Good Day- With increased frequency I am finding that people are taking pictures of their food and drinks. Personally I find the practice annoying, but not to the point where I say anything, but recently had two camera related experiences. The first was where the owner came over and told the gent to stop taking pictures of the food, please and enjoy your meal, nothing more was said. The second was a gent taking a snap of the food and after the picture the guest , at the other table came over and said if I am in that picture please delete it, the diner said nope, you are not, but I would not delete anyway. That is when the fun started. Seem that there was a protective detail involved and needless to say the guy deleted the pictures. The question is what is the protocol when taking pictures, other the obvious, and do the owners have a right to say no pictures?
As the son of a photographer (and as a food writer whose memory occasionally fails him), I can understand diners wanting to capture moments of deliciousness for later enjoyment.
But I can also see another view: Why not just enjoy the present? And why risk bothering other customers or the staff with flashes and other distractions? (Komi is an example of a restaurant that does not allow indoor photography, and I'm cool with that, although I think it's a rule diners should be alerted to ahead of time.)
Bottom line: Anyone who wishes to take pictures of his meal should first ask permission of the restaurant. And if the view includes strangers, it would be gracious (and smart!) to ask for their OK, too.
Good morning, everyone. Happy Sept. 1 (already!) and welcome to another 60 minutes of food chat.
Hello, Tom. I feel like treating myself to a leisurely lunch today near Union Station. I was thinking Johnny's, but it seems too heavy for the weather. What else can you suggest? Thank you.
I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Johnny's. Oysters on the half shell, grilled squid, broiled crab cakes -- none of those dishes from its menu are exactly "heavy." If you don't mind traipsing a bit further, you should consider a counter seat and a bowl of soup -- I had a a fabulous white grape gazpacho not long ago -- at the tiny Seventh Hill.
Tom All this chat about extremely, local, approachable, refined, affordable, fresh, farm to table philosophy. There is something unique happening at Goodstone Inn and Ashby Inn and I have not heard you mention these places ever and I follow your chats. Both are unparallel dining experiences and Virginia farm land drawing both inspiration and purpose from their surroundings from farm to table. Have you been. If not Why? 1 hr drving distance!
Huh? I formally (and favorably) reviewed the Ashby Inn in Paris earlier this year. And two years ago, I looked at Goodstone in Middleburg when it was called Hilltoppers. Later this month, I'll also be reviewing a restaurant out yonder that pours a dozen or so Virginia wines by the glass.
I recently heard a rumor that Del Merei Grille in Del Ray is closing late September. Is this true? I recently discovered this restaurant thanks to your review. The food was amazing, and it quickly turned into one of our local favorites. Would be sad to see it go.
Just wanted to shower praise on La Canela. Went there solo for lunch on Monday and had a fanstastic meal. From the amuse bouche of ceviche wrapped in fried dough to the pillowy beef pepitas to the pollo saltado and lastly to the perfectly luscious tres leches cake with berry sauce, the whole meal left me in a happy mood the rest of the day. Great service too. Will definitely be back with the family soon. Thanks and really enjoy your chats!
Hi Tom: I love your chats and reviews but I have a question for you. Do you still review restaurants for the Post? I can't remember the last time I saw an actual review from you in the Sunday Magazine. If someone else is doing the reviews, do you know where I can find them online or elsewhere?
Tom, in a tweet last week you mentioned that you were having dinner with your Mentor. Word around town is you are frequently seen Don Rockwell, are you mentoring your replacement for when you move the the NYT?
Actually, I was referring to a dinner I had with Phyllis Richman, who preceded me in this job. And now that the meal is behind us, I can say where we broke bread: Estadio in Logan Circle.
(For the record, I haven't had a meal with Mr. Rockwell in years. There's nothing to read into that, by the way, it's just the truth.)
Posting early with hopes you'll have a chance to respond. Love your chats and reviews Tom; thanks for all of your hard work (and eating). We're heading to Portland, Oregon in the winter and are looking for top picks, including for fairly large groups with kids. Thanks!
So if the beer hall on H st. is out, where can I get a good jaeger schnitzel? I know you've recommended the German restaurant in Hagerstown, and I had a good German meal at a place on Rt. 29 out toward Madison, but a drive of less than an hour would be preferred.
Hey Tom - My wonderful fiance is taking me to the Inn at Little Washington for my birthday this weekend - what are your recommendations?
There are many treasures at the Inn, but here are a few that I can think of off the top of my head:
1) Don't miss the fricasse of lobster, gnocchi and walnuts
2) If there are sweetbreads, try them. Mine were served with local grilled peaches and ham last visit.
