Watershed, in the Hilton Garden Inn in NoMa
Posted 07 October 2010 - 03:58 PM
Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:17 PM
Posted 25 April 2011 - 09:19 PM
Generic hotel restaurant vibe, though the patio might be nice. Friendly staff, credible fried catfish sandwich, OK wine -- I had a French viognier. Todd was in the kitchen. Lot of non-fish in the menu. It didn't grab me but is worth checking out again.
-- P. Smith
Posted 10 June 2011 - 09:08 AM
Posted 10 June 2011 - 09:21 AM
We've been once and liked it. Holding off on saying much until we've been again, but the crabcakes and shrimp and grits are both very good as you would expect from a Chef of Todd Gray's caliber. The crabcakes are more like the ones you get from Chris's Marketplace at Dupont or Penn Quarter Farmers' Market than any others I've had, which to me is a very good thing. It's good, not fried seafood at reasonable prices, which I've found is almost nonexistent in this town.
Not too much excitement about this place - expected a little more buzz.
Posted 10 June 2011 - 10:04 AM
It's good, not fried seafood at reasonable prices, which I've found is almost nonexistent in this town.
$6 for plain hush puppies hardly counts as reasonable prices to me.
My point was that for everything else the place strikes me as way overpriced - I work just down the street and when I have stopped to look at the lunch menu I balk at the prices for what is listed, they strike me as consistent with an overpriced hotel restaurant model, not something that will draw local workerbees in for lunch.
And hush puppies plainly do not count as "not fried seafood" to me.
Posted 15 June 2011 - 05:42 PM
Our waiter informed us that a new menu was supposed to be printed that day, so he had a bunch of specials and new menu items he had to recite off to us. I think he said it was the third menu since they'd been open? Since they try to keep things seasonal and sustainable.
Two of us started off with a Summer sweet corn soup with blue crab ($8). Although it came out almost too hot to eat, once it cooled down it was quite delicious. Not too thick, which I appreciated, it was sweet with some good chunks of crab and a few pieces of pepper. It was also served with spice-dusted pita chips that added a pleasant crunch. One person also started with East Coast Seafood Gumbo with Oysters, Surry Sausage and Rock Shrimp ($8). She was warned it would be spicy, and the heat at the back of the throat lived up to the warning (this was also served very temperature hot as well). It's certainly not as thick as a traditional New Orleans gumbo, but had some good flavor.
One secret we learned is that they won't bring bread to your table unless you ask for it (along the lines of sustainability they don't want to waste bread on those that don't want it), but I'd certainly recommend asking because the rolls they had were hot and soft and topped with a sprinkle of salt. You didn't even really need the olive oil that was served with them.
For entrees two of us had the Carolina Style Barbequed Shrimp with Creamy White Grits,Andouille Sausage, and Green Onion Butter ($19), which is apparently their most popular entree. There were probably 6-7 good-sized shrimp on a large serving of very creamy grits and some sauteed spinach. The shrimp could've used a little more seasoning, but the grits were excellent. They have "Spicy Sauce" and "Skipjack Seasoning" on the table (hot sauce and Old Bay more or less), which I used a little of. One of the specials (which may be on the new menu) was a "Frogmore Stew" with wreckfish (if my memory serves me). The girl who had it said it was a little blander than she expected, but she polished it off. She was a little surprised at the $27 pricetag (when most entrees were $19-22), but not a huge deal. The fourth of our party had Smoked Carolina Mountain Trout with Arugula Leaves, Cucumber Noodles and Trout Roe Vinaigrette ($12), which I didn't try, but she seemed to like.
After soup, bread, entree and a glass of wine we were too full for dessert, but the choices on the menu all sound pretty good. Now that I live in Brookland and frequently shop at the NoMa Teeter, I can see myself heading back here for meals from time to time.
"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis, Garfield"
Posted 21 July 2011 - 09:53 PM
I agree with alot of what is said in these previous posts. Staff is very pleasant, the food is quite good. Our appetizer was the weakest part of the meal, fried calamari -- lot of breading, but very little calamari itself. I did like the sweet vinegar dressing that accompanied. Wife and baby enjoyed an egg fettuccine in a cream sauce. I opted for the entree soft shell crabs, which were fine. But when do a couple of soft shell crabs ever satisfy as an entree? Remembering the praise for the shrimp and grits, we ordered that and were very pleased. We did order somewhat heavy dishes even though we had medium-bodied tastes, so we will be back to try the raw bar and all that.
Here's the part that motivated me to write in. Just as New Foodie counsels that you must ask for bread if you want it, I suspect you may have to ask for all the menus to make a fully-informed order. Our server did run down 2 or 3 specials of the day, none of which we ordered. I had learned of the soft shell crabs while skimming a separate "special" menu at the host stand. Reading the website now, I see that the raw bar does crudo, sashimi, and beef tartare, but we didn't get that menu either.
Frankly, those items sound more targeted to our tastes than what we had, i.e. dishes which I would characterize as "safe choices" for the visiting gen-pop that probably make up a large portion of their clientele. Reading upthread, I see that no one here has reviewed anything from their raw bar, so I wonder whether anyone was offered an menu from that station either.
PS -- their air-conditioning amply made up for whatever minor gripes I made. Server was very cool. We will be back.
Posted 22 August 2011 - 02:34 PM
Several weeks ago, I stopped by for a happy hour to test out the raw bar. I was really looking forward to the beef tartare. Sadly, that was an idle visit, and much of my visit mirrors Sietsema's.
