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Ketchup, A Stylized Los Angeles-Based American Franchise at National Harbor - Closed


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From a WaPo chat last week:

23rd and M, D.C.: Hi Tom,

I see that there's a Timothy Dean Bistro coming to the new National Harbor development. Is that anything to get excited about? Also, by the looks of things, there are a lot of chain restaurants, like Maggiano's and something called Ketchup, heading that way as well. I don't see it as being a culinary destination, do you?

Thanks.

Tom Sietsema: TImothy Dean worked under Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate years ago. So that could bode well for the development. But I was really disappointed to see all the (mediocre) chains as part of the plan. There's some really awful food coming that way. I know nothing about Ketchup.

and...

Washington, D.C.: Ketchup at National Harbor is some swanky celebrity owned place - I think partially owned by Ashton Kucher (sp), among others. They have a unit in LA and it looks like it is very trendy and American food. And I think the company owns a few other restaurants. (P.S. I am in no way associated with them, just heard about them.)

Tom Sietsema: Thanks for enlightening us. But the news isn't very encouraging.

Why don't these developers ever consult with FOOD people, not just MONEY people? PG County deserves better.

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Oh Joy, Ketchup. Just a few lovely nuggets from their menu:

SCANDALOUS LOBSTER WRAPS - Two iceberg lettuce cups, chunks of lobster , mango KETCHUP

PARMESAN-GARLIC RING TOWER - thick-cut sweet vidalia onion rings tossed with parmesan & garlic

BARKING DOGS - two mini kobe beef hot dogs

And the pretentious claptrap continues after the "Shared Credit" appetizers.

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Well, I got screwed today...my lovely wife wanted to go to National Harbor to walk around and we ended up eating at Ketchup. Oh my god this was an awful meal!

I really don't make it a habit to write bad things about restaurants because I know how hard it is to run one...but I figure this post may be more of a public service. It was THAT bad.

The service was OK--our server walked through her "Ketchup server introduction script" just fine as I'm sure she was trained to do and she also offered to take our food order if we were ready when she took the drink order, which I always appreciate, as I am a fast menu reader and know what I want within 30 seconds of seeing a menu for the first time. We only had a single "course". The timing was a bit faster than expected since my 12 ounce burger was ordered medium well* and I expected this to take at least 10 minutes, but nope, it was on the table in about 4 minutes. *(I was required to order my Kobe short rib (my ass) burger either medium well or well done--ARRRGGHH! What the hell?!)

So my $19 burger was dry and crumbly, like it was part of a large, awful meatloaf and sliced off of it--this was unlike any burger I've ever eaten. Really off-putting, dense-yet-disintegrating texture and accompaniments that didn't deliver. Spinach (with stems attached), one 1/4" slice of a tiny roma tomato, pickles with little/no acid, borderline stale ciabatta roll. Really bad. Oh yeah, it was partnered with truffled fries which did actually smell faintly of truffle but tasted like fried nothing.

My wife and daughter were sharing the crab/artichoke/cheese dip with fried farfalle chips. It tasted exactly how you think it did--like faintly cheesy, no crab-having, no artichoke-having, hot mayonnaise-meets-cream cheese stuff.

They also had the fry plate. Three types of fries with 6 ketchups. The fries all tasted strange. Like they were old or the grease was bad, a combination of two or something else--I couldn't pinpoint it, but my wife wholeheartedly agreed. They just tasted off. Ketchups that accompanied were a weird mix, the worst being a maple ketchup and the tastiest being a chipotle ketchup. In fact, the chipotle ketchup was pretty tasty, I must admit. (The others were raspberry (not terrible--not good), ranch, garlic and another completely forgettable one.

The strangest part of the meal was when I received the check. I studied it well ( as I always do) and saw that they had applied a 15 % gratuity (pre-tax thankfully) to the bill. The check stated that they do this on Friday-Sunday nights each week. I thought this to be a bit strange, but I don't know the neighborhood that well and can't imagine what prompted this. Any guesses?

In summation, I think their food is overpriced and insulting to their customers. Don't waste your money there. (The bar is set pretty low for Timothy Dean over there. His restaurant isn't open yet and is the best in area by far based on my few visits to NH.)

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Well, I got screwed today...my lovely wife wanted to go to National Harbor to walk around and we ended up eating at Ketchup. Oh my god this was an awful meal!

I really don't make it a habit to write bad things about restaurants because I know how hard it is to run one...but I figure this post may be more of a public service. It was THAT bad.

The service was OK--our server walked through her "Ketchup server introduction script" just fine as I'm sure she was trained to do and she also offered to take our food order if we were ready when she took the drink order, which I always appreciate, as I am a fast menu reader and know what I want within 30 seconds of seeing a menu for the first time. We only had a single "course". The timing was a bit faster than expected since my 12 ounce burger was ordered medium well* and I expected this to take at least 10 minutes, but nope, it was on the table in about 4 minutes. *(I was required to order my Kobe short rib (my ass) burger either medium well or well done--ARRRGGHH! What the hell?!)

