Recent Restaurant Recaps

Just in case you were wondering if the inverse relationship between the quality of a restaurant’s view and the quality of their food still holds true, a recent (and forced visit) to the Charthouse in Old Town confirmed it. Over cooked and generally flavorless fish next to an over-priced and uninspired wine list was paired with indifferent service to leave me with the feeling that they are content to being in the league of vapid restaurants so long as the proximity to water and tourists keeps their coffers filled.

And because sometimes piling-on is entirely appropriate… their website commits two cardinal sins: music, and failing to have the address on the homepage. When will restauranteurs learn?

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Screwtop Wine Bar – I may be in the minority, but I’m not wowed by this place. The truffled popcorn they serve, gratis, at the bar is addictive, the ambiance is spare but charming, and the cheeses are very carefully sourced. However, if you’re a wine bar, what else should be the primary metric for evaluation? On this note, three recent visits have left me underwhelmed with both the wine list and the knowledge of the staff. Screwtop is a lovely place to spend the early part of an evening if you’re in that area, and you already know your way around a winelist, but I don’t expect to make a special trip in the near future. Not to pile on, but when a bartender flirts with my date when I go to the lieu, as the twitter kids would say #youredoingitwrong.

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Grand Cru Wine Bar – I adore their pricing model (retail wine shop with negligible corkage fees for wines purchased) and this is one of the more comfortable urban(ish) patios. However, their menu is in desperate need of an editor as it is fairly well stocked with items they do not execute well. This remains a lovely place to wile away an evening (especially when the weather cooperates) with a bottle of wine. When you get hungry, however, stick with the items they don’t cook (cheese and charcuterie) or the things they cook the least (salads and smoked salmon.)

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The three month old Chesapeake Room is a very well appointed space and an attractive addition to Barracks Row. The menu and cooking are, unfortunately, consistent with the general one-notch-above-mediocrity of the bustling lower 8th street area. Two brunches and dinner there were all culinarily flawed in some manner – over-salted or under-salted, sloppily plated, dull flavor combinations, and the like. As they’re still getting their kitchen legs beneath them, I am happy to give them additional chances… but mostly for drinking.

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Maddy’s is a Bar & Grille that has no illusions about being something other than that. Their food, however, is a lot better than it needs to be. With meaty and well seasoned wings, a good selection of sandwiches (all will leave some jus running down your fingers in a very satisfying and homey way,) an outstanding beer program, and a staff of pros who make you feel like a regular from your very first visit, I happily place Maddy’s on my list of favorite bars in the city.

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And on a final note… Dear Restaurant Owners & Managers, please teach your staff that an “I don’t know, let me check” is always preferable to weaving some nonsense from whole-cloth and unicorn tears.


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5 Responses to Recent Restaurant Recaps

  1. Shannon says:

    My fiance’s parents took us there for a celebratory dinner after we got engaged, and I found the place to be a disorganized mess. Our table was too close to the door, and we kept getting smacked with a door and run into by waitstaff. When we complained, the waitress instructed us to pick up our table and move it ourselves. Er, what?

    Also? The chicken was dry.

  2. Scarlett says:

    Really? Its bad when the bartender flirts w your date? Is it bad when your date flirts back? (reexamining dating techniques). Also, to amplify your recommendation, Maddy’s has the best sweet potato fries i’ve tasted anywhere, served w a choice of dipping sauces. And now i’m hungry.

  3. kate.d. says:

    Been meaning to try Chesapeake Room b/c we live in the area, but hearing a lot of “meh” reviews like yours. Out of curiosity, how long of a grace period does a restaurant usually have in order to get their “kitchen legs” under ’em? I’d have thought three months should be enough time, but I am not terribly knowledgeable about these things.

  4. magnolia says:

    i adore chesapeake room, not gonna lie. took my dad there for fathers day, and he fell in love with it. (though it’s true that their cocktail menu is a large portion of my love affair with the place…)

  5. Thanks for the updates. Arlington will soon have a new wine bar — fingers crossed, as Ray’s the Glass is finally under construction.

    And I have yet to try the Chesapeake Room mainly because they only take reservations for parties of 4 or more, and I hate to head up there without a reservation. I think I will try it first for drinks and wait to see if the food improves.

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