Saturday, May 21, 2016

Restaurant Disappointment: Molly Malone's

In these musings, I generally try to focus on fun stuff, rather than spend my time reliving the not-so-wonderful experiences. However, on rare occasions, there's a fail so great it can't be ignored. Such was the case of our recent disastrous visit to Molly Malone's Capital Hill Saloon in Washington, DC.

Molly Malone's is our regular stop when we attend the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks at 8th & I in Washington, DC. It's become our custom to enjoy dinner and a beer there beforehand. The restaurant is right across the street from the Barracks, and for years we've enjoyed good food and good service, and there's an interesting beer list to boot. We were once again looking forward to a fun evening last Friday. Alas, Molly Malone's part in that outing was a major disappointment.

Arriving after a long drive, we were seated quickly, but at a table that had not yet been wiped down. The hostess set the menus right on top of the crumbs and liquids left by the previous party. There were other open tables available so it was not the case that no other tables were available. A short while later I placed my hand on the seat only to find a well-chewed plastic straw on the cushion.

We ordered our drinks, and after a 15 minute wait, the beers were finally delivered to our table. We placed orders for an appetizer and our entrees at this time. After the waitress left, we realized that two of the three beers were not what we ordered, and my glass had a large chip in the rim. It took a few minutes to track down our server to get replacement beers. With our proper beer order and undamaged glass in hand, we waited for our appetizer to arrive.

And waited. And waited. As the passage of time became increasingly irritating, we noticed that very few people had food at their tables. Other than a large crowd standing at the bar, most of the tables were empty. I heard the lady at the table behind us complain to her server about the slowness of the food service. Her party eventually left without eating. When another couple at a nearby table finally got food, we heard them tell the server their order was wrong, but they would eat it anyway as they had waited long enough. Other waitresses passing by remarked to us, and seemed stunned, that we had still not yet received our dinners.

Over the next 45 minutes, we stopped our server several times to ask about our food. She kept saying she would check on it, and offered an excuse that they "share the kitchen with another restaurant." Eventually our appetizer of mozzarella sticks arrived, with the promise of the rest soon. About 15 minutes later, the Fish & Chips platters that Colleen and I ordered arrived, along the sides of fries that our son and our friend ordered. However, they did not get their main food at this time. Again, we flagged down the waitress to inquire, only to be told she had no idea when the rest of the meal would come out, and could not even promise us that the food would arrive at all.

Eventually the chicken wings ordered by "Checkered Flag" were delivered. They were barely warm, and the extra Blue Cheese dressing requested (and charged for) was never delivered. Neither was the supposed included ranch dressing for dipping. Two more times I inquired about my son's order of chicken tenders, and again no answer was available. We'd now been in the restaurant for an hour and a half. We had get going to make the activity across the street, so I asked the waitress for our check, and to speak with a manager. After she passed by a few more times, I again asked for our check. A few minutes later, I flagged down another server and asked again for the manager. It was at this time that a patron who had been standing at the bar when we arrived told us he ordered food before we sat down and had still not received it.

Eventually I spoke to a manager, while my family ran across the street to check in at the gate before the deadline to keep from losing our seats. The manager ended up comping the two cold sides of fries, and gave another discount that covered most of the Fish & Chips dinners. However, that did little to assuage the after-dinner mood. We did not eat full meals, the food we did get was at best lukewarm, and we had to rush to get to our seats at the Evening Parade.

Our evening at Molly Malone's was a great disappointment. From the time we were seated, to the time we left, very little was done right. It was notable how empty the restaurant was, other than the groups drinking at the bar. Perhaps that should have been a hint to us of things to come. We were let down by a place we had enjoyed many times in the past, and we will not return in the future. There are plenty of other dining establishments along "Barracks Row." Next time, we'll try someplace else and start anew.


  1. Yow. You ought to post this at Yelp and other sites as well.

  2. David,

    Its unfortunate when a restaurant disappoints. A few years ago my wife wanted to treat me to a steak while we were visiting Derry. We have always had great luck with hotel recommendations, but this time the recommendation was for a restaurant that went out of business. Our driver suggested a place with the disclaimer he’d never been there before so the ensuing fail was not his fault.

    I couldn’t finish the meal, it was just poorly done. Since we were paying in GBP, I decided to say something, which I’ve done less than can be counted on one hand.
    They comped our steak, but my wife was profoundly disappointed. Fortunately the Irish know a thing or 2 about drinking and drinking establishments, so we walked a block, found a promising looking pub and had some drinks. Then we came back to the hotel for desert and some drinks. The whole ordeal was not that long but it soured her mood for the night, she was hoping for a really good meal and the restaurant skunked it. They were quick and responsive though.

    Exactly 2 years before, we rode to Edinburgh and it was a similar plan; we identified a restaurant with really good reviews and a solid hotel recommendation, but it was skunked by ... the most inattentive, unhelpful, poorly skilled and inept waitress I’ve ever had. We went to the local Hard Rock the next night and they showered us with welcoming, outstanding customer service. :-P

    here’s hoping you find better results soon.

    1. Bad service, or food, is made even worse when it's a special night or event. When the waitress takes your order then tells you she doesn't know if they will actually serve the food, it rises to a whole new level of incompetence.


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