Eli's = 7.4/10 hamburgers
Harris, Josh and Adam, a friend, ate at Eli’s, the new restaurant which just recently opened up in Dupont Circle. The restaurant was started by Sina Soumekhian, the owner of Sienna's in Rockville (look for a review of this restaurant soon!). With the exception of the DC JCC, Eli’s is now the only kosher cuisine available in Washington, D.C., as Stacks, the restaurant formerly owned by high-powered lobbyist Jack Abramoff closed its doors a while back.
Food Quality: Harris, a self-proscribed meat-eating vegetarian, ordered an appetizer of chicken tenders to start, a salad, and then a turkey with avocado club sandwich. The chicken tenders were absolutely delicious and the meat was savory and fried to a mouth-watering finish. These are highly recommended, despite their price. Harris ordered a small salad, but was served one much larger than he expected. There were also several different choices of dressing, including honey-mustard as well as the traditional dressings. However, the waiter had to write out the different dressing types, since there was no listing on the menu. The turkey sandwich did not arrive for quite some time, well after both Josh and Adam’s food arrived, and Harris had to ask the waiter where his meal was. Similar to the tenders, the sandwich was also good, but the turkey was chopped up into small pieces rather than whole slices of turkey. While this may not bother most, it was certainly a unique style. Adam ordered onion rings as an appetizer, and a pastrami-burger for the main course. The onion rings came with the entrée, instead of as an appetizer, and Adam had to ask for more, because there were only 3 on his plate, and he had ordered an appetizer of onion rings, not a side dish. The onion rings were mid-sized and scrumptious. The pastrami-burger was tasty and cooked as requested, yet there were only a few slices of pastrami to add to the flavor. Josh, the “picky” one, ordered a chicken vegetable soup, a regular hamburger, well-done, and requested an overstuffed deli sub on rye with only pastrami and nothing else. The soup was quite savory, and included an interesting mix of flavor, and the small bits of chicken were juicy, rather than dry as most soup chicken tends to be. The hamburger and pastrami sandwich came at the same time, and the burger was similar to Adam’s, and eaten with no complaints. The hamburger order came with “shoe-lace french-fries,” which were cooked and tasty. However, the pastrami sub, despite all inclinations that it be “overstuffed,” barely even had much meat on it at all. There were also potato chips with the order, but as with the meat, only a small quantity of food was deposited on the plate. Josh had to send the sub back to the kitchen with the orders that the quantity of meat on the sandwich be doubled, at the very least. Once this order was fulfilled, the sandwich was acceptable, but no more scrumptious than any typical kosher fast-food restaurant. Unfortunately, there was no dessert menu, and while this may improve in the future, a mark must be detracted for this. 6 Hamburgers.
Service Quality: With regard to Josh’s overstuffed deli sub, since the menu did not list any deli items with just a specific type of meat except for the regular sandwiches, the waiter spent a good 10 minutes attempting to figure out how he could order this from the menu. Instead of just writing down “overstuffed pastrami-sandwich,” and saving time, it was necessary to explain very clearly that a “5th Avenue (overstuffed pastrami sub with mushrooms, vegetables, etc)” was being ordered, less the mushrooms, vegetables, etc. Once the waiter figured this out, he was able to bring the food quickly. The waiter suffered through the orders and returns, and was very gracious in his service, returning several times to ensure that all was well in Denmark. 8 hamburgers
Atmosphere: Overall, the experience could only be described as “quaint.” The restaurant itself was small to mid-sized, and had the feel of a European parlor. There were white stained windows which permitted individuals to sit by them and gaze outside, but did not do a great job of deflecting the sun as it set. The lighting was not great, but gave the room a smaller feel, perhaps adding to a personal touch. The tables were closely spaced, and the backs of our chairs touched those of the people behind us. The noise level was low, but there were small pockets of people having discussions. It was pleasant and certainly a nice selection for a couple to choose as a dinner meal. In fact, there was even a celebrity sighting. Haddassah Lieberman, wife of Senator Joe Lieberman(former Vice Presidential Contender with Al Gore for the 2000 elections), showed up with her daughter, perhaps for the purpose of eating a meal, or discussing the latest polls. 7 hamburgers.
Cleanliness: The restaurant was relatively clean, but could have used a new paint job. The outside of the restaurant was slightly unkempt and there was a banner indicating the restaurant, instead of an official sign, but perhaps this will change once the store gains direction. The tables were wiped down and there was new utensils wrapped in a napkin available for the meal. The bathroom was well-kept and scented. 7 hamburgers.
Price: The food was well within the realm of kosher restaurant fare, but the cost of sandwiches perhaps could have been a bit cheaper. The appetizers were a bit pricey, but could have served as large kids meals. The soup was cheap, $3 for a cup, and $4 for a bowl, but the bowls were not large. Add $1 for matzoh ball soup. The hamburgers were $7 and the sandwiches ranged between $9-13 depending on size. 9 hamburgers.
Overall, 7.4 hamburgers. Not bad for a brand new restaurant with a lofty expectations. If they fixed a few things up on the menu and hired an interior decorator, Eli’s could turn into another venerable kosher D.C. establishment competing with the likes of those in Silver Spring and Baltimore. (Review by Josh)
1253 20th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.