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Restaurant Week always sounds like a magical opportunity. Twice a year, many of the city’s best restaurants open their doors to the plebeians who can’t normally afford their financially destabilizing fare. For $20, you get a three-course lunch. For $30, you get a three-course dinner. That’s three to four star dining on a half-star budget. Unfortunately, the experience doesn’t always live up to the hype. Servers and hostesses can be downright disrespectful to the invading middle-class masses. Some eateries only offer a few entree choices on their “special” menus and keep their best dishes at full price. You don’t need to be a professional eater to know that you’ve been gypped. This week, we’re breaking down our RW experiences for you.
The restaurant: Sushi-Ko, 2309 Wisconsin Ave. NW, (202) 333-4187
The usual menu: Sushi-Ko is known for having some of the freshest, most inventive sushi in the city. Until my lunch trip today, I’d never visited this intimite Glover Park restaurant. I expected a mix of classic and creative Japanese fare—not just your average teriyaki box.
The RW menu: In a word: sparse. There were only two options for each course. The first course offering was a miso soup with a choice of seaweed salad or the Sushi-Ko salad. The second course selections were shrimp & vegetable tempura or a sashimi appetizer. For the third course, diners could opt for either a ten piece sushi assortment or chicken teriyaki.
The sneaky little surcharges: The whole dining experience was barely tailored to Restaurant Week. The RW menu was on a printout with various other lunch specials. The waitress also dropped off a regular menu.
The total cost of my meal: 35.56. Yikes. What can I say? I wanted dessert. My minimal prior RW experiences mentally prepared me for a third course with something sweet. And I’m a sucker for those banana tempura desserts. Oh, and I also wanted some sake.
The condescension factor: Our waiter wasn’t condescending—she was harried. Midway through my bowl of miso soup, she took my spoon. I needed that spoon. There were a few moments like that.
Would you go back? Glover Park’s kind of a trek for car-less me. Everything I ate was tasty, but none of it was particularly memorable. I ordered the seaweed salad, the shrimp and veggie tempura and the sushi platter. Maybe Sushi-Ko just can’t afford to showcase its best dishes at Restaurant Week. Maybe, it should have/could have reached for a more impressive selection. Either way, I think my bucks could have been spent better elsewhere.