Last Thursday night, I dined at Traga Cafe along with three friends as part of Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week. We arrived a few minutes before our 8 p.m. reservation and were left standing the cavernous lobby area for more than 5 minutes before someone (maitre d'?) came to greet us. The wait was probably a sign of bad things to come but we were optimistic.
Three of our party opted for the $30.05 prix fixe menu and I ordered off the regular dinner menu. The options were quite limited (3 hors d'oeuvres, 3 entrees and 1 dessert). Our waiter arrived to greet us, gave us menus and then disappeared. The waiter from the next table over finally found a wine list and eventually the maitre d'(?) came over to assist us. I have to admit - I am not an oenophile however the two of us selecting wine are somewhat familiar with wine lists and we DID NOT deserve the condescending attitude of the staff. ("Women, they like Zinfandel. You should get the Zinfandel.")
After 15 minutes, we finally placed our orders only to learn that several of the items on the special menu were not available. Our waiter disappeared (again) to find out what the substitutions might be. We ended up serving ourselves water.
I should note that our dinners were eventually served by yet another waiter. When we tried to flag down our own waiter for assistance, he said he'd be "right back" and we never saw him again until he tried to hustle us out of the restaurant by grabbing at the bill to see if we'd put money or a credit card in the folder.
At the end of the evening, I spoke with the maitre d'(?) about the poor service and he shrugged his shoulders. We gave the bare minimum of a tip to our "waiter" but ended up giving money to the nice guy who was waiting on the table next to us who ended up helping us most of the night.
From the RW Menu we tried:
Chestnut Soup (pasty, flavorless)
Roasted Red Peppers (decent but served with mushy tomatoes)
Mixed Greens Salad (it was mixed and green, so OK)
From the Main Menu I ordered:
Caprese Salad (good mozz, tasteless tomatoes, nice balsamic) $8.95
From the RW Menu we tried:
Salmon & Fetuccini (loved it - great mustard sauce)
Pollo a la Romana (both liked it - huge portion!)
From the Main Menu, I ordered:
Linguine ala Aragosta Napoli (whole lobster, shell removed. Lots of lobster meat but somewhat overcooked. Sauce was nice but boring.) $29.95
By 9:45 p.m., we were exhausted and ready to have a quick dessert and leave. Another waiter told us that the entire dessert menu was available as part of the RW menu so we tried the black current sorbet, Amaretto cake and tiramisu. The sorbet was good if too intensely flavored for more than one tiny bit. The last two were dull and we each had one bite and gave up. I can't comment on the coffee because we weren't offered any.
Overall? The food was acceptable but the entire menu is overpriced. The dining room was only half full and there seemed to be a dozen or more staff serving just 12 tables. I'm not sure what the problems were but they certainly overshadowed what could have been a pleasant meal. We won't return.
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