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Santa Rosa (Formerly Béarnaise), Tex-Mex on 3rd St. and Penn. Ave. SE on Capitol Hill


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Prince of Popville has this on the long-pending Bearnaise from Spike Mendelsohn. I am no fan of the guy, but this actually looks promising (though come on, fix those typos on your final menu!), if he takes it seriously. It could fill a real gap on the Hill, particularly at that part of Pennsylvania Avenue, so I hope that it proves to be decent and shows us some actual chef's talent he has always touted but has yet to demonstrate in any of his establishments. (And please, may his frites be nothing like those awful little nubbins he sells at Good Stuff.)

But then again, it's only Monday and my cynicism hasn't kicked in just yet.

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Who from DR will be brave enough to go and report back to us? Who's got extra cash laying around? :P

Honestly, if it weren't Spike, I'd be interested in checking it out. I like the menu concept, I like that drink prices are reasonable, they've done a nice job of sprucing the place up, but since it is I'll wait for others to report back first. :)

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Based on my experiences at Good Stuff and We The Pizza, someone else would have to be paying for me to even give this place a try.

And unlike the period of time from, say, 1800-2010 -- the Hill isn't starving for more restaurants.

It could fill a real gap on the Hill, particularly at that part of Pennsylvania Avenue,

There's a gap there because he owns all the restaurants. Well played, Spike. Well played.

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One of the curious things here is that, thus far, his usual marketing machine--i.e., sister--doesn't seem to be in high gear as it was with his other enterprises, which I hope bodes well. I'll see if I can take one for the team also early on. Another good restaurant besides Sonoma on that end of Pennsylvania Avenue would not be a bad thing, regardless of who's behind it. I'd rather not have another case of Spikenfreude.

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Compared to all the other price points on the menu, the draft beer prices are oddly low. $6 for a draft Delirium vs. $8 for a bottle of Two Hearted? Maybe it is (another) typo?

Or maybe it's just a 6 oz pour. If full sized, I'd just go for a glass of Delirium before heading someplace else for food.

Anyone else notice that oysters are $2.50 each, but if you get a half dozen, you have to pay $16, or an extra dollar ($2.50 x 6=$15)?

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Compared to all the other price points on the menu, the draft beer prices are oddly low. $6 for a draft Delirium vs. $8 for a bottle of Two Hearted? Maybe it is (another) typo?

Okay, who was the wag who decided to befuddle Tom Sietsema by quoting ad.mich today in the Washington Post chat?

Tom - What's the deal with "price point" and when did it become phrase? As in "Compared to all the other price points on the menu, the draft beer prices are oddly low." Why not use the good ole, "prices" instead? I don't know why, but this drives me nuts. Sort of like the wanna be intellectuals who say "utilize" instead of "use". Can you make it stop?

Just when I thought I'd seen it all....

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I did not read the Washingtonian article Tweaked linked to in its entirety, but I managed to get past the first few paragraphs before I said to myself, "How many modest, traditional, charming traditions from culinary civilizations (in this case France) must we see parodied in this way?" We deride, but take in our stride, chain crap like Olive Garden as a corruption of Italian cuisine because the immigrant history is so long. (Some people even use "Italian" to describe things that you would never find in Italy.) I think SM is attempting the same thing with French cuisine. We have all kinds of French-themed restaurants all over the country, but they are usually independently owned, or run by people who really know French food, sometimes even expats. I'm not saying they're all good. But there is not yet any truly big chain phenomenon of French cuisine as there is for the traditional culinary immigrant cultures, Italy and China. Bistro Jardin anyone? That's what worries me, aside from the fact that SM's celebrity aura is taking over a block next to where I work, and I would gladly spend money on something inventive, original, and good, regardless of its ethnicity.

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But there is not yet any truly big chain phenomenon of French cuisine as there is for the traditional culinary immigrant cultures, Italy and China. Bistro Jardin anyone?

