I have a good friend who lives in Georgetown and frequents Rachel's 1190. He's been telling me for some time now that I needed to check it out, so on the way back into town this evening I decided to give it a whirl.
My girlfriend and I arrived around 5:30 p.m. and were promptly seated by Rachel - the owner of the establishment - at a booth in the dining room. That the owner was actively engaged in hosting and seating was a pleasant surprise. She was quite affable, which gave both of us a wonderful first impression.
Unfortunately, the server who took over our table once Rachel departed was a tad on the slower side, service-wise, although polite. She took our order - Rachel had already taken and delivered our drink order - and we proceeded to wait. The appetizers that we ordered, consisting of fried green tomatoes and a cup of the soup of the day, did not come out together, and the tomatoes came out without silverware. They sat on the table for nearly ten minutes before silverware arrived with my soup. That was a bit disappointing, as they looked nice and we were both very hungry. The tomatoes were garnished with a rémoulade that was out of this world. The generous use of whole-grain mustard was the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the tomatoes.
The soup of the day was taco soup. I was expecting a bit more heat in it than was there, and I think that the chef perhaps got a bit carried away with the cumin. It was a bit overpowering, but not so much that it ruined the dish. I finished the bowl, and I don't regret it.
Our entrées arrived about when we expected them. My plate - the fish and chips - looked good. It consisted of one large battered filet of cod and, strangely enough, waffle fries. When I asked our server for malt vinegar, she brought me a small metal cup containing balsamic vinaigrette. I sent her back to recheck for the proper condiment, and she eventually returned with a bottle of malt vinegar. The cod turned out great, a perfect blend of crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. The waffle fries, however, lacked character. They had not been salted or otherwise seasoned in any way.
My girlfriend ordered the "1190 Club Sandwich." The turkey had been sliced thick, which was a nice touch, although it lacked seasoning and didn't have any real flavor of its own. The lettuce was fresh, and the thick-sliced bacon was a little on the chewy side. She only had a few bites of it, after which she let it sit on the plate and went back to nibbling on the tomatoes. She also had the fries, and ended up dipping them in some of the rémoulade left on the tomato plate. I followed her lead and had a few more fries with the same sauce. Great idea.
Rachel appeared at our table shortly after we stopped eating and asked us about our meal. She said that she had noticed that my girlfriend's sandwich hadn't been eaten, and asked if the sandwich was to her liking. Once my girlfriend expressed her dissatisfaction with the sandwich, Rachel offered to remove it from it the ticket. We did inform her that we loved the tomatoes and the rémoulade, and that I enjoyed the fish.
From a service standpoint, we had a mixed experience. Having managed front-of-house in the past, I understand that different servers have different temperaments. Our server was just not up-to-par with my expectations, and perhaps I am too picky. I will salute Rachel's hands-on involvement with her patrons. You will occasionally see front-of-house managers checking on tables in decent restaurants, but to have the owner seating people and taking drink orders was a nice surprise. It's obvious that she takes pride in her place of business. If her servers took the same type of ownership in their positions, our experience would have been a bit better, although they did acknowledge that they were a bit short-staffed that evening. We will most likely give Rachel's 1190 another shot. I think that when they're running on all cylinders that they could really do some great things.
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