Monday, February 6, 2012

Where to Eat: Little Fountain Cafe

Spurred on by a LivingSocial $20-for-$40 coupon, my intrepid gentleman caller and I made the chilly trek to the scant-parking and scant-clothing Mecca that is Adams Morgan on Saturday night to check out a new restaurant: Little Fountain Cafe.

Now, by "new," I mean new to me, as I'd never heard of the place before the coupon popped up in my email inbox. But as it turns out, I'd walked past it a million times before without ever realizing it.
Yes, folks, the diminutive restaurant ("Little" is apropos, as it only seats 38 guests at a time) is in the English basement right next door to Jumbo Slice:

If you've spent any amount of time in Adams Morgan (and if you're reading this, I'm assuming you have), you're probably more accustomed to watching a huge group of girls teetering down the street in six-inch heels and all manner of drunken discombobulatedness happening once the clock strikes last call. Surely, it's the last place you'd ever go for a romantic dinner a deux.

But that's just what Little Fountain Cafe provides, with its warm, cozy interior and internationally minded menu.

My man and I got non-alcoholic drinks (you'll see why I'm making this note in a minute) and appetizer salads, then he had the beef tenderloin and I had the gnocchi. We split the dark chocolate torte for dessert. Our total bill, pre-LivingSocial discount, came to about $70.

$70 for two people -- No. Alcohol. Added.

That struck me as a bit steep for the following reasons:

1. The salads weren't properly cut

So, you know how when you go to the grocery store and buy a head of Romaine lettuce, the lettuce comes in these giant leaves that you pull from the whole stalk? That's what made up our salads. And when you get served giant lettuce leaves with dressing all over them, it becomes super awkward to cut/eat at the table. Dressing flies all over the place, no matter how dainty you are with a knife and fork.

For $7 a salad, can't y'all back in the kitchen spend 2 extra seconds cutting it up for me? I'm not saying I'm a baby and I need things in bite-size morsels so I don't choke, but come on.

2. The server wasn't properly attired

The LivingSocial deal expired on Sunday, so the restaurant had been swarmed with people trying to use it before the deal was off. For this reason, I'm giving our server a pass for being a bit frazzled/not as quick to take our order and refill things as I'd have liked.

But, with that note, a caveat: Our server, who definitely was working hard and was as friendly as friendly could be (just want to make sure that's out there so I'm being fair), was wearing a gray T-shirt and jeans. In a romantic, Europe-inspired setting.

Not that she needed to be wearing a tux with full tails or anything, but for a place that's serving dinner for two sans alcohol  for $70, couldn't she have classed it up a bit? I didn't feel like I was in Europe; I felt like I was being picked up by my mom for soccer practice. She was surely setting our meals down then jetting out the door to pull the minivan around.

Other than that, the entrees were rich and filling, though I've had better chocolate tortes (this one wasn't as dense as other chocolate tortes I've had in the past).

So, to summarize: Good -- not excellent -- food, a steep price tag and a too-casual server. With that criteria, you'd think I'd be quick to dismiss this place altogether as somewhere I'll never return. But the interior was just so cozy and charming that I'm willing to give Little Fountain Cafe another shot to impress me.

Next time, though, I'm taking my mother -- she usually makes our meals together her treat.

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