Monday, February 26, 2007

Montmartre: Older, Wiser, and Tastier

Giada: Bobby, I and a few friends trekked our way to Capitol Hill for a visit to Montmartre last Friday evening for dinner. Bobby and I have been to Montsouris, a french bistro in Dupont owned by the same team as Montmartre, a number of times and find it a decent neighborhood locale. Given that Montmartre is also a french bistro, we were expecting similar experiences. What we got just may tempt me to make that trek to the Hill again. Although maybe when it's a teensy bit warmer.

Bobby: Montmartre is, of course, an area of Paris principally known as a haunt of many important artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and as the home of scores of nightclubs, including the Moulin Rouge. (Giada really likes that movie. I think it's just okay.) While Montmartre doesn't entirely succeed in bringing a sense of cool to the stodgy Capitol Hill dining scene, it is a step in the right direction.


Giada: Like its brother (or sister ... I'm not sure how you tell that sort of thing) Montmartre is a surprisingly small dining space. Frankly, for such a small place, I'm surprised I've heard of it as frequently as I have. So, word to the wise, make a reservation.

Bobby: I think they are sister restaurants. At the Volokh Conspiracy, there was a discussion about the origins of using the feminine gender for stuff like ships and states. I believe the consensus was that the use of the feminine gender was a hold over from Latin.

Giada: Woah, Bobby. Let's not scare away the readers. Just yet, anyway.

Bobby: Anyway, there is definitely something appealing about small dining spaces. It helps give a restaurant more intimate and neighborhoody feel, which is almost always a good thing.

Giada: Although the small space means almost inevitably that tables are pretty crowded, and indeed that's the case at Montmartre. But it seems like the best choice, both for the owners who can fit more people in, and for patrons who have a better chance at getting a seat at this fine establishment.
The walls are a pleasing shade of yellow, and the restaurant is capped by a high ceiling with rustic exposed wood beams, which helps make the small space feel less crowded.

Giada's Decor Rating: 7 out of 10
Bobby's Decor Rating: 7.5 out of 10


Giada: To me, it seemed that the food was the major distinction between Montsouris and Montmartre, with Montmartre head and shoulders above the former. We started with a round of escargot baked in the traditional "mere anne" style, along with a bowl of moules. Both were about average for french bistros in the area (e.g., Les Halles).

Bobby: Yeah, neither was especially note worthy, but they weren't bad either. I'm always surprised how much I like escargot.

Giada: For the main course, nothing was really jumping out at me (although one of our dining companions had the opposite problem of not being able to decide what to order), so I settled on the braised rabbit served with olives, mushrooms, and creamy linguine. I was fairly full already from the few glasses of wine, bread and mussels I'd been enjoying, but let me tell you -- that rabbit did not go to waste. It was cooked perfectly, with the meat practically falling off the bone. The linguine was small portion, nestled just on top of the rabbit, that provided a creamy alternative to the deep flavors of the sauce. The mushrooms and olives could have been there or not -- the dish is plenty large enough that it doesn't need accompaniment, and the flavors of the two got lost in the sauce. But those too disappeared off my plate, for whatever that's worth.

Bobby: I had the venison for the main course. 'Twas quite well-prepared and not too gamey, which was a good thing. The sauce was a little stronger that I would have selected, but on the whole it was an excellent dish.

Giada: For dessert, the entire table chose either the chocolate cake or chocolate mousse, which was probably too bad, as there were other tempting options we'll never know about. I had the mousse, and overall, it was just ok. It's wasn't particularly creamy, and I didn't care for the addition of small pieces of dark chocolate added throughout, which gave it a chunky taste.

Bobby: I had the chocolate cake. It was chocolate, so to that extent it was great, but not a particularly note worthy dessert. I still ate every last bit, though. Afterall, it's dessert.

On a related matter, I'd like to note that one of the parts of making chocolate is called conching. Apparently, it is the part of the process where the cocoa butter is grinded down. I think this term should make it into the general lexicon, meaning beaten down by society or The Man. For example, Ina was totally conched by Oya in their handling of her Valentine's Day deposit.

