My boyfriend Eric took me on a date to National Harbor today to see two wonderful holiday exhibits there. (Those were Christmas on the Potomac and ICE — more on those in a later post.) After viewing ICE, we decided to eat lunch and settled on Ketchup, owned by celebrity-backed Dolce Restaurant Group. We knew little about it at the time – I’ve referenced their website and menu at http://www.dolcegroup.com/ketchup/ for this review – but we were enticed by the name and the Andy Warhol-like decor we could see through the windows. We could also see a family sitting and eating through the window on our way up the hill to ICE at 2:25 and they appeared to be close to done with their meal … and then we saw them again as we came back down a little past 3 p.m. and they were still there! It was an omen I chose to ignore for the moment. Silly me.
We went inside and were confused as to where we were supposed to go to be seated. We passed a large bar on our left and saw a couple standing by what appeared to be a hostess station at the far end. I was surprised the station wasn’t closer to the main entrance. The hostess appeared and told us it would be a moment. We were finally placed at the back of the restaurant; I was in a little red booth and Eric was across from me in a chair. Our table was unusually close to the table next to it, where a large family was seated.
Our waitress took a few minutes to appear. When we finally ordered, we placed our drink and meal orders at the same time. Our Diet Cokes took several minutes to come out and then the waitress had to wait at the bar for a while after that to get the Raspberry Mojito I’d already ordered with my soda. (I could see her standing there waiting on them to finish making it.) The Mojito was tasty enough, but not really worth the $12. We then began the wait for our food … a long, long, long wait. It was abysmally slow, but I could see that several other tables around us (seated before us) were also waiting. I don’t blame our waitress for this ridiculous slowness. She appeared to be the only one handling the entire (large) section and she was pleasant despite this. I suspect the restaurant didn’t plan well for this Thanksgiving weekend and probably had only one cook back there making the food.
A tall man dressed like a manager finally brought us our food with an apologetic tone, and then a third person (a lady) who was either a manager or a member of the waitstaff brought us ketchup. By this point, I think we’d been at the restaurant for at least 45 minutes.
I had ordered the Crab Salad Wrap ($13), which came in an “old bay” wrap and was supposed to have Maryland lump crabmeat (check), spinach leaves (check), hearts of palm (nope), tomatoes (nope — but who cares, I didn’t want them anyway and forgot to ask them to leave them off), and lemon herb vinaigrette (nope). I caught a taste of Old Bay seasoning here and there on the crab. By this point I was so hungry that I demolished almost the entire wrap without noticing. It wasn’t until we were waiting on the check that it suddenly occurred to me that the wrap was supposed to have more than just spinach and crab! (Now WHY exactly did THAT take so long? Put the spinach in the wrap! Put the crab in the wrap! Roll that mess up and serve!) Eric ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($13) which had banana peppers, herb mayo, spinach, and tomato, and he devoured the entire thing before I had even finished one half of my wrap. He says he thinks his sandwich had all of the ingredients. The wrap and the sandwich both came with “truffle fries” sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The fries were good enough, but the real joy was trying the ketchup. You see, what that third person brought us was a sampler of six different flavored ketchups: chipotle, raspberry, maple syrup, ranch, regular, and I forget what the sixth one was (barbecue?). It was fun to try them all and they were definitely all extremely delicious and unique — except the regular, of course.
By the time I realized my wrap was not up to par and the check arrived, we were so close to the starting time of the next attraction that we had to haul out of there and I decided not to bother complaining about the wrap. (I’d eaten most of the food, anyway!) I’d almost like to come back here sometime and try some more of the menu, but I’m really not sure it’s worth it, especially not with so many other fine restaurants right in the same development. Besides, I can probably make that crab wrap — the way it was meant to be made — right here at home.