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Roger Troutman

Sabores and Sabores Lounge, Cleveland Park - Closed

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The Park Bench Pub has just reopened as Uptown Tavern. I'd never visited the downstairs part before, but it looks like they have done a lot of work to it. Lots of nice flat screen TVs around the room. There's an ancient-looking Foosball table in the corner (which earns them bonus points, in my book). The bar itself looks old but refinished. Good, reliable beers on tap --- Guinness, Bass, Yuengling, Sierra Nevada, Shiner Hefeweizen, and maybe a couple more. There's a small bar menu with appetizers and sandwiches. A very comfortable, cozy space that I look forward to frequenting this winter :lol:

The bartender I spoke to said that the upstairs pub on Ordway will be reopening eventually, but a lot of work has been necessary in order to bring it up to spec. Apparently, the downstairs area has been there for a long time. Is this the space that the "Club Soda" sign once belonged to?

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Apparently, the downstairs area has been there for a long time. Is this the space that the "Club Soda" sign once belonged to?

Yeah, that used to be Club Soda. Wow, did I have some drunken evenings there.

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The old owners of the Park Bench Pub also owned Bricks Pizza a few doors down Conn. Now Bricks is the Cleveland Park Grill or CP Grill. Anyone know if it's the same ownership as the Tavern. I used to go to the Park Bench on Sundays to watch football and the food was awful, barely edible. The brick oven pizza at CP seems to be pretty good though, and I can only hope that the upstairs at the Tavern will improve the food quality for Sundays.

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The old owners of the Park Bench Pub also owned Bricks Pizza a few doors down Conn. Now Bricks is the Cleveland Park Grill or CP Grill. Anyone know if it's the same ownership as the Tavern. I used to go to the Park Bench on Sundays to watch football and the food was awful, barely edible. The brick oven pizza at CP seems to be pretty good though, and I can only hope that the upstairs at the Tavern will improve the food quality for Sundays.

No, They are now independent bars,by different owners. The Park Bench Pub is now called Uptown Tavern and only the downstairs is open as he cannot legally open the outside structure due to zoning laws. My understanding is that he must rebuild the existing structure completely and attach it to the existing building, as the original permit did not allow a free standing structure, which it is now. The landlord, evidently,will not pay for this, and they are going round and round with regars to this. I'm not sure how he can survive given the limited business he has with only the downstairs open. Food is offered, but I've never been game.

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No, They are now independent bars,by different owners. The Park Bench Pub is now called Uptown Tavern and only the downstairs is open as he cannot legally open the outside structure due to zoning laws. My understanding is that he must rebuild the existing structure completely and attach it to the existing building, as the original permit did not allow a free standing structure, which it is now. The landlord, evidently,will not pay for this, and they are going round and round with regars to this. I'm not sure how he can survive given the limited business he has with only the downstairs open. Food is offered, but I've never been game.

Thanks, and by the way, as you undoubtedly already know, myself and my friends in the neighborhood (I live right up the block) are VERY happy that Dino is now a part of the community. My parents when they come to town always request that I take them there.

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The Park Bench Pub is now called Uptown Tavern and only the downstairs is open as he cannot legally open the outside structure due to zoning laws. My understanding is that he must rebuild the existing structure completely and attach it to the existing building, as the original permit did not allow a free standing structure, which it is now. The landlord, evidently,will not pay for this, and they are going round and round with regars to this. I'm not sure how he can survive given the limited business he has with only the downstairs open.

This is a big disappointment. The upstairs bar was such an inviting little space. Great for catching the game and throwing back a few beers after work. As I understand it, there were also some typical Cleveland Park NIMBYs from around the corner, complaining about the little outside patio area (which from what I could tell, never saw much use anyway). I wouldn't be surprised if that has had an effect on the status of the rest of the space. My guess is that it will all be torn down at some point in the future. :)

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No one has said a word about the new place on Ordway in Cleveland Park, huh?

I didn't realize there were any restaurants on Ordway. A bit more info please? Name? Type of cuisine? Description of facade?

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All I know is that it's in the overhauled Park Bench Pub space and that a glassed-in patio enclosure has been installed on the Ordway side.

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I've browsed the menu, but I haven't eaten there. It seems to be Spanish/South American. It's moderately priced and has been crowded every time I've walked past.