Giada's Food Rating: 7 out of 10
Bobby's Food Rating: 7 out of 10


Giada: On the whole, service was somewhat mixed. While one woman (the owner, perhaps?) clearly worked to ensure the patrons' satisfaction and our waiter was prompt, that was somewhat off-set by another server's stressed and harried attitude. Yes, it was a Friday night, and yes, one of our dining companions was over 30 minutes late, but her attitude was still more abrupt and severe than I thought warranted. Particularly since we ordered wine and appetizers before the final member of our party arrived, meaning that the progress of the meal was slowed little or not at all.

Bobby: Okay, so I initially ordered the veal and the waiter gave me a smirk and said "Are you sure about that?" I said that I generally was a fan of veal, it's barbarity notwithstanding. He said that they'd had mixed comments about the veal and that maybe I should try something else. This back-and-forth made me totally lose confidence in the veal, so I went with the venison instead. But then the waiter kept asking me if I was sure about that choice. It was really annoying. I mean, it's a good thing to let diners know which of the dishes aren't well-liked, but at some point you just have to accept the patron's order and let it go. Letting go was not a strong suit of the waiter.

Giada: In the waiter's defense, he did bring a motherlode of corks to a friend of ours throughout the night after she had mentioned she was making a cork board out of them.

Giada's Service Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Bobby's Service Rating: 6 out of 10


It's a lovely and intimate dining atmosphere, and while many of the dishes are more than excellent, others are merely average. Prices are standard for what you'd expect, with appetizers in the $6 - $10 range, and entrees priced around $20 - $25. Capitol Hill isn't a neighborhood we find ourselves in often, but Montmarte might have be a reason to change that.

Giada's Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Bobby's Overall Rating: 7 out of 10

327 7th Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Thursday, February 22, 2007

St. Valentine's Day Massacre at Oya

While Bobby and I were receiving the royal treatment by Chef Ziebold et al. over at CityZen, good friends of ours opted for a girls' night out at Oya, a trendy little place located in oh-so-trendy (albeit in the yuppiest of yuppy ways) Gallery Place / Chinatown / Penn Quarter (seriously -- someone needs to make a once-and-for-all determination on that neighborhood's name). Anyway, Oya was offering a six-course, prix fixe meal for $125 (notably only $10 cheaper than CityZen, ahem).

My friends went, imbibed, enjoyed, and had a pretty nice evening, by all accounts. Overall, they were quite pleased with the evening. Until about a week later, that is.

When my friend, let's call her Ina, made the reservation via Open Table, it prompted her for a credit card, which Ina dutifully supplied. She assumed it would be charged in the event her party failed to cancel the reservation in a timely manner, which a lot of restaurants do on special occassions, so no big deal, right? Not so much. Turns out, Oya had decided to charge a deposit for its tables on Valentine's Day. The only warning of this that Ina received was on the confirmation email from Open Table, which stated: "OpenTable will never charge the card for any reason. There will be no charges by Oya Restaurant & Lounge except in cases of a no-show, late cancellation, or required deposit per the restaurant's policy." Yeah, talk about your fine print.

About a week after the meal, Ina was perusing her online checking account statement and noticed two charges for Oya -- one for the meal and an additional $300 charge for the deposit. Ina called Oya to inquire about the additional charge and was told that the charge should have been deducted by the waiter or waitress from the cost of the meal. Ina informed the manager that she hadn't been aware of the deposit policy. The manager then replied that they were looking into the issue and would "try" to remedy it later that afternoon. He also assured Ina that it wasn't really that big of a deal, since eventually the restaurant would have noticed the error.

It's now two days later, and over a week since the meal, and Ina still hasn't been credited her $300.

