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  1. I hadn't been to Carlyle Grand (well now it's just Carlyle) since they remodeled but went last night for a friend's birthday dinner. Now it really shouldn't have surprised me, but when I opened the menu I started to wonder whether I had eaten here more recently that I thought. You see at some point in the past year, I've probably met friends at Arties, Coastal Flats, or Sweetwater Tavern and I started noticing a pattern on the menu at these places (similar to the Passion Foods places that someone pointed out a few months ago). Have the Great American Restaurants group just gotten lazy or have the menus of all their restaurants always been practically the exact same? I think at least 5 of their 6 restaurants (I'm not including Best Buns) serve the Tex Mex Eggrolls, Blue Crab Fritters, and Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip - and that's just the appetizers. You can always count on a salad with Warm Goat Cheese & Spiced Pecans, and for dessert you'll never have to miss out on the Warm Flourless Chocolate Waffle. I won't even go into the main courses. As for specifics about the food, my halibut (special last night) was sauced with the same mystery brown sauce that accompanied the roast pork tenderloin another friend had ordered. A bite of the Hong Kong Style Sea Bass made me wince from its overly sweet sauce (live near Tyson's? Try it for yourself at Coastal Flats!) However that goat cheese and pecan salad was actually not too bad. All of this may be old news to people, but I had always thought that Carlyle Grand had always been favorably reviewed (it's one of WP's Editor's picks and had been one of those places that had occupied a spot on Washingtonian's Top 100 for much longer than it probably should have). Is it mere coincidence that they've dropped the word "Grand" from their name?
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