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  1. For some reason, the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant (yes, the place on the same property as the original George W.'s house) has become popular as a special-occasion venue in one of our social circles. And it was only a matter of time before it happened"¦ an invitation to a private party there. I'd eaten at the Mount Vernon Inn only once before, nearly 10 years ago, when it was the only choice at hand (they now have a food court in addition to the more formal restaurant). All I can remember about that meal was that I ordered a pulled-pork sandwich (the memories of it are not fond) and the service was abysmal. But a lot has changed at Mount Vernon since that time, so I was hoping the restaurant had also been upgraded. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. Overall, the food certainly could have been worse, but it was generally flavorless and uninspired. There was also an issue with the salt "“ the prosciutto/asparagus/puff pastry appetizer was too salty even for me (a known salt-fiend) and other things (such as the baked, stuffed tomatoes) were totally devoid of salt. We started the evening with appetizers: The previously-mentioned Prosciutto/Asparagus/Puff pastry Combo; Crab Dip (which had a disturbing viscosity) and House-made Crackers (too thick for my tastes and a bit soggy); Quiche (I think that is was it was supposed to be, but it was surprisingly cold and tasteless); Spanakopita (a crime against phyllo); Beef satay (which I did not try because the meat was cut in too large of pieces to gracefully eat while standing with a drink in one hand and carrying on witty conversation); Bacon-wrapped scallops (which were the best of the lot "“ all that could be tasted was the bacon, not a bad thing in this instance, and the scallops were not over-cooked). From there we went into one of the dining rooms and sat down for their American Traditional Menu I: Warm Goat Cheese & Field Green Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette (subbed last night with a syrupy raspberry vinaigrette); Petite Filet Mignon with Crab Cake (no discernable spicing, with the predominant flavor being that of old crab) or Sliced Duck Breast (the duck was subbed with lamb) with Shrimp Sambal (Sambal? Where? all the shrimp tasted of was raw garlic); Tomato Stuffed with Sautéed Garlic & Spinach (a perfectly baked tomato, but no salt and the spinach mixture was... yes, you guessed it, flavorless); Duchess Potato (possibly piped out and baked when the mansion was new); Homemade Breads and Colonial Cracker (served with stale butter); Fresh Strawberries in a Chocolate Cup with Chambord Cream (so that is what that taste was "“ all I could tell last night was that it was not a flavor found in nature). All washed down with Foxhorn Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay (or, in our case, water). What the meal really suffered from was lack of quality ingredients. With the exception of the tomatoes and the strawberries, nearly everything tasted old and stale (if it tasted of anything at all). The somewhat tragic part was that the food was technically cooked well "“ the meats to the appropriate degree of doneness, the scallops and shrimp were tender, the crab cake had very little filler and so on "“ so there is some talent at work there. Unfortunately, no one seems to be tasting any of the food before it leaves the kitchen (rwtye thinks it is intentional and they striving for innocuous and bland). Luckily, the focus of the evening was the celebration of a milestone in the life of a dear friend. So, regardless of what we were served, it was a very enjoyable evening. Sometimes it is not all about the food.
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