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Art and Soul, Chef Douglas Alexander Takes Over in the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel


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Thanks to Metrocurean, I saw that Art and Soul had opened yesterday, and so I bopped over for dinner last night.

The common wisdom about restaurant openings is that you should "give them time to settle in." However, in my experiences, I often find that the food is as good as it will ever be the very first week a restaurant is open; it's the service that almost always needs to settle in. The two things I look for with opening service are a positive attitude, and a pleasant demeanor. Most technical issues usually get ironed out in a few weeks.

Everyone at Art and Soul last night was genuinely nice, and service-wise, that's all that matters to me right now.

And I'm happy to say that the food was across-the-board good, with no real misses at all. The menu features three "hoecakes," which are cornmeal pizzas, something like an oval-shaped johnny cake with an airy fluffiness in the dough. Land and Sea ($12) sounded like a big clash to me, with blue crab, braised beef, and brie. I was wrong, and the dish worked. This was primarily shredded, braised beef, with a few lumps of fin-meat, and only a gurgle of brie-based sauce, enough to moisten and accent the dish but not clash with it in any way.

An appetizer of Shrimp ($14) was several medium-sized shrimp, grilled and wrapped in Smithfield ham, and came across as a bit salty only until eaten with the mild grits. Together, the two worked in balance, and a little chow chow lent a snap of acidity. A Rockfish entree ($26) was also Smithfield-wrapped, and was a relatively small portion, ever-so-slightly overcooked. But it came on top of some crab risotto which was remarkably good - firm, and smartly touched up with asparagus tips - and the tiny pool of brown butter at the bottom of the plate made an irresistible risotto-swab with some of the homemade griddle-bread brought out at the beginning of the meal.

Pork Ribs ($12) are an appetizer marinated for several hours - little tiny riblets bathing in bbq sauce and served with a carrot-cabbage slaw that was crunchy and correctly not sweet (you don't want sweet slaw with this dish). It worked pretty well with a side order of Macaroni Casserole ($6) which was cavatappi-like pasta in a creamy cheese sauce, served in a cast-iron skillet. Yes, it was mac and cheese and a darned good one at that.

The siren song: Sweet-Potato Bread Pudding with a whiskey-caramel sauce. This was a microcosm of the rest of the dishes - comforting, balanced, not too sweet, potentially heavy but executed with a light, elegant touch.

A jovial but soft-spoken Art Smith was in for the opening and prowling the dining room, but the execution of the food last night was all Ryan Morgan. One of Smith's partners is also down from Chicago for the opening, and she said to come back in a month, or three months, "to see how we've grown."

"Or how you've fallen apart," I joked. Fortunately, she laughed and joked right back. But the key to this restaurant's success will be putting out food six months, a year, two years from now that was just as good as they put out last night. If they can pull that off, they've got themselves a winner.

A very quiet, soft, but successful opening last night for Art and Soul. Congratulations to Chef Morgan, and best wishes to the entire team at this promising new restaurant.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Well, Chef Ryan Morgan was double-booked on Thursday, so Travis Timberlake, Consulting Chef, assumed his role at Penn Quarter's farmers market and did marketing of his own, passing out samples of Brunswick Stew which they intend to make w parsnips instead of corn, I was told, with the changing of the seasons and all.

There was corn in this batch. Corn and big, thick, threads of pulled pork, something I thought I was being original about a couple of weeks ago when I had butterbeans and leftovers from a barbecue. Apparently not. Plus smoked chicken and chipotle peppers. Generous little bowls of the stuff to slurp with exceptional broth. Worth checking out.

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I was just there for my husband's birthday. I should mention that my father in law works at the resteraunt and we received some really nice service becasue of that. Here is my review:

When you sit down, there complimentary kumquats on the table. I wasn't sure if that was that was in lieu of bread but then out came a server carrying a little cast iron pan, which he flipped over and out came hot rolls that were buttery soft and lightly dusted with sea salt.

My family ordered the following dishes: the ribs (already described by rocks upthread) hoe cake with blue cheese, grapes and arugla, two salads. My sister in law asked for fried green tomatoes as her appetizer and they kindly provided them, even tough they were not on the menu. The hoe cakes were like little savory flat pancakes. The blackberry ale vinaigrette, watermelon pickles, goat cheese salad was excellent, the sweetness of the blackberry vinagrette took away some of the bittneness of argula. The watermelon pickles were very mildy sour and kind of tangy and the goat cheese was of a good quality, all together it was a great flavor combination.