This situation has so many things wrong with it, I don't know where to begin. First of all, the problem should have never occurred in the first place. If you're going to charge a deposit, the entire policy should be explained much more clearly, and employees must to take extra care to make sure it is taken off the bill. Second, when a problem does arise, it needs to be handled immediately. $300 is a lot of money, and a lot of people probably don't have that much of a cushion in their accounts. Ina's lucky that she does, because she's certainly not getting a lot of help from the restaurant. Additionally, according to Ina, Oya was completely cavalier about the whole thing, making it additionally stressful because she spent a lot of time worrying if they were really going to take care of it, or if she'd need to take other action. Not only should management have credited her back the charge the same day, but they should have offered to comp her something (come in for a round of drinks, perhaps) for her troubles.

Shame on you, Oya. Shame on YOU.

Update: Ina received the credit back to her debit card on 2/23. Which means that it took three days from the time she pointed out the error, ten days from the time of the incorrect charge, numerous phone calls (most unreturned, despite promises otherwise), and one big headache.

777 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Website (which, btw, is one of those awful ones that makes you watch some lame slide show before entering the actual site. YAWN).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CityZen and the Art of Food Preparation

Bobby: For Valentine's Day, Giada and I went to the much-acclaimed CityZen at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Eric Ziebold was out hobnobing with the Valentine's Day diners, the food was excellent, and the setting was nice as always. All and all, an excellent way to spend a frosty Valentine's Day.

Giada: I have to admit, when Bobby told me where we were going for Valentine's Day, I did a little dance. I mean, who wouldn't be excited to see what sort of menu Mr. Eric Zebold himself would prepare for what's supposed to be one of the most romantic days of the year?

Bobby: The first thing that bares mentioning about the evening is that when we arrived Giada had a present waiting on the table for yours truly. She made a rather bold move and got me a pair of white socks, being quite the romantic girl. Just kidding, she got me tickets to the sold out Decemberists show. Me being a huge fan of indie rock, and nautical-themed songs in particular, this was just about the perfect present.

Giada: Aw, that's sweet. And props to the staff at CityZen for being great about setting out the gift before we arrived. I'd stopped off earlier that day to make my request, saying that I relized it was a busy night for them and would understand if the gift was brought out later, rather than waiting upon arrival. But, like seemingly everything else at CityZen, it was executed flawlessly.


Bobby: If I were a writer for Elle Decor magazine, I would describe the stylings of CityZen as dramatic, yet inviting. Since I am not, I will just call it nice. It has a very large space, with tall ceilings, cool beams throughout the restaurant, and snazzy looking tables.

Giada: What I like best about CityZen is while it's a very large space with especially high ceilings, the decor is done in a way to make it feel special, but not overwhelming, and not stark either. I imagine it's a challenge to decorate such a large space without overfilling it with enormous pieces, or going the other way and leaving it sparse. While CityZen doesn't feel intimate, it certainly feels special.

Bobby's Decor Rating: 9 out of 10
Giada's Decor Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Bobby: The food for this particular evening came in the form of a tasting menu. The first course was a pickled oyster with ginseng gelee. I don't really like oysters, but this little bit was quite good. The taste was quite different from any other oyster I've ever had and it looked wonderful on the plate.

Giada: I thought the oyster was ok, but the flavor was a little tart. Anyway, for the second course, we enjoyed a napoleon of dover sole and yukon gold potato, with dill creme fraiche and smoked steelhead trout roe. And by enjoy, I mean it was one of the best things I've ever tasted. Really. I know that a combo of sole and potato sounds like it might be a little bland, but this was just beyond good.

Bobby: For the third course, the big E came up with sauteed moulard duck foie gras with melted sweet onions, beer battered shallots, and onion gastrique. Again, I'm not much of a fan of foie gras. It's the most overdone dish in all of the world. But this dish tasted spectacular. Really, the second and third courses were the highlight of the meal. I feel this is often true with tasting menus. The earlier courses are the best. The main courses are generally less innovative and rarely live up to one's expectations.

