The place where only the first syllable of your order matters.
Shrimp Scampi? No, SHORT RIBS.
Hot Toddy? No, hot peppermint patty.
Girls’ Night Dinner. Indigo Landing, a beautiful–though receptiony (maybe because I did actually go to a wedding reception there six years ago?) dining area. Great view of the Capital building and the monuments and planes landing.
We’ll start with the fact that the hostess totally checked in a couple and ruined the surprise dinner that was going on IN THEIR HONOR. They said their name and she said, “someone called about that last night…and said it was a surprise.” Clearly, the couple to be surprised was the couple standing in front of me. FAIL.
The menu has a lot of choices on it, which was nice after coming off of Restaurant Week (more about that in another post).
We studied the menu and made our decisions. We ordered a bit hesitantly, as the waitress seemed to be confused by everything we said. Short ribs turned into shrimp scampi. In fact, lots of things turned into shrimp scampi. For a restaurant that had maybe four other full tables, there was no reason to mis-hear anything. We were all a bit concerned when she left the table, and worried we’d all end up with the damn scampi as our main course. The waitress came back almost ten minutes later to verify the orders again–without her pad. Clearly, she had yet to do anything with the order we had already given her.
We started with an appetizer and some salads. The calamari was dusted in cornmeal, which was a nice departure from the typical (but delicious) greasy version you get at so many other places. The fried squid came with a delicious lemon aioli and a hot and sweet pepper dipping sauce, both of which were perfectly seasoned and excellent complements to the otherwise bland (but not in a bad way) calamari.
My tablemates and I also sampled the wedge salad and the beet carpaccio salad. The wedge was a bit of a disappointment–the only component that was okay was the fact that the iceberg lettuce was, in fact, in a wedge shape. It was also, however, a pale shade of green (hovering on being yellow). The shaved sweet onion that the menu touted were, in fact, soggy rings of regular old white onion (whereas, ideally, they would’ve been nice, crisp, pungent red onion). The Maytag blue cheese dressing had none of the delicious crumbles of blue cheese that I craved but, rather, was just a watery and milky cover to the poor lettuce. The four cherry tomato halves did not disappoint except for their scant number. The beet salad received no complaints. The thinly sliced beets, wild arugula, citrus, and toasted almonds delivered a fresh, distinct flavor any beet lover would embrace. There was a plethora of the chevre, which was nice. The orange sherry vinaigrette provided the perfectly acidic and sweet dressing for the vegetables.
After we had gotten halfway through these starters, our bread basket finally arrived. We had only asked for and been promised fresh bread three times at that point. At least the rolls were hot from the oven. And served with a very tasty honey butter that was just the right combination of sweet and savory. Note: we still had not gotten our glasses of water and the fact we all had other beverages anyway is irrelevant (but what is relevant is that we also asked for, and were promised and denied, iced tea refills). Note two: a server other than our own came and cleared our table of the appetizer dishes…before we were done with the calamari and never asking if it was okay to do so.
On to the main courses! Luckily for us, substitutions were acceptable (though, as previously stated, we worried that they would not be honored, based on the flightiness of our server), so we were all able to make tweaks to our selections.
Those who ordered the scallops were surprised at their size. Large and well-cooked, these treasures of the sea were about an inch and a half in diameter and about the height of a good old fashioned marshmallow. Their accompaniments were nothing to write home about. As one of my fellow diners said, the creamy celery root puree was more like “cold celery mush.” And the dish, as a whole, came out lukewarm. Chew on that.
Speaking of chew…the NY strip was a bit chewy, especially for a cut that is generally tender. Now, I know that I am used to (and definitely prefer) a filet, so that may be clouding my judgment. But, that withstanding, the meat was definitely chewier and fattier than I would have liked and than I expected. And, really, was it necessary to put rosemary on top of the meat? Rosemary has a way of inserting its flavor into whatever it touches and, unfortunately, it is not a flavor of which I am overly fond. So that was a bit of a bummer. My sides of whipped potatoes and madeira sauce were heavenly. The potatoes were just the right texture, so smooth that I questioned whether they really were potatoes.
Per instructions, the Thai snapper came out grilled and not fried. It also came out less than lukewarm. It did not get sent back, though such a move was contemplated.
The short ribs left nothing to be desired. They were perfectly tender and just the right kind of flaky. The sweet potato puree, while seemingly a tad bit out of season, was an excellent complement to the strong flavors of the accompanying sauce. The brussels sprouts were good, not great. A little more crunch than they were tender, they were the red headed stepchild of the entree.
Once the table was clear of our dinner plates, our server wiped the table down. With a wet towel. This kind of grossed me out, but I kept the thought to myself.
She then offered us an after dinner drink menu. The Hot Peppermint Patty (a concoction of vodka, hot chocolate, and whipped cream) jumped out at us. One of my friends ordered it. She was met with confusion, but pointed her selection out, specifically, on the menu. What appeared in front of her was a very big departure from what she expected. What she wanted was warm, cozy, deliciousness. What she received was a glass of what looked like very weak hot tea. With a mound of something chunky on the bottom. Cloves? Brown sugar? Who the eff knows. We ascertained that it must be a hot toddy. Okay, fine. Except, no, no it wasn’t fine. Whiskey and Lipton tea? Not acceptable. And, clearly, not hot chocolate. Yet, this was a notion our server failed to understand and had no desire to comprehend. Finally, after showing her the selection, again, on the actual menu, we were “rewarded” with what we ordered. Except, it wasn’t really a reward at all. This second drink attempt was hot chocolate with whipped cream and whiskey, again! They really do love their whiskey at this place and/or have a surplus they’re trying to rid themselves of.
Much like what we suspected of the shrimp scampi.
After the debacle that was our after dinner drinks, we ventured to try some desserts. We should have either gotten creme brulees all around or just forgone the calories. Mrs. Smith has made me a better lemon meringue pie than the one I had last night–the lemon part was gummy and congealed. While the meringue looked the part, it was ultimately flavorless (though, in its defense, the perfect texture). And the crust? Oh, the crust. Cold and soggy and dis-gusting. The chocolate mousse was mediocre and looked and tasted more like tiramisu than what it was touted to be.
All in all, there were good parts and bad parts to the meal. Sadly, most of the good parts had to do with the company and our ability to entertain ourselves with conversation and the shenanigans of the restaurant staff. I can’t say I’d go back to this restaurant, unless, maybe it was to sit on the patio on a summer afternoon.
Indigo Landing, you plopped.