3) If the weather permits, eat dessert in the garden. Nothing like a splish-splashing fountain, crickets chirping and Seven Deadly Sins to end an evening here.
LOVE your chats, but never write in! Today I felt the need to as my husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary over the weekend at Bourbon Steak. In lieu of exchanging gifts I told him I wanted to splurge on a nice dinner. We could not have chosen a better place. We got in a bit early for our reservations and they told us we could sit in the lounge area to wait. Within a couple of minutes of sitting and having ordered drinks, our table was ready. They sat us near the kitchen, which I was uncertain of at first since some kitchens are loud. This turned out to be a lovely experience as we got the watch many of the dishes coming out and gave us a lot to look forward to when our feed came to the table. We were greeted with sparking wine, the fries and Truffle Butter Rolls to start. By the time dinner was served I was already close to being full, but the steaks were excellent and the Truffle Mac and Cheese was certainly worth the calories. I was overall pleased not just with the food, but the presentation and service. We enjoyed every minute of the dining experience and hope to go back. Thank you for introducing your readers to such an excellent place!
Hi Tom--Former NoVa resident and current Atlanta area resident here. You may have heard that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a new restaurant critic, John Kessler, who held that position for a long time until stepping down 6 years ago. In the intervening time, he's blogged about food and the local dining scene for the AJC web site and print versions, always with his face prominently featured. Now he's gone back to his old job of chief restaurant reviewer, do you think he will be nearly as effective now that everyone in town knows his mug? He has said he will book reservations under friends' names, but once he walks in the door, any restauranteur worth their salt will know who he is. Would love to get your take on this.
I try really hard to dine under the radar, but the reality is, at some point in the reviewing process, I'm recognized at least half the time. That's just what happens when you've been in the job for a decade.
Do I care? Of course I do, which is why I will continue to make reservations in other names and do what I can do to remain anonymous, all in an effort to provide readers with as accurate an assessment of service as I can.
All that said, I think entertaining, fair and insightful writing and good reporting are far more important skills than are the ability to blend into a sea of diners or hide from waiters, chefs and restaurant owners who might recognize a critic.
Mr. Kessler is a terrific reviewer and I, for one, am happy to see him back at the table recording his thoughts on the scene in Atlanta.
How is the great Phyllis? No offense, Tom, but I still miss her. Any chance of seeing another of her funny murder mysteries? Next time you see her, give her a respectful bow from me.
I miss (reading) her, too! Phyllis looks great. I think she's really enjoying retirement (in Takoma Park) and a life of no deadlines.
Tom, Not a question...just wanted to tell you that I think you're the absolute best, and you make my Wednesdays more enjoyable. Thanks.
How sweet. Mwah back.
As a transplant from Rhode Island who frequently travels back, I enjoyed your take on the food scence there in your recent Postcard. Out of curiosity, did you visit any place during your visit that didn't live up to your expectations?
Not too long ago you mentioned Charlottesville as a close by food destination. Care to drop any names of places not to be missed?
I haven't been, but someone whose taste I trust raved to me just last night about the food at the Clifton Inn. Readers, care to weigh in with other suggestions?
Tom, are you aware that Spike Mendelson's restaurants, Good Stuff Eatery and We The Pizza charge a 1% "environmental charge" on top of the already high 10% DC Tax. I questioned the manager of We the Pizza and was told I could have the 1% extra charge refunded if I didn't want to pay it. Don't you think this is pretty shady if not illegal? I told the manager they should put up a sign informing customers in advance of this charge and she said they intended to... What do you think of this?
When I asked spokeswoman Catherine Mendelsohn, the mother of chef Spike Mendelsohn, why the cost wasn't just built into the price of the food, she told me, ?I like people to know what they?re paying for.?
How do others feel?
Hi Tom- Not a unique question, but we want to go out for an anniversary dinner someplace great. We've been to Komi and the dining room of Palena. We have not been to CityZen, Minibar, or Obelisk, which are the places we're considering. An outside possibility would be Volt, though we don't like the idea of restricting the wine because of the drive home. What's your take on these places at the moment? Anywhere else in the District that you recommend instead? Doesn't have to be a tasting menu like these, though they are a lot of fun. Thanks.
I guess it depends on what you want from the night.
Obelisk continues to serve some of the best Italian food in the area. You can't go wrong there. Minibar is fun, but it's very much like attending a show; you have to be up for 30 mini courses delivered in rapid succession. CityZen is probably the most romantic of your ideas.
