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Restaurants & Bars 12

Charlie Palmer

Pappy | Jul 14, 2003 08:38 AM

Went Saturday night, 7:30 reservation.

Big place, very contemporary. High ceilings, squarish furniture in light green and slate blue, floor to ceiling windows looking out onto Constitution. Very nice white linens, quality silver and good crystal that is swapped out to match the wine (Reidel I believe, Joe). And I have to say, they're doing a heck of a good business. They easily turned every table (in the main dining room) on a Saturday night in July at what many would say was a pretty undesirable location for Saturday night traffic.

There were only two of so tastings were limited. My Corn Soup ($12) was perhaps, the single worst thing I've ever had in a restaurant. It was a bowl of bright yellow glue and devoid of any taste at all. The "avocado foam" did little to add flavor. My date's Salad ($9?) was unremarkable, over-dressed, and what was billed as pancetta was clearly Oscar Mayer bacon.

My Veal Chop ($33) and her Shell Steak on the Bone ($31) were both very good, excellent portions, and cooked exactly to medium rare as ordered. As they come unadorned, we ordered Fries ($8?) which were limp and vapid and Roasted Chanterelles ($12) which were small, dry and rubbery.

The Wine Steward helped me chose an excellent Pinot Noir from Williamette Valley ($76), though the name escapes me, from an enormous list of American wines from all over the country which included many names I did not recognize, many reserve bottlings, and every varietal produced.

Service was average at best. We seemed to have two head waiters, and I was never sure which one was the lead, plus that meant two people had to continually interupt conversation to ask if we were ready to order yet, how was everything, etc.

Obviously I'm not rushing back. I guess the Hill needed a place like this, the bar/lounge area should do well, but it's not worth my going out of the way for.

But there was one oddity. Despite, as I mentioned, one of the largest and most complete wine lists I've seen in this city, if I read correctly, CP's offer FREE corkage for American wines, and $25 for foreign bottles. I can not understand why any restaurant would allow corkage at all, but FREE? It makes no sense. Restaurants do two things, they 1) sell food, and 2) sell wine. Their profit margin is largely derived from the latter. They're not in the business of renting glasses. Certainly they would object to someone bringing their own food. Nor do I understand those who would take advantage of this and deprive a restaurant of it's opportunity to make money. The restaurant business is tough enough. Imagine, and I'm sure it happens, if a customer were to bring in a bottle that the restaurant has on it's list, simply because they could avoid the markup! Well hell! I'll just open a package store next door and all the patrons can run out before the food arrives, pick up a bottle of wine, and not pay CP's prices! That's crazy.

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