Saturday, January 24, 2015

Serbia: Ambarf

Wow. It's hard to express how underwhelmed we were by Ambar. After all, the Washington Post's review is more than decent (I should have known better, as I find Tom Sietsema to be pretty consistently wrong). You know you've had a bad meal when the best part is the friendly busboy who tries to make friends with our toddler. I want to eat at his restaurant. Things started badly when we arrived at the admittedly off hour of 3:30ish and were told brunch was almost over so we could order in 4 minutes or come back at 5. Ummmmm ok. We were shown to a table with 2 seats (I assure you my toddler is visible and has been known to sit at restaurants and order food that we pay for with money). We weren't offered a high chair and there wasn't room for one either. He's a toddler, without a designated place to sit, he will stand on your pillows with his muddy sneakers. So there.

OK fine, people with small children should just stay home. The waiter was unhelpful and unfriendly and the food was downright bad. I wanted cevapcici because it pops up on so many Balkan menus. Remember our voyage to the Albanian Imbiss at the start of all this? And when we finally made it to the Islamic Cultural Center of the Bosnians of Berlin? I'd take either of those holes-in-the-wall over the dressed up hay hut full of Bottomless-Brunching Hill staffers. If this is how DC dining has improved since I lived on the Hill - no thank you. The dinner menu doesn't look terrible. The brunch menu just plain sucks. Waffles with nutella and strawberry have nothing to do with Serbia and doesn't belong on any menu in November. BLTs? Prosciutto omelets and sandwiches? A smear of ajar does not a Serbian dish make. None of this would matter if they served delicious food. My meat pie tasted like it had been sitting in the oven since brunch started. I don't know what it was supposed to be, but I do not exaggerate when I say that it seemed like something that one might find at a lame potluck brunch. It was a dried out strata with cheap sausage. It was greasy and dry and salty and not much else. My husband's Balkan Burger took ridiculously long to come out, but was a very little bit better only because the concept of using cevapcici to make a burger makes sense in this sort of restaurant. Made with good quality meat, garnished with ripe tomatoes and non-sad lettuce, with more than a whisper of sauce/cheese...the dish would be really good, if not really a burger. In reality, the meat was tough and more salty than flavorful. The lettuce and tomato were flavorless/purposeless and the sauce and cheese insufficient. Any remotely serious restaurant should not be serving oven fries that have been in a warming tray for hours. Also the website has been down a bunch. This is a Richard Sandoval restaurant, not some mom-and-pop place that can't figure out how to make a website. Amber was awful. Really, really awful. 

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