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Rose's Luxury, Chef Aaron Silverman's Modern-American Phenomenon on 8th and G Street in Barracks Row


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So, people are paying a premium via line standees ..rather Silverman collect that fetty, rather than some random dude exploiting the system... Guess it's just a matter of opinion. I'd pay the restaurant to avoid waiting, and I guess now I'll just use a Task Rabbit, like TS did.

But Silverman's already rich...

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Haha. Maybe he is. I have no idea how much Chefs make.

Thank you, B.A.R. for that fantastic link to Nick Kokonas. Game changer for the high demand/high risk for no show places. I love the idea of charging a deposit for the meal, rather than a surcharge. He makes the great point (opposed to what I say) that why charge more- just make sure people come and have the ability to actually come!

It's a great read, sure there are many holes to poke, but I like it much better than my idea of just buying access.

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I really don't get the resistance to this. We're at an incredible place where technology efficiently connects people who have something to someone who needs that something (e.g., time and a car to people who need to gets somewhere, Uber; extra space to travelers, Air BnB, etc). If someone has spare time and doesn't mind standing around outside, they can now get paid for that by someone who values his or her time more.  It's awesome.  :)

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I really don't get the resistance to this. We're at an incredible place where technology efficiently connects people who have something to someone who needs that something (e.g., time and a car to people who need to gets somewhere, Uber; extra space to travelers, Air BnB, etc). If someone has spare time and doesn't mind standing around outside, they can now get paid for that by someone who values his or her time more.  It's awesome.  :)

For me, I think its the messaging. I thought that one of the reasons that Roses has a no reservation policy is that they wanted to be part of the neighborhood and also wanted to be as open to all as possible to all - a noble ethos. My "resistance" (for me, this is more like a NYT Ethicist question) is purely fueled by this notion. My position is likely hypocritical, because I wouldn't even think twice if I was told that people are being paid to stand on line for others at, say, Little Serow. Little Serow, to the best of my knowledge, has always stated that the reason they do not take reservations is to keep the prices down and the place full - purely economic reasons.

There are enough people in town who want to eat there, backed by personal wealth or a fat expense account, that could quickly co-opt the "line" and render one if its goals obsolete. To be clear, I dont believe Rose's is doing anything wrong and they dont HAVE to do anything to change this. Let's just say $500 a night is spent on line waiting. My first thought was that Id rather the money go to Rose's directly. But maybe the money going directly to individuals in the community does serve a greater good.

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Interesting. So the thought is that places without reservations tend to be more neighborhoody while places that take reservations aren't? I never correlated those. Maybe so, though. I just wouldn't have put that in the business plan. I would think you would just be in the neighborhood, serve good food, and be nice to regulars. But, maybe it works.

I don't think they are doing anything wrong - they are completely fine - their huge success has led to me being part of the peanut gallery. I just don't like the idea of the money going to third parties instead of the restaurant owner, chef, and hard-working staff. It's like ticket scalpers or health insurance companies, they are just bottom feeders acting as middlemen. No offense to any professional ticket scalpers. All offense to health insurers.

-S

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To me, a place that doesn't take reservations is being difficult, not neighborly.I just don't see the neighborly aspect of it at all. I have neighborhood restaurants that I love, and that's never something that would occur to me as being neighborly - it means people can't plan in advance easily, for one thing.

I can't physically stand in line for two hours, but I'm not disabled and Rose's wouldn't excuse me because I have some back and foot pain (not that I would expect them to, but I don't think it's more "open to all," just more open to people who have two hours to spare before dinner and the physical ability to stand for that long). People who might like to join me at this restaurant are not people who want to stand in line for two hours either, holding a place for our group, and not knowing if we'd get in at the first sitting or not.

A place that takes reservations is "open to all," generally. The issue is when they are so popular that it takes time to be able to dial over and over to get a reservation. But that still seems like less of a barrier than requiring people to stand in line.

Maybe a good compromise for restaurants who were interested in doing something like this could have certain nights that are no reservations?

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I walked into Rose's tonight at 9:30 and sat at one of several empty bar seats. Had a drink within three minutes and food within ten. For anyone willing to eat late, especially on a weeknight, discussion of lines, wait times, and paid placeholders is moot.