For dinner we ate the country pork chop with fried onions, the Rockfish, Salmon in a lemon caper sauce, and braised short ribs with a hominy/sweet potato hash, as well as extra sides of buttermilk mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. I think this resteraunt needs to work on its side dishes. The main dishes tasted fine, the side dishes had some weird exection issues. The spinach wasn't quite creamy enough and the potatoes were very tangy, almost citrusy. The hominy/sweet potato has was well liked by my family but I felt like it didn't taste very good together.

For desert we had the Pomegranate Apple crisp, baby cakes and sweet potato pudding. Rocks has already spoken well of the pudding, it was delicious and my other favorite was the baby cakes which were similar to cup cakes but a bit hardier. My favorit was the pecan with cream cheese frosting but they were all delicious.

Anyway the place was very busy tonight, which was a good sign for a tuesday night. Their breakfast menu and lunch menu have some intruiging items I'd like to sample. I recomend it if you are interested in upscale soul food.

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Anyone notice the joint venture of Art and Soul and the fire station that is located in between the two?

Looks as if a place for feeding the hungry is nearing completion, or perhaps in operation.

More details would be welcome since I only happened upon it while running errands.

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Anyone know why Chef Morgan left? ETA: It seems sudden - I know there's usually myriad of reasons and private, but his classes were really popular from what I heard. Sad - very nice man. Tom Sietsma mentioned it last week somewhere in his chat:

Washington, D.C.: Tom, I saw on Craigslist that Art and Soul is looking for an executive chef, is Ryan Morgan leaving?

Tom Sietsema: It's true. Morgan left last week. I have a call in to Art Smith right now, but I understand that Travis Timberlake, the restaurant's chef de cuisine, is temporarily the top toque until a replacement can be named for Morgan. Stay tuned, as they say.

Edited by goodeats
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Went to Art and Soul for Sunday brunch today, and while it was certainly hit (food) and miss (service), I'd still like to go back again for lunch or dinner (or another brunch for that matter).

We walked in around noon without reservations and were seated without a problem. We were at a table, but envied the cute, white, semi-enclosed booths at the back. I think I might request one when making a reservation in the future. We sat with our menus about 5+ minutes before someone (not our server) noticed and brought us some ice water. He came back a few minutes later to take our order and "pass it along to our server." All in all I think he was at our table more than our actual waiter, but oh well.

Instead of a bread basket, a small cast iron bowl/skillet of what I would call a type of "monkey bread" is served. Warm biscuity dough covered in cinnamon, sugar and maybe brown sugar. I think it might be better with a small drizzle of some sort of icing, but that's a very minor quibble, cause I certainly enjoyed it.

My entree was the chicken and waffles (a house specialty) and we both decided we would order it again. It's a huge boneless breast breaded and fried along side a drumstick, both partially covered in a white sausage gravy. Next door was a good-sized Belgian-style waffle with some toasted pecans and maple syrup on the side to douse with as you will. The waffle was good (not great), but the chicken was lovely, crisp and moist, and the gravy had a nice peppery bite. The +1 had a Chesapeake Benedict that he pronounced good, if nothing out of the ordinary (I'm not a huge hollandaise fan, so I'm not a good judge).

The last snafu was that the +1 ordered orange juice once our server finally stopped by, but he didn't bring it until we were almost done with our meals. Thankfully we weren't charged for it. It did taste freshly squeezed though for what it's worth.

Bottom line, it was good, but not out of this world. But I'd return and recommend it to others. Nice little patio/outdoor eating area for when the weather isn't quite so sweltering.

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Ate there last night. What a disappointment. Dry over cooked pork chop. Watery but interesting twist on Gazpacho, watery baked potato soup but it had really good bacon in it. Great bread. Terrible, inattentive service. Very high priced wine list.

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I just had a really nice restaurant week lunch there. I had a spicy grilled shrimp appetizer that was very well cooked and very peppery. The catfish was good also, my southern dining companion told me it was not an etoufee but it was very tasty. Her friend chicken was really great. The arugula salad was just that. The peach cobbled like dessert was great. and she liked her lemon pudding. Neither was overly sweet which we really appreciated.

