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Chef Geoff's, Geoff Tracy's Local American Chain in Several Area Locations

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Something I once had to say about Chef Geoff's which still is the worse place/meal I've ever had in DC:

In most cases, I alert restaurant staff when I'm unhappy about something and see how it's handled and that often paves the way for a future return. But in some cases that's impractical: "Those curtains are vile. You must change them!" Or it's not even worth the bother because of a combination of things. Or the complaints are about things that are so basic that if they can't get them right without you mentioning it to them they've got serious issues. Or you just don't feel like it, because you shouldn't have to.

Today I visited Chef Geoff's Downtown for lunch, and it falls into the latter categories.

The hostess looked befuddled when I, as a party of one, requested to be seated for lunch today at nearly 1:30 p.m. Plenty of available space. For some reason though, the welcome was less than welcoming.

Music. They were blasting Bruce Springsteen. I'd expect that in a bar/tavern, or even some restaurants without tablecloths! Sometimes music in the restaurant can set a mood, particularly if it's light and in the background. Or sometimes, District Chophouse as an example with its '40s music, it's trying to set a scene. But this was none of that.

I ordered Snow Pea Fusilli: Defined on the menu as tomatoes, onions, summer sprouts, asiago, and pea coulis. The quantity of things wrong with this dish probably exceeded the quantity of ingredients. To name a few, the pasta was overdone, boiled to death. The vegetables (save for the grape tomatoes) were over done, sautéed to death. There were cucumber slices (or were they zucchini? I couldn't tell) that were just shy of wilted mush. They had only enough structural integrity left to allow me to tell that it had been a green vegetable at one time.

The dish was sauced to death with a cloying sweet and acidic vinegar mixture that overwhelmed and overpowered everything (save the grape tomatoes which had enough of its own flavorful acid to fight through this mess). The asiago cheese on this dish looked like it had come from one of those plastic containers of shredded (as opposed to grated) parmesan at the supermarket.

The closest approximation I can suggest for this dish is: Visit your local supermarket. Go to the prepared foods section. Get the plastic container of "Pasta Primavera" or something similar. Nuke it until just warm. This is a true approximation and not an exaggeration.

This is where I should have spoken up. But my server came to ask how everything was only one forkful after another server delivered it to my table. Only enough time for me to say, "I don't like it" and not explain why I don't like it, which is essential for me to send something back. So I nodded while I chewed. She didn't return again until it was clear that I had eaten all I was going to eat. I declined the coffee and dessert offer.

When it came time for the check ($19.47 including tax and an iced tea), and I left $30 so I can have proper change to leave a tip. She brought $10 back to me instead of $10.53. I would understand this (rather small) oversight if the place

was busy and she was swamped, but at this time I was the only customer there.

Your mileage may vary, but I can't think of any redeeming qualities that would make me want to return or consider another chance for them. After all, I paid $20 for that experience and boy do I feel taken. Perhaps it's because I'm spoiled knowing what a $9 chicken can taste like! The place gave me an "aura of bad feeling." I can safely say I will not return there.

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Something I once had to say about Chef Geoff's which still is the worse place/meal I've ever had in DC:

Today I visited Chef Geoff’s Downtown for lunch, and it falls into the latter categories.

The dish was sauced to death with a cloying sweet and acidic vinegar mixture that overwhelmed and overpowered everything (save the grape tomatoes which had enough of its own flavorful acid to fight through this mess). The asiago cheese on this dish looked like it had come from one of those plastic containers of shredded (as opposed to grated) parmesan at the supermarket.

I was at the uptown version last night - It really sucked. I tried to like it, but I just didn't. I was there once before and had a great meal. Last night yuck!

I had the calamari appetizer, they used a brown sugar sauce. It really did not work. I had the pork tenderloin and also the sauce killed it. It was a combo of hot and sweet and yes overpowered a great tenderloin.

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went to the orig location once - never again - insipid, dull boring food - worst butternut squash soup ever - whatever it tasted of, it wasn't squash

as CrescentFresh said, so bad theres no point even complaining

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A voice of semi-dissent: Though I've never had anything else at Chef Geoff's, the $5 burger and half price wine deal on the last Monday of the month is really quite good. The burger has two kinds of cheese and bacon, and though not the pinnacle of burgerhood, it's pretty darn tasty. And they serve nice and huge beers if you're not in the mood for wine with your burger.

But I think given comments here I'll stay away from everything else on the menu.

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I think the new restaurant by Chef Geoff's is going to be called Lia's.

I have to say, I have sort of "come around" to Chef Geoff's. At first, I really tried to like it because it is in the neighborhood, but I couldn't find anything on the menu that I liked.

Lately, though, I have been pleased with some of the things I have eaten. It can be hit or miss, but the $25 "Summer Sizzler" is a good deal. Soup or salad, any entree and any dessert. I have been a couple of times and have enjoyed it. Last time I was there, I had a corn truffle bisque that was pretty good. And all of the desserts I have had were quite good: peach/raspberry cobbler with butter pecan ice cream, a mint chocolate cake with choc chip mint ice cream, etc.