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And if I lived within 45 minutes of the restaurant, I would have been sitting right next to you, being something of a night owl.  But if you are only a "neighborhood restaurant" for those who keep those hours, then are you really a "neighborhood restaurant"?

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In fact, with the efforts that have gone into, and seemingly are required for,  getting a seating at the restaurant, including the use of line waiters, it seems like it is anything but a neighborhood restaurant.  If I am coming off as bitter, I am not.  I live nowhere close, and, through concerted effort, we were able to do an evening there on the rooftop.  Just making an observation. 

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In fact, with the efforts that have gone into, and seemingly are required for,  getting a seating at the restaurant, including the use of line waiters, it seems like it is anything but a neighborhood restaurant. 

I think the bigger question is whether it's even possible for a restaurant that's won such high praise on a national level to remain a neighborhood restaurant.

A few months ago Al's Place in SF was named best new restaurant of the year by Bob Appetit, the same accolade won by Rose's the year before. Al's Place takes reservations, but I just checked their website and the next available reservation is Sunday, December 6th, at 9:45pm. They keep some tables open for walk ins and they have a line outside when the open every night.

State Bird Provisions was Bon Appetit's #1 in 2012 and it doesn't show any reservations available in the next two months. They keep some tables open for walk ins and they have a line outside when they open every night.

Husk was #1 in 2011, it's a large restaurant that takes reservations, and four years later people STILL line up before opening every day to get a walk in table.

Without checking ID's for addresses at the door, what can a restaurant feasibly do to stay neighborhood focused when hundreds of people a night are willing to travel for hours, refresh their browsers, dial dozens of times, and wait as long as it takes to eat there?

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I think the bigger question is whether it's even possible for a restaurant that's won such high praise on a national level to remain a neighborhood restaurant.

A few months ago Al's Place in SF was named best new restaurant of the year by Bob Appetit, the same accolade won by Rose's the year before. Al's Place takes reservations, but I just checked their website and the next available reservation is Sunday, December 6th, at 9:45pm. They keep some tables open for walk ins and they have a line outside when the open every night.

State Bird Provisions was Bon Appetit's #1 in 2012 and it doesn't show any reservations available in the next two months. They keep some tables open for walk ins and they have a line outside when they open every night.

Husk was #1 in 2011, it's a large restaurant that takes reservations, and four years later people STILL line up before opening every day to get a walk in table.

Without checking ID's for addresses at the door, what can a restaurant feasibly do to stay neighborhood focused when hundreds of people a night are willing to travel for hours, refresh their browsers, dial dozens of times, and wait as long as it takes to eat there?

This was an excellent post.

And I hereby declare donrockwell.com a neighborhood website.

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I can still remember walking into The Evening Star Café back in 1998 and saying that this was truly a neighborhood place. It reminded me so much of what I used to see living in Richmond, small places (no more than 40-50 seats) an active crowd late, and typically run by the servers and bartenders, no money for managers. Over the years ESC grew outside of the neighborhood as the company itself started to purchase other properties. To this day I think and believe it has gone back to being more of a neighborhood place that I think gets lost in the shuffle of NRG's empire and I do believe that to be a good thing.

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I walked into Rose's tonight at 9:30 and sat at one of several empty bar seats. Had a drink within three minutes and food within ten. For anyone willing to eat late, especially on a weeknight, discussion of lines, wait times, and paid placeholders is moot.

And if I lived within 45 minutes of the restaurant, I would have been sitting right next to you, being something of a night owl.  But if you are only a "neighborhood restaurant" for those who keep those hours, then are you really a "neighborhood restaurant"?

This too. (Time stamp on tweet is 2:28 pm but on twitter feed, it's around 5:28 to 6 pm).

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Had dinner at Rose's around 9 last Friday night and there were empty seats next to me the entire time (at the kitchen counter). Suffice to say, this was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. The combination of delicious food, effortlessly excellent service, and over-the-top hospitality really had me on cloud nine.

Pretty sure I got to try every ice cream flavor they had (all excellent, by the way).

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ould I pay $50 for a table at Rose's on Friday night at 7:30? Maybe, but I'd actually feel a lot better paying that to Rose's. It seems something like Nick Kokonas' Tock could not solve the problem, because Rose's does not strictly offer a tasting menu with more predictable table turn times.