Service was a little slow. I think a waiter that was not assigned to us saw we were waiting and took care of us. but all in all- a really nice lunch.

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I just had a really nice restaurant week lunch there. I had a spicy grilled shrimp appetizer that was very well cooked and very peppery. The catfish was good also, my southern dining companion told me it was not an etoufee but it was very tasty. Her friend chicken was really great. The arugula salad was just that. The peach cobbled like dessert was great. and she liked her lemon pudding. Neither was overly sweet which we really appreciated.

Service was a little slow. I think a waiter that was not assigned to us saw we were waiting and took care of us. but all in all- a really nice lunch.

The grilled shrimp looked good (so did the pork chop) unfortunately the shrimp were on other people's plates not mine. As for the service, no wine list had to ask for it, no list of the drinks that come in the mason jars at all, no check to see how dinner was, no refill on tea, no spoon with tea until asked, no check to see if I wanted another cocktail until we were ready for the check. They did not have fried chicken on the menu when I was there, or put it this way, the "waitress" described the chicken as roasted. The pork chops we had were cooked so poorly they would have been overpriced even if they were free.

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I am starting to believe, based on the ambivalence that I've read here and elsewhere about Art and Soul, that it's hard for many people to "get" southern food in a relatively expensive restaurant. But I am impressed by many of the dishes here that manage to be a hybrid of homey/traditional and "refined."

I have not had any of the meat/poultry dishes, or eaten with anyone who has, so I can't speak to those. (I am informed, though, that the reputedly-awesome fried chicken is only a lunch and Sunday thing, and that on other nights the chicken is roasted at dinner.) And last night, I experienced some uninspiring and inattentive service, but the place was busy so that's excusable.

Things that I have especially enjoyed include a salad with buttermilk pepper dressing and pickled vegetables, a soft-shell crab and crabcake entree, fried green tomatoes, "baby cakes" (a sampler of cute little cakes, all delicious) and bourbon pecan pie. All good southern food - then made "fancy" for a high-end restaurant not by overloading the dishes with richness (southern food already has enough of that!) or making the portion too huge (ditto), but by making them somewhat more delicate than they have traditionally been. Not that it's diet food of course, but it's not all about getting to the "o lord I'm stuffed with butter and porkfat" point.

So put on your Art Smith, loving-southern-teddy-bear attitude, and check it out.

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Four of us ate there last weekend. Parts of the meal were great, parts were not so great. The waitstaff was very good, but the kitchen was brutally slow.

For starters, two of us ordered the hoecakes ("the pantry"). These were stellar. The other starters (capitol hill salad and gazpacho) were also good.

Entrees were a mixed bag. The pork chop tasted like it had been brined (in a good way) but was a little dry and overcooked. While the description said there was a sweet onion broth, I could see or taste it. The salmon was properly cooked, but the risotto underneath was a goopy, gummy mess. The rockfish was very good, as was the ribeye.

Desserts were also very good. The baby cakes were a favorite.

So the food was a mixed bag.

But, man, did it take forever. We ordered at 810. Apps came slowly (about 30 mins) and mains came almost an hour after that. In all, this meal took 2 1/2 hours, much of it spent staring hungrily at the kitchen doors.

While the service was fine, at no point did we receive any explanation, acknowledgement or apology for the slow kitchen.

All in all, not worth it. I won't be going back.

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I am starting to believe, based on the ambivalence that I've read here and elsewhere about Art and Soul, that it's hard for many people to "get" southern food in a relatively expensive restaurant. But I am impressed by many of the dishes here that manage to be a hybrid of homey/traditional and "refined."

Not sure if it has much to do with "getting," my parents stayed at the Liaison Hotel over Labor day weekend and we looked at the brunch menu, $19 for the Farmers Breakfast (two eggs any style, hash browns, meat, toast, coffee, juice)

That's some expensive homey and refined!

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Not sure if it has much to do with "getting," my parents stayed at the Liaison Hotel over Labor day weekend and we looked at the brunch menu, $19 for the Farmers Breakfast (two eggs any style, hash browns, meat, toast, coffee, juice)

That's some expensive homey and refined!

A Grand Scam?

