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Washington DC & Baltimore

Willow - an off night? (Feb.2014)


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Restaurants & Bars Washington DC & Baltimore

Willow - an off night? (Feb.2014)

Just Visiting | | Feb 8, 2014 09:25 AM

We've been fans of Willow for years though don't get there as often as we'd like. Last night, we had to run an errand in Ballston so we walked in hoping they would have a table. They had many. At about 7. That alone was odd. The bar area was full but the restaurant not so. The very soft dinner rolls were warm but without flavor. They needed salt. And that's coming from someone who is hypersensitive to salt and finds restaurant food to be too salty. We were told fairly quickly that they were out of two of the dishes - the Coquille St. Jacques, because they had no scallops and some other dish. They were offering substitutes that were basically the same preparations but without the key seafood item, using other seafood in its place. Not a problem. We had already decided to try one of the flatbreads. We also decided to split a salad as the waiter told us they were quite large, and indeed one was enough for two people. Now this is a pet peeve, but Caesar salad is not anything you feel like throwing on top of romaine. This was a very good salad of crisp romaine and it had excellent anchovies. Can't comment on the croutons as I don't like croutons. These looked large ordinary croutons. But the salad also featured raddichio and smoked gouda. Look, it was a very good salad but it wasn't a Caesar. Again just a pet peeve. I'm sure there are many people out there who want to take issue with me. Consider it taken. Don't waste your electrons. The flatbread was quite good. We had the clams casino and really enjoyed. Now for the truly off part. The dessert. Willow is known for its pastries. So how did we end up with a piece of the weirdest, very not-good carrot cake I've ever tasted? It had a burnt taste, it was dry and very dense. It had no flavor of carrots. It was topped with caramel (did nothing at all for the cake -it was just a jarring sweetness) and surrounded by a pool of creme anglaise. The frosting was bizarre. It had an odd consistency and not one whiff of cream cheese even though we were told it was a cream cheese frosting. The waiter was surprised we hadn't eaten it all and when we told him why, he took it off the tab even though we hadn't asked. He told us that the next cake up on the rotation was German chocolate, which he described as dark chocolate. Huh? Well, we almost never eat dessert anyway, but given that Willow is known for its in-house desserts, we made an exception in this case and were really disappointed. By the way, even when we left, there were still plenty of empty tables. And finally, I do wish they'd get rid of the wood flooring that leads to the back of the restaurant. All through the meal, clunk, clunk, clunk as women with high heels walked in or to the loo.

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