This is kind of the opposite side of the coin in the thinking that led to a huge jump in concert ticket prices about a decade ago.  Some smart cookie (supposedly the Rolling Stone's concert promoter) realized that scalpers were getting $200 for a ticket that the band was selling for $50, and decided to cut out the middle man. Interestingly (for Simul, anyway), a few years back I bought (for my wife, I would never do this for me!) tickets to a Billy Joel/Elton John extravaganza and, having acted quickly got like tenth row seats.  They added a second show and something came up, so I had to sell tickets for one night and buy similar tickets for the other on e-bay.  All three sets of tickets -- initial purchase, subsequent purchase an subsequent sale -- priced within 10% of each other, suggesting that someone in the Billy/Elton org had a pretty good handle on ticket demand.  And, despite my rocksnobbery, I had great time.

I really don't get the resistance to this. We're at an incredible place where technology efficiently connects people who have something to someone who needs that something (e.g., time and a car to people who need to gets somewhere, Uber; extra space to travelers, Air BnB, etc). If someone has spare time and doesn't mind standing around outside, they can now get paid for that by someone who values his or her time more.  It's awesome.   :)

Not trying to restart last week's argument.  But resistance is based on the idea that the line represents a real cost to line-standers imposed by the restaurant, either in time or money (except for people who like standing in line).  The idea that technology allows me to incur the expense and hassle of hiring a line-stander as opposed to allowing me to just make the stupid reservation on line is not comforting.  It's like a weird steampunk combination of silicon and barter or something.

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But resistance is based on the idea that the line represents a real cost to line-standers imposed by the restaurant, either in time or money (except for people who like standing in line).  

It isn't just time and/or money.  Can I say that there is nothing more annoying in DC's restaurant world than waiting in line at Rose's Luxury?  Mostly it's the fucking hecklers who walk by and hassle you, the captive audience.

"What are you waiting in line for?  Rose's what?  It's just a restaurant?  Why is it called that?  Is it really worth it standing out in the cold/wind/rain/[sunshine when you could be out doing something fun]?  What kind of food is it?  What is modern American?  Wow, I've never seen so many people standing in line before!  How long have you been standing in line?  FOR A RESTAURANT???"

Money spent avoiding idiots is not money unwisely spent.  I don't mind the time spent, it's just the quality of life in line.

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It isn't just time and/or money.  Can I say that there is nothing more annoying in DC's restaurant world than waiting in line at Rose's Luxury?  Mostly it's the fucking hecklers who walk by and hassle you, the captive audience.

"What are you waiting in line for?  Rose's what?  It's just a restaurant?  Why is it called that?  Is it really worth it standing out in the cold/wind/rain/[sunshine when you could be out doing something fun]?  What kind of food is it?  What is modern American?  Wow, I've never seen so many people standing in line before!  How long have you been standing in line?  FOR A RESTAURANT???"

Money spent avoiding idiots is not money unwisely spent.  I don't mind the time spent, it's just the quality of life in line.

When those passing by stop and ask me if it's worth it. I point to my license plate if I'm parked in front of the restaurant. I usually get a eye roll as they move on.

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Try looking at it this way: if you want to go to Rose's tonight, you can.  It will take a sacrifice - time or money - but you can.  If they took reservations then you'd be spending time at the keyboard trying to out-type all the other foodies (and bots) who are trying to get in, with no guarantee of success (like for Rose's rooftop, or Momofuku CCDC, or Minibar).

I don't like lines, either, but I can't think of a more egalitarian system.

It would be nice if they took some reservations but held tables for walk-ins (as Red Hen and CCDC do), but those reservations would still be damn near impossible to get.

Here's another way to look at it: DC has such a wonderfully vibrant dining scene that we have several restaurants commanding lines.  I'd rather have that situation than go back to the era of expense-account steakhouses or power-Italian.

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I think the bigger question is whether it's even possible for a restaurant that's won such high praise on a national level to remain a neighborhood restaurant.