Well, there is La Madeleine, which calls itself a "country French café", although one of the French-est things about their menu is that they spell salad "salade".

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Well, there is La Madeleine, which calls itself a "country French café", although one of the French-est things about their menu is that they spell salad "salade".

Right, and there's Le Pain Quotidien, though it's Belgian. But as you know, these are a kind of a hybrid between restaurant and cafe. It's one of those remarkable but obvious things that there is no full-blown "French" restaurant chain in America. Perhaps that is just the last rung on the ladder down to strip-mall culinary hell?

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I did not read the Washingtonian article Tweaked linked to in its entirety, but I managed to get past the first few paragraphs before I said to myself, "How many modest, traditional, charming traditions from culinary civilizations (in this case France) must we see parodied in this way?" We deride, but take in our stride, chain crap like Olive Garden as a corruption of Italian cuisine because the immigrant history is so long. (Some people even use "Italian" to describe things that you would never find in Italy.) I think SM is attempting the same thing with French cuisine. We have all kinds of French-themed restaurants all over the country, but they are usually independently owned, or run by people who really know French food, sometimes even expats. I'm not saying they're all good. But there is not yet any truly big chain phenomenon of French cuisine as there is for the traditional culinary immigrant cultures, Italy and China. Bistro Jardin anyone? That's what worries me, aside from the fact that SM's celebrity aura is taking over a block next to where I work, and I would gladly spend money on something inventive, original, and good, regardless of its ethnicity.

French food is inherently viewed as snobby, whereas chain restaurants are specifically designed not to be.

French food is blessed not to have a dopey restaurant chain dilute its legacy and Spike is welcome to try with his mercurial low-wattage mishmash of Clouseau caricatures including a “seasonal” appetizer of maple-glazed seared foie gras with mango and passion fruit…in July. (Legislation passed last week to help ensure that). His greasy, delible marks on the birthday-party-food-for-fat-kids genres (pizza & burgers), while shamefully popular, are not a threat to half a millennia of established food culture and probably not representative of his 3 Michelin star tutelage. His success however is absolutely remarkable, envious, and along with easily loathed chains very profitable.

France polished the fundamentals of Italian cooking long ago. The roots of culinary practice, theory, methods, vernacular, technique, discipline, hierarchy and organization are well established in virtually any western kitchen that is worth a damn. Should you enjoy restaurants, white bread, fanciful desserts, gout, tropical fruits from another hemisphere growing in your greenhouse and family style dinner service then you can applaud the excesses of French aristocracy. If those aren’t enough bon-vivant contributions there is always champagne, internet, gambling, photography, cinema, pasteurization, canning, food processors, coffee percolators, Cartesian coordinates, bicycles, taxis, denim, sewing machines, batteries, pencils, dentisry, aspirin and refrigeration which are used with as much daily frequency as one might eat.

Let the Italians have their “crappy” chains though it would be nice if they were depicted by macho gondoliers driving Fiat 500’s and gesturing diners with their hands much like this city’s recent French restaurants’ style and substance are modeled after anything within 20 meters of a Parisian greatest-hits postcard carousel if that is your idea of a stylish neighborhood. Old World culinary heritage has my deepest sympathies though to be fair, many countries keep the best stuff for themselves.

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Mon Ami Gabi is a pretty decent French chain...didn't see that mentioned in the thread.

Frankly, a steak frites place sounds like a good addition to Capitol Hill...I look forward to trying it.

The vitriol thrown at Spike constantly amuses me.

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Frankly, a steak frites place sounds like a good addition to Capitol Hill...I look forward to trying it.

The vitriol thrown at Spike constantly amuses me.

If just about anyone other than Spike was behind this restaurant, this conversation would have a totally different tone. I agree with mtureck--I don't give a damn if it's original; I just hope it's actually worth going to. I'd rather have this from Spike than another Xavier Cervera joint on the Hill.

