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Dahlia, Spring Valley - Closed.


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I asked the same question a few weeks ago after Tom posted the little blurb in the Weekly Dish. I definitely want to check it out because it's close to my home in Friendship Heights. I do remember that Tom liked Smith Point, but going never appealed to me becuse of the bar scene etc.

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I went a couple of weeks ago for dinner...should have posted earlier.

We went with another couple because it is in the 'hood and there is such a dearth of restaurants in that area. Really a random location.

The food really was good. I agree that it is pricey, though. We all ordered appetizers and entrees, no desserts, and only two in the party were drinking alcohol (just beer). And it came to $92/couple before tip.

I started with a salad that I ordered because it sounded different. It was quite good, but all of the components are escaping me right now :lol: . Anyway, it had shrimp and cheese and I am not going to do it justice so I will just stop there.

For my entree, I had the scallop dish that Tom described and it really was good. Great contrast between the sweeter apple cider butter and the salty prosciutto and the scallops were cooked perfectly. The grits surprised me because they really are coarser than any grits I have had, but they worked well in this dish.

The pizza menu looks great. No one had pizza in my party, but I would be interested in trying.

The problem I have with Dahlia is that I want it to be a neighborhood place, i.e. reasonably priced and easy to go to any old night. But because of the price point, it is not.

Oh, and one more thing about the service. It seemed very "young". I hesitate to report this, but our waitress was chatting with the table next to us and very loudly informed them (and us) that she hadn't been at work for the past four days because of a "bacterial infection" but she was on antibiotics now, so it was "cool" and it was also fun to have a few days off to hang with her friends.

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Thanks for the report! I too was disappointed by the high price point; like Bucks, also near me, a bit too pricey to just drop by on a regular basis. All of the scallop dishes Tom mentioned in his review sound great, but I don't eat pork, so I'm a bit bummed about the scallop and grits dish (I LOVE grits.).

With all the pricey development going on at Friendship Heights, why isn't it a more appealing place to put a good restaurant? I guess maybe TOO pricey to attract an independent place without a lot of investor-backing.

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based on one saturday night visit, this seems to be a cheerful, reliable source of well prepared american food, with a lively bar scene and tables adjacent to the main dining room. comfortable burgundy leather banquettes line three sides of the smallish main room, contrasting handsomely with pale yellow walls and abstract autumnal photographs shot out of focus, which little did we know would turn into one of the amusing themes of the evening. corner tables are tight to squeeze in and out of; the crowd of doctors, lawyers and indian chiefs who seem to have taken over the place is convivial and their chatter rises to a fairly loud buzz; and diners tended to congregate into groups of four or more, with couples interspersed. white tablecloths are dressed with small glass vases of petite white and red dahlias and thin votive candles are floated in water. the restaurant felt a bit short-staffed when we were there, although employees were hopping all over the place. table busing was frantic even when the crowd was dying down, with a dash of manuel from fawlty towers, though reassurance was provided by the chef cruising the dining room, sort of what used to occur at dish.

the meal started with four slices of honest bread accompanied by a tapenadish olive oil infused with olives and parsley.

martinis were stiff but definitely strayed from classic ingredients; booze hounds would probably be able to figure out the misunderstanding, but we didn't even try.

my wife's salad of frisee, shaved fennel, walnuts, blue cheese and sliced pear was amply portioned, as is just about everything here, and apparently hit her spot. a deep bowl of squash soup, accompanied by intensely flavored, dark squash croutons mimicking ham, was correct in every way, with enough complexity to carry me happily through to the last spoonful, though following a recipe that i am almost certain is no match for what you can get at zora margolis' house. soup, salads and probably pizza (i didn't check out the separate pizza menu) appear to be the sole nods to vegetarians, though you would expect them to be able to conjur something else up; the kitchen is serious about seasonal produce and displayed a consistent ability to make the most of it.

veal bolognese gets straight to the point with a mound of fennel-and-tomato- tasting lean ground baby cow generously tossed with just-right fettuccine. you can try this one at home, probably successfully, one more reason that you don't have to travel to rome to get it. sauteed ray was delicious, firm flesh fanned around a heavy dollop of somewhat dry pureed potatoes and parsnips, spiked with plump capers and even plumper cooked red grapes that didn't add anything convincing to the fish, though it did remind me that it's been a long time since we've had a picnic. (we had spent the radiant november day foraging for wild nuts along the second and third, less strenuous stretches of the billy goat trail instead.) the skate also comes with a few jolts of garlic, which is fine by me. the salting of the entrees risked going too far, but never quite fell over the edge.

