The only reason I went to PS7’s in the first place was because when I heard it was named after the chef Peter Smith, I was tickled that I had a very brilliant, serious professor with the same name. I looked at the web site to make sure he wasn’t leading a double life as a fabulous chef, and thought the menu looked interesting—okay fine, I wanted the hot dogs. The following describes my experiences at the restaurant—one during Restaurant Week, and one a few months before. Enjoy the discrepancies.
Part 1--PS7’s On Any Old Regular Kinda Day
We may have been the only people in the restaurant, and we weren’t even inside. On a gorgeous not-too-hot summer afternoon, we sat outside and enjoyed some quality people-watching in Chinatown.
J went for the steak and potatoes, a little heavy for my lunch tastes but perfect for him. According to him, his steak was better than the one he’d had earlier in the week at the District Chophouse. I went for the 4 little half-smokes, each sitting in a delicious homemade bun, arranged in an orderly fashion beside small containers of ketchup and mustard. My side of pomme frites was a perfect complement, and I felt that PS7’s had successfully reinvented the hot dog and fries of the picnics and barbecues we once knew. The half-smokes were juicy and flavorful, which was almost surprising—their small size could easily lead to overcooking.
Also, everything was piping hot! I LOVE my food either hot hot hot or cold, and lukewarm is NOT going to do it for me. Perhaps that’s why I eat so quickly…I truly heed the advice to “get it while it’s hot.”
Our service was impeccable—you never know when it’s empty if you’ll be smothered or ignored, but our server was friendly, funny, honest in his suggestions, and best of all he made sure our glasses of iced tea were full. After all, we were sitting outside. In DC. During the summer.
We didn't have appetizers or desserts because hey, it's lunch, and what do you think this is? Restaurant Week?!?! That's later.
PART 2, JUST AS IMPORTANT AS PART 1--PS7’s on Restaurant Week:
The restaurant was bustling. I was so excited to share with a friend the wonder I had discovered that is PS7’s, which I felt (at that moment) was underrated! I started with Sarah’s Salad, which the menu describes as containing strawberries, pine nuts, gouda, and pearl onions. The plate I received was embarrassingly large for the serving of salad that sat on it. Too much dressing, too little of what was touted by the menu. Some scrawny shaved gouda was on top of the salad, but I wish it was cubed. The salad lacked texture, which is funny because there were supposed to be pine nuts in it—crunchy, no? More like pine nut. Singular. Salad can be so delicious when it’s done right—all the ingredients were there (in theory), but the ratios were off, along with the temperature (not quite cold enough) and the amount of dressing. There's a different salad with the same initials I would have rather had, and it comes from a place that starts with a C and ends with an -osi.
M started with the risotto with chorizo, or something like that. It tasted all right to me, but to her (much more) sophisticated palate, it seemed undercooked. She said that in theory it seemed like a good idea on paper, but the execution was lacking something. I liked the smoky flavor, but otherwise didn’t think it was that special.
Next I got my seared scallops, asparagus, seared (and finely diced) tomato with plum vinaigrette. The golden color on top of the scallops was perfect, and the plating was pleasant to my eye. I LOVED the flavors introduced by the plum vinaigrette, sweetness really does it for me.
M wasn’t thrilled with her particular cut of lamb. It was okay, very peppery, but still good. It may not have been as disastrous if two things hadn’t gone wrong at this moment. One, her side order of potatoes never arrived, even when we’d been told they were “on their way.” Two, the supposed “rustic bread” that was to be served with her lamb was mysteriously missing from the plate. Neither of us would have realized #2 save for the fact that we still had our menus so we could contemplate dessert. Our waiter sort of looked at us like we were crazy when I inquired about the “rustic bread.” The potatoes, it turned out, had gone to the wrong table, and they were taken off the bill. Our iced teas never actually appeared on the bill…okay with us.
Dessert! Lemon cheesecake for M, the beignets for me. Beignets were definitely better, I thought. They were tasty either dry or with the strawberry sauce, but I didn’t care for the aftertaste from the chocolate sauce. It wasn’t creamy or thick enough to deserve to be paired with those little perfectly crisp doughnuts. The cheesecake was good, I really enjoyed the crispy little pieces of something—maybe shortbread?—and candied lemon rind (I think?) that sat on top of it, and the blueberry compote was good too. Nothing wrong with the cheesecake, I just liked the beignets better. Simple girl.
Our server was apologetic about the potatoes, and like I said, they were taken off the bill, but mistakes and annoyances like that can't help but put a damper on the meal. At one point, two women were leaving the restaurant, walking slowly, and 6 servers stared at them from the server station a few feet from our table. Was she famous? What was she doing? Who cares? All I know is, I don’t want 6 servers standing two feet from me all staring at someone. It’s awkward and makes diners uncomfortable. Didn’t their mothers collectively teach them not to stare? Also, it didn't seem like the servers knew what to do with themselves--I felt like saying, "Take me to your leader" but was sure there would be no leader. They lacked direction and seemed confused. It wasn't that crowded, and even if it was, you want to at least put forward the appearance of order.
Anyway, the food can be interesting and tasty, but while I entered thinking PS7’s should be The Next Big Thing, I left weirded out.
Being disappointed on Restaurant Week is like raaaaain on your wedding day, it's that freee riiiide when you already paid...
777 I Street NW
Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown