Wow, I’m just really disappointed. All of the other reviews that I read said such nice things about this place, and I was really excited to visit, but my experience was really not that interesting. If you’ve been in the basement of the German House before, you may agree that it’s really not a great venue for a restaurant. Some good photojournalism made me believe they had really spruced the place up, but there really weren’t very many changes to this space.
Beginning with my first contact, calling for a reservation, the gentleman who answered the phone just about laughed at me when I asked to reserve a table. Not knowing exactly how casual the place was, I thought I was being totally reasonable by reserving a table at 7:15 for a Friday night. Apparently, he had no expectations of packing the place out, and informed me that they only took reservations in half hour increments, but if I wanted to show up at 7:15 it would be totally fine.
Next, parking, difficult. There really isn’t that much room here. This is to be expected in the city, and I have no problem with it, I’m just letting you know.
The lighting is horrid. We sat in a booth along the wall. The can lights from the previous establishments are still in place and they are just so bad (actually, there are very few notable changes). They are all in the center of the room; so there is no lighting whatsoever over the booths that line the walls, which casts a huge shadow if you’re at a booth, and causes the place to look like exactly what it is – a poorly lit basement. At the same time, if you’re sitting in the middle of the room at a table, it’s very bright. I also have a very serious aversion to drop ceiling tiles. I don’t understand why we should stop considering aesthetics once we reach the tops of walls. In addition, while there was no music, there was a concert going on upstairs in the German House; so it was still quite loud in an indistinguishable base sort of way. This might be at the core of the problem with each attempt at this basement business over the years. It’s really just not a good place for a restaurant when that large of a distraction is taking place during the times when you are supposed to be doing the most business. I realize that many people will not be bothered by this, but if you are a stickler for atmosphere, this is not the place for you.
I ordered a cocktail which was called “the thistle.” I cannot complain at all about the size of this drink or the amount of alcohol it contained. It wasn’t as complex as the ingredient list led me to believe it would be, but I suspect this might have been due to the small and quick melting type of ice cubes used.
On to the dishes. We ordered a few things, starting with the pork belly steam buns which sounded so nice, but in reality were almost completely devoid of flavor. The combination of the soft steamed bun, lightly cooked fatty pork and mayo made for a mushy texture throughout. The “togarashi mayo” was the most interesting element of these mini sandwiches. You can see that the presentation leaves something to be desired as well (the lighting makes it worse). Next came the fried rice balls with similar results. The equally exciting list of ingredients including kim chi, cheese, spicy pork and garlic mayo left me feeling cheated. I will give them that they were fried perfectly. The texture was lovely, the appearance, the crunch was wonderful. The complete lack of flavor once you bit into them caused us to almost not believe our taste buds. We kinda look at each other and ask “really, that’s it?” We then ordered some chicken wings on the recommendation of our server. They were good. They were crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside and the sauce was decent (we tried a couple kinds and both were pretty good – very sweet but not really spicy), unfortunately they didn’t wow me, and by this time we were asking ourselves why we should spend any more money there, which is when we left to go have another drink elsewhere.
The service was very good. Our waitress was polite, prompt and attentive. The bartender was quick as well, but sadly, we dropped over $60 on a pretty unfortunate atmosphere and food that did little more than fill us up. Sooooo, I’m sad to say that we probably won’t be back here.
I rate my food experience: