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Petworth Citizen & Reading Room, Neighborhood Bar on 9th and Upshur Street - Closing Feb 1, 2020


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i really don't want to weigh in because i'm biased.  i'm very fond of the team that opened Petworth Citizen and i want to defend them.  i'm also wary of possible repercussions that any criticism of TS would solicit....I doubt that anyone from PC will weigh in or respond directly to their review.....so I'm trying to do it for them....even if i have to tread very lightly :-/

but here's just my two cents -- the primary miscalculation on PC's part was to highlight (albeit not overly) any association with cityzen and firefly.  from my perspective, this raised some serious expectations that were either unintentionally or intentionally not met.   i also dined at PC with some seed that this could be a really great dining experience but the experience fell short.  if i hadn't had any idea of makoto or the GM's background, i probably would've been relatively satisfied.  i am, however, more than happy to give them the benefit that they are aware of any weaknesses and are serious about fixing them.

i imagine that TS also went in expecting much, much, much more than he got.

ALL THIS SAID, it's frustrating to me as another small business owner that is trying to create a unique and independently-run dining experience in DC to see a damning review based on one a few visits so shortly after they open.  Small businesses are not going to have all of their systems running flawlessly from day one....or day 50 or that matter.  Restaurants are so hard and so exhausting and there are service issues and management issues and food issues and training issues every day and it could take a place an entire year before these issues are resolved.  If the standard is set against big brand, big name "blah blah Group" owned restaurants where managers are paid $$$ and a million front of house and back of house staff are hired from day one and all systems have been established by the corporate home office, then DC will never develop a dynamic mix of locally-owned restaurants and the dining scene will be relegated to celebrity chefs and nationally-recognized corporate restauranteurs.  I have nothing against the big names that decide to set up shop in DC.  But personally, I believe an exciting restaurant city is one that provides opportunity for ANYONE to set up shop and right now, DC does not create these opportunities easily.

A review like that could potentially ruin a business.  I doubt that Tom is unaware of the affect his opinion has and it would be tragic if his "first bite" causes serious damage.  There are questions about whether or not Petworth Citizen should've been reviewed in the first place.  I don't see why it shouldn't.  I'm just guessing but ultimately, I would assume that Makoto wants to be taken very seriously as a chef with a great restaurant and PC should be his testing ground to do it.

(Also, who TS chooses to review is obviously his prerogative.  I dont think he should limit his reviews to just fine dining or to big-name operations or just full service restaurants.  All in all, it's pretty awesome that he bothered to come in.  I didn't think he'd give Izakaya Seki the time of day because we don't fit his usual dining profile and we didn't do any publicity.  But he did and has been very kind in his reviews......)

But I digress!  Mainly, what i'd hate to see is that this review does damage to the long term viability of this place, which only adds value to the Petworth neighborhood and encourages more entrepreneurs to consider starting up there.  Everyone knows that you need a few businesses to be the guinea pigs in any up-and-coming neighborhood without a strong commercial hub.  Petworth Citizen is one of these guinea pigs and without them the neighborhood and DC in general is all the poorer.

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Reaction, after three visits: The check can't come soon enough.

He had a considerable amount of time to chew on this tired, bitter "first bite" before firing the kill shot to the face.

PC is an unassuming venture from a well proven and admired restaurateur whose mission was to open a  bar on a shoestring budget that would cater to the casual passersby of the neighborhood while staying below the fray of hipster destination diners with dancing servers, airbrushed ceilings,  overpriced commodities and exaggerated birthday/critic compliments.

I'd gladly eat the haddock and potato cakes on a daily basis and choose to go there to support my community and neighbors.  It is a fine place for a drink and eat for those who take pleasure in going down the street to a venue that is what it is and provides an alternative to the bars on Georgia Ave while not competing for the campy validation of a tenured stalwart.

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i really don't want to weigh in because i'm biased.  i'm very fond of the team that opened Petworth Citizen and i want to defend them.  i'm also wary of possible repercussions that any criticism of TS would solicit....I doubt that anyone from PC will weigh in or respond directly to their review.....so I'm trying to do it for them....even if i have to tread very lightly :-/

but here's just my two cents -- the primary miscalculation on PC's part was to highlight (albeit not overly) any association with cityzen and firefly.  from my perspective, this raised some serious expectations that were either unintentionally or intentionally not met.   i also dined at PC with some seed that this could be a really great dining experience but the experience fell short.  if i hadn't had any idea of makoto or the GM's background, i probably would've been relatively satisfied.  i am, however, more than happy to give them the benefit that they are aware of any weaknesses and are serious about fixing them.

i imagine that TS also went in expecting much, much, much more than he got.