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If just about anyone other than Spike was behind this restaurant, this conversation would have a totally different tone. I agree with mtureck--I don't give a damn if it's original; I just hope it's actually worth going to. I'd rather have this from Spike than another Xavier Cervera joint on the Hill.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who's going to "Like" both mtureck's and poivrot farci's post. There's no question which is the better post, but I myself grow weary of the personal attacks.

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I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who's going to like both mtureck's and poivrot farci's post. There's no question which is the better post, but I myself grow weary of the personal attacks.

Yeah, it gets pretty hostile here on DR.com. And when I find myself posting and responding in the same vein, I don't feel good about myself afterwards. What we really need is a grand DR auto-da-fé, accompanied by the appropriate chorus from Don Carlo, which I've sung but now forget.

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Yeah, it gets pretty hostile here on DR.com. And when I find myself posting and responding in the same vein, I don't feel good about myself afterwards. What we really need is a grand DR auto-da-fé, accompanied by the appropriate chorus from Don Carlo, which I've sung but now forget.

People (myself included) make snippy comments about Mendelsohn and a few others, but I know the folks here, and they're darned good people. Mendelsohn does have a polarizing schtick with his hats, and his unhealthy food, but he may just be the nicest person in the world. It pains me to see people criticize him personally, rather than the product at his restaurants - there's a night-and-day difference, and we should be mature enough to recognize it. I hope I get a chance to shake his hand one day and congratulate him for his personal success.

I wish him luck with Bearnaise, and look forward to trying it at some point, particularly if the Bearnaise sauce is made fresh or to-order - *that* is the type of thing we should be focused on here. That, the cuts of meat, the quality of sides, the wines, the service, and the pricing.

Restaurateurs like Mendelsohn should not think of donrockwell.com as an unfriendly lion's den or trap to avoid; he would be a welcome member here, and I'd see to it that he's treated with the same respect and courtesy as everyone else.

Banco are you a baritone?

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People (myself included) make snippy comments about Mendelsohn and a few others, but I know the folks here, and they're darned good people. Mendelsohn does have a polarizing schtick with his hats, and his unhealthy food, but he may just be the nicest person in the world. It pains me to see people criticize him personally, rather than the product at his restaurants - there's a night-and-day difference, and we should be mature enough to recognize it. I hope I get a chance to shake his hand one day and congratulate him for his personal success.

I wish him luck with Bearnaise, and look forward to trying at some point, particularly if the Bearnaise sauce is made fresh or to-order - *that* is the type of thing we should be focused on here. That, the cuts of meat, the quality of sides, and the pricing.

I’ve gone to great lengths to lampoon Spike as a basic-cable game-show contestant and questionable Cheshire peddler of “farm fresh” ingredients. Paula Deen not so much. She doesn’t itch my French pride and isn’t a competitor.

The funny thing about Spike’s Steak Frites concept is that by any other name it is quite possibly Yankee Doodle steroid & hormone commodity feedlot beef with unlimited frozen French fries*. I think you used to be able to get that at Denny’s and Ruby Tuesday, but now it’s taboo. He’s like the Rothko of the 2 course prix-fixe menu. God bless him for capitalizing on that.

*there is nothing written on the menu or press releases to suggest otherwise, and those are considerable selling/marketing points that would align with fresh and farm appeal. Someone convince me otherwise and I will acquiesce. Medium-Rare cuts their own fries, which would suggest that they fry them there as well. No claims about the provenance of their beef other than that it is award winning)

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She doesn’t itch my French pride and isn’t a competitor.

Julien, trust me: Spike Mendelsohn is not your competition any more than Flunch is. Have confidence in your art even if it isn't immediately translating into dollars and cents. I *know* it sucks (believe me, I know), but don't lose perspective.

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Well it appears that someone had to take the plunge, so I have bravely gone where apparently no DR aficionado has dared to go far....and actually eaten at Bearnaise.

As seems universal in this conflab, let me emphasize that I am not a Spike groupie and think that his other two restaurants here on the Hill are a costly abomination as far as food goes - but personally he is a pretty affable guy, ignore the TV persona. Now onto Bearnaise...

