Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Acacia Bistro: Nice Place in our neighborhood

Our good friend JP had returned to town from the wilds of San Francisco, where I hear it’s very hard to get a decent meal, so to celebrate we wandered down the hill to the newly-opened Acacia Bistro. We had been eyeing this place for about a month, intending to stop in, and heartened by the appearance of a decent place to eat within walking distance. The posted menu and wine list looked good and we were anxious to give it a try. In fact, we had given it a try a couple of weeks prior, with our friends Jeremy and Jen, but it turns out to be closed on Sundays, so we ended up at Buck’s Camping (about which see separate entry).

Anyhow, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way up front. The Washington Post writeup suggested that the owners, having changed concepts in mid-stream, had kind of run out of decorating money, and it shows, sort of. There are a lot of positives about the nice, clean looking, high ceilinged space. The big negative are the large plate glass windows overlooking a less than scenic corner of Connecticut Avenue – the space used to be a Schlottsky’s Deli and it still has a bit of that feel. Some kind of window treatment would do wonders.

The other negatives are that the tables are too small and the placemats are terrible. Well, that may seem like a minor thing to complain about but they tend to bunch up under the plates. We ended up rolling them up and sticking them on the spare chair. The tables, as I said, are too small for a place that specializes in small plates. What I find is with small plates, you end up with a lot of them and there was way too much balancing and shuffling going on.

The upside is that the food is very good and reasonably priced. There is a large portion of the menu devoted to flatbreads (basically, pizza). I didn’t think this was the most successful part of the meal as the pizza was a bit doughy and perhaps just a little underbaked. But the other dishes were terrific. I don’t remember all of them, but Turkish meatballs stands out [more] There is also a very interesting, well organized, and remarkably reasonably priced wine list. Of the perhaps 30 or selections, the vast majority were in the $30-35 range which is extremely fair these days. We started with a bottle of central California chardonnay –Santa Teresa Valley if I remember right – which was crisp and clean in the French style. JP and I moved on to a red from the Douro region which was very pleasant, earthy and gutsy in kind of a Spanish style without the dustiness and austerity that Spanish reds often exhibit.

The bill was very reasonable, just over $100 if I remember right and this was with two bottles of wine! Service was good if perhaps just a little over-solicitous…perhaps the waiter didn’t have enough to do.

Acacia also has what appears to be very generous happy hour specials (happy hour is from 430 to 8!) for people sitting at the bar, and I will have to check those out one day.

This is not the fanciest restaurant in the world, or the most perfect, but it is just the kind of friendly, interesting, reasonably priced, honest place that we all wish we had in our neighborhood. Now we do. Let's hope it makes it.

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