mini review: Dean DeLuca, Georgetown (DC) [NOW CLOSED]

Closed in August 2019

see my Georgetown field report

Oh, did this one break my heart.  I so wanted to love it, everything looked so promising.

Dean & DeLuca is an old-line, very high end gourmet market in New York City that has gradually developed into a chain with outlets in select US cities and around the world. I’ve had very good coffee at the Dean & DeLuca at Mahanakhon Cube, next to the Chong Nonsi Skytrain station in Bangkok’s Narathiwat neighborhood.

The Georgetown market occupies a lovely old brick car barn on M Street in the heart of the neighborhood. Inside is a beautiful open space, with counters serving a wide variety of prepared foods, baked goods, high end wine, all looking like a magical food hall.  You’d want to hire whomever put the place together as the designer for the gorgeous loft you’ll surely own one day when you strike it rich.

oh, look. an espresso bar.

The market has an espresso bar in the middle of the store, tucked under the mezzanine and in a transitional space between the food section and the wine hall. 

Everything looked promising. There was a La Marzocco Strada espressoo machine on duty, and the coffee beans were from Toby’s Estate, a very well regarded roaster in New York whose products I’ve wanted to try for some time.

So I get to the counter, and it seems the barista was having a bad day because she was very unhappy that my arrival interrupted her cleaning something at the sink.  I believe the proper term for the look she gave me was the skunk eye.  She didn’t say anything to me the entire time. I ordered a macchiato to have there, and a lovely looking big chocolate chip cookie.  She made the drink in a to-go cup, handed it to me, and went back to her cleaning up.

I went to a table and took the lid off to see what I had.  Not good.

 

That’s an awfully big drink for a macchiato.  The milk foam was all air.  Took a sip, and it was scalding hot, to the point of killing the flavor completely.  I enjoyed my cookie (at least that was good), let the drink cool for a while and took it with me.  After it had cooled down to a temperature somewhat lower than the surface of the planet Mercury, I tried it again.  Let it cool some more, tried it again.

Nope!  Ruined.

Valuable object lesson in the importance of the barista’s skills. It is very possible for someone to use great coffee beans on a great machine and still produce something akin to tasteless coffee boiled to within an inch of its life in an old vending machine.

So by all means visit Dean & DeLuca for the beautiful building and the lovely food. But you’d be better get your coffee across the alley (more on that later).

Post-script: I called the market to give them feedback on my negative experience, since that seemed the best way to deal with it. My current work is in guest experience, so I know I’d rather hear the feedback than have it end up on Yelp or through word of mouth (or on a crappy blog, for that matter). The manager with whom I spoke welcomed my comments, and has left me a $10 gift card. I’ll give them another try; if the coffee is better I’ll gladly come back to this post for an update.

 

Dean & DeLuca Market
3276 M Street, NW
Washington, DC
https://www.deandeluca.com

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