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Not sure if it has much to do with "getting," my parents stayed at the Liaison Hotel over Labor day weekend and we looked at the brunch menu, $19 for the Farmers Breakfast (two eggs any style, hash browns, meat, toast, coffee, juice)

That's some expensive homey and refined!

My +1 and I had the same reaction to that particular entree. The chicken and waffles was a few dollars less! I hardly ever order just an eggs and meat type brunch option, but especially not for that price.

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What a disappointing first meal at Art and Soul on Saturday.

First let me just say that the service was fine, and we didn't experience any of the pacing problems noted above, even though the place was full the entire time we were there. Four of us were in and out in 2 hours, and we lingered a bit over dessert. I did find one aspect of service kind of amusing...don't know what to call it except maybe the opposite of the "auctioning" problem where servers ask who gets what. Instead, throughout the meal, servers very confidently and without hesitation set down plates in front of the wrong people. But everyone we interacted with was really nice, which makes you not really care about those things.

The food was another story. Someone's got a really heavy hand in the kitchen. The crust on the pecan-crusted chicken was just thick and leaden, the whole thing sitting on top of over-cooked vegetables. Rockfish with Chesapeake jambalaya was served skin on, but the skin wasn't crispy at all...a mortal sin in my book. Worse though it was just way too spicy, and not good spicy, but one-dimensional, college dorm room throw some more chile powder into the dish just to make your roommates' eyes water spicy.

Our meal invited more than a few comparisons to Georgia Browns. Obviously not a good thing, but quality wise that's where most of the food was last night.

One exception were the pulled pork sliders. These aren't even on the dinner menu, I just saw them on the lounge menu while we were waiting for our friends to arrive, but they were happy to let me order them as an appetizer. Three generous sliders filled with very juicy, flavorful pork and topped with a nice slaw. Highlight of the meal for me.

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I did find one aspect of service kind of amusing...don't know what to call it except maybe the opposite of the "auctioning" problem where servers ask who gets what. Instead, throughout the meal, servers very confidently and without hesitation set down plates in front of the wrong people. But everyone we interacted with was really nice, which makes you not really care about those things.

That's funny. Had the exact same thing happen when they served entrees. They managed to put the wrong dish in front of all four of us. Being a statistics buff, I was tempted to calculate the odds of that happening if dishes were set down randomly.

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That's funny. Had the exact same thing happen when they served entrees. They managed to put the wrong dish in front of all four of us. Being a statistics buff, I was tempted to calculate the odds of that happening if dishes were set down randomly.

25%

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That's funny. Had the exact same thing happen when they served entrees. They managed to put the wrong dish in front of all four of us. Being a statistics buff, I was tempted to calculate the odds of that happening if dishes were set down randomly.

p=.375. If plate assignment were truly random than 37.5% of the time no one would get the correct plate.
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Good food and good service from Art and Soul last night. Probably about 1/2 full on a Tuesday night I would say? Parents were visiting from out of town, so went to dinner with them and the +1.

I'm a fan of the bread presentation at Art and Soul. I think I liked the brunch monkey bread-type rolls better, but the buttery dinner rolls plopped out of the cast iron straight from the oven was pretty good too. Dad started with crab bisque, but ate it all before I could try any. The +1 and I split the ahi tuna app that was served fried green tomatoes. I don't ever dislike seared ahi, but the topping was a little overwhelming with lemon or citrus of some sort. The tomatoes, however, were awesome, and the tartar-type sauce underneath was great with it. I would think about ordering these as a side or app alone next time.

Entrees got thumbs up all around. Th +1 had the salmon, which isn't really my thing, but he liked everything except the beets on the bottom (personal taste). My rockfish with jambalaya and tomato sauce was spicy, well-cooked, moist and delicious. My dad's blackened scallops were excellent and I was surprised even I liked the mashed sweet potatoes underneath despite usually only preferring savory sweet potatoes. Mom's pecan crusted chicken was sweeter than expected, but was extremely juicy and the vegetables underneath were well-seasoned and a good taste of fall. The best was the little ramekin of apple and sausage stuffing served with the chicken. Makes me excited for Thanksgiving! We all agreed that the portion sizes were just right. Not oversized and ridiculous like some places, not too small, but rather a good portion for the price.