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I have been to the New Mexico (or AU) loc many times as I work next door and only downtown once… I almost always get the burger (overcooked once but didn’t have time for a refire and it was still tasty) the fries are consistently crisp and I’m usually content with the salads, nothing noteworthy either way…

In a triumph of marketing in the downtown location I convinced the BF and I to a Sunday brunch (some coupon thing…).

Decided on steak and eggs, and ordered my eggs “sunny side” instead of over easy as listed, after my BF (basically) explained this…

Sunny-Side Up: The egg is never flipped. The yolk is a bright yellow hemisphere sitting in the middle of the pristine white. The yolk is liquid, and some of the white around the yolk may have a jelly-like consistency.

Over Easy: The egg is flipped briefly. The yolk does not stand out as strikingly, but is still liquid. The white is no longer liquid. Being paranoid like I am I cut first into my steak – whaddya know it was med-well/well, before touching anything else I slipped my steak onto a bread plate to send back…

After a very long time I found someone who went to find someone who got lost…

Then I found my server myself and asked for a MR steak - okay fine.

Then I went for my eggs, they were…

Over Hard: The white is firm, the yolk is a lighter color and flakey.

Oh boy, BF convinced me to flag down server and get some new eggs, so poor guy probably wanted to stay as far from the table as possible… Then I hear behind us the server and chef of some type (sous or exec?) discussing what I really wanted behind me – chef asking server what exactly I said for the eggs….

At some point I got a MR steak which was good, the runny eggs, and cold potatoes (whatever I was not making a 3rd complaint – no way…)

Anyway – that was my one time deal with the Chef Geoff’s brunch (We went to Georgia Brown’s for Valentines which was fabulous – and only made this seem more ridiculous…) we didn’t stick it to the server with bad tip (he probably worked harder on us anyway), but I hope that the fact that I had to send back my one dish in courses helps for more clarity in the future….

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we went to the new mexico restaurant twice this late spring and early summer and found the food edible but suffering from some basic problems (oversalting) suggesting that there was nobody at home in the kitchen. we did shy away from anything that sounded too complicated. the service, on the other hand, was the dopiest on earth. for our second meal we had two servers, one breaking the other in, but both were clueless. if you don't want to bother running two restaurants, why bother opening a third? this place is just sitting back and raking it in.

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I have to semi-dissent here too. I've been quite a Chef Geoff's basher in the past, and certainly know the complaints everyone has, but one night last summer, I went with some friends who like to go to the N. Mexico location. Expecting a lame meal, I was instead served the best pork chop I've ever had in a restaurant, over some great cheese grits (everything else was quite good too). A strange anomaly? The presence of Geoff? Who knows? Wildly inconsistent for sure.

I also had an incredible tea smoked pork tenderloin with blueberry bbq sauce at the downtown location a couple years ago-- this was the work of Johnny Monis when he was there.

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I used to go to the New Mexico location on occasion because it is around the corner from home. The food really went downhill and the only thing I'd go back for was the burger special. Its been about a year since I did that though. I have a work thing at the downtown location tonight.

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I was instead served the best pork chop I've ever had in a restaurant, over some great cheese grits (everything else was quite good too).   A strange anomaly?  The presence of Geoff?  Who knows?  

I think that no stronger proof of Don's argument exists than this. When a chef is present in his proudly eponymous restaurant, the mind reels at the greatness possible.

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While a huge number of Rockwellians were taking part in the Corduroy dinner, I was yakking it up with Randall Grahm, winemaker and president-for-life of Bonny Doon Vineyards at Chef Geoff's downtown (1301 Penn Ave NW).

Geoff Tracy served us up 10 courses and we had 10 excellent wine pairings:

Moonfish Sashimi with Wasabi Aioli and Baked Wonton Crackers, served with Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Chenin Blanc 2004

Raw bar with littlenecks, Kumomotos, Langoustines and Sambal Cocktail Sauce, served with Ca' Del Solo Malvasia Bianca '04

Wild Rockfish with Chinese Black Rice and Blood Orange Mirin Sauce, served with Il Circo Moscato d'Asti 2004

New England Lobster Roll with Mache Salad and Old Bay Potato Chips, served with Il Circo Erbaluce 2004

Speck, Bresaola and Prosciutto with Handmad eMozzarella and Ciabatta, served with Ca' Del Solo Sangiovese "Il Fiasco" 2004

Chestnut Stuffed Quail with Creamy Polenta and Crispy Pancetta, served with Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2002

Pork Shank Ravioli with Swiss Chard, Pomegranates and Mushroom Demiglace, served with Il Circo Montepulciano 2003

Slow Braised Veal Cheek with Cherry Couscous and Almonds, served with Bonny Doon "Old Telegram" Mourvedre 2003

Mascarpone Cheese Cake with Pistachios, Apricots and Chestnut Honey, served with Bonny Doon Muscate Vin de Glacière 2004

Chocolate Hazelnut Soufflé cake with Raspberries and Chocolate Mendiant, served with Bonny Doon Bouteille Call Syrah Port (which has 4% Rasperries in it!)