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A friend and I had dinner tonight at Sabores. This is a report of first impressions.

The good:

The bread and olive oil dip

The avocado and crab salad (though not well seasoned)

Mushroom quesadilla: I LOVE the version at Oyamel, doesn't compare but still good

The prices and portions!!

The average:

Veggie empanada (my friend said the one's at Julia's were much better)

Sangria (served room temperature with no ice)

The bad:

Olives marinated with pickled veggies

Lamb taquitos where the lamb had been shredded in the manner that pork is shredded for bbq. Um, lamb deserves to be treated better than shredding. Also, the green sauce was entirely too garlicky for Spanish cooking.

being out of scallops...

The menu is pretty small for a tapas/Spanish place. I had a hard time making a meal out of the small dishes.

I hope Sabores improves. I'll let someone else report to me if it has...

EDIT: The truth is that the green sauce on the lamb was so garlicky I had a headache. It has been a very long time since I had an allergic reaction to garlic. The lamb meat was chewy in a bad way. The plate was scorching hot yet the meat lukewarm.

Further disclosure... I am from Memphis... I think all meat deserves to be treated better than shredding and that includes Pork BBQ! :-)

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Lamb taquitos where the lamb had been shredded in the manner that pork is shredded for bbq. Um, lamb deserves to be treated better than shredding.

But did it taste good? Delicious shredded meat is delicious shredded meat in my book. And I question your placement of the ovine over the porcine in the culinary hierarchy :angry:

I had no idea this place was open, or even slated to open. I've probably walked or run by that corner 3 times in the past month and didn't notice a thing! Sounds like something worth exploring at least. Thanks for the early report.

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A friend and I had dinner tonight at Sabores. This is a report of first impressions.

The good:

The bread and olive oil dip

The avocado and crab salad (though not well seasoned)

Mushroom quesadilla: I LOVE the version at Oyamel, doesn't compare but still good

The prices and portions!!

The average:

Veggie empanada (my friend said the one's at Julia's were much better)

Sangria (served room temperature with no ice)

The bad:

Olives marinated with pickled veggies

Lamb taquitos where the lamb had been shredded in the manner that pork is shredded for bbq. Um, lamb deserves to be treated better than shredding. Also, the green sauce was entirely too garlicky for Spanish cooking.

being out of scallops...

The menu is pretty small for a tapas/Spanish place. I had a hard time making a meal out of the small dishes.

I hope Sabores improves. I'll let someone else report to me if it has...

The wine list sucks. The food is average (olives/pickled vegetables are boring, ceviche is good although listed as seafood it was all shrimp, the filling of the veggie empanadas was bad and the scallops were decent). Service was a joke, when I asked what gins were available at the bar, the server said 'we have every gin". I was tempted to order a Plymouth Navy Strength Martini, but I restrained myself.

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But did it taste good? Delicious shredded meat is delicious shredded meat in my book. And I question your placement of the ovine over the porcine in the culinary hierarchy :angry:

I had that dish as well and it was quite bland. Not much flavor to the lamb at all.

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I don´t think the wine list sucks, that´s pretty harsh. It´s comprised of moderate spanish wines from the Grapes of Spain guys, who always have a solid spanish wine portfolio. They may not have the high end wines, but definately not a list that sucks

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I don´t think the wine list sucks, that´s pretty harsh. It´s comprised of moderate spanish wines from the Grapes of Spain guys, who always have a solid spanish wine portfolio. They may not have the high end wines, but definately not a list that sucks

Well that is your opinion and you are entitled to it, but I stick by my claim. I am not a wine snob that needs a bunch of $$$ wines to be impressed, but when you have about six white offerings and three are chardonnay, I am not impressed. Give me a Godello or Txakoli to go along with your Chards and your one Albarino.

FYI, most of their reds are South American focused rather than Spain, IIRC.

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I can't say anything about the food or wine here, but it's got an absolutely gawdawful Web site.

I think it's great. Reminds me of an iphone. I guess some of the pictures could have better clarity before you highlight one, but I find it very creative.