Giada: The fourth course was sweet butter poached lobster with meyer lemon and fennel bulb marmalade in a pernod emulsion. It was lobster, it was butter, enough said. Well, ok, maybe a little more bears being said. It was, IMHO, the standard presentation of lobster that comes on most first-class tasting menus. But did I enjoy it? Sure did.

Bobby: For the fifth course, we feasted on roasted quail, stuffed with veal sweetbreads, melted savoy cabbage, and perigold truffles. Now, I'm not really sure how melted savoy cabbage differs from regular cabbage. I always just thought cabbage was cabbage. But this tasted better. An insightful comment a minute out of this one-man think tank. Anyway, I liked the dish.

Giada: We were next presented with herb roasted veal, with caramelized garlic chiboast, yellow foot chanterelles, and beurre colbert. Before I give my opinion, I should say that Bobby really liked this course. I, however, didn't. To me, it was sorta just the slab of veal on a plate, and mostly reminded me of the sort of thing you eat a family dinner prepared by someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Sorry, Eric.

Bobby: Then we got to the main event of any meal: dessert. We were brought a poached bartlett pear and flowering quince tart, with candied hazelnuts, confit navel orange, toasted cantucinni, and grand marnier sabayon. A little underwhelming. It tasted good and was well-prepared and all. But where was the chocolate? As Giada often says, whither the chocolate for the main dessert on tasting menus. Indeed.

Giada: And for the last, we received a tray of CityZen chocolates. A sweet way to end a very memorable meal.

Bobby's Food Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Giada's Food Rating: 9 out of 10


Bobby: The service at the restaurant portion of CityZen is much what you would expect at any high-end establishment. The waiters brought out the food promptly, handled our questions adequately, and generally did a good job of not being too obtrusive. The staff isn't as good as the wonderful staff at Restaurant Eve, but it is better than the staff at Citronelle.

Giada: Yeah, the staff at Citronelle can be a little snooty at times. However, I have a pretty big bone to pick with one particular server at CZ. So it's Valentine's Day and yes, the restaurant is busy. But that is no reason to remove the parker house rolls from the table before I am finished with them. You hear me, lady? NO REASON.

Bobby: After dinner we decided to get a drink at the bar. Now, we were pretty much the only people at the bar and we ordered two simple drinks. I had a White Russian, being fond of girly drinks, and Giada had a cocktail off the menu. It took the waiter from the bar over 20 minutes to bring the drinks to the table we were sitting at, which was absolutely maddening.

Bobby's Service Rating : 6.5 (deducting 2 points for the bar staff's incompetence)
Giada's Service Rating: 8.0 (being generous by not deducting more points from the lady who stole my rolls)

Dining Companions

Bobby: We had couples on both sides of us for this meal. On one side, we had a couple that chatted fairly normally and at a moderate decibel level. This couple belonged to the quickly dying group known as normal people.

Giada: Do you think we're a part of that group?

Bobby: No. But it's mostly because of me, so don't feel bad.

Giada: Yeah, I could see that.

Bobby: On the other side, we had a couple that belonged to a quickly multiplying group known as complete and utter Neds. Seriously, this couple definitely been to some Star Trek conventions. Their conversation touched subjects that were objectively not that weird--it was just that they're take on the subject screamed socially inept since birth. But at least they weren't mean. So they had that going for them.

Giada: I thought they were kinda cute. He'd brought like 6 cards for her, all with a different little present inside. Also, they apparently dine at CZ quite often and when seated at a table not to their liking, asked to be moved (next to us, of course, because Bobby and I got PRIME REAL ESTATE), but did so politely, which I thought was pretty cool.

Bobby's Dining Companion Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Giada's Dining Companion Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Aside for the hiccup at the bar, the Case of the Stolen Rolls [Bobby: Let if go, Giada] and the fact that it took forever to get a cab, the evening was splendid. The food at its best--during the second and third courses--was among the finest we've ever had. The place felt both special and cool--a feat that is not easy to accomplish and we got to keep the menu at the end. Although we wish Eric Zebold had come to our table to chat as he did to some others. Maybe he was intimidated because of our famous blog. And Bobby thinks because of his "guns." Giada thinks not so much.

