Lauren went a little Groupon-crazy for my visit to DC, and even though she doesn’t actually eat real food, she actually picked some pretty delicious restaurants. For the second of my three DC restaurant reviews, we visit Pound The Hill, this little coffee-house-slash-cafe-slash-tapas-slash-bistro-slash-I’m-not-really-sure-how-to-classify-them.
After looking at the menu, Lauren and I decided that we basically wanted all the appetizers. Luckily, we had 2 other people joining us, so we could do that without feeling like disgusting and terrible human beings (we literally ordered 7 appetizers, one entree, and 2 desserts to split). I’ll go ahead and go through the list of everything we ordered, although they seem to have changed the menu a bit since we went. First was the “Pan Seared Crab Cake,” all lump crab cake, red pepper aioli, mixed pepper. They did a really good job of having big pieces of crab only lightly held together with some bread. I hate when crab cakes come out and they taste more like crab-flavored bread balls. These were pretty good, especially with the red pepper aioili.
Next up was the Sweet Potato Gnocchi (cinnamon, sage, brown butter sauce), which were really, really good. I think this was one of my favorite things that we ordered. It was a good mix of sweet and savory, and I think all of the flavors really melded well together.
After the gnocchi was the Parmesan Herb Croquettes (crispy croquettes with aged parmesan, shallots, fresh herbs, paprika dijoinaise), which were also pretty good. I kind of was hoping for a little more, they weren’t really unique or outstanding in any way, but they were still good.
Next up, the Prime Rib Sliders (shaved dry aged prime rib, blue cheese spread, BBQ sauce, cucumber pepper salad). They changed the name on their menu online to “Beef BBQ Crostini” which is a way more appropriate description. When I think of a slider, I think of a mini sandwich of some kind. What we actually got was prime rib bruschetta. Not the same thing. It was pretty good, but I was too busy being disappointed in their presentation to really care about the taste.
Our next appetizer was the Fish “in” Chips (fresh cod fried in crunch potato chip crumbs, saffron lemon tartar sauce), which were interesting and surprisingly good. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, the way a good piece of fried fish should be. I don’t know that I would’ve liked them as much without the saffron lemon tartar sauce, though.
Next up was the menu item I had been looking forward to the most: The Bacon Tasting Plate (Benton’s couple smoked pork bacon, Tennessee wild boar bacon, New England mallard duck bacon, ancho chili maple dipping sauce). I’m not sure that I’d ever had boar before, let alone boar bacon (it’s the fatter piece), but it was delicious. I also really liked the duck bacon (darker, skinnier piece)…albeit I was the only one, but I thought it was really good with the chili maple dipping sauce. The pork bacon was really good too, but it was gone pretty fast between the 4 of us.
Following the bacon, we got the hummus of the day, which was a black bean hummus with arugula salad, sour cream, pico de gallo and pitas for dipping. It was good, but definitely not better than Dell’z Deli black bean hummus, which is the bomb.
The one entree we got was the Beef Tip Fondue (dry aged beef tender, pan seared onions, peppers, and mushrooms, creamy blue cheese sauce, arugula and chive salad), because that sounded delicious. It was another one of those cases where the name definitely did not match the dish that it belonged to. First of all, this wasn’t fondue at all. It was a cup of beef with a tiny dish of blue cheese sauce to dip it in. They changed the name on the online menu to “American Style Beef Stir Fry,” which is way more accurate. It was really good, but I would’ve loved more than a thimble full of bleu cheese sauce for my “fondue.”
Apparently they recently started using a new reservation service on their website, so they bribe you into using it by offering a free dessert with your reservation when you enter “dessert me” in the promo code box. Don’t expect your server to know this, however, because ours certainly didn’t. We had to remind her of it and then explain what it was before she had any idea what I was talking about. Our “free” dessert was the Warm Winter Apple and Pear crisp with spicy sea salted honey. I liked it ok, but thought that the apples were a little undercooked. Plus I think there was way more pear than apple in that crisp. Lauren liked it though, so I guess that counts for something.
Our second dessert, which I liked better, was Warm Spiced Doughnuts with powdered sugar. I think they tasted just like a funnel cake from the fair (read: delicious), but were really rich so I didn’t really eat more than one bite. Plus I’d eaten 7 other appetizers so I was kind of running out of room.
All in all, I’d say I had a pleasant experience at Pound The Hill. The one thing that really bothered me was that even though we had 4 people at the table, they kept bringing out our appetizers with only 2 or 3 servings each. Considering they ranged from like $8-$12 you’d think they would’ve been considerate enough to bring enough servings for the number of people at the table. Or at least specify on the menu how many servings each appetizer comes with. I get that it’s a little bistro/cafe/whatever, but still. If you’re going to have tables that seat 4 people, you should be prepared for that. Also, it was super pricey for the amount of food you actually got. Lauren kept saying that “that’s just DC, everything is expensive” but after 5 days there, Pound The Hill was the only place I thought was ridiculously overpriced, especially for such tiny portions.
Pound The Hill
621 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003