There was a 3-course anniversary special going on that we didn't get, but we were able to order the dessert offered on that menu. Apples 3-ways (small candied apple, apple crumble a la mode and apple fritters with tart green applesauce). The candied apple nearly pulled out my mom's filling (we all agreed none of us has ever really liked candied apples), but the other two parts were amazing. The fritter was light and coated in cinnamon and sugar. I said it reminded me of elephant ears at the fair, but lighter and with an apple flavor. The crumble was served in a cute little cast iron skillet and was a great fall dessert. We also split an order of "baby cakes," which were 5 mini cupcakes (pumpkin, lemon, orange/ginger, chocolate with raspberry icing and yellow with chocolate icing). It was nice to have a little taste of each and share. Fun end to a good meal.

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Went to brunch with my brother, his fiancee and the momma the morning after Halloween. Now I know this probably wasn't the best day to brunch, even the second string staff putting on brunch were probably horridly hungover and in no mood to cook. But I was hoping for some good comfort food myself. But while it was ok, I guess I expected it to be better.

The bread put on the table- a small monkey bread type of thing was over baked and dry. I know it is just bread, but to me I love good bread at restaurants and really appreciate the extra effort. This you could tell by looking, let alone touching it, was overbaked, so why bother serving it.

I had the oyster po'boy hoe cake. The oysters were good, nice crisp texture on the outside but appropriately tender inside. The hoe cake itself was just a small pancake really. I guess I should have asked before I ordered, but I was expecting something different. The only other part of the dish was some shredded lettuce and the sauce. The sauce was really good though, not to heavy with a nice zip and tang to it. What perplexed me was that the dish was not really a starter too heavy, but too small really to be an entree. I ordered potatoes on the side when I realized that was it. The potatoes were actually one of the best things I ate that day they were spicy, tender and crispy in parts with peppers mixed in. I really liked the potatoes.

Brother ordered chicken fried steak, which was pretty good. The waffle was nice and tender, the chicken was a little overcooked, but not by a lot. It was a nice sweet and savory bite in your mouth, but again the whole plate was just missing something, some flavor just wasn't present.

Mom ordered Gale's pancakes. These were a failure. They tasted too tangy and it wasn't balanced at all with the choice of syrup. I am not sure how many people would actually like these or if the batter that day was off, but I can't imagine them being a hit as they were. I really wanted to like them I took several bites to figure out why they were so unappealing because I really love a good pancake.

Brother's fiancee ordered chicken fried steak. The steak was a little rare for chicken fried steak which didn't bother me, but I certainly noticed it. I don't love well done steak, but for chicken fried steak things are a little different. The breading and gravy were good though.

What I really noticed overall was the lack of vegetable or fruit on most plates. I realize I ordered extra starch, but the choices of the choices for sides it sounded the best to accompany my meal. I had a small bit of lettuce, Mom had some fruit, but it was mainly a big pile of starch and protein covered in starch. I would think they could have easily worked in some greens, fruit or something. And with all that protein and starch you didn't leave like you sometimes do after a gluttonously good meal reveling in it, instead I left feeling the whole thing was really mediocre and a little pricey for mediocrity, had it been good I wouldn't have noticed or cared about the price. They seem to get better reviews for dinner, but it will be hard for me now to take the chance. I really wanted this place to be fantastic. I love Southern food and crave it so often, but at least for brunch this will be a skip for me in the future.

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That's funny. Had the exact same thing happen when they served entrees. They managed to put the wrong dish in front of all four of us. Being a statistics buff, I was tempted to calculate the odds of that happening if dishes were set down randomly.

25%

agreed 25% 75% chance on first plate, 66.7% on the second 50% on the third no choice on the last. .75 *.6667 * .5 = .25 (approx)

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If the server randomly places plates, there's a 37.5% chance that nobody gets the right plate, 1 in 3 that only 1 person gets the right plate, and a 25% chance that 2 people get the right plate. Only a little over 4% that you can get all 4 right.

I just worked it out brute force real quickly in excel. 24 possible arrangements of the plates 9 of which are wrong for everybody, so that is 37.5% (as you said). Care to share the math?

Yes and 4.167% for getting all correct (1 out of 24).

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We went to brunch at Art and Soul for the third time in as many months this past Sunday. Sadly, the third time was not a charm. Previously we enjoyed relaxed surroundings, good service, and solid, if unspectacular entrees. This Sunday was a complete mess.