So my $19 burger was dry and crumbly, like it was part of a large, awful meatloaf and sliced off of it--this was unlike any burger I've ever eaten. Really off-putting, dense-yet-disintegrating texture and accompaniments that didn't deliver. Spinach (with stems attached), one 1/4" slice of a tiny roma tomato, pickles with little/no acid, borderline stale ciabatta roll. Really bad. Oh yeah, it was partnered with truffled fries which did actually smell faintly of truffle but tasted like fried nothing.

My wife and daughter were sharing the crab/artichoke/cheese dip with fried farfalle chips. It tasted exactly how you think it did--like faintly cheesy, no crab-having, no artichoke-having, hot mayonnaise-meets-cream cheese stuff.

They also had the fry plate. Three types of fries with 6 ketchups. The fries all tasted strange. Like they were old or the grease was bad, a combination of two or something else--I couldn't pinpoint it, but my wife wholeheartedly agreed. They just tasted off. Ketchups that accompanied were a weird mix, the worst being a maple ketchup and the tastiest being a chipotle ketchup. In fact, the chipotle ketchup was pretty tasty, I must admit. (The others were raspberry (not terrible--not good), ranch, garlic and another completely forgettable one.

The strangest part of the meal was when I received the check. I studied it well ( as I always do) and saw that they had applied a 15 % gratuity (pre-tax thankfully) to the bill. The check stated that they do this on Friday-Sunday nights each week. I thought this to be a bit strange, but I don't know the neighborhood that well and can't imagine what prompted this. Any guesses?

In summation, I think their food is overpriced and insulting to their customers. Don't waste your money there. (The bar is set pretty low for Timothy Dean over there. His restaurant isn't open yet and is the best in area by far based on my few visits to NH.)

You are not the only who didn't like anything either.. I had the fries but I thought the sweet potato fries were among the best and the mini kobe burger and hot dog were awful. The bun was microwaved so it became inedible and the hot dogs were frozen.. I've had a much better burger at White Castle in the freezer department at Giant then theirs. Then the bill came 2 apps and 1 drink 40 bucks plus tip.. never again.

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evidently this place is closed

Well, there are twothree silver linings in this very dark cloud:

1) Ketchup is still open in Saudi Arabia, and they even offer a "D.C. Real Breakfast" there.

2) The Dolce Group is still open, and is offering restaurant consulting services for, among other things:

    * Build up and Opening

    * Business Plan Development

    * Advertising and Public Relations

    * "In short, The Dolce Group possesses broad expertise, a proven track record and a commitment to achieving excellence. We are ready, waiting and excited to work with you."

3) You can still buy a Ketchup shirt.

The sad thing is, it would not surprise me in the least if certain individuals affiliated with The Dolce Group were getting very rich.

Which is encouraging since Ketchup's culinary philosophy is simple: "using fresh and high-quality seasonal ingredients purchased daily from the farmer's market ...." I wonder if their "kobe beef hot dogs smothered in classic kobe chili" come from the farmer's market, too.

Someone please build a space station on Mars so I can move there and get the hell away from all this.

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evidently this place is closed

Ketchup was replaced by Walrus Oyster and Ale House, a project which Bob Kinkead is nominally associated with - his other project was Ancora (do you even know what Ancora is called now? Have a click to find out) - Bob was a great, immensely respected chef, and is legitimately affiliated with Star Restaurant Group; I'm simply advising folks to take his role here with a coarse grain of sea salt.

 

Here are some publications that reported on the marketing of Bob Kinkead as "Culinary Director" (a "Culinary Director" is someone who "consults" on the menu, but isn't actually in the kitchen - someone like José Andrés. I guess this makes me "Culinary Director" of about a dozen well-known restaurants in this town):

 

Sep 10, 2014: "Natural Meets Nautical at the Walrus Oyster & Alehouse" by Missy Frederick on dc.eater.com

Sep 16, 2014: "First Look: The Walrus Oyster and Ale House" by Rita Rapuano on zagat.com

Sep 17, 2014: "Inside The Walrus & Oyster [sic] Ale House (Menus)" by Anna Spiegel on washingtonian.com

Sep 17, 2014: "The Walrus Oyster & Ale House Now Open In National Harbor" by Jessica Sidman on washingtoncitypaper.com

Oct 29, 2014: "Pop's Seabar and Walrus & Oyster [sic] Ale House: 2 joints where seafood rules" by Tom Sietsema on washingtonpost.com

Of note: Not one person that I'm aware of picked up on the error in the name, either in the Washingtonian's preview or the Washington Post's review - the erroneous name is not only in the title, but is perpetuated throughout the body of both articles. It's a *very* easy mistake to make, and when I stare at the names, I find myself having to do double-takes, even knowing that the mistake is there.

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