Early this year, Cities "closed for remodelling". When it reopened, it had a new name, look and menu. The swanky feel that once was Cities has been replaced by the retro-casual environment of LeftBank. The owner, Sahir Erozan, refers to the new environment as a wired bistro lounge. Translation: Retro-looking cafeteria tables, pleather booths, and funky lighting. But who gives a crap about that? On to the food.
The menu changed completely, which is no surprise. You now have a choice of four menus: Garden, Ocean, Farm, and Sushi. The Garden menu contains all vegetarian/vegan dishes, the Ocean menu is all seafood, and the Farm menu, naturally, is for all us carnivores. All of the menus were surprisingly friendly to the fad diets (one of which, I am still on -- sort of). As far as price goes, there were no entrees over $15 and the appetizers all ranged between $5 and $9. There was one appetizer that was only $1, but I wondered if it was a typo. The wine list was nothing to write home to mommy about, but was reasonably priced.
We were seated at a six person cafeteria-style table. All of the tables are large. If there are only two of you, you'll be sharing the table with someone.
"I'm thinking about getting the sausage," I said.
"So was I," Amy replied.
"Grrr. Ok, I'll get the melon and prosciutto. What are you thinking about for a main course?"
"The tuna," she replied.
"Grrr! Well you're getting the sausage, so I'm getting the tuna...okay, how about we just share everything."
Amy and I (well, maybe just I) can be very possesive of our food. Almost like my brother's dog that growls while he eats to ward off any other dogs that might try to stick their noses in his food bowl. We were particuliarly hungry today because we skipped lunch. Grr.
When the appetizers came, we'd already gone through our first glasses of wine and ordered a second. The sausage contained just enough spice and was served with a hearty lentil ragu full of Italian meats and tomatoes. The melon and prosciutto was excellent and by far the better of the two. Not that the sausage was bad, it was very good too. But the melon and prosciutto was GOOD! It actually came with some grapefruit, mint and olive oil as well. It reminded us of a conversation with a certain Italian friend of ours who told us that in Italy, prosciutto is typically served with melon, not mozzarella cheese.
When the main courses came, again we had finished our glasses of wine and ordered another. It was an ongoing trend. Perhaps it was just our waiter, but overall service was a little slow. MY tuna was okay. Although the menu said it was a seared, rare tuna, it was cooked more like medium. Served with pineapple (I thought it was mango), red curry sauce and green beens, there was a lot of flavor to make up for the fact that it was overcooked. Chefs, when the menu says seared, it should be barely cooked in the middle. This tuna tasted like I had been cooked it on my George Foreman grill.
Amy ordered the spiced vegetable burger which came with garlic-tahini and radish sprouts. When she tried to eat it with the bun, the "burger" started to fall apart. Amy just ate it without the bun. I also tried a little of the burger. I thought it was a little chalky and dry. Definitely vegan...could have used a little egg or cheese to hold it together.
The dessert menu had a lot of interesting choices on it. In particular, the chocolate volcano cake looked wonderful. However, we decided to get the cheese for dessert. The cheeses were very strong-flavored and came with some raisin-walnut bread and poached figs.
Bill came to $92 with tip. It seemed a little expensive for the atmosphere, but the bill would have been cheaper if we had ordered a bottle of wine rather than six separate glasses. Overall the food was pretty good, however, I would probably not go back for a full-course meal. Rather, I'd probably just drop in to order a bunch of appetizers and drinks. Overall, I think this place goes well in Adams Morgan where there are always people walking around at night and you can just drop in for a quick bite and a drink. I wouldn't recommend it for much more than that though.
2424 18th St. NW
Hours: Sun-Thu 7:00AM – 2:00AM, Fri – Sat 7:00AM – 3:00AM