After being seated promptly at 2pm, our group went approximately 10 minutes with no drink order delivered, this after having our waitress stop by and ask if we were ready to order, at which point we did order our meals, and remind her of our pending drinks.

Appetizers arrived quickly, along with our missing drinks. We didn’t see our waitress again until after our main courses had arrived, about a half hour after our appetizers were finished. Out of our entrees, one of the four was incorrectly prepared (turkey burger requested without cheese had cheese – our guest is lactose intolerant), and another was so incorrect (fried fish plate as opposed to crabcake benedict) as to be laughable. After our waitress came over to confer with us over our incorrect entrees, we placed another drink order (just one beer and coffee refills) while we waited for our dining partner’s entrees to arrive. I’d be remiss in not adding that during this time we had a discreet discussion with the manager about the difficulties with our meal up to this point, while two of our four entrees sat, getting cold.

Another member of the wait staff brought out a re-prepared turkey burger, but we were still without the crabcakes benedict, almost 30 minutes after receiving our initial entrees. At this point, my wife opted to simply eat the mac and cheese side that had been ordered (and initially forgotten by the service staff, only to show up with our re-cooked turkey burger), rather than roll the dice on another interminable wait .

Despite speaking with a manager, service did not improve perceptibly, and we were still waiting for coffee refills and another beer, which we had been ordered back when our entrée mistake had been discovered, and when the restaurant had been about 1/4 full throughout our time there. Rather than wait, we asked the manager for our check. ANOTHER 15 minutes, and we had paid and left. In sum, Art and Soul failed (for us) this Sunday, and despite enjoying the restaurant on previous brunch visits, we are unlikely to return. Management was not effective in expediting our meal in any meaningful way, which I should note was our only ask. Really a shame, as what correct entrees we had were pretty good (Fried Chicken, Fried Steak, and Mac and Cheese), and another brunch option on the (quasi) Hill would be appreciated.

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Had RW dinner last night at Art & Soul, and I know that the biggest sticking point has been service (or, more accurately, the lack thereof). Maybe I got lucky, but my service was pretty damn impeccable. No issues whatsoever with dishes coming out of the kitchen, either timing-wise or accuracy-wise, and there was no confusion over who ordered what.

My Ahi tuna with fried green tomatoes as a starter was fantastic, if a little lacking in the tuna part of things. The pork shank gets a particular nod from me as I loved the collard greens served with it, and I never, ever eat cooked greens. Not to say that the pork itself wasn't any good - it was. The banana bread pudding was a great way to end the meal, served with a vanilla ice cream that had a really pleasurably intense vanilla flavor.

My companion started with the Capitol Hill salad, which she enjoyed, but I wasn't terribly fond of - too intense on the blue cheese, which isn't my favorite, but eating all of the components together really made it work. Her main was the pecan-crusted chicken, which was far less sweet than I had heard it was or than I thought it would be. She ended with the almond cheesecake, which was really intense on the almond flavor, but nicely paired with the raspberry coulis on the side.

Still, I have to say that something felt off about the whole meal. It was enjoyable, no doubt, but somehow the whole experience was less than the some of its parts. I don't quite understand it. I'd still recommend Art and Soul to a friend, but there was something holding the place back from being one of my absolute favorites, which is odd considering I didn't really have any issues with the meal whatsoever.

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We just returned from lunch at Art & Soul and felt we should post about our experience. We wanted to take advantage of restaurant week, and since last week was too busy for us, we decided to look at the list of restaurants that were extending their RW offerings. Many places like the Examiner, DC Foodies, and About.com provide such a list. They all state that Art & Soul is extending through August 29th.

Upon being seated for our lunchtime reservation we were given the regular menu. We inquired about RW and were told that they only extended the RW dinner offerings. I couldn't recall seeing any mention of that anywhere. I was able to pull up the Art & Soul RW menu on my droid and noticed that they did in fact state on their website that "Lunch and dinner is available August 16 - 22. We've also extended the special prix fixe menu for dinner from August 23-29." I totally missed that and I take responsibility for that - though I do question that decision and am sure I am not the only one who did not notice that beforehand. It was a big bummer for our one planned RW outing. I guess it comes down to my failure to read the fine print, but I don't think it was unreasonable for me to assume that I the RW deal continued to apply to lunch as well.

