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Colvin Run Tavern, Tysons Corner, From the Owners of Kinkaid's - Cloven, Done on Sep 1, 2007


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How To Impress A Date For Under $99
Follow this recipe, escape at two-digits

Go to Colvin Run Tavern, park in one of the Retail Only spaces (they'll never know), and sally around the crowded barfront to the back-right hinterlands. Take a seat at the bar.

If you're questioned about why you're sitting at the bar, mutter something about it being trendy.

Open the wine list like you know what you're doing, leaf through it for awhile, occasionally nodding and saying "hmmm...," and then order the Tavel Rosé, currently bin #210 (hint: look chic by knowing that Tavel rhymes with Ma Bell, not (Vaclav) Havel). It's said that you should never order the cheapest wine on the list because it's always plonk, but this is the exception: at $20 (twenty dollars!), you'll get a 2000-vintage co-op bottling from Les Vignerons de Tavel which is probably $5 ex-cellar, but nobody needs to know this.

The wine, on first pour, will taste a little bit 'red' for a presumedly bone-dry rosé from the south of France, and if your date tastes it and begins some subtle throat-clearing action, smile confidently and say, "Wait for the scallops. Trust me."

Order two each of the Sautéed Maine Scallops with Fennel Tart, Blood-Orange Vinaigrette and 'Black Olive' Olive Oil ($11) and the Stewed Lobster in a Green Curry Coconut Milk Broth, with Sweet Potatoes, Scallions and Crispy Spring Roll ($16).

When the scallops arrive, the wine, heretofore middling, will soar (speaking of sores, I'm still waiting for the test results), and both wine and food will instantly grab hold of one-another, sending each other in an upward vortex towards synergy, and making you look like Einstein.

The lobster is more Thai than southern French, and yet it too will work brilliantly with the Tavel. At this point in the meal, you simply won't believe that you're going to get out with a $20 liquor bill.

These are ample portions; yet if you're questioned by your date on why you didn't order a main course, rehash your excuse for sitting at the bar and say it's trendy. If you're a hearty eater, the problem of quantity is easily solved by delving into the excellent bread, or by having gone and scarfed a cheeseburger one hour before the meal.

Dining au style de Jabba the Hut, i.e. bellying up to the bar solo, will cause an uptick in the IDI (individual dining index), assigning the entire cost of the wine to one person, but with two people, you can easily leave having paid less than $50 each including tax and a generous tip.

On my nickel,
Rocks.

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Line up ladies so Rocks can take you too on a cheap date.

No, I'm done with all that nonsense. Last year I got my Valentine what I thought was a perfectly decent gift certificate to Jenny Craig, and I could just see it didn't go over that well. So I returned it and got this really, really nice dust mop, and I mean this thing was seriously high-tech and even came with its own cover, but I never heard from the person again.

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I don't hear much about Colvin Run Tavern anymore.

Don't hear much about Cafe 15, 701, Occidental, Palette, Gabriel, the City of Bethesda, Signatures, Ella's, Obelisk, The Oval Room, Taberna del.. Maybe there's good reason for that or...?

 schlepped out to Colvin Run a few months ago and it was not worth it. The only memorable part of the meal was the prime rib of beef and that was because it was so overcooked and dry.

Save your gas money and order in a pizza instead.

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I don't hear much about Colvin Run Tavern anymore.

Don't hear much about Cafe 15, 701, Occidental, Palette, Gabriel, the City of Bethesda, Signatures, Ella's, Obelisk, The Oval Room, Taberna del.. Maybe there's good reason for that or...?

 posted this several months ago on eG pre-DR.com about a meal at Colvin Run:

bilrus said:
Every year my small six employee company has its post-election, pre-holiday dinner party at a different restaurant.  In the years I have been here we have been to Carlyle Grand (must not have been a great year in 1999), Old Angler's Inn, L'Auberge Chez Francois, Galileo and 2941.  This year, as you might have guessed, we went to Colvin Run Tavern. 

