I just saw in the N&O that Bare Bones has closed. For better or worse, the only thing surprising to me about that was how long that took. One of the reasons noted in the article was the difficulty of running a 7,000 sq. foot restaurant space. I can certainly imagine that being the case. The place was positively huge and cavernous but I don't think the space got any bigger since it opened which sort of leaves me wondering what they (Eschelon) was thinking trying to do that. I will also say, the food and service left a lot to be desired in my few visits there, including one time for brunch recently where you basically couldn't order any bbq items, just stuff on a special brunch menu. OK, I get a chef wanting to do some special and different items but seemed strange that you would not offer any of your central menu items. While we're on that topic, I really want to like Eschelon's Cameron Bar and Grill. I like the space a lot but the food is just whelming at best. It was never stellar in my open but was far better when the North Ridge Pub folks first opened it. I really feel like they are just going through the motions sometimes. Do others feel the same? I think Eschelon might benefit from bringing in some fresh / outside consulting to revamp that restaurant as well. Also, something that has really annoyed me--why would you name yourself Eschelon rather than Upper Eschelon? I suspect there is some story or reason behind the name but without knowing what it is, the name seems a self-fulfilling prophecy for middling fare.
We had a chance to take some guests from Atlanta out on Saturday to Fox Liquor and then to Bida Manda. I got to say, I was a bit disappointed with both. Neither was bad or anything but they were not anything special. The cocktail from Fox in particular was completely forgettable compared to the two I had at relatively obscure restaurants (rather than craft cocktail bars) in DC recently. All of our dishes at Bida Manda were fine but they too seemed less inspired from prior dishes. Maybe they are just throwing more attention to the new brewery or maybe it was just me. In any event, thanks for letting me vent.