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Posted at 7:02 PM ET, 01/12/2010

Restaurant Week reviews: Tell us yours

By Julia Beizer

A gruyere-covered crouton bathes in The Greenhouse's roasted tomato soup. (Julia Beizer - The Washington Post)

Two days in, two Restaurant Week lunches under my belt. I have to say, this week's been looking pretty good for me. I've had some misses on food, but some major hits on service. And besides, I've had the opportunity to try out a few places my wallet would never let me explore on my own time -- and that's what this whole thing's supposed to be about anyway, right? Onto my reviews. Fill us in on your experiences in the comments. And don't forget, we're also collecting your dining pics in this gallery.

Steph and I felt like ladies who lunch as we strolled into the Greenhouse restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel yesterday afternoon. That's one of the perks of Restaurant Week: it gives you a reason to pretend you lead a life full of leisurely, three-course lunches. The hostess led us back to a table in a small room just off the Greenhouse's main dining room.

The all-glass ceiling shed cool noontime light on the black-and-white tiled floor, lending the room a winter-garden feel. Servers anticipated all of our needs and desires: courses were changed seamlessly, silverware swapped without a hitch and Steph's iced tea always full. It was like dining in a Jane Austen novel.

Our dishes were good, but not quite as stunningly executed. Our picks from the very limited Restaurant Week menu included a salmon tartare appetizer that looked divine -- dressed with frisee and slivers of red grapefruit -- but it was overpowered by the rather blah creme fraiche. A large cobb salad had promise, but ended up light on flavor. I found myself digging under my rockfish for the white-bean-and-ham jumble underneath; the accoutrement was much more entertaining than the dish's main event. Highlights included roasted tomato soup and an apple crumble dessert. In both, the rich flavors of the fruit were infused in every bite.

Cheesecake offered a sweet ending at J&G. (Julia Beizer - The Washington Post)

Another day, another hotel restaurant. I booked my Tuesday lunch at J&G Steakhouse, hoping to finally see for myself what all the good buzz was about. J&G is the perfect Restaurant Week spot for someone like me. It's pricey enough that the Restaurant Week deal -- especially the $20.10 lunch -- finally makes it within my reach. Our waiter tried to draw our attention towards J&G's other prix-fixe lunch menu -- a three-course for $28 that offered a few more options than the $20.10 menu -- but I didn't fall for his diversionary upsell tactic.

I didn't leave disappointed. As my colleague Tom Sietsema has noted, the space is gorgeous. Even on a gray day like today, bright light streams in through the windows. The room is spacious with oversize, yet tasteful, burgundy couches around sleek oval tables; even though it was busy, we never felt crowded.

My date started with the tuna tartare. By now, I've seen my share of variations on this app, but the gingery broth surrounding the starter set this one apart. Peppery arugula and gentle butter lettuce played tug-of-war in my salad; the generous dressing brought the disparate elements together.

There were a few misfires. Our medium rare hanger steak arrived rare. The promise of truffle vinaigrette piqued my interest in the salmon, but the truffle taste seemed to be absent from the finished dish. But these were easily overlooked. Delicate Brussels sprouts perked up the salmon, and velvety smooth mashed potatoes were welcome accessories on our entree plates.

Cheesecake led me out on a good note, leaving J&G in mind for a special occasion to come.

-- Julia Beizer

By Julia Beizer  | January 12, 2010; 7:02 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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I too decided to try J & G for a restaurant week lunch and was actually pretty dissapointed. As indicated the decor and atmospere was beautiful, but the food left a bit to be desired. The calamari on the restaurant week menu was greasy and tasteless, and I saw several other diners not eating it. I sent mine back for the tomato soup which was pretty standard at best. My lunch partner ordered the salmon and was sorely dissapointed at the gray matter that we were told was truffle sauce - it was actually terrible. I had the hanger steak which was well prepared, but I was encouraged to try it with the J & G Steaksauce which tasted like it is about 3 parts ketchup. I would never put heinz on a good steak, but that is what J & G seemed to be encouraging me to do. Finally, we both had the apple crisp - the apples were still crunchy and the crisp had no flavor. The best thing about the dessert was the small scoop of cinnamon ice cream. I had heard such great buzz and was expecting so much more. I hope other diners have a better experience.

Posted by: rasheedaj | January 13, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Restaurant Week coming on the heels of DC having just raised their parking fees? No thanks. We're boycotting the District this week for sure.

Posted by: Tobycat | January 13, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Tobycat, if you work in our fair city or consistently enjoy our cultural offerings like past Restaurant Weeks, you should contribute to keeping it beautiful.

Posted by: lucky4 | January 13, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Tobycat, are you serious? How often did you find a space anyways with the low parking fees? The higher parking fee is partly designed to make it easier to find a spot.

Posted by: mony1 | January 14, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed dinner at Ceiba and lunch at Tuscana West. Both were FABULOUS meals, although dessert at both was a little lacking. (The chocolate cake at Ceiba was so-so and the panna cotta at T.West was frozen.) Nonetheless, both were beautiful restaurants with outstanding service. Lunch at Tuscana West was one of the best meals I have had in a year -- the eggplant app and the salmon/crab meat entree were superb!

Posted by: lclcl33 | January 14, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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