WaPo critic on House Dining Room: 'One of the sorriest dining experiences in Washington'

WaPo critic on House Dining Room: 'One of the sorriest dining experiences in Washington'
© Greg Nash

One of the oldest restaurants in Washington, D.C. only recently opened to the general public is also home to one of the "sorriest" meals in the capital, according to a scathing review from The Washington Post.

Post food critic Tom Sietsema excoriated the House Members’ Dining Room, located on Capitol Hill and previously only open to members of Congress and their staff, in a column Wednesday that slammed the spot as a dismal experience both in terms of service and quality of the meal.

"While it was thoughtful of Congress to provide diners with more transparency, the reality, aside from the bean soup (a different recipe from the more famous U.S. Senate version), is one of the sorriest dining experiences in Washington," Sietsema wrote. "No amount of history can erase the twin problems of food and service, starting outside, where, if you’re a strange face without a familiar ID, sober security guards will greet you with zero cheer."


Ripping a Caesar salad he said look like a "grade-school art project" and a fried chicken sandwich with a "filling [that] tastes as if Cap’n Crunch inspired it," Sietsema pulled no punches when describing nearly every aspect of the menu, save for the restaurant's famous bean soup.

"Multiple visits also turned up a raft of fried calamari assaulted from above and below with squeeze bottles of lemon aioli and balsamic vinegar sauce, and short ribs that seemed to be auditioning for a role on your least favorite airline. Sad beef. Sad, tepid and underseasoned spinach. Okay squash puree. (But I ordered the entree for the meat!)," Sietsema continued.

Sietsema concluded his review with a rating of one half-star, writing: "I didn’t go to Capitol Hill expecting the farm-to-table Dabney — this is, after all, a government-run facility — but I did hope to find more than bean soup to rave about."