I love the idea of devour downtown, it is a great way to potentially get to try restaurants that you might otherwise think are too expensive. Generally, the concept is for two weeks in the winter, and two in late summer, you get three courses at various restaurants for $30. A lot of the downtown restaurants participate and I think it garners a fair amount of business based on the buzz I see online (and the crowds).
Hubby and I were torn about where to go to try a devour downtown menu, and while several looked good (and several not as much), we decided to go back to Mesh, give the devour menu a try and at the same time, see if the quality was as high as our first visit.
You can see the devour menu here, and I thought it looked interesting (although it was slightly different once you got into the restaurant). Here’s the thing though, once you sit down and price out the individual items from the regular menu (salad $6, dessert, $7, and while the entrée I ordered isn’t on the regular menu, another chicken dish is for $17, and hubby’s was $16). This equals $30 or less and you get to choose exactly what you want. That isn’t really a special deal. I realize that this is a good thing that Mesh’s prices are more reasonable than some, and I appreciate this, but for devour, it seems like maybe they could throw in something else to make it a deal. A cup of soup, a glass of wine maybe? Something else. Although, maybe if you ordered the swordfish option that was on the devour menu, you would bump the value up a bit, but I am not a huge fan of swordfish. It seems like if you are really trying to get a good value during these weeks, you might be better off at some of the more expensive places like the steakhouses, Euphoria, or Oceanaire. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents about devour downtown menus.
As for the food, it was on the whole very good. I went ahead and ordered the devour menu because I wanted this to be a review about devour downtown and started with the 725 salad with mixed greens, gorgonzola, spiced pecans and red onion served with Blackberry vinaigrette. It was a really tasty salad. The pecans were small pieces, more like the cheese crumbles, which at first made me think they had forgotten them, but as I ate the salad, I realized I liked them this way because you got just a bit of the flavor and crunch with each bite. It was well tossed and dressed and the dressing, while you could taste the sweetness of the fruit, was not overly sweet and was balanced by the right amount of vinegar.
Hubby had the mushroom strudel with greens on the side ($9). It was really nice—there were several types of mixed mushrooms and feta cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and served with a nice salad with a tangy dressing that accented the earthy mushrooms. And the crunchiness of phyllo is something I love—it is light, but gives that buttery flavor and crunchy texture to whatever it is wrapped around. (I love wrapping just about any kind of fish with phyllo and baking it for a super easy dinner).
I had the chicken streusel (which was listed as chicken pot pie on the online devour menu) for my main and it was my biggest let down of the night (and also, the only non-regular menu item). Honestly, even though you can easily make a 3 course meal off the Mesh menu for right around $30, I think they actually gave you less than your money’s worth on this one. It was a fine portion for me, but smaller than most of their entrees. It was basically a very similar looking strudel to hubby’s appetizer (in size and shape) but it was filled with chicken, mushrooms and mixed veggies. It was served with mashed potatoes and more veggies—carrots and a bit of asparagus and covered in a thick Sherry cream sauce. I don’t know, it just didn’t have the depth of flavor that other things at Mesh have. The sauce was a bit flat and the inside of the strudel needed more seasoning—even just salt or something.
Hubby refused to get anything but the pork belly ($16) he had last time because he liked it so much then (he says he had to try it to make sure the consistency wasn’t off—uh huh, right). Anyway, he was just as happy with it this time—the pork was well seasoned with just the right amount of fattiness to make it really taste decadent. I really like the bacon braised endive and balsamic sauce to give just the right amount of zinginess.
Finally, we shared my devour dessert, the chocolate marjolaine. It was pretty good—there was a firmer more cakelike layer at the bottom with a hard layer between it and a layer of mousse. Unfortunately, it was hard to break through the two layers with our silverware, so mainly we just ate the mousse off the top. I really enjoyed the hard bits of toffee on top (think nut brittle pieces). The raspberry sorbet on the side was outstanding. But here’s the other thing, this was more than enough dessert for both of us too—so what is the point of getting another one (and the only other option was a scoop of ice cream), when you can easily share one? So in reality, hubby got exactly what he wanted off the menu and spent $25, which is less than devour prices.
I guess the lesson here is, don’t assume that devour downtown is always a good deal. Check out the regular menu of the place you are considering and add it up. I think these more mid-range restaurants need to come up with a little better deal if they are really trying to lure in people who are interested in saving money. Maybe 3 courses for $20? I’m just making suggestions, but what do you guys think about this?
As far as the restaurant goes, I did still really enjoy Mesh. The interior is warm and inviting (although they could stand a few more two-tops upstairs that aren’t basically in the hallway—if you are going with a party of two, my recommendation is asked to be seated at a four-top in the actual dining rooms if you don’t want to feel like you are eating in the front hall) and the food is good and fairly reasonably priced for this type of menu. The service is professional and seemingly fairly knowledgeable about the menu. It is certainly one on my list of places I will recommend and still will be, I just wouldn’t recommend it specifically for the devour downtown menu.
725 Massachusetts Avenue