So what did we have:

Bread. This actually surprised me. Bread was not bad at all, served with lots of real, non-whipped butter (an essential for me) and refreshed frequently with a warm replacements. Very happy.

Oysters. 3 varietals, all fresh, well served with usual accouterments. Nothing to shout home about, not hard to do and no better than anywhere else.

Mussels. Much like the oysters, these were well prepared and presented - with good flavor but no real wow moment. For a Normandy preparation I would also like to see the sauce a touch thicker to allow it stick to the fries for the essential dipping test.

French Onion Soup: Mediocre. Good topping but the base lacked any ooomph.

House Salad. This shouldn't be advertised as an appetizer option, it's more of a side anywhere else.

Soup of the day: Vichyssoise. Can't fault it. Great balance of cream, stock, leek, potato - and the the garnish provided the right note of saltiness.

Steak Frites galore.... The steak comes in Flat Iron, Entrecote and Tenderloin. We tried them all. Flat Iron was cooked correctly but candidly a bit tough. The Entrecote was exactly as one should expect it to be - I complement them for that because in DC alas it usually is't "exactly as one should expect it to be". The tenderloin perfectly cooked and very tender, although lacking in any depth of flavor as is often the case.

Frites. Good flavor but a bit greasy and definitely in need of a bit more crunch.

Sauces: All steaks come with choice of sauces. None were standouts and had been clearly, and understandly, created in larger volumes vs for each diner. The standout is the spiced bearnaise, a combo of sriracha and traditional bearnaise that works rather well.

Usual lashing of red and white. The white list was already depleted by Saturday so our first two choices were unavailable, so the Muscadet was the fill in. As it was still 85 degrees outside our red choices were far more available.

All in all we ate well, but without wow. I find that slightly disappointing from a kitchen headed by Brad Race (ex MiniBar) who is capable of much more.

The decor inside has been done very well, best on Penn Ave to date. The staff were accommodating (allowed us starters off the bar menu, in addition to the prix fixe) and attentive.

Verdict:

1) Menu annoying a bit overpriced. Why limit the prix fixe to only 3 appetizers to choose from and not allow sub from the better ones on the bar menu? (mussels, oysters, frogs legs)

2) Wine menu a clever deception. Lots of wine for $40 we heard them cry...what a deal! Not so much when you look closely and much of it can be purchased in restaurants nearby for $30-35 with very few deserving to top the $40. But I will give credit that it stopped a large table whining about wine price quite quickly, and that is to be applauded.

3) It was their first week open and they easily earned a revisit. I do not see them replacing my Capitol Hill favorites, but are certainly a welcome addition to the neighborhood - which both surprises and pleases me. Bravo Spike.

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I was here at the bar for the first time just a few hours ago. I came from a 3-hour rehearsal of a Wagnerian opera that I was dying to get out of and was lusting for a Liebestrunk to relieve the pain of incessant diminished chords, and entered a genuine Bistro world, in all its vagaries.

The steak tartar was made fresh to order, so I was told, and it tasted like it: nice cherry-red chunks of beef chopped up with cornichons, capers, shallots and chives, topped with an egg from a fowl I didn't note, probably quail. The accompanying potato crisps were baby-fist-diameter slices beautifully fried, some still with a bit of chew, which I liked. After that of Bistro Bis, this is the best tartar I've had in DC. My Manhattans were good, the bartender receptive and eager.

The true bistro atmosphere was provided by the clientele, which I think happened to include a few of the valedictorian/debate-team-captain staffer types that arrive wide-eyed in DC this time of year. One woman was patronizingly educating a man with a receding hairline but advancing marital prospects on points of French cuisine she had obviously picked up during a junior year abroad--an unreflected year, by the tone of it. Another was trying hard to flirt by describing her debating skills with men who could not have cared less. Slices of life--that's what bistros are good for, no?