After last night, Colvin Run is the universal favorite out of those choices.  We were in a small, spare yet very cozy private room (good for us and the rest of the patrons as several of us get a little loud as the wine flows) with a fireplace.

The waiter suggested several appetizers to be shared around the table, giving us the chance to taste (going from a slightly clouded memory here) a cured duck breast over raviolis, a lobster and mushroom, a scallop gratin and a cold foie gras plate.  We were then served a nice salad of greens, beets, lentils and warm goat cheese.

One of the reasons I chose Colvin Run this year (aside from the fact that we have several of THOSE suburbanites who only like to venture into the city for a kid's field trip to the zoo) was that they allowed the private room to order off the full menu, rather than a limited one.  Many in our group chose the carving tray - a Flintstone sized piece of rare prime rib served with a horseradish sauce, mushrooms, potatoes and yorkshire pudding.  The cornmeal crusted flounder was antoher popular choice (I really liked this at last year's restaurant week).  I had a rich combo of pork rib roast with an apple butter glaze, roasted apples and a country ham spoonbread.  Everything worked well together.  I am sometimes leery of fruit/meat combos, but the apple butter was savory enough to play well with the perfectly, just-cooked through pork.

Most of the table whimped out on dessert, but I went for a warm pecan tart with maple ice cream.  Thin, so it wasn't cloying with sugar but still rich and sweet - just like I like my desserts.  With a spun maple candy and cookie garnish it might have been the highlight for me.

Overall I think this place deserves to be mentioned more in that high second tier of restaurants in the area.  It is a professional kitchen with solid service and a nice set of rooms.  It's not going to blow you away with its creativity, but it will make you appreciate a well executed meal.

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I just had the most serene RW experience sitting at the bar at Colvin Run Tavern. I wish lunch could be like this every day.

I was the only person at the bar at noon and had a pleasant (although quite wintry) meal of seared scallops with corn sauce, chanterelles and some sort of pork, a grilled short rib with rasted potatoes, snap peas and a garlic sauce and a strawberry crisp with stawberry ice cream. Two glasses of wine plus a few sample pours from the bartender and it took all my willpower to make it back to my desk.

They were offering about six or seven options for each course and four or five desserts - many more summery than what I ordered, with the entrees heavily leaning towards seafood.

What do I like about Colvin Run? I don't think anything I've ever had there has really wowed me. But on the flipside, I don't remember ever being served anythng really bad either. For the most part, this is good, solid food cooked well. That's more than you'll get from a lot of places with a lot higher profiles.

They aren't reaching for the stars here, but what they are reaching for, they've been able to grab a hold of me every time.

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Had a pleasant RW experience there on Sat (and I thought I'd pretty much soured on the RW thing). There was a very extensive menu of 8-9 choices for first and second courses and about 5 desserts.

Ordered Salmon Tartare as a first course, but this was a mistake on my part. I was curious what they'd do with it, but it was basically just a quenelle of chopped salmon with chives and a couple slices of smoked salmon on the side. The other first courses at the table were much more interesting and tasty. However, the Cod with a Cracker Crust and Lobster-Sherry Butter I had as an entree was great. I forgot how good cod can be, and the lobster butter was fantastic ...and then a white peach crisp for dessert.

Great service and a tranquil (if somewhat sterile) setting. I kept checking with our server if it was ok that we were lingering a bit over wine and then coffee, but she assured us it was not a problem in the least.

Edited by cjsadler
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cjsadler said:
a tranquil (if somewhat sterile) setting. 

That is a good point. It is a bit sterile in that they are trying for a very traditional feel in a pretty new restaurant. Everything is very nice and clean and proper. But it does feel a little generic, without much character.

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That is a good point.  It is a bit sterile in that they are trying for a very traditional feel in a pretty new restaurant.  Everything is very nice and clean and proper.  But it does feel a little generic, without much character.

