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The Most Disappointing Meal(s) Local Dining Pros Slogged Through This Year

Taste the pain

The main dining room at Q by Peter Chang in Bethesda, Maryland.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

As per tradition, Eater asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Here are the biggest bummers of 2017.

Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper food editor:DCity Smokehouse.”

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post restaurant critic: “Everything I ate at the soulless Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, one of 10 casual, full-service brands I reviewed for a story on chain restaurants.”

Lori Gardner, Been There, Eaten That:Q by Peter Chang. I was so excited about the flagship opening in Bethesda, but found the best dishes to be those showcased in his previous restaurants, including the scallion bubble pancake and dry fried eggplant.”

David Hagedorn, Arlington Magazine/Bethesda Magazine dining columnist: “The food at the Outback Steakhouse in Bristol, Tennessee off of I-81 on Father’s Day was so bad it should have been held as evidence of first-degree patricide.”

Rina Rapuano, Zagat DC/freelance food writer:Nobu and Le DeSales.”

Don Rockwell, DC Dining:Himitsu followed by Tiger Fork (both were good, but the criterion was ‘disappointing’).”

Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor:Ashby Inn. It wasn't necessarily the worst meal I had in 2017, just the most disappointing (especially the vegetarian tasting menu) given expectations and price. For starters, when you trek out to a more rural destination like that, you expect the menu to be a reflection of the season and land around you. But there was enough kumquat, papaya, cucumber, and watermelon scattered throughout the winter menu that it lacked a sense of place. Another pet-peeve: deconstructed dishes that have too many components, making it impossible to orchestrate the right bite. It doesn't matter how artful a plate looks if it doesn't taste great.”

Tim Carman, Washington Post food writer: “Q by Peter Chang. I’d categorize this as my most disappointing meal in 2017, not because it was terrible, but because it offered little (other than price) to separate it from the more casual restaurants in Chang’s empire. I was expecting more polish with the cocktail program and more refined plating and presentations. Plus, the dining room was so bright; it didn’t feel intimate, and I want my so-called fine dining experiences to feel intimate.”

Stefanie Gans, Northern Virginia Magazine restaurant critic and dining editor:Bar Bao, Pamplona and the Ashby Inn & Restaurant.”

Nevin Martell, DC Modern Luxury dining editor: “An autumn dinner at Espita [Mezcaleria] was profoundly flawed from start to finish, though the creative cocktails helped soften the letdown.”

The Ashby Inn & Restaurant

692 Federal Street, Paris, VA 20130 540 592 3900 Visit Website

Espita Mezcaleria

1250 9th Street Northwest, , DC 20001 (202) 621-9695 Visit Website

Q by Peter Chang

4500 East-West Highway, , MD 20814 (240) 800-3722 Visit Website

DCity Smokehouse

8 Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 733-1919 Visit Website

Le DeSales

1725 Desales Street Northwest, , DC 20036 (202) 450-3998 Visit Website

Tiger Fork

Blagden Alley Northwest, , DC 20001 (202) 733-1152 Visit Website


3100 Clarendon Boulevard, , VA 22201 (703) 685-9950 Visit Website

Bar Bao

3100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, Va 22201 703-600-0500 Visit Website


828 Upshur St NW, Washington, D.C. 20011 (202) 288-6864 Visit Website