A few months ago Al's Place in SF was named best new restaurant of the year by Bob Appetit, the same accolade won by Rose's the year before. Al's Place takes reservations, but I just checked their website and the next available reservation is Sunday, December 6th, at 9:45pm. They keep some tables open for walk ins and they have a line outside when the open every night.

State Bird Provisions was Bon Appetit's #1 in 2012 and it doesn't show any reservations available in the next two months. They keep some tables open for walk ins and they have a line outside when they open every night.

Husk was #1 in 2011, it's a large restaurant that takes reservations, and four years later people STILL line up before opening every day to get a walk in table.

Without checking ID's for addresses at the door, what can a restaurant feasibly do to stay neighborhood focused when hundreds of people a night are willing to travel for hours, refresh their browsers, dial dozens of times, and wait as long as it takes to eat there?

When my wife and I discuss our favorite neighborhood places, Rose's doesn't usually come to mind first.  It's too widely popular--and was so almost from the beginning--to feel like we have some special claim to it.

That said, I've found Rose's no-reservations policy has allowed me, as a neighbor, to eat there more often.  Picking a date two months in advance would require too much foresight and effort, and make it feel like even less of a neighborhood place.  Instead, we can go at 6:00 to put our name in after the line has cleared, then go home to wait for the text while, say, doing the laundry.  On a random Monday or Tuesday we can expect to get a text by 7:45.  I don't know if it would occur to me to do that at one of the places described above, even if it were possible.

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I'm not picking on you specifically, chertzog, but just using your post and one from Tom's chat today as a point of reference

When my wife and I discuss our favorite neighborhood places, Rose's doesn't usually come to mind first.  It's too widely popular--and was so almost from the beginning--to feel like we have some special claim to it.
 
That said, I've found Rose's no-reservations policy has allowed me, as a neighbor, to eat there more often.  Picking a date two months in advance would require too much foresight and effort, and make it feel like even less of a neighborhood place.  Instead, we can go at 6:00 to put our name in after the line has cleared, then go home to wait for the text while, say, doing the laundry.  On a random Monday or Tuesday we can expect to get a text by 7:45.  I don't know if it would occur to me to do that at one of the places described above, even if it were possible.

From Tom's chat:

Q: Not Waiting in Line at Rose's:
---
I've eaten at Rose's Luxury 3 times and never waited in line for my seating for longer than 10 minutes. That 10 minutes was the time it took to get to the hostess stand, give them my name, and provide my cell phone number. I then went down the street to another bar or restaurant for an hour and a half and waited until my table was ready. They allow you 15 minutes to get back to Rose's once they text you. I think this policy is really reasonable. The only people who absolutely have to wait in line are the ones who want an early seating.
---
A: Tom Sietsema:
Thanks for sharing your strategy.

Both of these posts and strategies are fair and valid, but I don't think either one are fair or valid!!

For chertzog, it only works because you live in the neighborhood (which of course was your point!), but I don't think that's what most people picture when they think "neighborhood restaurant". You made that point too because of Rose's insane popularity.

The person posting from Tom's chat has a neat little "no wait" solution if you don't count the 2 hour wait at some other place! That's a nonstarter for a huge number of people for a huge number of different reasons.

I'm not sure what my point is with all of this though?!?! Maybe Rose's needs to face the facts and realize that in spite of their desire, they are not "just a neighborhood restaurant". I always get a little chuckle and then shake my head in astonishment when I read some of the cutesy stuff on their website like:

Ok, so here's how this works
- Order yourself a nice cocktail or glass of wine
- Choose a couple of Small/Family Style dishes to share
- Eat, go home, come back tomorrow

Or for their private rooftop dining:

Price $125. Not an every night thing, but for special occasions a couple times a season

You could do those things at an actual "neighborhood restaurant" but they're damn near impossible here without a significant amount of effort and some good luck.  The more I read them, the more annoyed I get.  That's probably unfair because they're being punished for their success, but maybe they should acknowledge it and deal with instead of pretending you can waltz in any time and grab a seat and greet your neighborhood buddies like Norm and Cliff on Cheers.

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It will be interesting to see how long their lines are after their new restaurant opens.  For that matter the exclusivity of the new restaurant is interesting: open only Tuesday through Friday night and a handful of tables.