Isn't it true that the original concept was that each dining room (for those that haven't been, there are several separate rooms as satellites to the bar area) was supposed to have a different theme? E.G. a Cape Cod room, a hunting lodge room, etc. Didn't notice that last time I visited.

Edited by FunnyJohn
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Isn't it true that the original concept was that each dining room (for those that haven't been, there are several separate rooms as satellites to the bar area) was supposed to have a different theme? E.G. a Cape Cod room, a hunting lodge room, etc.  Didn't notice that last time I visited.

They still do from what I can tell, but it is all pretty subtle - not quite as in your face with the themes as, for example, Clyde's various locations.

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They still do from what I can tell, but it is all pretty subtle - not quite as in your face with the themes as, for example, Clyde's various locations.

Hmmm.... the room we were in had a wine press and a steer's skull. Not quite sure what the theme was there.

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...I've been to Kinkead's twice in the past month and have had good meals both times... Goes to show one thing:  as long as things aren't fundamentally flawed to begin with, improvements can be made in a matter of weeks or months.  (On the other hand, the loss of one key person can result in overnight slippage, depending on the setup.)

And speaking of slippage, dilution and musical chairs, Colvin Run Tavern has gone downhill faster than Franz Klammer at Innsbruck in 1976.

Is there any sibling rivalry between Kinkead's and Colvin Run Tavern these days? Maybe like the one in Reign Man.

Stop Cruisin, Start Dustin.

Rocks.

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I was there on Tuesday. Every restaurant week I go for a slgihtly longer than ususal lunch to Colvin Run's bar, as it is the only RW participant within reach of my Reston office. Unfortunately I thought RW was this week and, as apparently every other foodie in town knows, it is next week.

That said, I had a pleasant meal - better than Chili's or Champs, that's for sure.

Appetizer of cream of crab soup with a crab mousse "sandwich" - lots of large pieces of crab in the mild soup and a wonderfully light take on the "crab toast" you see on some Chinese take out menus. My entree was prosciutto wrapped salmon with saffron gnocchi, parsley sauce and ratatouille. If it sounds like there was a lot going on on that plate - there was. The gnocchi were a few steps short of etherial and the parsley sauce could have used a little more chimichurri-like zing. But the fish was perfectly cooked and the ratatouille worked well with it.

My one criticism of Colvin Run is that it is the simple stuff they generally do the best and that when they get carried away it can be a little disappointing.

Either way I am going to go back for RW next week. $20 for three courses there is a great deal, even with one too many elements on the plate.

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Decided to hit up Colvin Run last night for restaurant week with a few friends. I've been to Colvin Run numerous times in the past, and have always had excellent service and excellent food. Though last night was rather bad.

Waitstaff - Service from the waitstaff was great. Waters were always filled. Wine was always refilled. No complaints, though the food came out very fast.

Wine/Alcohol - One guest ordered a martini. He said it was decent, but nothing special. We also ordered two bottles of wine. Markup was rather high. The pinot grigio we ordered retails for $12 (we paid $39) and the merlot we ordered retails for $9 (we paid $42). But hey, you gotta make money somewhere. Too bad you can't BYO in Virginia.

Food

Starters -

2 guests ordered the Salmon tartar starter. It was a drop of salmon tartar the size of a nickel, another nickel sized portion of smoked salmon, a drop of sour cream and a "tomato and cucumber salad" which was a piece of cucumber and a half of a cherry tomato. The portion was very small, but rather tasty. Both enjoyed it.

One guest ordered the chestnut pasta. It came out as a large plate of pasta and it had a large piece of confit of chicken and came topped with some onions and mushrooms. The portion was large for a starter and very tasty. My guest remarked that she would have liked it as a main course. I tasted it and it was quite flavorful. I'd recommend it.

One guest ordered the smoked duck starter - it looked like a nice sized portion. He cleaned his plate and said it was good.

I had the thai fried squid and papaya salad. The papaya salad was tasty. The squid itself, while a nice sized portion, was overcooked and gummy. I hate when restaurants overcook squid! The thai spicy sauce on the side was good though - very spicy.