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The steak tartar was made fresh to order, so I was told, and it tasted like it: nice cherry-red chunks of beef chopped up with cornichons, capers, shallots and chives, topped with an egg from a fowl I didn't note, probably quail. The accompanying potato crisps were baby-fist-diameter slices beautifully fried, some still with a bit of chew, which I liked. After that of Bistro Bis, this is the best tartar I've had in DC. 

I'm not sure how many steak tartares you've had in DC, but there are some darned good ones, and this is really saying something - it's good to hear.

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The true bistro atmosphere was provided by the clientele, which I think happened to include a few of the valedictorian/debate-team-captain staffer types that arrive wide-eyed in DC this time of year. One woman was patronizingly educating a man with a receding hairline but advancing marital prospects on points of French cuisine she had obviously picked up during a junior year abroad--an unreflected year, by the tone of it. Another was trying hard to flirt by describing her debating skills with men who could not have cared less. Slices of life--that's what bistros are good for, no?

Those particular slices have a strong after taste of privilege, vacuousness, and self-promotion that I seem to have an allergic reaction to.

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The steak tartar was made fresh to order, so I was told, and it tasted like it: nice cherry-red chunks of beef chopped up with cornichons, capers, shallots and chives, topped with an egg from a fowl I didn't note, probably quail. The accompanying potato crisps were baby-fist-diameter slices beautifully fried, some still with a bit of chew, which I liked. After that of Bistro Bis, this is the best tartar I've had in DC.

After a long day of running around, steak tartare sounded perfect to me and my young dining companion, and after hearing about the version at Béarnaise, it sounded like the perfect restaurant for us.

Given how crowded Good Stuff Eatery and We The Pizza were, I was surprised to see that there was walk-in availability at Bearnaise (this could be a simple matter of price - I, myself, did a double-take when I saw the prices of their three steaks online). We took a seat at their lovely, but completely empty, marble-topped bar at around 7:45 PM.

Our charismatic bartender, Luke, poured me a draft of DC Bräu's "The Corruption" ($7) and a bottle of Bell's Two-Hearted IPA ($8), while improvising a mocktail for Matt, a variation on a Thyme Lemonade ($6).

The steaks at Bearnaise come with unlimited frites, but the price-points (8-ounce flat-iron, $28, 14-ounce entrecôe, $38, and 8-ounce filet, $42) are a bit startling when you're used to the Mendelsohns' other restaurants, and also Cleveland Park's Medium Rare. Given that the steaks come with unlimited fries, they're less expensive than at first glance. When I walked back to the restroom, I noticed a beautiful-looking entrecôe on a plate, charred on the outside, nice and bright red on the inside - it was a lovely looking steak.

We both got our own Beef Tartare ($15), and this rendition is as good as I'd heard it was. The tartare is hand-chopped to order, and comes with some of the condiments left for the diner to mix in, including a raw egg yolk on top (if this was a quail egg, it's the largest I've seen). It wasn't served with the potato crisps I was expecting; rather, with an abundant quantity of decent-quality bread - not baguette, not focaccia, but something rectangular and airy - honestly, this dish would be better served with the house made potato crisps I'd read about. Also, this version of beef tartare leaned strongly into the acidic side of the register, so keep that in mind when you order it - it's within the norm, but certainly an acidic (rather than an unctuous) version. Overall, we both liked it a lot.

Having ordered the green beans, Luke steered us away from them, and toward the delicious Brussels Sprouts ($9) - a plate of halved, thoroughly grilled beauties topped with enough Bearnaise to cut through any bitterness, and to nudge this dish into decadence. While delicious, you might want to ask for the Bearnaise on the side if you're worried about calories.

A second side order of Champignons í  la Montréal ($9) was a plate of roasted portobello mushrooms, thoroughly braised in red wine. I got to enjoy most of this, as Matt still hasn't developed a palate for red wine reductions, but if you enjoy them, then you'll enjoy this. It was as simple as it could be, perhaps with some Provení§al herbs in the mix, but just a little bit.

