DCFoodies.com Galileo Half-Price Special - DCFoodies.com

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Jul 18, 2005



I went to Galileo last night for the half-price deal. I don't want to be too hyperbolic in my criticism, because the food was very good, but I can't in good faith recommend it to anyone else. Let me explain.

Part of what drew me in was the "new menu" they emailed around with the announcement of the deal, and which is excerpted in the post above. Well, I don't know if that menu was simply aspirational or what, but the menu we got when we sat down at the restaurant bore almost no resemblance whatsoever to what is on the website. There were no softshell crabs, no roasted goat, no suckling pig. In fact, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any overlap whatsoever. That was the first disappointment.

Far worse, however, was the service. Almost immediately, I was made to feel inferior for using the half-off coupon. Fine, I don't like it, but maybe that was to be expected. Soon, though, we discovered that the entire waitstaff was in a state of disarray. As I was perusing the wine list, the same guy who had put down our silverware and filled our water glasses asked if I needed any help selecting a wine. Was he the somalier? Busboy? Unclear. He was soon edged out of the way by our waiter. I was excited to find that the wine list contained a particular bottle I'd been wanting to try. They were out of it. I asked if there was anything similar in that price range (~$100) that he would recommend. The answer was a distinctly mocking "no". Fine, I said, then could you recommend something from this other varietal? "Those are all pretty much the same," he tells us, dismissing about three pages of the wine list in a single gesture. Thanks. Extremely helpful. Since I was basically refused any assistance at all, I ended up selecting a much less expensive bottle. But it didn't even end there. The waiter brings it out and as he's opening it tells us they were out of that one too, so he substituted something else. There was only the vaguest pretense of asking if this was ok with me. In the end the bottle was fine, though nothing like what I was originally looking for.

The gruff service and general air of confusion more or less continued throughout the meal. At several points during the evening, we saw the waiters standing in the middle of the dining room arguing and pointing furiously. We had ordered the three course (+dessert) tasting menu, and our pasta course arrived before the plates from our first course had been cleared. Then the entrees didn't show up until long after we had finished the pasta, and when they did they were the wrong order. By the time the right food got out to us, our waiter had warmed up a little bit and actually stopped by a couple of times to make sure everything was ok, but the damage had been done.

As I said above, I can't really fault any of the food. Dishes we had included tuna carpaccio, sea bass ravioli, rack of rabbit, and a beef filet, and all were well prepared. I just can't really imagine the service or the management of the place being any worse. Roberto Donna was on the premises, but teaching a cooking class in the back and seemed oblivious to what was going on in his dining room.

Even at half price, I cannot recommend Galileo. I certainly won't be returning to pay double what I did last night.

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