Reading the website now, I see that the raw bar does crudo, sashimi, and beef tartare, but we didn't get that menu either.
I saddled up to the bar and asked for the raw bar menu, only to be told there wasn't any. "What you see on the chalkboard is what we've got," the bartender said. I was sitting about 40 feet away from that chalkboard and their 5 items were written in a 8 point font, so I couldn't see anything and the bartender had no idea. I ambled over and saw basically all they were offering were 5 different kinds of oysters. ???
I mentioned the beef tartare and sashimi and bartender quickly replied, "Yes, we do sometimes have those as a special." Fine. I ordered a Manhattan and a half-dozen oysters and settled in, only for the shucker to visit me personally and talk me out of some of the selections I had made. Whatever--I'm sure he meant well.
I see in Sietsema's review that he does not even mention any raw bar items, so I take it the program is sidelined for now. It's really disappointing, I'm sure the Gray's are also disappointed that presumably there is not enough demand for these items.
Like so many new establishments, Watershed launched with a ripple of excitement when it set sail in April. Here was a restaurant by a well-known chef promising a raw bar and dishes from the length of the Eastern Seaboard, and mooring in a slice of the city that cries out for reasons to eat there. It helped, of course, that a familiar brand was acting as Watershed's host, ensuring a captive audience in the form of lodgers. The flip side of the equation is, as Gray told me earlier this year, "You can't charge $35 for entrees."
Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:23 PM
Remembering the praise for the shrimp and grits, we ordered that and were very pleased. We did order somewhat heavy dishes even though we had medium-bodied tastes, so we will be back to try the raw bar and all that.
Kassoff Gray notes that there could be some disagreements in the coming weeks or months as Culinaire balances its twin objectives of reducing costs and staying true to Todd Gray’s quality, often regionally sourced ingredients. She, for example, could imagine arguing with Culinaire over purchasing Anson Mills grits vs. a cheaper alternative, which could compromise the chef’s flavors.
Posted 29 February 2012 - 06:42 PM
I've expressed my disappointment that one restaurant has dummied-down its menu to accommodate its market already, so I might as well stay consistent.
You are entitled to your opinion and judgement, but I am incredibly shocked at how you chose to express it here.
Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:31 AM
I would substitute "sabotaged" instead. Many other successful businesses sabotage their own products, so I mean to use this word in a value-neutral way.
Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:45 PM
I don't know Michael Landrum but I admire him because, from my outside and very uninformed perch, he has been operating a successful business for many years. I can only assume that due to the growth in locations, the popularity of his restaurants and the many years he has been in business. That alone is extraordinarily difficult to do, whatever social good may or may not also be in the mix. Seems like a very good and Good business. An honest business; what you see is what you get.
And, also just based on outside assumptions, it seems to me that product quality and community are also high priorities for him. I think this because his food is consistently great across locations* and because it's always fairly priced (probably lower than it could be were profit maximization the only goal). I think this because he partners with people like Mark Slater to manage an interesting, educational, unique and accessible wine program instead of just slapping some overpriced list of bottles together as so many other places do. I think this (concern for fish stocks) may be part of the reason there's not a Ray's the Catch. And, I think this because he even decided to open in East River in the first place.
Of course everyone is entitled to their opinions; a super important thing. A constitutionally-protected thing.
But, for me, dummied-down, sabotaged or other negative words don't at all factor into how I think about ML's business. Rather, I see a business that operates smartly and compassionately. And to do that, it has to have a good sense for the different markets in which it operates and how best to serve them. Nothing dumb or sabotaging about that IMHO. It's called targeting in marketing speak. And it's about really knowing and then meeting different customers' needs (very easy to say and hard to do). And, all successful and worthwhile businesses do it. As best I can tell. the Rays empire is both successful and highly worthwhile whatever lens used.
* In full disclosure, I've not been to East River though I intend to check it out. Have been to every other Ray's outpost many times in aggregate. And I almost always love the steak, burger, chicken, sandwich or whatever I'm served. The quality and consistency always amazed me before I learned anything about the man behind it all.
Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:28 PM
Beyond that, darkstar965, you echo alot of what I've said in the other thread, so I take it you are agreeing with me on a substantive level. Also, once you do visit East River, I respectfully ask that you provide your thoughts on the wine program there. You provide an exhaustive critique of other places, and I look forward to your review for this.
Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:25 PM
As for Rays East River, absolutely I'll look forward to trying it and will likely post about it when I do. I'll expect it to be different from Silver Spring and Arlington since it's a different market. That said, you won't find too much prose in my posts about wine programs relative to food. I often make bad choices on wine due to lack of knowledge and markups. Know what I like--maybe most important--but would never in a zillion years claim any expertise there.
Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:25 PM
On second thought darkstar965, I won't be unhappy if you decide not to review East River. Of course you are going to enjoy a meal there. My whole point is not with the quality, but with the direction, of the outlet. If you haven't been there before, you obviously can't appreciate the differences now. And since raving about any of Ray's meals is probably the easiest and least controversial thing to do on this board, why pressure you into the errand of actually visiting East River if there's little incremental payoff for our online community.
[As much as I want to continue to post on this 1) for the pure folly of having more posts about East River than of Watershed in this particular thread, and s) to contribute to Michael Landrum's happiness that discussion of East River be broken off from the main RTS thread, I will now step off my soapbox.]
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