Trouble With Toast

Restaurant Week Hodgepodge | August 9, 2007

I used to write individual reviews for each establishment I visited during Restaurant Week. However, now that I’ve finished my fifth go-round of the popular dining promotion, I realize that I don’t have enough novel things to say to merit three separate write-ups. Instead, I’ll share the highlights of Summer Restaurant Week 2007, during which I ate two discounted dinners (at Vidalia and PS 7’s) and one reduced-price lunch (at DC Coast).

Best value: DC Coast. To determine this, I added up the regular prices of the food I ordered (or the closest item to it) at each restaurant and then performed various complicated mathematical operations to determine which savings was the greatest. I would have normally paid about $36.00 for my lunch at DC Coast, so the $20.07 Restaurant Week price tag represented a 44.25% discount. Vidalia was a close second, coming in at 43.7%. PS 7’s savings were about 37.4%.

Best service: Vidalia. Our server was knowledgeable and friendly, and he was honest in his recommendations (instead of steering us toward things that would pad his tip). He was there when we needed him, but he allowed us to enjoy our meal in relative peace. Bravo.

Worst service: PS 7’s. Our server was painfully slow and awkward. We certainly didn’t want to be rushed, since we were having a lovely conversation and enjoying the food, but he often disappeared for 20-30 minutes at a time. He left to tend to another table in the middle of taking our appetizer orders, and then he did the same after picking up our credit cards. Worst of all, he was almost completely unresponsive to our friendly comments and questions.

Most upcharges: Vidalia. I counted six there. DC Coast only had one (for the crab cakes), and PS 7’s had none.

Most impressive appetizer: The tuna sliders that my friend ordered at PS 7’s, which consisted of tuna tartare (with lots of cilantro—yum) on Parker House rolls with a spicy miso-based sauce. Lovely on the plate, but even better in my mouth.

Least impressive appetizer: DC Coast’s soup of the day, a chilled cucumber-melon soup with shrimp. Tasty, but way too watery, and the shrimp were a bit tough.

Most impressive entrée: Shockingly, they were all pretty darn good. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d probably pick the pan-roasted rainbow trout from PS 7’s. It was VERY rich, but cooked perfectly (skin on, hooray!) and incredibly flavorful. Then again, the roasted poussin at Vidalia was nothing to sneeze at (the skin was crispy and the meat was tender), and my seared tuna at DC Coast was light and delicious. Well done on all three counts!

Least impressive entrée: My boyfriend’s veal Oscar at Vidalia, though he certainly cleaned his plate. The accompanying gnocchi was, quite possibly, the best I’ve ever had. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a huge veal fan to begin with.

Most impressive dessert: Vidalia’s pecan pie, hands down. So. Good. The peach crisp at PS 7’s was also delicious.

Least impressive dessert: Crème brulee at DC Coast. It was tasty, but it wasn’t mind-blowing, and it was a bit heavier than I’d prefer.

Other notable touches: the peach-chardonnay dressing on my frisee salad at Vidalia (I’d buy it by the gallon, it was so good); the perfectly cooked scallops at PS 7’s; and the lovely caprese salad that accompanied my tuna at DC Coast.

Best overall experience: Vidalia, which should come as no particular shock. The food was beautiful and satisfying, the service was attentive but not cloying, and the inclusion of a special, affordable wine list was an excellent extra (of which I definitely took advantage).

There you have it—DC Coast is consistently good (but not spectacular), I’d absolutely go back to PS 7’s (though I’d request a different waiter), and Vidalia is still my favorite restaurant in the city.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled diet…

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