Our server was completely unapologetic and unsympathetic. Her attitude was quite off-putting, and almost caused to leave in a pout. But we decided to stay and enjoy a nice, albeit smaller meal than we would have otherwise (we decided to skip the appetizers and share a dessert). I did not expect to be accommodated...just perhaps less of an "oh well, you were wrong" attitude. She did explain that the restaurant had chosen not to extend the lunch deal since they were "expecting a large party" (??? - a conference, maybe?).

In any case, the fried chicken and mashed potatoes were very good. I echo the other poster's sentiments about lack of veggies. I didn't even see side dishes of vegetables on the menu, but maybe it was just another oversight on my part.

I've had a couple of nice meals here in the past and now I feel like today's experience left me with a negative feeling about the place. It is a shame.

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She did explain that the restaurant had chosen not to extend the lunch deal since they were "expecting a large party" (??? - a conference, maybe?).

If you went on Monday, the large party was the big boss's wedding on the rooftop. I was about to ask if you and +1 crashed the wedding upstairs.

I am sorry to hear that the server's attitude is off-putting. I think that is one reason why I haven't dared try dining there, even after meeting both Art Smith and Travis Timberlake, who are both super nice.

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We just returned from lunch at Art & Soul and felt we should post about our experience. We wanted to take advantage of restaurant week, and since last week was too busy for us, we decided to look at the list of restaurants that were extending their RW offerings. Many places like the Examiner, DC Foodies, and About.com provide such a list. They all state that Art & Soul is extending through August 29th.

Upon being seated for our lunchtime reservation we were given the regular menu. We inquired about RW and were told that they only extended the RW dinner offerings. I couldn't recall seeing any mention of that anywhere. I was able to pull up the Art & Soul RW menu on my droid and noticed that they did in fact state on their website that "Lunch and dinner is available August 16 - 22. We've also extended the special prix fixe menu for dinner from August 23-29." I totally missed that and I take responsibility for that - though I do question that decision and am sure I am not the only one who did not notice that beforehand. It was a big bummer for our one planned RW outing. I guess it comes down to my failure to read the fine print, but I don't think it was unreasonable for me to assume that I the RW deal continued to apply to lunch as well.

Our server was completely unapologetic and unsympathetic. Her attitude was quite off-putting, and almost caused to leave in a pout. But we decided to stay and enjoy a nice, albeit smaller meal than we would have otherwise (we decided to skip the appetizers and share a dessert). I did not expect to be accommodated...just perhaps less of an "oh well, you were wrong" attitude. She did explain that the restaurant had chosen not to extend the lunch deal since they were "expecting a large party" (??? - a conference, maybe?).

In any case, the fried chicken and mashed potatoes were very good. I echo the other poster's sentiments about lack of veggies. I didn't even see side dishes of vegetables on the menu, but maybe it was just another oversight on my part.

I've had a couple of nice meals here in the past and now I feel like today's experience left me with a negative feeling about the place. It is a shame.

Art & Soul made it onto my short list of places to go this week since I was out of town last week. I looked at the Examiner and DC Foodies, then at individual menus once I shortened my list to 4 places and had no trouble finding out that Art & Soul was only extending for dinner. I don't understand why you'd expect your server to apologize for a mistake you made and it seems like an overreaction to say you won't go back when you've enjoyed your meals on multiple occasions, including today. Perhaps when you reflect on the situation in a day or two when you've gotten over your disappointment, you'll feel differently.

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Art & Soul made it onto my short list of places to go this week since I was out of town last week. I looked at the Examiner and DC Foodies, then at individual menus once I shortened my list to 4 places and had no trouble finding out that Art & Soul was only extending for dinner. I don't understand why you'd expect your server to apologize for a mistake you made and it seems like an overreaction to say you won't go back when you've enjoyed your meals on multiple occasions, including today. Perhaps when you reflect on the situation in a day or two when you've gotten over your disappointment, you'll feel differently.

I guess I am not as astute as you, choirgirl. In hindsight, looking at these links: Dining in DC, DC Foodies, About.com. Examiner.com, gave me no indication that lunch wasn't covered. Yes, it is right there on their RW menu page, but as I readily admit, I didn't read the fine print (or not so fine print). Having no reason to read the introductory paragraph, I simply read the menus on the restaurant's website.