Over the years I have made reservations almost a year in advance at both El Bulli and Schwarzwaldstube in Germany's Black Forest.  El Bulli, of course, had international publicity and Schwarzwaldstube was an extraordinary experience known throughout part of Europe but not this side of the Atlantic.  9/11 interrupted our trip to El Bulli while Schwarzwaldstube was so incredible we made a second reservation a year in advance for the following year.

While I won't stand in line (again) for Rose's Luxury (last visit to the kitchen counter was January of 2014) I have no problem reserving and guaranteeing a year in advance.  Or crossing an ocean, if need be, for it.

If it is that good.

There will be expectations.

If the new restaurant lives up to them it is good for our city.  Perhaps someone from Baiersbronn will be crossing the Atlantic to have dinner here...

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At 5:15 they tweeted that there's no wait right now for any party size up to 8.

It was driving rain and wind.  The negative to not accepting reservations is that people will not stand in line endlessly and get soaked.  The expectation of a long line and horrible conditions will preclude many from even considering going.  With reservations, even a handful of reservations, people will still call.

Rose's policy can be counterproductive with bad weather.

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It was driving rain and wind.  The negative to not accepting reservations is that people will not stand in line endlessly and get soaked.  The expectation of a long line and horrible conditions will preclude many from even considering going.  With reservations, even a handful of reservations, people will still call.

Rose's policy can be counterproductive with bad weather.

You have a valid point, Joe.

On the other hand, those same weather conditions often result in customers with reservations cancelling (at best) or becoming no-shows (at worst). The policy is what it is, and when I go to Rose's I understand what's involved in getting a seat. It's much easier for me to make time to wait in line when I have an urge to dine there than it is try and game whatever reservation system is being used at a very popular restaurant.

TSchaad

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Hmmmm. Anyone know if they do corkage?

This is from their FAQ:

What's the corkage fee?

$20 per bottle for the first 2 bottles; $40 for each additional bottle.

The $40 for additional bottles is new, and so is the wording.

When I did their private rooftop dining thing in the summer, the FAQ said something like "$20 per bottle. 2 bottles 750 ml bottles, or 1 1500 ml bottle per table". I assumed that if they allowed 2 bottles for a table for 2, they would allow more for a table of 10. Wrong! We showed up with three bottles and were only allowed to have 2. I even emailed them asking about it and didn't hear back so I figured I was good. Nope. But this is different wording from back then.

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We have a reservation for 8 after Thanksgiving under the new reservation system. Wondering if anyone has experience with the new prix fixe system and how menu items are chosen and whether or not plates are served family style or individually plated. Still waiting for a reply from my email inquiry from the manager.

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We have a reservation for 8 after Thanksgiving under the new reservation system. Wondering if anyone has experience with the new prix fixe system and how menu items are chosen and whether or not plates are served family style or individually plated. Still waiting for a reply from my email inquiry from the manager.

If you're talking about the $55 menu, I'm not sure I could eat $55-worth of food at Rose's if I chose a la carte.

My guess is they'll work in the family-style dishes based on your party's size.

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We have a reservation for 8 after Thanksgiving under the new reservation system. Wondering if anyone has experience with the new prix fixe system and how menu items are chosen and whether or not plates are served family style or individually plated. Still waiting for a reply from my email inquiry from the manager.

I was there with a party of 8.  The dishes seemed to be chosen at random, but were a good representation of the menu.  Some were plated individually, some were plated for two people, some were plated for three or four. It was a good amount of food, but not an obscene amount (like the rooftop dinners).  We let them know about allergies and a pescatarian in advance; all was handled smoothly.  The pacing was a little odd but I bet they have that worked out by now.  The whole thing took a smidge under three hours.  Have a good time!  Call and ask them to include the vadouvan curry -'s wonderful.