Matt was starving from a day of exercise, so I ordered a glass of wine and ordered ushim a dessert. Most of the wines here are all $40 by the bottle, $10 by the glass, and I spotted a 2009 Duboeuf "Domaine des Quatre Vents" Fleurie on the menu, but since I was sitting at the bar, I looked up and noticed open bottles of the 2011 (*) and 2008. While I am not a fan of Duboeuf, I do like this one particular bottling (one out of about a thousand), and when I saw the 2008, two words were bouncing around inside my head: "Distributor Closeout." Although this retails probably for around $20, I didn't care - I knew the 2008 was drinking, and asked for a glass. I got a hefty pour, and it was just wonderful - putting the "flowery" in "Fleurie, and fully mature while not being one jot over the hill. While it lacked some depth (it was, after all, a Duboeuf, it was that rare moment when you get to enjoy a fully mature glass of Cru Beaujolais). If they have the 2008, get it by the bottle - don't get the 2011; get the 2008. They're probably paying $10 for this, and you shouldn't care if they are.

For dessert, we got an order of Profiteroles ($ :angry:), three very good, reportedly house made, pastry shells, filled with fairly generic vanilla ice cream, but served with a pitcher of good, warm, chocolate syrup. I was trying to back off at this point, but I still got my licks in. While not Et Voila quality, this was still a fun dessert that was worth ordering.

A couple of things before I go: I was surprised, to say the least, that Chef Race recognized me - I honestly didn't think he knew me from Adam, especially since I look very different right now, but sure enough, he brought out the first course and we chatted briefly. Because of this, I'm obligated to mention a few things: I was steered away from the green beans and towards the Brussels sprouts, the potato crisps were 86d and we got bread instead, and most importantly, I just found out now that the profiteroles didn't make it onto the check (I should have reviewed it earlier, but this could have easily been an oversight because we ordered dessert last-minute). The bill after tax was $87.69 and if I recall, we left an $18 tip.

All of this preface because (and I think you know what's coming next) I have to initialize coverage of Bearnaise in the Dining Guide. Using the simple criterion, "if someone were taking me out to dinner, where would I want to go," and based on this one meal - including my sighting of that steak, and the fact that they had the 2008 Fleurie in stock for $40 - I'm initializing Bearnaise in Italic, behind only Montmartre and Beuchert's Saloon in Capitol Hill South.

"Did you really just rate one of Spike's restaurants in Italic, Don?"

Yes, yes I did.

---

(*) On a completely unrelated note, I just got this message from a member of The Wine List that I moderate: "I am hearing an interesting controversy regarding 2011 cru Beaujolais.  Although three members here whose palates I greatly respect have published detailed tasting notes on the vintage, which are generally favorable, I'm hearing complaints from friends who are tasting the wines now that they've arrived in the US that have a common theme:  a high percentage of the wines have an unpleasant green element to their flavors.  I've noted that [xxxx] pointed out in his article on the vintage that some growers who picked too early have elevated herbaceousness in their wines but I was not under the impression this trait is anything close to universal in the vintage.  To the contrary, it appeared that at least many of my favorite growers, such as Coudert, Chermette and Bouland, had produced particularly successful wines.   I have only had a chance to try one 2011 so far, Foillard's Cote du Py.  While it was more herbal than its 2010 and 2009 counterparts, it certainly did not taste "green" in the mode of, say, many 1997 and 2004 Red Burgundies.  Instead, the herbaceous element seemed sufficiently well-integrated into the fruit to add to its complexity without introducing any off-putting qualities.  Has anyone else had a chance to sample a greater selection of the 2011's since they've been shipped and have a view on this?"