Just getting to spend the evening chatting with Randall made this one of the great wine nights of my life. I've been to two wine dinners with him before, many years ago when I used to work wine wholesale and my company sold his wines.

Randall was my first wine-hero, the principal person responsible for my entering the wine trade. He instilled a sense of evangelical zeal deep within my soul that I've carries with me ever since. He seemed well and in fine fettle and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I've not dined at Chef Geoff's downtown before, and only a few times at the original location (he's opening a new one in Silver Spring very soon, too) but everything here tonight was delightful. I nary heard a discouraging word, just lots of yummy sounds from people.

Once again, I leap to the fore to defend the iconoclastic wines of Bonny Doon. Everything we drank tonight was both interesting and useful, and so much more than just pleasant wine in clever packaging. The "Euro-doon" wines were lots of fun, Le Cigare Volant was as pleasant as possible, the Bouteille Call Syrah Port was scrumptious and I'm too tired to go into greater detail tonight.

Suffice it to say that I think that these wines are interesting, these wines are compelling and they are worth your time, money and drinking dollars.

Chef Geoff's has inspired me to think about a return visit soon, perhaps when the patio opens up to the outside,

By the way, the place was packed, 130 diners. Geoff had to close the restaurant for this gig.

Edited by Joe Riley

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(he's opening a new one in Silver Spring very soon, too)

Do tell more.

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I ate at Chef Geoff's on New Mexico Ave. last night. They have a GREAT patio and last night was the perfect night to enjoy it.

I have always said that the food there is hit or miss. For example, last time I went, I ordered a chicken penne and it was a miss. WAY too much onion, I mean piles of them.

But last night I had a great appetizer: wild mushroom gnocchi with fontina sauce. This consisted of sauteed wild mushrooms, gnocchi and a delicious, rich fontina sauce. The gnocchi were firm, but not at all gummy. If this is any indication of what will be served at the new Lia's, I am looking forward to it.

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Greetings fellow Foodies!!

(Wow, I'm really getting the hang of this whole posting thing! It's almost addictive!!)

Anyway, I’m being dragged to Chef Geoff’s tonight for dinner before going to the National Theater. Haven’t been there before. Any suggestions on things I must have or things to stay away from?

Peace & Blessings,

LaShanta

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Greetings fellow Foodies!!

(Wow, I'm really getting the hang of this whole posting thing! It's almost addictive!!)

You have no idea... :)

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My experience at Chef Geoff's last night was terrible. The best thing about the night was the iced tea.

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but the entrees were terrible. I ordered the paella and it was swimming in saffron. WAAAYYYY too overpowering. Also, my boyfriend got the duck special, which came with a bunch of peppers and some green guacamole-type of sauce on it. The duck may have actually tasted OK if we could have actually TASTED it—if it hadn’t been overwhelmed by piles of vegetables. There was so much going on on the plate that I couldn't make head nor tails of any of it.

Highlights -- calamari/shrimp appetizer and the caramel apple cake (actually the cake was a bit dry, but the ice cream and the candied walnuts compensated).

My advice -- stick to the happy hour and don't venture into the more substantive dishes, especially not for the prices they charge.

To management's credit, they did send someone out and ask why I was not eating my entree and they ended up taking it off the bill. (I literally had 2 forkfuls.) I would have gladly ordered something else if I had the time, but the waitress did not come to check on me until everyone in my party had already finished their meals!

Also, though the happy hour menu and discounts seemed promising, it is terribly, terribly loud in there. So if you do go, be sure to bring your outside voice.

Overview -- Highly disappointed and would never recommend to anyone (even enemies).

Peace & Blessings,

LaShanta

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Chef Geoff's should be commended for being proactive about the disappointment with your entree. Granted, actually, you know, eating your dinner surely would have been preferrable, but many places would not have noticed/cared that you were unhappy with your meal.

And many more places might have noticed, and still done nothing.

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I live pretty near the AU location, and the only time we go to Chef Geoff's these days is in nice weather when the patio's open. Why? Because the wait is insane otherwise. An hour and a half to eat mediocre food? I don't think so.

I have to say, the burger is pretty tasty, especially for $5 during happy hours, although I would pay regular price since burgers in that neighborhood are few and far between. But do you know what the strange thing is? They don't serve the burger for Sunday brunch, which goes until 3 pm. (Actually, the time we went I think it was a Saturday, this was late last fall, so I don't know if they changed their Saturday menu, but I don't see the burger on their Sunday brunch menu now).

Haven't been there in several months now, and don't know when we'll go again....

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How's brunch at Chef Geoff's? The menu strikes me as fussy, but a friend just picked it so off I go.

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How's brunch at Chef Geoff's? The menu strikes me as fussy, but a friend just picked it so off I go.

Never had it....but I'd be willing to bet that when you're done with it, you'll have wished you packed a cooler ahead of time and brought it with you. If you stick to bottled goods that they open in front of you, you'll probably be okay. :unsure:

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