One place you didn't mention but ought to consider is Tom Power's Corduroy. His food is very much to my taste and I like the sleek townhouse setting.
Question of the day for the peanut gallery: If you're not married but nevertheless attached, do you count the first time you MET or the first DATE as your anniversary? My mate and I differ on this subject. Which means we're celebrating our third year together tonight AND Sunday. Whoo-hoo!
Hi Tom. I missed last week's chat, but just wanted to offer you my support. I am way out here in Annapolis and absolutely do not expect to receive the same amount of coverage you give to inside-the-Beltway locations, because quite frankly: A) there really aren't many restaurants out here worth your time, and I suspect it's the same in other "exurbs;" and B) I understand that I am reading the WASHINGTON Post. If I wanted to read a review of the local P.F. Chang's here, I'd pick up an Annapolis publication. To be honest, I think you do a more than adequate job covering the few noteworthy locations to your east. Keep up the good work.
Ah, thank you, Annapolis!
The reality is, I spend a fair amount of time scouting restaurants an hour or more away from downtown DC, and you are correct: plenty are not worth sharing with a large Sunday Magazine audience.
Hey Tom: I am putting together a fundraiser/silent auction for flood victims in Pakistan. one of our ideas was to try and see if some of the restaurants downtown would be willing to donate some gift cards that we could auction off. I approached a few places with no luck, so wanted to get your opinion on what might be the best way in approaching restaurants. Not looking for anything big, like $40-$50 gift card from some restaurants. We are a 501(c)(3) and if you are free more than welcome to attend September 24th, at Park Triangle, 1375 Kenyon Street, NW, Washington DC from 6-10pm. EcoEnergyFinance.org Thanks!!!
Yours is clearly a good cause, but you have no idea how many similar requests restaurants get from people. Some places are so inundated with donation requests, they maintain separate phone lines to accept those messages!
In this tough economy, I'm afraid, I can understand why businesses might decline your invitation (and/or choose to help out local causes rather than foreign ones) .
Tip: It might make a difference if you're a regular at the establishments you're approaching, and by that I mean someone who frequents the restaurant at least once a month.
Hate to pre-empt you, Tom, but I just had to put in a plug for Dove Vivi pizza in Portland. The cornmeal dough deep dish pizza was extraordinary. Please pass this along because it is an experience not to be missed.
"Bottom line: Anyone who wishes to take pictures of his meal should first ask permission of the restaurant." Really? Just to pull out my phone, take a picture that captures nothing but my plate, and post it to my personal blog? (Definitely not a food blog -- I still post about beer more than food.) Personally, I think that's unreasonable. If restaurants are that bothered by unobtrusive photography, they should post very prominent signs. If they're just worried about amateur reviewers or a strobe of flashes from some overeager shutterbug, then they should address the issue as it arises. (Like cell phones -- it's possible to ask someone to not scream into their phone or turn down their ringer after the 10the time it's made their neighbors jump without banning phones or phone usage completely.)
Thanks for your comments.
I have to say, though, a lot of the amateur restaurant photos I see on online blogs do not do the cooking justice. I can see where chefs might be wary of diners taking pictures of their (sometimes half-eaten) food.
Love that you reviewed Elephant Jumps this week. We live in the area and got a flier from them a few months ago. Lucky for them, we didn't feel like cooking and ordered dinner that night. The guy who delivered our food told us, excitedly, that we were their "first delivery order ever!" That just made my night and we've since made them our choice for Thai takeout!
Cute. I like the delivery peson's enthusiasm.
How was the food? And what did you get?
My Husband and I celebrate our first date and the first day we met as our Anniversary., it was the same day as it was a blind date set up by a friend. But we celebrate it instead of our wedding Anniversary too, as it is what we have always celebrated.
I like the idea of stretching the celebration out myself.
I'm looking on washingtonpost.com/tomsietsema and I don't see anything about Elephant Jumps. Where can I find this review?
I frequently take photographs of my food when I'm on foreign countries. Not so that I can place them on a blog and comment on their taste. I do it because I like the presentations or it's something I've never had before and will never have again. Memories.
I've been guilty of the same thing. But I usually take pictures of food to retain the factual details of a dish.
I have noticed more and more restaurants not putting salt and pepper on the table. I am a self confessed saltaholic. But my other guests have noticed the lack of seasoning in the food and on the table. I understand the chef prepares to their liking, but shouldn't they consult others too??
