Wonderful Ambiance Does Not a Great Restaurant Make…

For the last week, Station 9 has been doing a five course tasting menu event. I received an email last week informing me of the tasting, which piqued my interest. So last night, I hailed a cab to make my way to the recently restored old post office on U Street. I’m not sure about other women in DC, but for some reason, cab drivers tend to hit on me…a lot. So I thought nothing of the lascivious looks the driver was giving me on the way up 14th Street. When we finally arrived at the restaurant, I gave him the fare and was waiting for some change back, when the guy squeezed my calf! I was so shocked, I let my immediate reaction fly: I swatted his hand and said “What the fuck?!?!” He smiled, gave me a wink and I got out of the cab before I maced the idiot. I did, however, have enough wits about me to remember his name and license number. But I wasn’t going to let Grabby McGrabberson ruin my night…

I got there a few minutes before my date, henceforth referred to as Food Guy. I sat in the lovely lounge area after checking in with the hostess at the front desk. The atmosphere of the restaurant is very mellow: low lighting, comfortable (but stylish) furniture and a dark, but sensual color scheme. For the ambiance alone, this is a good scene for a seduction. There were already several couples drinking at the bar, dangerously close to one another (credit to Sheryl Crowe for this line). When Food Guy arrived, we got a couple glasses of Pinot Grigio and sat on one of the many couches stationed throughout the front bar area. Everything about the restaurant’s layout encourages conversation and nice, dirty flirting (both of which I happily engaged in).

At 8, we headed to our table and to a less than stellar menu (not to mention our vanishing waitress). The tasting menu had five courses, but there was no cohesion in the dishes. When I looked at the choices, I felt as if someone cut and pasted them from five different restaurants. And I know this is going to sound odd, but none of the entree options matched the ambiance of the restaurant. And I can honestly say none of the dishes knocked my socks off.

For the first course, I had doughy udon noodles in a chicken broth overpowered by cilantro. The second course of pulled pork was good, but the dish was lukewarm. Food Guy’s dish of braised oxtails (something I haven’t tried before, but he was more than happy to share) was also flavorful but tepid. In between these dishes, our waitress appeared maybe twice (both times only after we had flagged her down). Granted, she was friendly…when she was around. Somehow we were served the main dish, a braised lamb, before the salad course. Food Guy liked the lamb, but I found mine to be a little too chewy (and burnt on some parts). The wine service that was paired with the main dish didn’t materialize, so once again we had to flag down our waitress and ask for it. We also mentioned the missing salad course, which was presented shortly afterwards. For some odd reason, the salad was served in a sort of puff pastry cup (the same cup used for my pulled pork dish), which in no way complimented the crisp, clean tasting greens. The final course, however, was the best course: dessert. I had the apple tart and Food Guy had a banana eclair. I especially loved the tart’s sweet crust, something I will try to replicate during berry season.

Although the meal was less than stellar, I would suggest Station 9 as a great place to grab drinks with friends and conversate. And since I was fortunate enough to have a great dining companion, the food didn’t spoil the overall experience.


Filed under Restaurants

3 responses to “Wonderful Ambiance Does Not a Great Restaurant Make…

  1. DCMart

    I’m a bit offended at your word choice in the sentence, “What the Fuck?” My virgin ears would have preferred, “What the heck?” As you say, “Cursing doesn’t solve anything.”

  2. City Girl DC

    I think “What the fuck” was quite appropriate. I have all kinds of crazy stories about inappropriate cab drivers in DC. That deserves a post all its own!

  3. Tanya

    Haha! I’ve had similar experiences so many times. Including the one time I had to give a DC cab driver a fake phone number — actually the number of the fire station– in order for him to let me out of the car. Muahaha.

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