Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Review - 1789

We were right on the border - we didn't quite fit in, yet we didn't seem entirely out of place. Regardless, when Jill, myself, Agatha and co. left 1789 last night, we were all just as equally stuffed as the rest of the high end Georgetown clientele (ETA by Apples: and equally monetarily set-back).

Looking to take advantage of the last days day of their amazing three course, $36 summer special, the five of us found our way down to Georgetown last night to experience the restaurant that gets a lot of play in this area.

Notice I didn't say the food - ranked only 44th in the Washingtonian's top 100 list, a trip to 2 Amy's would have yielded higher rated food, but when it comes to atmosphere, 1789 is awfully hard to beat.

The decor screams "old" and "classy" - the room we were seated in (I believe it was the Wickets Room), on the second level, had only about six or so tables in it, and for a good portion of the meal we were the only party seated there (having a 6pm reservation certainly helped that).

Before I get to the food I should also point out, before I forget, that the service was simply wonderful. From the moment we walked in to the moment we left, I felt completely comfortable - which is saying something considering the fancy factor of 1789. (ETA: I would have taken that waiter home to read me bedtime stories... he had one of the best voices I've ever heard.)

As I said, the $36 deal included three courses, and I took full advantage of each one. For my first course I got the steak tartare. The steak itself was fantastic, served with a quail egg yolk on top, two large capers (which were treats by themselves) and a grilled piece of flat bread that I only found to get in the way. (ETA: I think you're supposed to scoop the tartar up with it. I find that silly.) The star of the show was the steak, which was incredibly flavorful and came in a very sizable portion.

Jill got some kind of seafood ratatouillesque dish that seemed to fall a little flat. I'm not quite sure what it was lacking (Jill, a little help here), but she wasn't looking too thrilled. (ETA: It was fine. It was a mini-cast-iron skillet (seriously, can't we save those for Cracker Barrell? C'mon people.) filled mostly with very nicely cooked bits of zuchinni and yellow squash and tomato, with a few little shrimp and a couple mussels thrown in, topped with a savory buttery and breadcrumb-y topping. It was tasty, don't get me wrong, but when I intentionally order the second most expensive thing on the menu in a quest to get my money's worth (the most expensive was the short ribs, and since I was getting white wine that wasn't going to work), I expect more than that.)

Agatha got the heirloom tomato salad, which had huge pieces of tomatoes and mozzarella, and certainly looked worthy of a first dish. (ETA: Our other two dining companions had, respectively, the clams and the beat salad. Both seemed satisfied.)

For my entree I decided on the veal, which consisted of a large piece of sweetbreads and a large piece of veal steak, with some nice vegetables between. Honestly, the sweetbreads were one of the best bites of food I've ever had. I can see why they're such a big deal. (ETA: I asked for a second taste. It was somewhat begrudgingly granted, and very very good.) Paired with the steak and the veggies, it was a wonderful entree, and one I'd gladly get again.

Sadly, Jill's Kurobuta pork chop with fried green tomatoes didn't quite meet the sweetbread standard. The pork was a bit overcooked, and the tomatoes were a bit undercooked. Again, Jill cleaned her plate, but didn't look too thrilled once all was said and done. (ETA: The pork chop was a little under-seasoned, I think, and I was particularly disapointed with how over-done it was because when the waiter asked for my doneness preference, I pulled a "Tom" and asked it to be done to the chef's recommended temperature. I thought that would mean it would be perfect. Not so much. It was also served with a very tasty corn salad that had a nicely tart/sweet dressing and bits of beans and bacon in it. If Tom Allen and I ever meet, we'll have a good time gabbing about cute boys and the indubiable merits of bacon.)

Dessert was a bit of a tough choice, but I settled on poached peaches with a really great ginger (I think that's what it was (ETA: I think it might have had some lime and some liquor (yuzu?) in it as well)) ice cream. The peaches were a perfect compliment to the ice cream and the dish overall was very good.

Jill, once again disappointed, got the golden chocolate dome (not to be confused with the golden dome at Notre Dame), which in Jill's words was, "pedestrian". (ETA: Again, perfectly tasty. But if I had gotten it at our previous-night's destination-- Bertucci's-- I wouldn't have been particularly pleasantly surprised.)

What we had at 1789 was a tale of two dinners. Both a hit and a miss at the same table. I very much enjoyed mine. I didn't dislike anything that was put in front of me. Jill on the other hand was pretty under whelmed. Now - she didn't hate the food, she was just expecting more.

In the end the experience - the atmosphere and the service - made 1789 a worth destination. I don't know if I would go there to shell out full price for a dinner, but you bet I'll be there next summer if they run this special again.

ETA: I'm discovering that very few flavor combinations really thrill me, and almost all of them involve ginger, lime, garlic, and fish. I think I was born on the wrong continent.

1226 36th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 202.965.1789
Fax: 202.337.1541
*Photos courtesy of Heather Freeman Public Affairs

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For some reason I thought that was over last week. Boo, we missed out! Oh well.