Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Camille's Sidewalk Cafe Food Review

Rustic Italian Flatbread Pizza

I didn't know until today, that Camille's Sidewalk Cafe at 650 F Street, NW was part of a national chain. Stranger still is its online identity... is supposed to be its web address, but it's actually (minus the DC.) Further complicating matters is the fact that DC isn't even listed as one of the chain's existing locations. Where's Perry Mason when you really need him?

Mysteries aside, I prefer to focus on how Camille's shapes up as a restaurant. Despite it's prime location next to Sidney Harman Hall and across the street from the Verizon Center, Camille's appears almost hidden from plain sight. I've always liked the simplicity of this place: The atmosphere is great... nice & clean with a relaxing blend of music that ranges from Norah Jones to Lionel Richie (did you know he had a new album out last year? It's actually pretty good.)

Service is minimal but pleasant. I ordered a Rustic Italian Flatbread Pizza (Marinara, mozzarella cheese, roasted roma tomato, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, roasted red bell peppers) for $6.99 and took a seat with Diet Coke in hand. It was just before 6:00 PM, but there was only one other table occupied. My 9" pizza looked nice, and was conveniently cut into 8 slices. I wish the crust (flatbread?) was crispier: It seems the cooking process doesn't deliver nearly enough heat to properly cook everything. Cheese was undercooked and tasted like nothing. The tomato topping was closer to tomato paste than sauce; but I really enjoyed the red peppers. I spied a few other spices on top, but couldn't really taste them. If Camille's could change one thing, I'd recommend spicing things up.

Solid service and a comfortable setting made last night's dinner an overall success; but a lack of flavor is a major concern going forward. Camille's sells a number of wraps, hot and cold... in addition to a handful of salads and paninis (plus a few more pizzas.) It's pretty affordable, and a nice break from the Subways and Quiznos of the world.

Atmosphere: B (I like it; but then again... the emptier, the better for me.)
Crust: D+ (Almost flimsy, and didn't look or taste like flatbread.)
Toppings: C (Another minute of cooking would have helped... so would more spice.)
Value: B- (No complaints)
Service: B- (Nothing special, but good enough.)
Overall: B- (Atmosphere makes a big difference for me.)