Judging Restaurants – Zola


As mentioned below, Penn Quarter has some great restaurants or so my friends tell me. Back in December we saw that Zola had opened up a separate wine and kitchen shop. But I’m curious about the original restaurant located at 800 F Street, NW. You can see their menus here. So any fans out there? Do you recommend a particular dish? And I’ve wondered what the atmosphere is like, I guess I always suspected it’d be filled with folks from the Spy Museum…

16 Comment

  • I have one friend that we always seem to end up at Zola and eat in the bar area. I think it might be too expensive for the Spy Museum crowd (as a mom, I generally don’t take the kid to places like this and a lot of the Spy Museum people have kids in tow). The food is decent but not spectacular.

  • Been there a few times, has a cool, somewhat kitschy spy museum-like interior. Little more expensive than average, but they may be known for their lobster macaroni, which I think is tremendous.

  • A very cool, hip, happening place. Good food, too.

    In other words, hands down better than any CH establishment.

  • Named after the accused spy Emile Zola and has had rotating door of chefs, managers, bartenders and wait staff. The only constant has been the Chinese busboys . . . i think its some sort of syndicate. Its def. not for the Spy museum crowd and at one point, while he played for the Wizards, the great Michael Jordan used to dine there after games.

  • I’ve just been for appetizers and drinks, which get the thumbs up. Never been to dinner because I just can’t justify spending $25 or $30 for a gourmet TV dinner, though I think the idea is kitschy and cute.

  • I had a reservatin for 8pm and wasn’t seated until 9:45pm… I have no idea how the food tasted b/c I had numbed my appetite with far too many cocktails during my 2 hour wait. I’ve never gone back.

  • def not for the spy museum crowd. i’ve gone numerous times for drinks and havne’t been particularly fond of the bartending staff. a bit rude and inattentive if you werent’ dropping loads of money. however, i did go for dinner once and had a lovely meal with great service.

  • Took my parents there for dinner when they were in town to have a nice night out. Little did I know there was a Caps game that night and the place was riddled with jersey-clad fans. Not really the kind of atmosphere I would expect for the prices.

  • awful, we went there 2 years ago and got horrendous service, the lobster mac and cheese was a gimmicky joke. two thumbs down.

  • I second the recommendation about the appetizers and drinks. The lamb sliders are not to be missed. YUM!

  • Well, I once went to the SPY at NIGHT tour and as they offer you drinks before said tour, by the end of it, I found myself poking around and stumbling through almost any door I could push open. That being said, I ended up opening the door that led me right into the kitchen where the maitre d’ understood my perdicament and asked me if I’d like a table. I said – Yes, I believe I would – as the kitchen smelled good and looked decent. He led me into the bar where I got another drink and then was immediately ushered to a table where I was served pretty ok food – more drinks – and even sent a bottle of champagne from another table. So as far as I’m concerned, this restaurant is a BEAUTIFUL place. Get over the SPY thing. Go there. Have the WHITE NIGHT drink.

  • I liked they loungy/clubby music last time I was there. The atmosphere, in general, is a good one. The fruit and chocolate fondue is quite amazing and feeds the whole table and then some. Prices are high, though. I don’t think the food and service completely justify the cost. I tend to end up at Poste in the summer; Zengo or Matchbox in the winter.

  • It’s a beautiful space. Agree with all who have said to go for cocktails and apps, and to enjoy the atmosphere (and the really cool bathrooms!)

    The food and the service, however, are consistently underwhelming. And I really have given them multiple chances. The portions are large but oh so bland and just… inedible. Not worth the exorbiant prices.

    There are too many other options nearby to settle for Zola’s mediocrity. If you’re looking to spend that kind of money but actually want a quality meal, I recommend you go to Proof instead.

  • Most unimpressive – snooty staff from the host/hostess on down. Food unremarkable. And, Anonymous – don’t even get me started on Proof. Went there for my anniversary (2/29) and arrived at 5:15 p.m. for a 5:30 res. Tried to enter, but was told by a waiter they weren’t open yet. When I asked if I could come inside to wait (it was a damp freezing DC day), i was told no. Pressing further, I asked “So you’re saying I have to wait out in the cold?” and was told “Well, essentially, yes.” “But you could go to Zaytina and then come back.” “Oh, I won’t be coming back,” I said. Waited for husband to arrive, during which time another couple came to Proof, looking quizzically at the locked establishment. I told them my experience, and that I was waiting for the GM. They wandered off to another restaurant. When the GM finally opened the doors, I politely informed him of what had happened, only to be told “Well, that’s just our policy. We’d love for you to stay, but we open at 5:30.” Enraged by now, I told him there were plenty of places in this town where we could blow a bundle – and when you only have an anniversary every four years, we truly DO some spending. Also reminded him we’re not in New York City. We hopped in a taxi and proceeded to Central – along the way telling the cab driver, Central bartenders, Central GM & Sommelier, and every bar patron of our story. I have also told my co-workers, who dine out regularly, and everyone at my second job. And now I’m telling you.

    Proof blows chunks.

  • Oh, and by the way – dropped $500 at Central that night, which included obscenely high tips for all of our servers.

  • 1. I went to Zola after going to the Spy Museum for a friend’s birthday. I’m not sure why people think it’s not a child-appropriate restaurant as long as the kid is well-behaved. (Of course, I don’t think I’d want to spend a lot feeding a growing kid. That’s what Fuddrucker’s is for. But everyone has their own budget and I’m a little tight-fisted.)

    2. This was sometime last year and the cocktails were very good while we waited for our table to be ready. (The spy adventure we were on ended a tad early.)

    3. The food was not spectacular, but alright. I haven’t been there again since I’d rather go someplace new. The prices do not invite a lot of repeat trips no matter how well the drinks were mixed.

    4. The service was very good for us. Someone’s pork dish was underdone and they were happy to refire it for her till it was cooked properly. Though you could argue it never should be have been served incorrectly in the first place. I do appreciate that they fixed the problem swiftly and without fuss.

    PS-To MJS2000, let me just say if you don’t want to eat with Capitals jerseys around you then either 1. Check the game schedule before you go. 2. Dine anywhere but Penn Quarter. There’s a lot of fans who pony up for season tickets and for meals at pricey places like Zola.

Comments are closed.