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Rosemary's Thyme Bistro


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Rosemary's Thyme Bistro in Centreville later (9:00 PM) on Friday night. We were in the area, wanted to eat outside and realized that our options were limited, so we decided to check it out since we had a few pretty good lunches there in the past.

We walked into the front and noticed that it was about 2/3 full, probably a bit more crowded than I would expect at that time of night, but it was so damn nice on Friday, that it seemed that people were taking advantage of it. No hostess at the front for about 7 or 8 minutes and when she arrived, she didn't greet us or say hello, she simply said, "We are unable to seat you at this time." When I asked why, she said that the kitchen was backed up and they wouldn't seat anyone. I then asked, "Well, how about we just sit down and order some drinks?" She left the hostess stand, ran back to the manager and came back a few minutes later with this answer, "You can sit down and order drinks, but you are not allowed to order food for 30 minutes."

Has anyone, ever, come across something like this?

First, how could you attempt turn someone away at the door like that, especially if about 1/3 of your seats are open? You may warn the customer, "It has been very busy tonight and food has been coming out slowly, but we will do our best to get you your food as soon as possible."

Second, even if the customer is somehow considering the idea of sitting down just to drink (we were not very hungry at the time), how could you even hesitate for one second? And, how can you tell them that they are not allowed to even order food for 30 minutes?

Am I crazy here!?

We kind of laughed it off, started to walk away when a server from outside was walking in, told us to take a seat outside and he would take care of us. We sat down outside, he brought us menus, took our drink order, brought our drinks out, took our food order, brought the food out to us (about 20 minutes after ordering) and we were able to enjoy our night.

Obviously, the hostess and manager were in complete meltdown mode, but luckily for them they had a calm server that was able to handle the situation with ease. Good for him, but shame on the others working there that night, I can't imagine handling it any more poorly than they did.

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I have only been to the Centreville location, so I can only speak to that. The food has always been pretty good, nothing great, but solid for Centreville. I have always noticed that when you stay simple, the food tastes a bit better, I have tried some of their more creative dshes and they have been misses for me. On Friday night we had a pide and a basic bolognese, both were good.

I wish that they had a better wine list because I like to drink freakin wine with dinner, but also because their drinks tend to be weak.

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How's the food?

i've eaten here several times- it's just down the road from my office at Carfax and the serivce can be slow and spotty but i've found the food to be worth the wait. their soups are hearty, the pide are really creative and full of flavor.

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Has anyone, ever, come across something like this?

i forget the name of the restaurant, it was in bethesda down the block across the street from where rio grande used to be located and served american food tom sietsema liked, but we were there one night and they were running so far behind that a couple of hours before their usual closing time they started telling people coming to the door that they were closed and were unable to accommodate any more business. don't know what was going on behind the scenes, but it did happen.

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Has anyone, ever, come across something like this?

Sounds like the hostess had no idea what she was doing and I'd say it's possible she misunderstood what the manager told her to say.

Living behind Rosemary's, within easy walking distance, we used to go there quite often. (I say "used to" because our dining frequency has greatly decreased with three kids and one income.) Many nights before having kids, my wife and I would be walking through Giant and say, "Oh, forget it, let's just go to Rosemary's." There was one particular woman manager there who was always very kind to us and made a point of coming to talk to us when we were there. One time, she even held our young daughter and carried her around with her for about 20+ minutes while my wife and I ate dinner. I'm pretty sure she was part of the owning family, but I haven't seen her there in probably 3 years.

Anyway, to the food. I agree with others that the pides are good. I also like some of their rollas (wraps). I usually get the Rolla California. Pizzas and pastas tend to be good. The couple of kebabs I've had were decent. I ordered the NY strip once...yes, once. It was flavorless.

Oh, they also have a pretty good Saturday and Sunday brunch, although it's been a while since I've been.

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After seeing the promotion for Turkish Restaurant Week, we decided to give Rosemary's a try, having not visited here since it first opened--at $25 for four courses, we figured it was a safe bet. Food was . . . okay. Nothing special, nothing terrible. The appetizer platter was decent enough (cigar borek, stuffed grape leaves, feta, and baba ghanoush with a single chip). Salad--meh. Entrees--Manti (beef-stuffed dumplings in a tomato sauce and yogurt) had an odd mix of sweet and spicy, and Hünkar begendi (saucy pulled lamb on [barely noticeable] eggplant puree with beans and rice) were both okay. Baklava--seemingly microwaved--was dessert. Service was abysmally slow--over 2 hours to get through the meal--though the server finally told us toward the end that there was an oven problem.

The wait would have been intolerable if not for the unexpected entertainment of a couple sitting across from us. I couldn't tell what the man bought, but the woman had a pizza, of which she ate one slice, then spent the rest of the meal slowly dismantling the remaining pie with her fork, carefully removing all offending bits onto a plate, but not eating what she left. In the meantime, her date gave her food off his plate, which appeared identical to what she was removing from the pizza, all the time wearing a "WTF" expression on his face. since she totally ignored him during her meticulous deconstruction. At one point he gave me a look of hopeless desperation, as his companion's pizza was left in a disheveled heap of crust and cheese on its plate. I really hope that this was a Washington Post Date Lab experience, because I'd love to know what the hell that was all about. It almost made our disappointing experience worthwhile to witness this sort of behavior.

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Since we're within walking distance of the Clifton location, I'm not sure why I don't go more often. My daughter (6) and I were going out Saturday night and she picked Rosemary's. She loves their bread and pizza. I ordered my first lahmacun. I had never seen it on the menu before. Oddly enough, I happened to catch Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Turkey episode the other night and saw him eat one. I didn't realize I was ordering the same thing until they served my lahmacun with a side bowl of greens, onions, and a lemon. It was nice that I immediately knew exactly what to do with them. The lahmacun ($10.95) had minced lamb and various herbs and spices.

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