I think it's presumptuous for restaurants not to set out salt and pepper. Let the diner decide what he/she likes.
Even though I'm married, we celebrate everything, including the anniversary of our 2 weddings. There's wedding #1 at Georgetown (where we go back to Chef Geoff's where our rehearsal dinner was) and wedding #2 in Cancun (where we have Mexican food finished with tres leches cake, which was our wedding cake) plus the anniversary of our engagement (where we ate at Kinkead's afterwards). Having met, fallen in love and lived in DC for more than 10 years, the city and its food are a big part of our story. So, my answer to your question would be to celebrate both anniversary dates as well as any and all dates that have meaning to you and your SO. Life's too short to NOT celebrate the gift of having love in your life.
I like the way you think. Thanks for sharing.
Tom--You should talk to your Web folks about updating the restaurant pages. When one goes to the GOG restaurant page and clicks to the Tom Sietsema reviews, the most recent ones that appear are your Wednesday notices for Da Moim, Chesapeake Room, and Buddha Bar. None of the Sunday reviews that have appeared in the Magazine since your spring dining guide can be found in that link, so unless you know what to look for, searchers are out of luck. (Same goes for the "Reviewed" link: the only recent Sunday review there is Candy Sagon's review of Uncle Liu's Hot Pot. Tell your Web folks to get it together!
Um, thanks for the feedback.
What's the difference between taking photos of your food and taking photos of your group at the table, which may incidentally include the food as well?
I was thinking the group shots might capture strangers, who may not want their mugs made public.
We celebrate both the day we met (march 27) and our anniversary. Needless to say we have celebrated them a lot since we are going to celebrate our 25th anniversary next month at IlGiglio in Montalcino. The owner has already confirmed that we will have a table with a view of the valley.
Awww. I love that. (Is there room for a third? I don't take up much space and I promise not to interrupt and I ....)
Especially those people with the FBI or Federal Witness Protection t-shirts on because that could endanger their security :)
Let's not forget food critics who are trying their best to remain anoymous!
Hi Tom, I've seen a couple of less-than-happy people writing into the chat recently about Eventide. I want to give the restaurant major props on our experience there last week, especially since we weren't the easiest crew. There were six of us, including two kids, and some of us were running late. The hosts were understanding and helpful. The restaurant was great with the kids (and the kid's plate was fantastic) and with the parents. When the baby needed to leave, which meant his parents didn't get to eat their meal, our servers took care of getting their food boxed up and the check in a gracious and quick way. The food was fantastic. Our servers rocked. The sommelier was a wonderful help. (And the bar on the roof is hands down my new favorite place in the metro area!) It was my birthday, and all I wanted was a great meal with my friends. Eventide delivered in full - I was already a big fan of the bar downstairs, but I'm now a big fan of the dining room and I can't wait to go back.
If we were in Germany during the 4 marks to the dollar era, yes we have been around. I take it from your review of the Biergarten Haus, that you do not have any of those dated marks invested in that place Tom!
Tom, First a comment...I love Tabard Inn but I find I have a 50/50 chance of getting horrible service on any given night. We had 8:15 reservations on Friday. After happily waiting a moment for our table to be ready it then took 20 minutes of sipping water and asking no less than three employees for assistance in indentifying our waiter before he made his first introduction. That was annoying, but then he didn't even acknowledge the wait. First words out of his mouth, "so you're ready to order drinks?" It was all I could do to swallow my, "ya think?" UGH. The food and setting are so great but they are seriously inconsistent on servers. Now my question...making breasts for guests tonight. About how much butter do you usually use for the wrap and were those panko or regular bread crumbs. Looking forward to it!
Sorry to hear about the poor service at Tabard. Bummer.
Breast for Guests, huh? I hope you like it as much as I did as a kid. I use about 1/2 tablespoon of butter to roll up the breast pieces and panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for the coating, although regular work just fine and were part of the original recipe.
Tom, writing early as I'll be out of town on Wednesday. I sent in two emails last week talking about my less than satisfying experience at Bistro Provence. This past Sunday we ate at Mon Ami Gabi after going to the movies. I had always considered Mon Ami Gabi to be just OK, but looking at the two restaurants side by side, it did quite well. We started with a delicious cold pea soup. I had hangar steak, which I also had at Bistro Provence, and it was every bit as good, if not better. My wife had skate which she said was quite good, and we enjoyed a nice bottle of French Sauvignon Blanc. The service was far more attentive than at Bistro Provence (e.g. our water glasses were never empty). We didn't have dessert at Mon Ami Gabi, but the cost was about half what we paid at Bistro Provence (with dessert). I'll let you and the chatters come to your own conclusion, but I know which of these restaurants I'm likely to return to.
