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Everyone loves a good date night. I love one even more when the hubby calls me at work and says be home by 6:30 because we have reservations. I love one even more when I am having a terrible day and now, all of a sudden, have something wonderful to look forward to!

Said fabulous hubby made reservations at Market Tavern in Clarendon. It had piqued our curiosity for awhile, as we were huge fans of Harry’s Tap Room and wondered why on earth it disappeared. Market Tavern’s menu is reminiscent of Harry’s, in fact, many of the dishes are the same, so needless to say we had to see if it lived up to its former inhabitant.

The Chophouse portion of Market Tavern is located upstairs. Picture from Arlnow.com.

It pains me to say that Market Tavern just didn’t make the cut. I really wanted to love this place and put it on reserve for special occasions and/or a treat when family comes into town. However, the food was mediocre, along with the service which is not something you expect from a restaurant with the price tag of this bill.

I’ll start at the beginning…we arrived and were promptly escorted upstairs to The Chophouse section of the restaurant. The downstairs is The Tavern and has a separate menu, but you can order off of either one in either section. We were greeted fairly quickly but the server didn’t return with our drinks for a good 5 minutes and we were only one of 4 tables in the entire upstairs dining room. Then, after he dropped off the drinks, we waited another 10 minutes before he came back to take our order. I’d understand if it was a busy night, but there were 3 servers upstairs and again, only four tables! Service was off to a rocky start, but let’s get on to the important part – the food!

We ordered a Caesar salad, lobster bisque, Chophouse paella and the twin filets, oscar style with crab meat and Bearnaise. Are you salivating yet? We were! The salad was fine, but the lobster bisque was pure perfection – decadently smooth with large, buttery chunks of lobster. Couple this with the “bread bar” which has 4 different types of fresh, homemade bread and various types of accompanying butter, and the first course was looking promising!

A serving of paella on the left, along with a filet and asparagus.

On to the entrees! The Chophouse Paella, flavorful, robust with a hint of smokiness, certainly didn’t disappoint with a fair amount of shrimp, mussels, chorizo and chicken. The dish was cooked well, which can be hard to do with paella. I wish we’d stopped at the paella. The twin filets with crab meat came out of the kitchen looking the part of a flawlessly cooked dish. The server set it down on the table and as I grabbed my fork and knife I could hardly wait to cut myself a bite of this tender filet, smothered in lump crab meat, drizzled with Bearnaise and garnished with bright green asparagus spears. I took that bite…and it was cold. Not lukewarm, not maybe it cooled off on the walk over here, not maybe we waited a bit too long to cut into it (because I couldn’t hardly wait a second) – just plain, flat out cold. Disappointing – yes. Still potential to taste deliciousness after we sent it back with server – yes.

But no, we received our filets about 2 minutes later. They had clearly been thrown into a microwave as the same bite I had taken was missing from the filet. People – you went to culinary school, not me, but even I know you don’t put steak in a microwave or even reheat it. You cook a new piece of meat. Sure, this is a lot to ask, but it isn’t a lot to ask to have your food brought out warm and freshly cooked.

After waiting for a manager for another 10 minutes, we explained the situation, were offered a new dish, politely declined and waited for the bill. I have to give credit where credit is due. The manager was very accommodating and understanding, apologized and sent over two complimentary desserts which were impressive. The server also apologized and was quick to ask if his service was an issue when we requested the manager,  I always appreciate directness and a willingness to take accountability.

All in all, not a great experience. The other dishes we had, as well as the manager’s quick correction of the issue did make me willing to try it again – maybe in a few months when things are running a bit more smoothly. However, I’d steer clear or maybe try The Tavern for the time being!