Early look at Thally

September 9, 2013


Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad



After its first full week of operation, Thally is plagued with notable hiccups in the front and back of the house.  I hope for Thally’s sake that it finds its footing in the next few weeks or months given the stiff competition in the Shaw neighborhood it calls home.



I dined at Thally this past weekend with three friends.  The carnitas sope ($9) appetizer was excellent and started our meal off on the right foot. We also tried the watermelon salad ($10), which gets an A+ for presentation and whimsical charm but only average marks for flavor.  The last appetizer we sampled was the solid-but-not-mind-blowing crab roulette ($10) or as I like to call them crab-filled taquitos with some cauliflower thrown on the plate, almost as an afterthought.  As for entrees, the grilled pork t-bone ($22) was my favorite.  I thought it was tender and perfectly seasoned. I especially loved the interplay between the smokiness from grilling and the mustard brine.  The duck breast entrée ($26) was also quite good — the duck was perfectly done and tender with a briny olive sauce that complimented it really well.  Admittedly, I was a little turned off by the undercooked potatoes and gritty kale that came with it.  The Delmonico steak ($28) was perfectly cooked and tender, though I found it slightly under-seasoned. My dining companions didn’t seem to agree.

Duck breast with kale

Duck breast with kale

We were all somewhat disappointed with the bartenders and their apparent lack of training. When I tried to select a bourbon, the bartender recommended Willet.  When I asked which Willet varieties they carried, the bartender stared at me blankly and said “Willet” and then pointed to the only bottle of Willet on the shelf (it was the Pot Still variety, by the way).  Next, when my friend ordered a Manhattan, the cocktail they brought was fine but not the classic version. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I think it would have been only fair for the waiter or bartender to inform my friend that Thally’s version of the cocktail is not the classic version and that Thally makes its Manhattan with orange bitters (instead of Angostura bitters) and a lot more bitters and less vermouth than the classic recipe calls for.  When my friend asked the bartender how she made her Manhattan cocktails, he got a blank stare too, indicating that she didn’t quite realize that the Manhattan she made was different from the classic recipe.  Thally, here’s one recommended fix: a cocktail menu. It will clear up any confusion regarding the cocktail recipe with the added benefit of avoiding those long, blank stares.

Pork T-bone

Pork T-bone

When we asked for coffee at the end of our meal, the manager came over and said the restaurant had yet to develop its “coffee program” as the deal they had struck with a coffee supplier had fallen through shortly before they opened and they were currently in the process of selecting another supplier.

Say what? Really?

Thally, you know how I’d put together an interim “coffee program” … that is until I can find that ultimate, organic, triple-roasted, hand-picked coffee bean only found in the valleys of some unknown island? Buy a Cuisinart drip coffee maker and then pick up a bag of coffee beans, sugar, and cream from Harris Teeter.  Boom.  Coffee Program In Place.  You’re welcome.

Maybe instead of stressing about which supplier and bean to select, Thally should spend some time training its bartenders and line cooks. Bad or mediocre coffee won’t deter most people from returning to a restaurant but undercooked potatoes and gritty kale may leave a bad impression, especially when said potatoes and kale are in the same dish.

Regardless, this gal has hope that things will improve as Thally makes its way in the next few months.  It has a lot of potential and I’d like to see myself there again one day soon.

1316 9th St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Ph: 202.733.3849
Email: info@thallydc.com
Reservations may be made through Open Table here.



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