Mains -

Two of us ordered the short ribs. The portion was pretty small. It came as a small short rib on the plate, 6 or 7 white beans, and a little piece of green veggie (I think it was endive or something) that was terribly bitter. My short rib was warm, my guests was cold and he sent it back to get heated. He was rather angered at this. The short rib itself was not cooked very well. Generally, you order short ribs and the meat is falling off the bone. Here, it was chewy and seemed as if it needed to be cooked longer.

One guest ordered the pork loin. It was good, somewhat flavorful. No wow factor here, but it was tasty. Portion size was reasonable.

Two guests ordered the duck confit. This was a nice leg of the duck, came with some chinese sauce and some pancakes and some asian slaw. It was supposedly pretty good (I didn't get to try).

Deserts -

3 of us ordered the warm chocolate cake with the vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was very good and the cake was delicious. Two of the guests ordered the miroir of passion fruit which was superb as well.

Overall, the food was ok. Nothing special. Portions varied from tiny to good sized portions. In all honesty, most of the food tasted pre-made and reheated, as if it was pre-plated that afternoon. None of my guests or myself were really impressed at all, and this meal did not compare to any of the past meals i've had at Colvin Run.

The Grand Finale-

To finish up the mediocre meal, we received our check. Instantly, our guests eyes lit up - $13 for a mediocre martini - is this a joke? (To give some quick background - my guests were from NYC and are used to very high alcohol prices but they found this to be absurd. $13 for a martini at Eve is one thing, but for a half assed drink its quite a lot). My guest asked to speak to the manager of the restaurant and said, "is this correct? $13?" The manager said yes - that is market price in Northern Virginia. I laughed. Then the manager continued - that is high quality vodka - 3.5 ounces of it - thats a good price. My guest laughed. I laughed. Then my other guest said, oh yeah, my food was cold. He continued, our meal was just not that good. The managers response - "this is restaurant week - dinners at Colvin Run are normally $75 a person - what do you expect? I think this was a pretty good value for $30" We were stunned. Someone's manager was clearly not a graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. My guest deicded not to pursue talking to the manager any longer and they paid the bill and we left.

Based on my experience, I don't think i'll be back in the future. The managers behavior was rather stunning. Maybe we were wrong for questioning the drink charge or mentioning the cold food to the manager. But her handling of the situation was absurd.

Well anyway - another restaurant tonight. I think we can only go up from here.

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Overall, the food was ok. Nothing special. Portions varied from tiny to good sized portions. In all honesty, most of the food tasted pre-made and reheated, as if it was pre-plated that afternoon. None of my guests or myself were really impressed at all, and this meal did not compare to any of the past meals i've had at Colvin Run.

The Grand Finale-

.... Then my other guest said, oh yeah, my food was cold. He continued, our meal was just not that good. ....

Based on my experience, I don't think i'll be back in the future. The managers behavior was rather stunning. Maybe we were wrong for questioning the drink charge or mentioning the cold food to the manager. But her handling of the situation was absurd.

Well anyway - another restaurant tonight. I think we can only go up from here.

Wow. Speaking as someone who has no problem speaking her mind at a restaurant, I am stunned. Seriously. Your review indicates that there were no substantive complaints about the food during the course of the meal and then a check arrived and one of your guests was shocked and irritated at the cost of a martini. I'd be irked too but according to your comments a stink was raised and unrelated issues were brought up that had not been brought up during the course of the meal when they could have been corrected.

Recently I went to Corduroy for a HH. I ordered high end cocktails. I was shocked and disappointed when the bill arrived and my drinks were expensive. But the person I was upset with was me because I obviously don't understand how to order at HH!

Nothing in your review would sway me from going to Colvin Run.

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Decided to hit up Colvin Run last night for restaurant week with a few friends. I've been to Colvin Run numerous times in the past, and have always had excellent service and excellent food. Though last night was rather bad.

Food

Starters -

The portion was very small, but rather tasty. Both enjoyed it.