Bobby's Overall Rating: 9 out of 10
Giada's Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Mandarin Hotel
1330 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20024

CityZen website

Friday, February 16, 2007

D'Acqua--Was D'ecent

Bobby: One recent Friday night, Giada, Rachel (Giada's sister), and I went to D'Acqua, the relatively new downtown Italian eatery. D'Acqua is, of course, in the space that used to house Signatures, owned by the crooked lobbyist Jack Abramhoff. None of the signatures of famous-for-DC people remain, not even Abramhoff's famed gangster hat he wore on the first day of his trial.

Giada: Frankly, I can't remember if I ever visited Signatures, so I don't feel too sad that it's been replaced. The chef's at D'Acqua are notably Francesco "Cesco" Ricchi and Enzo Febbraro, Ricchi is responsible for, naturally, iRicchi in Dupont Circle as well as Cesco Trattoria in Bethesda, while Fabbraro has held stints as the executive chef of Cafe Milano and Filomena, both of Georgetown.

Bobby: I did visit Signatures and I'm not too sad it was replaced. It had a weird menu that combined sushi, New American, and a couple of French dishes. None of the dishes were particularly successful. Anyway, we went into D'Acqua not having especially high expectations, but I think the restaurant surprised us. It was a nice place to have a fairly causal Friday night meal.

Giada: Definitely surprised, and in an excellent way.


Giada: When we arrived, the restaurant seemed very quiet, and I assumed it was relatively empty. However, the "L-shape" of the restaurant hides the main dining area from the entrance, and it turned out is was actually quite full. I liked that, because it means that diners aren't constantly interrupted by the comings and goings of other diners, and that the cold air couldn't intrude upon our table, which was far removed from the door.

Bobby: There is nothing especially striking about D'Acqua's decor. There is also nothing especially bad about its stylings. It has the standard bar setup and fairly neutral walls, floors, and table colors. Serviceable is the word I'd use to describe it on the whole. There is, however, a fairly nice view of the Navy Memorial from main dining area and quite a bit of space between the tables, so it doesn't feel to cramped.

Giada: The main dining area runs parallel to much of the bar area, although the two are sufficiently separated so that diners don't feel like they're dining at the bar. However, the TVs perched above the bar face directly into the dining area, which was distracting.

Bobby's Decor Rating: 7.0 out of 10
Giada's Decor Rating: 6.5 out of 10


Bobby: For the appetizer, I had the scallops. They were well-prepared, well-presented, and very tasty. Now, scallops are something that a great number of restaurants do well, but D'Acqua's were among the best I've had in D.C.

Giada: I enjoyed a lovely soup course, which was absolutely delicious on a cold D.C. night.

Bobby: For the main course, I went with the agnolotti, which was also quite good. Again, this dish was not particularly original. Nor was it a dish that I am likely to remember six months from now. But it was well-cooked, looked nice on the plate, and had pleasant taste to it. There is something to be said for competence in restaurants, and the cooking at D'Acqua struck me as nothing so much as a competent take on comtemporary Italian food.

Giada: I too went with a not-so-original course, the linguine with clams and a white wine and vinegar sauce. While perhaps it isn't the most original offering, it was excellent. The linguine was prepared to the perfect al dente consistency, clams were fresh, and the sauce was flavorful but not overwhelming.

Bobby: As for the wine, the list was fairly extensive and hit the right price points. We had a bottle of Pinot Noir that was very good and reasonably priced.

Bobby's Food Rating: 7 out of 10
Giada's Food Rating: 8 out of 10


Bobby: The service at D'Acqua was efficient, no-nonsense, and prompt. That is about all you can ask of a restaurant. The server did nothing above and beyond the call of duty, but she did her job well.

Giada: I disagree somewhat with Bobby, in that I thought the server was particularly good. She was very pleasant and knowledgeable, she fielded our questions easily, and was patient when we hemmed and hawed over our orders. She seemed to have a genuine friendliness, rather than being simply polite, but at the same time, remained efficient and unobtrusive. She also came out to the table to apologize for the slow arrival of our meals, which frankly, I hadn't even noticed.