My daughter made lunch reservations for our group of four at Jaleo. At that time she stated that two people in our party are allergic to bell peppers. As soon as we were seated, the waiter came over and said very kindly, "The hostess just informed me that two of you are allergic to bell peppers. I will run everything you order by the chef before your order goes in." When my son-in-law ordered the chicken croquettes, the waiter immediately said that they might have contact with peppers due to cooking proximity, and he also quietly commented or checked on each dish. Not once were we made to feel that we were putting anyone out, as has occasionally happened in other restaurants. On top of the first-class service, the food was beyond awesome.
Hi Tom, love your chat & one of the highlights of my wednesday. Do you have any suggestion on pizza/entree at We the Pizza? I am having lunch there with group of my friends today. Thanks!
Hello, Tom. My friend asked me for a recommendation, but I thought I would lob it over to you. Here is her request: "May I get an inexpensive but good DC restaurant recommendation? We're meeting a friend downtown on Friday night. He's in his 60's, Italian and from MI. He's a foodie but he's not accustomed to our prices. I want a relatively quiet place so we can catch up with him. We're driving him back to his son's in Kensington, MD after dinner so anywhere in that general DC/MD vicinity. Thank you." Could you help? Thanks!
Two restaurants come to mind.
One is the dashing 701 in Penn Quarter, which offers a pre-theater menu for $29.95. The catch: You have to order dinner before 6:45 p.m. And you'll want to be seated away from the live music, somewhere in the back of the supper club.
Another option is Tavira in Chevy Case, a rare (and very good) example of Portuguese cooking in the area. The restaurant's "Taste of Portugal" is a three-course feast for $30; the choices include such classics as caldo verde -- a soup of kale, potatoes and chorizo -- and grilled chicken with a spicy pepper sauce. The caveat: It's underneath a bank. (But the cooking and the service help you forget that reality.)
Hi Tom, I am looking for somewhere in D.C. to take my parents next Friday for a casual dinner. I was thinking 2 Amys, but didn't know if I could sell them on a long wait for something as ordinary as pizza (although we all know there is nothing ordinary about 2 Amys). Any ideas?
More than the pies at Two Amys, I love the small plates. But it seems you have to show up at 4 p.m. to get a table immediately. (I generally head straight for the wine bar in back.)
Tom, Since you spend your Wednesdays answering so many of our questions, here's my take on first anniversaries. First anniversaries traditionally tend to celebrate the first date, as opposed to the first "meeting," Sometimes, sentimental people like to mark the occasion of when they first met, too. Nothing wrong with that, if both agree, because it probably marks an important moment in one's life. I know it does for me. I celebrate anniversaries to our first date, though. We do note, the anniversaries to when we first met - but more casually. Sometimes the first anniversary can get confusing depending upon how people meet (e.g., internet dating when that was not mainstream) and deciding whether or not the first time meeting was a date or a meet. It sounds as if you and your SO have figured out what first anniversary means for you in your relationship - and I say go for the 2 celebrations! Congrats and enjoy both days.
Hi Tom, I need your help! My husband is taking me to a broadway show in NYC for my birthday, but I have no idea where we should dine prior to the show. Do you know of a good restaurant in the theatre district?
Dear Tom, Your help is always appreciated! My dad will be in town for one night. In the past, we've enjoyed Jaleo, 1789, and Komi. Do you have any suggestions for us (in the DC metro area)? Thanks so much!!!!
I just missed 1/2 your chat to stand in line for the lobster truck. Is it good/bad that chefs from Vidalia and employees from Chop't stopped by for lunch?
Ha! No, no, that is a GOOD sign, I think. (Don't we all tire of our own food?)
Any scoop on the place? I am always looking for someplace that makes a decent red sauce. Yelp was no help. It seemed to turn into a "that's NOT Italian food." I'm not looking for Italian food. I'm looking for Italian-American food.
What happens on a night of indecisiveness? Where do you usually dine?
You're reading my mind! I'm actually debating where to eat tonight, but I want it to be semi-special (see anniversary post above) and it has to be fall guide material (yes, I'm on that annual crushing deadline).
Right this moment, I'm thinking the bar of a restaurant I like might be the way to go ...
Want to keep talking food? My pals from the Post Food section are chatting right after me -- right NOW, in fact -- in their new time slot.
See you all next Wednesday. Thanks for a lively hour.