All Set Shines, Sette Osteria Disappoints
Two new restaurants opened Tuesday, Apr. 14 – one in Silver Spring and one on 14th Street NW. One was prepared and one wasn’t. One is on my list for a second visit, the other isn’t.
All Set has a nautical New England-theme with a sea blue and white décor, dark woods, gold banquettes and lots of white knotted rope. It reminds you of sitting in a sea shanty on the Massachusetts coast. The bar is large, along the back wall and includes a raw bar with lobster and shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell and littleneck clams, all with their origin marked on tiny blackboards.
Chef and co-owner Edward Reavis’ appetizers include crab mac & cheese, tuna tartare, shrimp cocktail, hushpuppies, fried clams, fish dip, mussels, deep fried seafood platter and fish tacos. Sandwiches include a fried oyster burger and a lobster roll while entrees include crab cakes, clam fettuccine, rockfish and crispy skin salmon. Of course there are dishes for landlubbers too, like white bean hummus, pulled pork sliders, short ribs, brick chicken, NY strip steak and mushroom risotto, as well as a grilled chicken sandwich, edamame burger with mint dill yogurt and a bacon cheeseburger with pecan smoked bacon.
The shrimps where huge and the lobster roll was the star with chives, chervil and tarragon served on toasted rolls shaped like little loaves of bread. Another favorite was the pulled pork sliders with BBQ sauce and cole slaw.
Sunday dinner will include a $35 per person family clam bake with arugula salad, littleneck clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, kielbasa, new potatoes, corn on the cob, corn bread and a blueberry Eskimo, a cinnamon cookie crumble with vanilla bean ice cream and blueberry compote or a $30 per person fried chicken dinner with Caesar salad, fried chicken, bacon Swiss chard, mashed potatoes, sausage gravy and a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich for dessert.
All house cocktails have nautical names and cost $12. My favorite was the Perfect Storm with rum, lime, pineapple, ginger and Goslings ginger beer. It was refreshing and perfect for sipping on the restaurant’s covered patio as warm weather arrives. Others include The Provincetown with cranberry-infused vodka, citrus, cucumber juice, basil-mint syrup and ginger juice; and the Crazy for Layla with Cold River gin, orange liquor, citrus and crème de violette.
Service was excellent and on point with food and drinks being passed constantly. Trash was quickly collected and even water glasses were kept filled. With plenty of on street parking as well a free parking in the county parking garages in the evenings and on weekends, All Set is certainly worth a trip to New England without leaving Silver Spring.
All Set is open from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. daily for happy hour and 5-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5-9 p.m. Sunday for dinner. Breakfast and weekend brunch will be added later.
The décor at Sette Osteria is an improvement from the former M Café Bar, which was also owned by Iraklis Karabassis of IK Retail Group and closed in January. Gone are the Andy Warhol prints of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, yellow walls and modern white furniture and chandeliers, replaced by black and white décor, exposed brick walls, dark wood floors and unpadded wood booths and leather chairs. It has a more relaxed, casual atmosphere than its predecessor.
Unlike All Set, Sette Osteria was ill prepared for its grand opening. Invitations had been sent to the media as well as tenants in many of the apartment and condo buildings in the area. All the guests were packed into the small bar area and service was slow with only one bartender making limited cocktails and another serving only beer and wine.
Most of the cocktails – named No. 1 through No. 9 on the menu – weren’t available because the fruit purees and house-made syrups weren’t available. When they are available, they will cost $12 each, $2 more than at the original, sister restaurant in Dupont. Also unavailable was draft beers because the lines hadn’t been run yet.
The printed bar menu also included sangria, Italian sodas, Prosecco, 15 white wines and 13 red wines by the glass, carafe or bottle, 11 bottled beers and another six on tap.
The passed food samples were even fewer and far between. With no dedicated wait staff, servers quickly passed the bites while waiting on tables in the dining room. The only samples I was able to try were the bruschetta, mozzarella alla caprese and tuna tartare, none of which were standout dishes. I also sampled the mini margherita pizzas, but they had become cold waiting for servers to pass them.
The menus at the bar were missing the food pages and the 14th Street location’s website isn’t working yet – it just loops back to the homepage for both locations so I don’t really know what is on the menu, although I was told by bartender Louis that it is the same are Dupont’s. A press release said menu prices range from $8-$28.
Opening night was definitely disappointing considering the restaurant’s executive chef is Italian-born Nicola Sanna. I was expecting to sample some of Sanna’s signature house-made pasta and other Italian dishes, not the same food found at every Italian restaurant in D.C.
It’s probably best to stick with one of the other fine Italian restaurants in the city a few more weeks before checking out Sette Osteria. Here’s hoping that Sette Osteria can work out the kinks and get service on track.
The restaurant is open 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays for lunch, 5-8 p.m. nightly for happy hour, 5-11 p.m. daily for dinner and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for weekend brunch.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.