Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kora Restaurant

We ended up at Kora Restaurant in Crystal City thanks to a Village Vines deal that B will explain. The first thing we noticed upon entering Kora was this:

No, it wasn't early in the morning or after closing time. This was the scene at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday evening. Not a good sign.

Kora is located in the old Bebo Trattoria space on Crystal Drive. Some people have suggested that the space might be cursed given that Bebo generally had horrendous reviews for its service (we can vouch for this being true) and owner/chef Roberto Donna had that pesky little felony tax evasion issue. Chef Morou Ouattara is trying to erase any lingering memories of Bebo and bring his trattoria vision to life. Morou formerly ran the acclaimed FarrahOlivia (his take on American, African, and French cuisine) until it closed in 2009. He recently reopened FarrahOlivia for dinner on Wednesday through Saturday in a private room inside Kora. Perhaps all of the empty tables were the reason for the change, especially when Kora's neighbor, Jaleo, was packed to the gills.

While we have plans to check out FarrahOlivia, this night was focused on Kora. We thought that since only a few tables were occupied that we'd have great service. However, great is not a word I'd use to describe it. We waited a long time for everything and watched as servers stood chatting with each other in the dining room. I don't blame them completely, they were probably bored.

We shifted our focus away from the service and concentrated on the food. Imagine the perplexed looks on our faces when the Beet Salad (roasted beets, arugula, walnut, Gorgonzola, and orange) was placed in front of us. See any beets in there? Hidden under the pile of arugula were five very small beet chunks. While this salad was refreshing and tasty, I'd say "beet salad" is not an accurate description.

The Caesar salad, on the other hand, was taken from "eh" to "yay" by the focaccia croutons.

As a noodle lover, I was excited by the pasta tasting that allows you to select 3 of their pastas (but not the waiter-recommended lasagna) as your entree. The idea was so much better than the execution. First, it was ridiculous trying to eat pasta off of tiny flat plates. The watery sauces were sloshing all over the place and noodles were hanging off the edge. Second, I hate to say it, but the pastas were just not that good. The best of the bunch was the tortellini with butternut squash and saffron cream sauce, but even it was a little too pumpkin pie for my taste... and I love pumpkin pie! The spaghetti with homemade meatballs was not any better than our out-of-the-box version at home and the quinoa linguini with vegetables had almost no flavor. I usually will overlook the flaws of a dish and gobble it up anyway, but this pasta was so unexciting I found myself pushing it away after a couple of bites of each.

B listened to Tom Sietsema's review and ordered a pizza. He was the big winner. The shrimp, tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, and pineapple combination was a bit on the salty side from the mass of prosciutto but was balanced out well by the pineapple. The crust (benefiting from Bebo's old wood pizza oven) was crisp without being burned to death.

Was the pizza good enough to bring us back to Crystal City for another visit? Not when we have so many pizza favorites in the District calling our names. After our meal, I can't say I'm shocked by the empty tables.

Second Thoughts from B

I can't really argue with much of what J said. The food was inconsistent and never outstanding and the service was perplexingly inattentive. At least the delicious bread basket was lined with facts about Italy which made for good reading while we waited...

But you know what turns an OK dinner into a great evening out? A coupon, that's what. Want to hear the details? Are you sure? There is math is involved.

OK, you asked for it. Prepare your slide rules, because class is in session.

As you know, we're big fans of Groupon and their many competitors. Recently we found which features a special for Village Vines (not to be confused with Vineyard Vines and their Easter egg colored clothing). Village Vines allows you to dine at various restaurants for 30% off your total bill regardless of how many people are dining with you. The cost is a flat $10. To spare you the math, this means that you're saving money for all bills over $30. But who eats at nice restaurants for $30? More likely, if your bill is $60 like ours was, you've just saved $10.

But back to They are offering $100 credit at Village Vines for $40. In other words, now you're getting 30% off your total bill for $4 rather than $10. So now we are saving $16 off of that $60 bill.

Are you still with me? If so, see if you can follow this: Village Vines had a $2 reservation promotion this past weekend. With our purchase, we could make a reservation for $0.80. This means that on our $60 bill we saved $19.20!

I understand that for some (like J) this might be a hellishly confusing word problem that has haunted you since the 8th grade. If that's the case, just trust me, by combining these deals, we saved a lot of money. And since it is a percentage off, the nicer (and more expensive) places are the best bargains. There's nothing like a good coupon to rescue a not-so-good restaurant.

Third Thoughts From J

I'm not going to pretend I understand what B just wrote. I didn't get it the couple times he explained it to me as he was purchasing the coupons. I became a lawyer to avoid math and married B, in part, because he calculates all the tips for me. Now that you're convinced I'm an idiot, just take our word for it and check out and save some money.
Kora Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Mary said...

Hey guys! Love the new look!