there are some asian fusion-sounding ingredients on the menu that we avoided, including soy sauce (chicken) and wasabe and creme fraiche (tuna). they are no doubt fine in this melting pot restaurant, but japanese and italian in the same culinary neighborhood make me nervous.

there are eight white and eight red wines on the wine list, all but one (le tuffeau chenin blanc) available by the glass. (maybe there are two wine lists?) we ordered glasses of a citrusy les chailloux sancerre and a cairanne cotes du rone. our waitress attempted clumsily to set a glass on my wife's empty bread plate. she took a couple of stabs at it, before finding a more stable purchase. (fortunately, there are some ace eye doctors just across the street that can help correct this problem as the restaurant settles in.) our empty martini glasses were also invisible to the staff. mine was eventually removed from an increasingly cluttered table and i was asked if i wanted a refill (with a glass of wine sitting right next to it.) also, under the spot lighting above our table i could see where my large white plate had been wiped off on one side and many fingerprints on the other. without any fbi training, once you catch on you can start finding fingerprints all over the dishes. this is not a serious complaint; however, the service here is not entirely smooth but the goodwill of the place goes a long way toward evening it out.

unfortunately, we didn't have room for dessert.

we didn't find anything amazing in the cooking here, but it is more than competent and we enjoyed our meals. as for the prices, they are roughly the same as those at chef geoff a couple of hills away and this is a much better alternative, although it is not going to be able to accommodate a stampede.

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a deep bowl of squash soup, accompanied by intensely flavored, dark squash croutons mimicking ham, was correct in every way, with enough complexity to carry me happily through to the last spoonful, though following a recipe that i am almost certain is no match for what you can get at zora margolis' house.

:lol: My husband also greatly appreciated the kudo-- he'd almost always rather eat at home than go out. It is a mixed blessing to cook well. I occasionally do like to be served good food and have someone else do the prep and cleanup, but since we both hate spending money for ordinary fare, and we can't afford most of the really good places on other than very special occasions, we rarely eat in restaurants.

Edited by DonRocks
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:lol: My husband also greatly appreciated the kudo-- he'd almost always rather eat at home than go out. It isĀ  a mixed blessing to cook well. I occasionally do like to be served good food and have someone else do the prep and cleanup, but since we both hate spending money for ordinary fare, and we can't afford most of the really good places on other than very special occasions, we rarely eat in restaurants.

we spend more money than we should on ordinary restaurant fare that could be duplicated at home and i do a fair amount of okay cooking at home, but my wife does the cleanup. the prices at "everyday" restaurants around washington are getting too high to eat at those places more than occasionally, and they are definitely not where you want to be for a special occasion. (at dahlia two people could probably go for pizza and a glass of wine for under $50, but that can be done just as well at home, maybe the crust won't be as good, for much less and you can drink the entire bottle.) anyway, dahlia is nestled into a neighborhood where all the homes cost more than a million dollars except for bungalows which are $700,000 or $800,000 (actually most of NW washington is getting this way if you sprinkle in some way-overpriced condos), so it should be easy enough to take out a second mortgage (i guess they don't call them that anymore) to fund dining out at places like dahlia for an entire year.

i am glad you mentioned quinces last week. i found some at the farmers market on sunday, am not sure exactly what i am going to do with them, but the fragrance that had taken over our kitchen this morning was better than flowers. :P

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I work off of Van Ness and have had lunch here a few times in 2006. Slightly more expensive than I am used to for lunch, but a welcome change from the usual fare I am used to eating around the area.

Has it reopened yet?

Last I heard, it wasn't going to reopen at all. Can anyone confirm?

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Banner posted today across the entrance of what used to be Dahlia: "Coming Soon...Tara Thai." Looks like the neighborhood is getting an outpost of the Thai restaurant empire. Since we like Thai food, we are looking forward to a decent Thai restaurant within walking distance. (Neisha Thai on Wisconsin has been a bit disappointing, in my view.)

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