Judging Restaurants/Wine Bars – Sonoma

Sonoma is located at 223 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. According to their Web site:

Sonoma’s mission is to highlight the Mid-Atlantic’s best naturally-raised and local ingredients and pair the creations with the best American and Italian wines.

Sonoma and Blue Ridge are the ventures of longtime friends Eli Hengst and Jared Rager. The duo, who met as undergrads at Middlebury College, went into business together in 2002 and dedicated themselves to developing neighborhood restaurants.

You can see their menus here. Any fans? Any must order items?

18 Comment

  • me

    I went there once for a friend’s birthday, and I remember having a burger with gruyere cheese on it. It. Was. SO. Good.

  • Is this the same Blue Ridge as the locations out in Loudoun County? I’ve been to both and they’re great.

    • No the Blue Ridge Grills in Leesburg and Ashburn aren’t affiliated. But I agree — every time I’m out that way I try to stop in. The lobster bisque is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

  • I’ve only been once. The wine and food were great but the service was horrible. My friend and I sat at the bar. It wasn’t very crowded, but the bartenders seemed so annoyed with having to take our orders. We would have had more than one glass of wine but no one would acknowledge us, so we left. I will not return.

  • In the summer, their heirloom tomato appetizer is amazing!

  • I have not eaten there (yet) but friends on Capitol Hill say it’s great.

  • Ok food, HORRENDOUS service.

    Made a pre-theater reservation for 2 for dinner at 6pm. The place had (I kid you not) 4 total occupied tables when we arrived and they walked us all the way to the back and sat us directly next to the kitchen door.

    When I asked for a differnet table, the surly chick said the restaurant was reserved full for the night.

    Took 15 minutes for the first server to come and bring water. Took another 10 minutes to get them to bring our wine back. The meal took 45 minutes to come. When no server came back for another 30 minutes, I had to go to the front to ask for the check.

    We had 3 completely seperate servers during our ~1:40 dinner and they were all surly and dismissive.

    My tip? I rounded the bill up to the next dollar, so the tip was 8 cents.

    Oh, and when we left, the place was still half empty, so I don’t really get the “stick me by the kitchen” BS.

    I won’t ever go back, and when a friend had said he had arranged a birthday dinner for 12 there, I got him to cancel the reservation. Yeah…I was THAT annoyed with them.

  • I have tried to eat their twice, both time I was told no tables were available. Got the impression I was not welcome!

  • I have been a couple of times, both because of Groupon and proximity to my wife’s office. The ingredients are high quality and the wines are good, but the flavors of the entrees seem to be average and lacking any semblance of uniqueness. Appetizers were generally better than the entrees and desserts were quite good.

    As far as service, I would echo the sentiments of several people who have spoken up already. Mediocre to poor and response times are downright unacceptable given the service generally received at similarly priced restaurants around the city.

    Good enough to go back occasionally when Groupon’s offering a deal, but not worth paying full price for.

  • The service there is atrocious. When sitting at the bar last week, I asked the bartender for an ice-tea, I was told by her don’t have ice tea at the bar. I was staring at a pitcher of ice tea, nonetheless. I will never go back. Seriously, they must go out of their way to provide horrible service.

  • When I went the serice was terrible and judging by the comments from Joker, Mona, None, and Warder St it hasn’t gotten any better.
    A group of 6 of us went there a few months ago and it took us about 2 hours to eat. Not only did the waitress completly ingnore us most of the time, she also messed up my order. I asked her what the special of the day was and how much it cost and she gave me the wrong price. I wound up paying close to $50 for a tough steak. She also screwed up my wife’s order. Nobody refilled any of our water glasses while we were there. A friend’s plate was dirty.
    I was so upset that I wrote the manager, who offered a refund but never delivered on his promise.

  • I’m not sure why a restaurant would be called Sonoma have such a crappy selection of CA wines. Also the wine is exceptionally mediocre for the price of the pour/bottle.

    I thought the food was alright, but not worth going out of my way for. Certainly not as fresh or interesting as food in Sonoma.

    Just call yourself “Generic Wine Bar” -TM and I think expectations would more align with delivery.

    The ambiance is nice though. I like the open floor plan.

  • I’m just sad that they did away with their great and economically unfeasible $20 all you can drink Saturday happy hour. Only got to try it once went through about a bottle and a half. Start of awesome night.

  • Overpriced, bad service, but a good cheese plate.

  • I enjoyed myself when I went Sonoma. The service was attentive, professional, but not overbearing. The server was very knowledgable about the wine, the food and food specials.

    The dinner was great. We had the calamari, arugula salad with goat chese, risotto, and pork. Delish.

  • I work on the hill, and Sonoma is my go-to spot for after work drinks with friends. I love the ambience, and the wine is great.

    Hint! Once I went and the bar was already full, we opted for their lounge area. What a great find! You can even eat off their full menu up there. Cozy during the winter.

  • I agree with Meagan! I live on the hill, and I love the lounge happy hour. I’ll take $5 wine specials anytime! The cheese plate is great, too.

  • I’ve always enjoyed Sonoma and have never had server experiences like those mentioned above. Last time I went my date and I shared a cheese and chacuterie board. Not only were they exceptional, but our waitress chatted with us about her favorites for post-shift.

    I used to work on the hill and loved the upstairs lounge for after work with the fire place and cozy seating arrangements.

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