Bobby's Service Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Giada's Service Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Dining Companions

Bobby: Given that the tables were spaced relatively far apart, there were no unwanted, annoying dining companions. However, we had the good fortune of having Rachel along, who was as fun and interesting as always.

Giada: Yep, not really a peep from other diners, as far as I remember.

Bobby's Dining Companions Rating: 9 out of 10
Giada's Dining Companions Rating: 9.5 out of 10


D'Acqua is never going to be a restaurant that gets a lot of hype. There is nothing particularly special about it. However, if you are looking for a quality Italian meal Downtown, one could do far worse that spending an evening at D'Acqua.

Bobby's Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
Giada's Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10

801 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Monday, February 5, 2007

Central Michel Richard -- Not the Center of the Dining World, But A Welcome Addition to DC

Bobby: We decamped from Giada's DC office to Michel Richard's latest venture at the corner of 10th and Pennsylvania. Both of us are fans of Richard's Citronelle, so we entered the restaurant with high hopes. For the most part, we were not disappointed.

Giada: Bobby had particularly high hopes, since this would combine his love of burgers, fries, ice cream, etc. with his love of high-end cooking.

Bobby: When we arrived at the restaurant, there was some mix up about the reservation time. We had booked for 8; they had us down for 9:30. After a few minutes of back and forth, they gave us a table in the front of the restaurant.

Giada: While I was happy that the restaurant managed to seat us (it was a pretty busy night), I definitely felt like they thought the mistake was on our end, even though Bobby had said that Central had called that morning to confirm.

Bobby: The table was less than ideal in a couple of ways. First, it was miles away from the beautiful open kitchen in the back of the restaurant.

Giada: The kitchen is amazing. It sort of seems to glow in all its stainless steel splendor. It's too bad it's not located where all patrons can enjoy the view.

Bobby: Second, the table leaned back and forth, which was annoying. And Giada is not a big fan of annoyances like that. From lizards on the floor of restaurants in Aruba, to nighttime drug exchanges in local parks, to creaking tables, if there is something amiss, Giada is going to be focused on it.

Giada: Seriously? The table wasn't just tippy, it was literally rocking back and forth to the point where I thought we were going to spill our drinks every time I leaned on it. I would have done the trick of placing a napkin underneath the shorter leg, but my folded napkin would have been about 6 inches shy of solving the problem.

Bobby: However, despite the above problems, the experience at Central was, on the whole, a pleasant one.


Bobby: I'd describe the decor of the restaurant as sleek, modern, and classy in a casual sort of way. Which is how I'd also describe myself. So needless to say I liked the decor. I'd give the layout of the restaurant a few demerits because the tables were a little crowded and many of them don't have a view of the open kitchen, which is the focal point of the restaurant.

Giada: I really liked the decor, and agree with Bobby on all points. Also, the bathroom was nicely done as well in a bright shade of pink, although they need some sort of cupboard in which to put the extra rolls of tiolet paper. Those weren't the most attractice accessory.

Bobby's Decor Rating: 8 out of 10
Giada's Decora Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Bobby: Bobby is a simple American fellow. He enjoys hamburgers, ice cream, and cheesy things, so the food at Central suited Bobby quite well. Bobby also a little pompous, thus the use of the third person.

Giada: Bobby's also going to ruin our fledgling blog if he doesn't cut the act.

Bobby: Anyway, I started off with the cheese puffs for the appetizer. They come in a cool little cup and they're delicious. No need to order anything else.

Giada: The cheese puffs were very tasty (sort of like puffy Cheez-Its). The cup, while cool, didn't do much to keep the puffs warm though, and its a generous serving that will remain on the table for more than a couple minutes. I had the proscuitto, which was easily the best I've ever had. It was served atop a small cutting board, each thin slice was perfectly pink, and a small amount of olive oil was drizzled on top to complete the minimalist presentation.