Edited by DonRocks
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Well, I waited long enough to try this place, and I went in with an open mind, based on recent good reports from Don, Sietsema, and others. Unfortunately, I left somewhat disappointed. For my first meal here, I decided to stick with the core menu item, the steak frites, with the onion soup as my starter. The flatitron came out looking beautiful, and was cooked to a perfect medium rare. But the steak itself was rather flavorless, a problem that the kitchen's aggressive overseasoning could not overcome. A few bites in, it was clear that I was going to be tasting mainly salt and pepper, and stupid me decided to power through it rather than complain. My taste buds are still out of whack. Fries were okay but not good enough to demand that I take advantage of free seconds. The onion soup was decent, and the bread would have been improved if served warm (at least the butter is not rock-hard). My glass of Bordeaux (Chateau de Parenchere) was good, but the pour felt small. I will give props, however, to the pleasant, unfussy space, and the friendly, competent service. But for $50, which includes tax and tip, I left kicking myself that I didn't just stick with one of my old stand-bys for half the price even if not ostensibly as respectable. That said, I would go back to try some of the menu items--duck confit, mussels--before passing any judgment. The flaws I noted were fixable, and maybe even flukes. But for a guy like Spike who's looking for some culinary respect, this sort of inconsistency on his core product doesn't help his cause.

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Bearnaise began brunch service on Easter Sunday, and yesterday I decided to check it out--admittedly with a bit of trepidation given my shaky previous experience here, and this being Spike's first foray into this meal. I needn't have been nervous, however--this was a fine meal worth checking out. I sat at the bar, ordered the Montreal Caesar bloody Mary (good flavor) and ordered the French bennie--essentially eggs benedict served on a croissant with French ham. The gossamer poached eggs just missed being undercooked, and the hollandaise had the right balance of eggy and lemony. The "petite salad" on the side was actually a nice size also. The meals I witnessed around me also were attractively served and looked well prepared. Perhaps a tad pricey--almost $29 with tip--it nevertheless left a good impression.

I should also say that, despite my criticisms of Spike over the years, I actually admire that he has stood firm in not opening We the Pizza and Good Stuff on Sundays. He could surely do big business if he did open them--I've witnessed many cries of dismay when walking past them on Sundays, and Saturdays are madhouses there--so taking this kind of break does deserve some respect. But opening Bearnaise for Sunday brunch makes sense, and it's welcome new option for that part of the Hill.

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I've found both GS and WTP very off-putting places, and haven't returned in some time. Bearnaise, on the other hand, is so wholly different that you'd probably not guess they emerge from the same person. Which is not to call it great, but the service was pleasant and competent enough, and I would actually consider returning.

Speaking of filthy conditions, the only time I've been to Five Guys was some years ago. to the Georgetown location, and it kind of grossed me out. If that's what people think McDonald's should be, no thanks.

I am not sure I would say that Bearnaise emerged from the same 'person' but rather from a food concept LLC. I am pretty sure SM has had very, VERY little to do with the concept, menu, or execution except in an executive producer sense....

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I am not sure I would say that Bearnaise emerged from the same 'person' but rather from a food concept LLC. I am pretty sure SM has had very, VERY little to do with the concept, menu, or execution except in an executive producer sense....

I ranked Béarnaise in Italics in the Dining Guide because Brad Race is doing such fine work in the kitchen. Give Spike Mendelsohn credit: He was savvy enough to hire him.

PS - Anyone who thinks DC isn't a steakhouse town is most likely young, inexperienced, and working for an out-of-date restaurant publication.

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I am not sure I would say that Bearnaise emerged from the same 'person' but rather from a food concept LLC. I am pretty sure SM has had very, VERY little to do with the concept, menu, or execution except in an executive producer sense....

I'd give SM a bit more credit; Bearnaise hardly comes across as a "concept," and the menu actually does reflect some of the background that SM has always announced for himself. No, he's not the one who's executing it, but as Don says, he had the insight to hire someone who could do so, and pretty well overall, which is not a small thing. I wonder how we would be talking about it (and him!) if this had been the restaurant he started out with, rather than Good Stuff and We the Pizza, with himself manning the kitchen.

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