ALL THIS SAID, it's frustrating to me as another small business owner that is trying to create a unique and independently-run dining experience in DC to see a damning review based on one a few visits so shortly after they open.  Small businesses are not going to have all of their systems running flawlessly from day one....or day 50 or that matter.  Restaurants are so hard and so exhausting and there are service issues and management issues and food issues and training issues every day and it could take a place an entire year before these issues are resolved.  If the standard is set against big brand, big name "blah blah Group" owned restaurants where managers are paid $$$ and a million front of house and back of house staff are hired from day one and all systems have been established by the corporate home office, then DC will never develop a dynamic mix of locally-owned restaurants and the dining scene will be relegated to celebrity chefs and nationally-recognized corporate restauranteurs.  I have nothing against the big names that decide to set up shop in DC.  But personally, I believe an exciting restaurant city is one that provides opportunity for ANYONE to set up shop and right now, DC does not create these opportunities easily.

A review like that could potentially ruin a business.  I doubt that Tom is unaware of the affect his opinion has and it would be tragic if his "first bite" causes serious damage.  There are questions about whether or not Petworth Citizen should've been reviewed in the first place.  I don't see why it shouldn't.  I'm just guessing but ultimately, I would assume that Makoto wants to be taken very seriously as a chef with a great restaurant and PC should be his testing ground to do it.

(Also, who TS chooses to review is obviously his prerogative.  I dont think he should limit his reviews to just fine dining or to big-name operations or just full service restaurants.  All in all, it's pretty awesome that he bothered to come in.  I didn't think he'd give Izakaya Seki the time of day because we don't fit his usual dining profile and we didn't do any publicity.  But he did and has been very kind in his reviews......)

But I digress!  Mainly, what i'd hate to see is that this review does damage to the long term viability of this place, which only adds value to the Petworth neighborhood and encourages more entrepreneurs to consider starting up there.  Everyone knows that you need a few businesses to be the guinea pigs in any up-and-coming neighborhood without a strong commercial hub.  Petworth Citizen is one of these guinea pigs and without them the neighborhood and DC in general is all the poorer.

Thank you. A great review and post. Full of passion and thoughtfulness.

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The food here is great. The fried chicken might be a contender for DC's best. The octopus, trumpet mushroom, and fish cakes were all very tasty and perfectly executed. Even though much of the menu is fried, nothing we ordered tasted the least bit oily or heavy.

The service we got was efficient and friendly, too. Also, all night happy hour and entree prices in the mid to low teens. This will probably make its way into our regular rotation.

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3 hours ago, eatruneat said:

I would bet a lot of money that Mockingbird Hill as we know it is gone as Chantal Tseng is no longer involved in the operation.

She's making great, creative, literary-themed cocktails out of the Petworth Citizen Reading Room every weekend.  

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We went here while waiting for Himitsu (we ended up bailing and going to opening night at Bresca).  While we waited, we sipped on two delicious gold rushes (maybe a tad too sweet, if I'm being picky), but ordered the burrata on a whim to hold us over.  I'm glad we did because it ended up being one of the best dishes I've had in 2017.  Delicious burrata, with perfectly cooked, tender squash, along with crunchy hazelnuts.  The flavors worked perfectly.  The menu posted online now has burrata with heirloom tomatoes, pine nuts and pesto--I'm not sure if that is updated or outdated.

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16 hours ago, funkyfood said:

We went here while waiting for Himitsu (we ended up bailing and going to opening night at Bresca).  While we waited, we sipped on two delicious gold rushes (maybe a tad too sweet, if I'm being picky), but ordered the burrata one a whim.  I'm glad we did because it ended up being one of the best dishes I've had in 2017.  Delicious burrata, with perfectly cooked, tender squash, along with crunchy hazelnuts.  The flavors worked perfectly.  The menu posted online now has burrata with heirloom tomatoes, pine nuts and pesto--I'm not sure if that is updated or outdated.

Just to make sure everyone knows, the chef at Petworth Citizen is now Jamie Rutherford, who replaced Jerry Zawacki several months ago.

Jamie has worked at Tail Up Goat, and also spent time working at Prune when she was in NYC.

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