Bobby: For the main course, I did the hamburger. It was very good. Was it the best hamburger that I'd ever had? No. That honor belongs to Houston-based chain of Beck's Prime and Maui's Bubba's Burgers. But for an upmarket burger, it was very tasty. Highly recommended.

Giada: According to Bobby, all of the "best" food is in Texas. Like any good Yankee, I remain skeptical.

Giada: I went with the lobster burger. I expected something like a crabcake sandwich, but with lobster. I got something that was more like a lobster roll, but served on a hamburger roll. By that I mean that the burger is almost pure lobster. It's not lobster and other seafood and breadcrumbs. It's LOBSTER. So, yeah, I can't complain. I mean, even for $18 I can't complain.

Bobby: For dessert, I had the banana split. The reason to get the banana split is the strawberry ice cream. I'm somewhat of a strawberry ice cream aficionado, and people, this was the best strawberry ice cream I've ever had.

Giada: You mean the best strawberry ice cream ISN'T in Texas? I don't think they're going to let you back in the state.

Bobby: The rest of the split was also good. But the strawberry ice cream would, contra Prince, make doves sing.

Giada: I am not a huge fan of strawberry ice cream and people? This stuff was good. It was honestly like eating a frozen creamy strawberry, sweetened just enough. Also, I feel like Bobby is giving the rest of the split the short shrift, as it was also very good. The ice cream is served in separate sections of the dish, which are also separate from the large section holding the bananas, sauces, and whip cream. So you scoop up a little ice cream, then scoop up your bananas and sauce separately. And it's all pure and fresh and simple and lovely.

Giada: Now that I'm done doing Bobby's job, I can tell you about my own dessert, which was the Richard's famous Kit Kat bar. It's layers of chocolate and thin crisps, and it is very delicious, but if I went back, I'd probably go for the ice cream. First, because the ice cream is just that good. But second, because after a meal of burgers and fries, ice cream just works.

Bobby's Food Rating: 8 out of 10
Giada's Food Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Bobby: This is the part of the Central experience that could be drastically improved. Service was a little slow and the waiter seemed to forget about us a couple of times. Plus, there was the reservation snafu. But the restaurant opened recently, so hopefully it will become more seamless as time goes on.

Giada: Agreed. The waiter seemed a little new to the biz. But he was nice.

Bobby's Service Rating: 6 out 10
Giada's Service Rating: 7 out of 10

Dining Companions

Bobby: Because the tables are so close at many restaurants, the people next to you can make a big difference in the overall experience. So I am starting a new segment of the review: Dining Companions.

Giada: Ahem? You didn't even ask me. [Walks away sulking]

Bobby: Guess I'm fielding this one solo. Anyway, to our right, there was a couple of the May-September variety (he wasn't old enough for December). It was apparently their first date. He was trying hard to impress her, but he mostly came across a little awkward. Giada, being a very juvenile type of girl, told me that I should say to her, but very loudly so that the couple would overhear it, "I think that girl is a prostitute." The reason for doing this would be to see the gentleman's reaction. I didn't end up doing it, as I'm too old and boring. But it does raise the good question of how one should respond to such an obvious insult. I told Giada there is really no response but to request the action move outdoors. Perhaps others have a different view. Anyway, the couple was a little annoying, but not too bad. Definitely not as bad as "large party" girl and "I wear all black" guy at Cashion's.

Bobby's Dining Companions Rating: 5 out of 10
Giada's Dining Companions Rating: None [she's still sulking]


Bobby: Overall, I think that Central is an excellent addition to the DC dining landscape. I'd definitely go back. Giada?

Giada: Fine. I'm back. ... I enjoyed it as well. The food was outstanding, prices were "reasonable" for this sort of place, decor is fun, and service is decent.

Bobby's Overall Rating: 8.0 out of 10
Giada's Overall Rating: 8.5 our of 10

Website for Central (not much to look at as of the date of this posting)

1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004