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I think it's great. Reminds me of an iphone. I guess some of the pictures could have better clarity before you highlight one, but I find it very creative.
I also find it very creative. However, IMHO a restaurant website doesn't need a lot of creativity, especially not in the user interface. Rather a restaurant website should be about conveying the basic info on the menu, hours, location, etc in a quick and easy to use manner. That being said the design and color palate of a site should look appealing and reflect the tone of the place. Sabores goes alittle over the top with its iPhone like intro. My suggestion to all restaurant websites - there is no need for a flashy intro, people are already on your site and interested, just give users the info they seek.

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So any more dining reports than the very brief ones above? With all the glowing reports from his last place of employment I figured that there would be a rush to see what he is doing now.

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Went last week for first time. It is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The space is nice with its changing colors on the wall and open to the air (it has garage style doors when it is warm enough). The food was pretty good - some hits and some misses. We stuck to tapas, but the black bean soup and steak looked popular. I'd love to hear what others thought about those dishes.

The good: tomato salad with gazpacho vinagrette, lamb taquitos (lamb seemed stewed or braised along time and had lots of flavor), wild mushroom quesadilla with zippy lemony guacamole. The desserts: small dense chocolate cake with really good dulche de leche ice cream and their take on tiramisu which wasn't all that different but tasted more chocolate than coffee than usual, which I enjoyed.

The so-so: vegetarian empanadas - nice pastry and bright chopped chunks of vegetables, but it was calling out for some kind of sauce or liquid - too dry as is; patatas bravas - slices of potatos with a tomato-based sauce was ok, but the sauce needed some spices added.

The bad: side of saffron rice - blah very bland; escabeche and olives - nice pickeld onions and carrots, but the olives themselves weren't very good. I've had much better from the whole foods olive bar;

I wouldn't rush here, but it is a nice neighborhood spot and especially nice if it is a warm evening.

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Times flies. From Eve Zibart in this Friday's WaPo:

Only about five months old, it is already on its second chef, local hotel and restaurant veteran Francisco Vivar.

<snip>

What to avoid: Don't sit with your back to the glass doors on a cold night. Though there's no active draft, the cold travels by osmosis. (The chill affects a few of the dishes, although the kitchen tries to warm the plates.)

I wouldn't rush here, but it is a nice neighborhood spot and especially nice if it is a warm evening.
Sounds like multiple reasons not to rush until warmer weather.

ETA: Fact checking at WaPo circa 1972:

Ben Bradlee: Bernstein, are you sure on this story?

Carl Bernstein: Absolutely.

Ben Bradlee: Woodward?

Carl Bernstein: I'm sure.

Ben Bradlee: I'm not. It still seems thin.

Howard Simons: Get another source.

I hear the new chef search isn't final.

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Had a pretty nice meal here last night. Despite the change in chefs, the menu appears to be identical. The good: black bean soup with swirl of sour cream was a big portion which the 2 of us split leaving each of us with a large "cup" portion and wild mushroom quesadillas were really good. The so so: lamb taquitos are really braised lamb soft tacos which were ok but could use some more seasoning and beef empanadas had a nice crispy shell, but the beef lacked flavor. This is still a pretty nice setting with good prices for some items that are pretty generous portions - see the good items above and pretty heavy pours of wine. Happy to have them in the neighborhood, but they need to mx up the menu and add some more good options and get rid of the weak ones. Anyone else been lately and have good menu items to recommend?

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We had a thoroughly mediocre meal here last night. I started with the shrimp and crab soup (served with egg and cream), which turned out to be a bowl full of cream with whole shrimp and large hunks of crab and egg. It was very strange, as I was expecting more of a cream of crab soup, but the soup/cream was largely unseasoned, and there didn't seem to be any harmony between the hunks of seafood and the actual soup. My husband also ordered the serrano ham, which was a little dry and lacked flavor. For our entrees, my friend had the ropa vieja (shredded beef) which she mostly liked. I had the milanesa de carne, which was served with god-awful french fries (they tasted like they were frozen out of the bag). The beef itself was pretty good, but it was such a large portion of flattened beef that it took up more than half of the plate. My husband had the beef empanadas, which he found tasteless, but he enjoyed the patatas bravas, which were crispy and flavorful.

We won't be in hurry to rush back here, despite the wonderful little patio. Even our drinks--a capariniha, a margarita, and a mojito--were a little on the boring side.

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