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In retrospect, I was wishing I had saved room for dessert, because I'm sure they were both fabulous and partly savory. My bartender handed me the menu, and I had to decline because I had been pleasantly sated. Midway through the meal, I ordered one item from the "Family Style" section of the menu to take home with me for lunch the next day: Smoked Brisket, White Bread [Actually, Texas Toast], Horseradish, and Slaw ($29) which was delivered and explained to me just as I was paying the check (perfect timing, Rose's, and a good all-around job with the service!) I was encouraged to make sandwiches, and so I did - I had enough for two full sandwiches: four pieces of Texas Toast, five generous cuts of brisket with a good proportion of fat attached, a tub of horseradish, and a tub of beautiful, red cabbage slaw. One of the two sandwiches is pictured, in two perspectives, in this post. You might be asking yourself two obvious questions: 1) with tax and a 20% tip, the price of each sandwich came out fo $18.85. Is this a crazy amount of money for a couple pieces of brisket on toast? 2) Equally as interesting, is this the type of thing you'd expect to see in an absolute, very best, top-of-the-top, lines-down-the-street, nationally recognized, restaurant that has critics fawning and assigning the highest possible rating? I have enough faith in our readers where I feel no need to answer either of these questions.

 

Bravo to this whole post (I'm calling this section out because I felt the exact same way when I ordered this dish).  I also agree that Rose's did not seem to seek out all of the attention it has gotten, so this isn't a dig at them, but I'm not sure I have ever encountered a more over-hyped restaurant.

And Red Hen is most definitely the better of the 2 "neighborhood" restaurants for me  ;)

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Is this a value judgement?

How does one evaluate value?

How does a chef/restauranteur create value?

Why is his pork-habanero-lychee salad a sensation at its price?

Why is Rasika's palak chaat a sensation at its price?

$19 for a brisket sandwich? Well, you weren't supposed to take it home. Maybe it would have been $10 at a nice deli. Maybe comfort food has a role at "high-ish" end restaurants. Maybe not. Rose's seem to be taking a (light) jab, but they aren't even asking for it by being obnoxious or hoighty toighty. I'm paying $7-9 for every Brussels sprouts appetizer in town now ($11 at Red Hen!!) I'm paying $5 for Natty Boh cans at these places. I'm paying $18 for lobster mac and cheese at run of the mill restaurants. It's really unfair to single out this place. Don just paid $15 to go to Don Tito's for excrement.

Red Hen is awesome, too, but as far as value ... Come on! Everyone is jacking up the prices. Both of those places are still better than many of the other "fine dining" places in town.

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(Is the *Rose's Luxury isn't all that great for reasons having nothing to do with inability to make reservations* backlash in full swing now?)

I think there are several things going on.

Roses has now been around for two plus years, and is no longer the incredible suprise it was for many of us when we first discovered it. It's hard to replicate that first time at Roses when everything was new, so unlike what we had normally experienced (the menu, the staff, the atmosphere) in other restaurants around DC, and it would be only human to miss that initial rush.

As the staff changes (and there have been a lot of changes, as some key members have moved onward and upward in and outside DC) there are subtle changes to the general vibe, even if the new staff is trained to maintain Roses high service standards. Todd Kliman said as much several weeks ago (mentioning both Roses's and Red Hen) while discussing the sometimes negative effect of the explosion of new dining spots on the finite pool of top notch service talent in the DC area.

Also, there are just people who seem to feel that the way to build themselves up is best accomplished by tearing something else down (see YELP).

I will still look forward to my next trip to Roses, and i can't wait to see what Chef Silverman will do once he has a properly sized kitchen in Pineapple and Pearl to conduct his gastronomic experiments in. I'll be happy to volunteer as one of his lab rats.

TSchaad

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(Is the *Rose's Luxury isn't all that great for reasons having nothing to do with inability to make reservations* backlash in full swing now?

I don't believe so.

I've had two meals at Rose's...both very, very good. I am happy for their success and accolades, the former justly deserved, the latter leaving me a bit more puzzled. I just don't understand them from my personal experience. I disagree with Tom's 4-star assessment. I am stunned that others believe this is the best new restaurant in the country. I am astounded a cottage industry has sprung up where people pay other people to wait in line for a table. None of this means Rose's Luxury sucks. It is a very good restaurant, one this city is lucky to have, but its rabid appeal is lost on me.

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It is a very good restaurant, one this city is lucky to have, but its rabid appeal is lost on me.

It's a very good restaurant that's not terribly expensive, has great service, and is, above all things, fun (if you let it be).  There are plenty of restaurants in DC that do better at each of these things, but few -- perhaps none -- all of them at once.

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