It seemed like a nice enough place. It's located at the corner of 14th and K (clever name huh?) in the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel and has a nice outdoor patio. I don't want to generalize and say that all hotel restaurants are bad. Farenheit at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown is outstanding. 14K, however, is a "hotel restaurant" in every sense. Its website boasts that it is recognized as one of the best restaurants "in all of Washington, DC." I really hope tourists don't read that and judge DC's restaurant scene based on this place.
"It started with you and didn't get better...."
In retrospect, we should have walked out. I don't know if it was our sense of journalistic responsibility that kept us waiting but I wish we hadn't. It started off badly and only got worse. When we arrived we saw a cluster of about a dozen people gathered around the host stand but no host.
After waiting a few minutes I noticed a manager-looking employee placing tablecloths on tables. He avoided eye contact with the line that was forming behind the host stand, so I decided to walk up to him and ask whether a host was available. Without looking at me he said, "I'm taking the people that are first." So....we waited longer.
After about 5 more minutes the manager disappeared and the growing crowd (now up to 18) started to get restless. We noticed the manager at the buffet line wiping down dishes. Again, I walked up to him and explained that he had a group of people waiting to be seated and that we didn't appreciate him ignoring us. Without eye contact or an apology he grumbled and walked over to the host stand to begin seating people.
We were finally seated by Mr. Friendly (his name was Ischwar) and our poor overworked waitress explained the menu and the buffet option and promptly disappeared for 10 minutes. We probably should have left at this point but we stuck it out. What followed was the most uninspired, uninteresting $19 brunch buffet I've ever experienced. We don't even have any pictures of the food because nothing was photo worthy. Well, I suppose I could have taken a snapshot of the silver dollar pancake that was so hard it could serve as a discus in the next Olympics... or maybe it was a discus in the last Olympics?
The bottom line is, the food was mediocre at best and the service was terrible. I had to threaten to leave twice before we were able to get the check. I finally said "I'm leaving if we don't see the check right now." On the way out the door we came across our buddy Ischwar and I explained how disappointing the experience was. I said "Well, it started with you and didn't get better." He didn't apologize but instead said it was "one of those days." Well Ischwar, I'm sorry you were having one of those sorts of days but I'd rather eat an actual discus than have to deal with your restaurant again.
Second Thoughts from B
As J and I walked home, all we could do was laugh at the absurdity of the situation. The conversation went like this:
B: "You know, I've been thinking about it pretty hard and I can't come up with a single redeeming thing about that place."
J: "Well, at least it is over."
I think that about sums it up. 14K was tremendously understaffed with less than Employee of the Month quality people. For a place whose signature item was the breakfast buffet (so said the waitress during our brief moments with her), meaning that most of the guests are serving themselves, I don't understand how they could struggle so monumentally.