Saturday, May 16, 2009

Darlington House

Continuing the "walking to Dupont Circle for dinner" theme, we checked out Darlington House. It is next door to the aforementioned Zorba's Cafe and serves Italian fare in a neat old rowhouse. The restaurant is split into a more casual Cantina at the street level and an upscale dining room in the upper level. After reading negative reviews of the Cantina on Yelp, we opted for the dining room.

In The House

The first thing that stood out was that we were seated next to a giant column and our waiter had to poke his head around the column to talk to us. It made for a difficult situation since the dining room is very loud and our waiter had a thick accent. After we ordered and waited for our food, an older customer was standing next to our table speaking with a man who I think was one of the owners. The customer looked at our table and the table next to us and complained to the owner that "people in Washington are not sophisticated and they don't know good food." The owner nodded in agreement, which was off-putting and made us feel unwelcome. Was the food good enough to salvage the experience?

The Kitchen

We each ordered a glass of wine and started off with a cheese plate (fruit, gorgonzola, parmigiano, goat cheese, brie, honey, nuts). The selection of items on the plate was interesting and they complemented each other well.

For the main course I had Capellaci stuffed with lobster and mushrooms in a pink cream sauce. The capellaci were basically jumbo ravioli and they were packed full of lobster meat.

On the waiter's recommendation B ordered the veal scaloppini with marsala wine, sauteed zucchini, fingerling potatoes. It was a very small serving and I don't think B was particularly impressed.

For dessert we ordered the famous donut holes served in a brown paper bag with rich chocolate and caramel dipping sauces on the side. These were very memorable and I loved the presentation. It was a simple and delicious dessert.

Overall I liked Darlington House but I wasn't overwhelmed. It was a solid meal but the service was odd and the dining room noise level made conversation difficult.

Second Thoughts from B

J is right that I was not particularly impressed with my veal. Then again, maybe I'm just another unsophisticated Washingtonian who doesn't know good food...

What I do know is that after a couple of weeks it is pretty hard to remember many details from our evening at Darlington House. Thinking back, here's what pops into my mind - neat space but oddly put together and rather dark (as seen in the picture quality), a waiter that got too close and had awful breath, a cramped table, and somewhat pricey dishes that I have a hard time remembering (to be fair, the dessert was wonderful now that I think of it, but it certainly wasn't front of mind). It was by no means a bad night, but just the fact that it took us this long to blog about Darlington House illustrates our lack of enthusiasm for our experience. For me, I've had the pleasure of many memorable meals but this was not one of them.
Darlington House on Urbanspoon

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