 7 out of 10

The Service

Bobby: The service by everyone in the place was fantastic. We sat by this couple that was obsessed with not sitting by a table that could house "a large party." The girl said "large party" like forty times to her boyfriend. Although he was clad in all black and seemed a little like a poseur so maybe he deserved her inane banter. Anyway, the restaurant bent over backward to try to accomdate them. The waiter was fantastic and the service was prompt.

Giada: The service was excellent, I agree. The waiter did a great job of instructing me on how to eat the marrow without being insulting, and he really made an effort to procure the whip cream. And the effort the staff went to to please the couple worried about being seated by a "large party" was impressive. I'd have told them to get over themselves. I guess that's why I don't work for tips.

Bobby's service rating: 9 out of 10
Giada's service rating: 8.75 out of 10

Wrap Up

Pretty good place, especially for the relatively reasonable price ($125 with a 30% tip, including one cocktail and one glass of wine). We'd go back, but it's not a "must do."

Bobby's overall rating: 7.5 out of 10
Giada's overall rating: 7 out of 10

Website for Cashion's Eat Place
Washington Post review
Washingtonian reviews
here and here