Thursday, October 28, 2010

Restaurant Review: Masa 14 (Left A Bad Taste Again...)

During the early part of the summer, I had heard a lot about Masa 14, one of the newer restaurants located on the 14th Street Corridor.  I'd heard so many wonderful things about it so I decided to try to host my 30th birthday happy hour & fundraiser benefitting the March of Dimes there. 

I contacted the events staff about 2 months in advance and told them what I was planning.  We went back and forth via email for about a week, then the person kept telling me that he would have to ask his manager if he could accommodate my party.  My request was quite simple so all I really needed was a yes that date is available or no.  All I wanted to do was have 20-30 people and to order several platters of food for my guests to enjoy.  After, several days of not hearing anything, I decided to look else where. 

Finally, I received an email indicating that they would not be able to handle my request.  To this day, I still don't know why 1) they couldn't accommodate 20-30 people when it's a huge space and 2) why I had to go through all the rigmarole. (I ended up having my event at Local 16, they were extremely accommodating and it went off without a hitch.)

After that Masa 14 left a bad taste in my mouth and I vowed to never support them...that was until last night.

One of my girlfriends and I attended a networking event for women hosted by Belle in Brooklyn at Policy.  We ended up meeting an amazing woman, who is a hair stylist and is so fabulous.  Since DC is so small, we soon found out she does a mutual girlfriend's hair when she came walking in for the event.

The four of us decided to leave to a grab a bite to eat. I wasn't really hungry (which is rare for me) but I figured I'd tag along and grab a drink and some dessert.  We ended up at Masa 14 since it was in close proximity to Policy.  I was still hesitant about going after my failed attempts at trying to supporting their business by hosting my birthday festivities at their venue.

We walked in around 9ish, to a vibrant and very diverse crowd.  Everyone was there from the business types to the hipsters to the international crowd, I loved it.  We were told there would be a 25 minutes wait, although there were a few empty tables. We grabbed some seats near the bar and about 5 minutes later, we were given a great table by the window.  I'm a people-watcher so that was close enough to patio seating for me.

The waiter, Smith, came over and offered a suggestion from the cocktail menu.  He suggested the Red Star which was a drink that was mainly tequila and blackberry puree.  I figured I was down to try something different.  The drink ended up being sub par.  When he came back over, he asked if I liked it, I didn't because it was too tart.  I told him I no but I thought adding a little simple syrup would make it much better. One of the other women indicated to the waiter that she was unhappy with her drink as well and that it wasn't strong enough. He then offered to bring out a shot of Patron along with some simple syrup for me.  We all thought that was nice and appreciated his efforts at being so accommodating.

After that, the ladies ordered appetizers and dinner.  I was still full from earlier so I decided to stick with my initial plan and simply order dessert.  I asked for the Molten Chocolate Cake.  It was served with a strawberry sorbet but I asked the waiter if it would be possible to substitute it for ice cream.  He informed me they had a cinnamon ice cream and I told him that would be perfect. 

Shortly after a gentleman walked over from the host stand with this whole soliloquy about the chef's "vision" and how everything on the menu was paired a certain way.  He then went on to say how my dessert was meant to come with strawberry sorbet, not to be substituted with anything else.

The whole time I was thinking you've got to be kidding me. Strange, I had no idea I was not entitled to ask for what I want.  I did not appreciate the gentleman's condescending way of speaking to the table as he looked directly at me. He might as well have said the chef is right, you're wrong, deal with it.  As he was going on and on, Smith came by behind him and said that my ice cream selection was fine.  Whomever the guy was said "Oh! Well, forget what I just said, enjoy your evening."  I was determined to not let that ruin my night so we just joked about the "vision" comment and went back to socializing.

My dessert ended up being quite amazing, and is pictured to the left.  The decadent chocolate with the smooth and creamy ice cream was just the taste I was looking for.  I love sorbet but I just didn't want it with my dessert that night, didn't realize that would be such a big deal.

Fast forward to the end of the night, we looked at the check and noticed that our waiter charged the other young lady $16 for the shot of Patron he had offered her.  She'd already left so when we inquired about the charge, he went from being a gracious, ever so accommodating, waiter to just outright indignant. 

His response was, "Oh, she thought the shot was going to be free, I've never heard of that but I'll send the manager over." WTH? Really that's how we talk to paying customers these days.  We waited for nearly 10 minutes for the manager.  Fortunately, our new friend who is apparently a regular there ended up eating the $16 for the shot because we were all ready to go.  When the manager finally made his way over, I waved him away and said everything had been settled.

Needless the say, once again Masa 14, left a bad taste in my mouth.  It's unfortunate because I loved the crowd and the food seemed to be pretty good from what I sampled.  I tried to give them another chance after the birthday incident, but after last night I have no intention of ever stepping another foot inside of that place. 

I'm very discriminating where I eat and where I spend my money.  I'm also a firm believer in supporting businesses that know how to treat customers.  Masa 14 is not a place that I would endorse nor ever recommend to anyone.  There are so many other options in DC, where the service is better and they are respectful of their clientele and their needs.  It's unfortunate the staff at Masa 14 don't subscribe to this policy.

Masa 14
1825 14th Street, NW
Washington DC 20009

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