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The Hot Plate: Blue Ridge Restaurant Is Not Heavenly

Nothing ruins a meal quite like bad service. In fact, it’s the easiest way for a restaurant to gain or lose good will. For example, the food at a new hot spot can be mediocre, but if the service is top-notch, it will likely bring the whole experience up a level or two.

[IMGCAP(1)]Sadly, this was not the case at Glover Park’s newest restaurant, Blue Ridge (2340 Wisconsin Ave. NW), chef Barton Seaver’s latest offering.

While the food was uneven, the wait staff, though friendly, was exceedingly inattentive and slow. On my first visit during lunch, I was repeatedly forced to get up from my seat and retrieve a bottle of wine from an ice bucket across the restaurant because the server was nowhere in sight. On another visit, one of my table’s appetizers was forgotten and didn’t come until we asked for it. Even then the appetizer arrived after the entrees had been set before us. On that same visit, we had multiple servers and at times one would come by to refill my water glass while overlooking my friend’s. The restaurant is just over a month old so kinks are to be expected, though these service frustrations really detracted from the meal.

Advertised as “honest food— that is made with local and sustainable ingredients found in the mid-Atlantic region, Seaver’s menu is hit and miss. A filet mignon — served alongside a very blah sweet potato puree — was tough and chewy, while the meatloaf was dry and flavorless. On the other hand, the grass-fed burger was delightful. Served with homemade chips, the burger was juicy without being greasy. It’s the kind of hamburger that you don’t feel guilty eating. The vegetable potpie — the ultimate comfort food — tastes like home and is served with a heaping portion of mushroom gravy. The entree was filling and would make the perfect treat for a winter day.

Brunch is a pleasure at Blue Ridge. The funnel cake doughnuts are extraordinary and blew this Jersey girl away. Served in small balls covered in powdered sugar, this treat will take you right back to the boardwalk. The three-egg omelet — stuffed with cheddar and mushrooms — was also tasty and, like the burger, not overly greasy.

The dessert menu leaves much to be desired. It consists of three pie options as well as ice cream and a root beer float. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the strawberry rhubarb pie was large enough for two and quite tasty.

Glasses of wine at Blue Ridge start at $5 for the house muscadet and top out at $20 for a glass of Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne. Being a young wine lover, I consider myself an expert when it comes to cheap vino, but I have to say the house chardonnay — seemingly a deal at $6 a glass — tasted like Two Buck Chuck. It was sour and disappointing, which was frustrating considering the ample supply of delicious budget wines floating around these days. That being said, the wine list, prepared by wine director Brian Cook, is extensive and budget-friendly.

The biggest thing Blue Ridge has going for it is the back garden. This quiet, serene spot is beautiful. Decidedly minimalist tables surround a pond and some plants. White umbrellas open above the tables, supplying diners with necessary shade. The restaurant plans to turn a deck off the building’s second floor into an outdoor bar area later in the year.

Leaving Blue Ridge, I found myself wondering whether Seaver, recipient of the 2008 RAMMY for Rising Culinary Star and darling of the D.C. foodie scene, is overrated. Sure, he has worked at some of the better restaurants in town — Hook and Sonoma, for example — and his mission to promote sustainable seafood is admirable, but still, I never find myself completely satisfied after eating one of his meals. At 29 years old, Seaver has time to grow as a chef, but the question is, will he?