I don't think I'm overreacting or being stubborn. I'm saying that the experience left me with a negative feeling about the place. A place that is out of the way for me, and that will like play into my decision to go there in the future or not. I guess I expect people in customer service to be kind. If I were in her shoes, I think I would say something like, "I'm sorry, but we're not offering RW this week for lunch." That kind of simple statement goes a long way. Just some sign that they cared about my disappointment. That's all.

Goodeats, next time, let me know about the wedding so I can crash it - 'kay? :( I was there today, though (and the restaurant was very empty). I met Art Smith when I was there once and agree that he is a nice guy.

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Not to beat a dead horse, but the point of my post really wasn't to complain about the server or even the restaurant itself. I rarely let one employee ruin a meal, or even my opinion of an establishment.

The point is: Art & Soul is not observing RW for lunch this week. The subtext is: It would have been really nice if I had known this ahead of time. Bad on me for not realizing it.

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I had a RW dinner there and it was very good. Full portions, nothing skimped and the server was gracious and accommodating. If I was forced to quibble I would say I've had better desserts, but my roast chicken & confit, swiss chard, and butternut squash puree were great. As were the shrimp & grits, really thought about getting the Gazpacho, but I've wanted to try anson mill grits for awhile before I ordered some and this gave me the chance. I will definitely return.

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Had a delicious lunch here the other day, starting with the Picnic Basket hoecake -- pulled pork, baked beans and cole slaw piled high on cornmeal flatbread -- it was large enough to be a main dish. I know that the cake in the hoecake is what is supposed to be the draw of this dish, but underneath all those toppings, I'm not sure I even tasted the cornmeal flatbread. I don't mean this as a criticism, just that it could have been served on a piece of white bread and I wouldn't have noticed that either. I suppose this says more about me than the dish. Anyway, this was followed by the Braised Beef Shortribs, cooked perfectly and which fell apart when prodded by a knife.

Art was also gracious enough to stroll through the dining room, stopping at each table and offering up some kind words. It was a nice touch.

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Go ahead and read their brunch menu and tell me that it doesn't make you salivate. Go ahead and walk into the front door, look around and tell me that it isn't the perfect mix of cool, casual and fun all at the same time. Then go ahead and sit down at the table, get ignored by your server all meal, get served crappy food, pay a lot of money and then walk out of there saying to yourself, "What the f@$* happened!?"

Yes, it was that kind of brunch yesterday at Art and Soul. There are some highlights - I really like the space - but the rest of the meal was simply awful. Don't give me a $14 bloody mary with zero vodka in it. And, please don't give me a piece of candied bacon with it that is helplessly soggy. Bacon is easy to make crisp and I have never had anything that was candied that was not crisp, but somehow they negate each other and turn it into a horribly sweet mess. The bloody mary, even with it's absent alcohol content, at least tasted better than the crap that came out on the plates. Chicken and waffles? Meh. Country fried steak with grits and over easy eggs? An overcooked piece of low quality steak with a deep fried force field around it, rock hard grits and eggs that tasted like nothing. Reuben and homemade potato chips? Stale chips (awful) and a debacle of rye bread, cheese and pastrami on a plate. Biscuits and gravy? Cold to the bone. Home fries? Almost as criminal as the $11 caesar salad that I got at Food, Wine and Company a few months ago. For $5 we got a tiny plate of potatoes cooked a week ago with some onions and peppers thrown in to make it look like they tried.

But, on top of all that bad food, the service was simply horrendous. At minimum of 15 minutes to get someone to come take our drink order. And, trust me, we tried. We stopped several servers to ask for help, every single one of them told us that they would send our server over to us. Hey, how about this, how about YOU take our order, did you ever think of that!? It doesn't matter though, when our server got there, he wasn't much help. Sorry to inconvenience you by ordering drinks and ordering food, next time I will go ahead and place the order in the kitchen by myself.

Four of us, one drink each, $170 with tax and a very, very, very small tip.

When we were walking out the front door, the hostess asked us how our meal was and my friend said, "Awful." Her response, "Glad you enjoyed it, have a good day!" They don't even listen when people tell them that their restaurant stinks.

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