Dino is one of those restaurants that we heard good things about, so we were pumped like Reeboks to finally check it out.
We planned our Dino adventure weeks in advance. Our big plan was to use a Living Social voucher for Dino during DC restaurant week. Double whammy! We double checked the Dino website prior to booking our rez for Aug 19. Lucky for us, the Living Social voucher was not banned…..yet. But we should’ve known better.
Aug 19 rolls around and an hour before our rez, Mr. Chow decided to visit the Dino website. Surprise! Dino would not accept Living Social vouchers during RW. If we were going to pay full price for RW on a prime Friday night, we wouldn’t have picked Dino. #majorfail. So we cancelled our reservation and ate at America Eats Tavern instead. Future post on this to come.
After restaurant week ended, we were delighted to learn that that Dino extended their RW menu/pricing ’til August 31, and their website no longer mentioned anything about Living Social vouchers being taboo. Aug 31 reservations were on the books for Chows, table of 2. Yes!
Sadly, our experience at Dino was really bad.
First, the service. Our waitress was very nice and made helpful recommendations about what to order. But beyond that, things were pretty bad. Our reservation was at 715pm, and we did not leave the restaurant until 930pm. On a Wednesday night. This was mainly due to slooooow service. It took a while for someone to take our order, when we requested anything (more bread, water, the check) it took foreverrrrrr, and worst of all, the pacing between courses. When each course finally came out, the food was luke warm. Luke warm fish? Blah. We thought about sending stuff back, but figured it wasn’t worth waiting another half hour and risking the same result.
Next, the food.
For Mr. Chow:
Course 1) Risotto Estate: Mr. Chow has watched many food network and travel channel shows with Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali, etc. According to these masters, risotto should be soft but not mushy. This dish was unfortunately neither. Mr. Chow thought it was under cooked and his reasoning for this was that you could build a sand castle out of the risotto. Outside of the bad texture, there was a cheesy taste that I liked, but Mr. Chow did not. Safe to say, Mr. Chow would not recommend this dish.
Course 2) Lasagnette: Mr. Chow is a HUGE pasta/lasagna fan and thought this would be a home run. So when the dish came out, his eyes lit up. However, he was once again disappointed. The dish was luke warm, the sauce was tasteless, and if Mr. Chow wasn’t already starving he would have quit half way through.
Course 3) “Cappuccino” di Nutella: This was the better of two deserts. It was a very big portion of chocolate Nutella “mousse” in a small bowl. The “mousse” was a nice blend of chocolate and hazelnut. We are huge Nutella fans so we really liked this. Although it was pretty rich so we could only eat about half. This would be great for sharing with a group.
Course 1) Cinghiale Pasta: This was probably our favorite item of the night. The wide tagliatelle noodles were fresh and nicely cooked. There was just the right amount of tender boar and pork belly to complement but not overpower the dish. We would order this again, but the full portion next time.
Course 2) Rockfish with lemon butter caper sauce: This was one of the worst dishes of the night. The sauce and fish were room temperature, which made it really hard to eat. Additionally, neither the sauce nor the fish had much taste. There was also some ratatouille or other veggie medley on the plate. But it was equally bland, mushy, and cold.
Course 3) Torte di Cioccolato: We got this to go and really liked the dark chocolate taste in every bite. The only thing we didn’t care for is the graham cracker crust. Dark chocolate + graham cracker just isn’t our thing.
The $35 RW price ($39 regularly) definitely offers savings compared to ordering items a la carte. However, the price tag of Dino’s food, even with the RW pricing, can’t be justified. For example, $20 for a piece of lasagna is steep. For that price, we’d expect something extraordinary. Throw in service that is less than desired, and a hidden/unmentioned $4 per person fee for using our Living Social Voucher. We won’t be back.