I tasted it and it was quite flavorful. I'd recommend it.

He cleaned his plate and said it was good.

Mains -

One guest ordered the pork loin. It was good, somewhat flavorful. No wow factor here, but it was tasty. Portion size was reasonable.

Two guests ordered the duck confit. This was a nice leg of the duck, came with some chinese sauce and some pancakes and some asian slaw. It was supposedly pretty good (I didn't get to try).

Deserts -

3 of us ordered the warm chocolate cake with the vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was very good and the cake was delicious. Two of the guests ordered the miroir of passion fruit which was superb as well.

Overall, the food was ok. Nothing special. Portions varied from tiny to good sized portions. In all honesty, most of the food tasted pre-made and reheated, as if it was pre-plated that afternoon. None of my guests or myself were really impressed at all, and this meal did not compare to any of the past meals i've had at Colvin Run.

Hmm. Really nothing in your review supports the final assessment, which I have to think is driven by your reaction to the alcohol prices. You've dined at Colvin Run before, did you not drink then, so these prices were a surprise? When you describe a meal as you did above, and have two dishes that you didn't enjoy, why not raise that issue at the time. There is little in your post to support the conclusion that most of the food tasted pre-made and reheated. As NCPinDC said, there's really nothing here to turn one off from Colvin Run.
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My guest asked to speak to the manager of the restaurant and said, "is this correct? $13?" The manager said yes - that is market price in Northern Virginia. I laughed. Then the manager continued - that is high quality vodka - 3.5 ounces of it - thats a good price. My guest laughed. I laughed. Then my other guest said, oh yeah, my food was cold. He continued, our meal was just not that good. The managers response - "this is restaurant week - dinners at Colvin Run are normally $75 a person - what do you expect? I think this was a pretty good value for $30" We were stunned. Someone's manager was clearly not a graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. My guest deicded not to pursue talking to the manager any longer and they paid the bill and we left.
The manager does not seem to be the one acting rudely in this situation. It is unclear what you wanted him/her to say.
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Nothing in your review would sway me from going to Colvin Run.

Other than the very high prices in wine ($33 markup on a $9 bottle of wine is a bit much, regardless of storage costs, etc.), the short ribs that were both cold for one person as well as not cooked long enough, the tiny salmon tartare, and the evidently not all that friendly manager? If I really wanted to go it wouldn't make me not go, but it certainly doesn't make me rush to get back to Colvin Run. I went once a couple years ago and my experience was similar. The exact details have been long since forgotten (which is why I've never posted anything as it occured prior to my joining here) but I do remember what seemed like high wine prices and food that just didn't wow me at all.

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Other than the very high prices in wine ($33 markup on a $9 bottle of wine is a bit much, regardless of storage costs, etc.), the short ribs that were both cold for one person as well as not cooked long enough, the tiny salmon tartare, and the evidently not all that friendly manager? If I really wanted to go it wouldn't make me not go, but it certainly doesn't make me rush to get back to Colvin Run. I went once a couple years ago and my experience was similar. The exact details have been long since forgotten (which is why I've never posted anything as it occured prior to my joining here) but I do remember what seemed like high wine prices and food that just didn't wow me at all.

It was merely my guests who were shocked with the alcohol prices. I personally could care less. I merely put the prices there for reference or whatnot. I always enjoy seeing how much one can mark up a $10 bottle of wine. Though not the top for a DC area restaurant (that goes to Capital Grille) I find it amusing.

I did find the managers reaction to be quite hilarious. I nearly pissed myself at her responses as did the neighboring tables. What should she have done? Said, yes that is the correct price. And she should have apologized for the cold food. Handling it as a professional would be expected. But when your dealing with my friends, feisty New Yorkers, its always exciting. The manager's tirade on how cheap all the diners are for packing her restaurant during RW was unecessary (especially considering my meal ended up being about $10 or 15 less than it would be on a non-RW night).

But anyhow, my final assesment of food being reheated is how I felt. The food was ok - varied from excellent to poor. If you were the one person who ordered the salmon and the duck, you had a great meal. if you were like me and ordered squid and a short rib, your meal was pretty bad. For a restaurant like this, everything should be good to superb in my opinion. Most of the food was cold to warm, none was hot - the whole meal had that air of a fancy wedding meal.

I personally won't be back anytime soon - too many very good restaurants in DC to spend my $$$ at than Colvin Run. Based on the food we had and my mediocre experiences at Kinkeads the past month or so, i'd be inclined to hint that Bob's restaurants are in a rut. But anyhow, enough of my rambling.

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Went for RW last Tuesday and had a great experience. Service was great and the food very good. They seemed well-prepared for the RW onslaught.

To start, I had the sun dried tomato and proscioutto (?) ravioli, which were packed with tomato flavor. My SO had the smoked duck appetizer, which he also enjoyed.

Mains were the duck confit for me and (drawing a complete blank). The duck had Asian accompaniments and a nicely-spiced sauce that had surprising heat. Meat just falling away from the bone, as it should be.

Desserts were the passion fruit mirroir for me and cheese plate for my SO. Both pleasant endings. Knowing it was RW, we didn't want to linger too long over coffee, but our waitress encouraged us to stay and relax as long as we wanted to. Although the restaurant was full, I believe they were on their last round of seatings (this is the suburbs, after all) and thus didn't have to turn our table.

I have to admit, the appetizer and dessert portions WERE small, but I was happy to leave the restaurant feeling content and not full-to-the-gills (like I felt after eating at Acadiana on Thursday night).

RW all month long at Colvin Run. I would definitely go back.

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News flash: I've just confirmed that Bob Kinkead's Colvin Run Tavern is likely to serve its last meal Sept. 1. "That's how it's looking," says general manager Julie Fiorino. She attributes the potential closure to "location and parking issues." According to Fiorino, CRT is going to relocate. ("Have any good spots in mind?" she asked me on the phone.)

I hope that the cooking improves at the new location.

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What do I like about Colvin Run? I don't think anything I've ever had there has really wowed me. But on the flipside, I don't remember ever being served anythng really bad either. For the most part, this is good, solid food cooked well.

This is a perfect description of the CRT experience, IMO. Unfortunately, for what they charged, I expected a lot better (in addition to the horrible location).

I would rather spend the same amount of money at Palena Cafe/Beck/Bistro at Eve and get a meal that's probably twice as good. The Tysons area, which is basically a bunch of mediocre chains and ethnic gems, desperately needs a place like that. I would be tempted to go all the time.

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Pool Boy said:
This place has been on my 'to go' list for a long time, but other places kept butting in ahead of it or I kept going to my favorites. And now I'll not make it there before it shutters. Hopefully they'll find a new home.

Other than the prime rib you really did not miss much.

Here's an idea, maybe Bob Kinkaid should just concentrate on making his namestake restaurant what it once was.

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Other than the prime rib you really did not miss much.

Here's an idea, maybe Bob Kinkaid should just concentrate on making his namestake restaurant what it once was.

Well, I guess that makes me feel better, but I have a wine buddy whose folks were regulars there and seemed to like it a lot. I guess I wanted the chance to make up my own mind is all. But honestly, while I like straying from my favorite places to seek out new ones, I find it hard to stray more and more because my favorites are favorites because they are so damn good and represent great values to boot.

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Pool Boy said:
Well, I guess that makes me feel better, but I have a wine buddy whose folks were regulars there and seemed to like it a lot.

You might trust your friend's palette, but are you sure you trust his parent's?

My real problem with Colvin Run Tavern is that they unnecessarily complicated every dish. There were so many components to each dish that it was hard to visualize it when you read the description. To make matters worse the more crap you load onto a plate the more chances the kitchen has to get something wrong, and that was my experience with this restaurant. The main ingredient was generally quite good, but the stuff around it suffered by comparison.

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