Near the end of my meal at Station 9, the slick new restaurant carved out of the old post office building on U Street NW, I felt something stabbing my ass. I lifted my right cheek and found this uncomfortable hunk of metal lying there on the booth seat. I had no idea how it got there, but it was the perfect symbol for my dinner.
I got screwed.
Even though the menu here reads like some corporate-approved list that you’d find at Ruby Tuesday or Chili’s, my wife, a friend, and I were determined to remain open-minded about the fare. We figured the proof was in the execution, not in the description, of the dishes. (Our generosity of spirit was harder than you might think, given that one appetizer was described as “Mo’ Rockin’ Beef Rolls.”)
My friend ordered “Big Bob’s Bass,” a head-on specimen whose skin was supposed to be cooked ’til “crispy” but was closer to the dry, weather-beaten texture of a Midwestern corn farmer’s face after a long, hot summer. The fish was chewy and tasted like…nothing. I ordered the barbecued spareribs almost as a dare. I really didn’t expect Carolina- or Memphis-quality pork ribs. But I also didn’t expect a plate of dehydrated bones with the sauce dried hard onto the meat like plaster. The kitchen’s attempt to hide its mistake under a fresh application of sauce was noble, but a failure just the same. They were, without a doubt, the worst ribs I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Only my wife’s sweet, meaty pan-seared scallops saved the dinner for complete disaster, but it still wasn’t enough for us to wonder what the hell Tom Sietsema was thinking. When you get screwed this bad—-the bass was $21, my ribs were $19—-you want others to feel your pain, too.