Two Palate Dining: The Carlyle Club

She Said: The Carlyle Club and The Glenn Miller Orchestra

The Carlyle Club Pork chop

The Carlyle Club Pork Chop

I love old movies and music. I’m a big vintage fan. And you will  typically find me listening to music from the 40s and 50s instead of something contemporary (I don’t own any Lady Gaga or Katy Perry). I just love that era in fashion, music and everything!  Last year for our anniversary RJ took me to The Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Carlyle Club and it was such a special night. We danced and it was so romantic. I’ve treasured that memory and looked forward to getting to go again all year. I was really disappointed that my second outing to The Carlyle Club to see The Glenn Miller Orchestra didn’t live up to my hopes for how wonderful it would be.

The Carlyle Club is pretty and you do feel like you are transported back in time (except for the Christmas lights on the palm trees- they are weird). You sit at your table and get to listen to fabulous music and eat your dinner. And you can get up and dance whenever you want! It has the potentioal to be  a really nice experience. Last year, we sat at the “bar” which wasn’t really like sitting a bar per se (and would have been a waste since we don’t drink) it’s a bar type seating that still faces the stage, it was great.  We had a table seat this year.  I have to say that I think that they have waaaayyy too many tables crowded in there! We couldn’t move or travel to and from the dance floor without the need of being bumped around by chairs and people’s bottoms. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to be pressed up against the same person (a stranger) two dozen times a night just to get in and out my seat. We weren’t able to get a two-seat table but we were very lucky to share the table with two very sweet ladies. I’m glad we at least found good company in them. There was a shocking lack of manners on the dance floor but our dining companions were charming.

I was really excited to get dinner since last time we only had dessert.  I was not pleased at all with the outcome of eating the dinner. The breadbasket on the table was really disappointing. The roll I had was so hard and completely bland that I wished I hadn’t eaten it. But I was starving because we had to wait over an hour for our food! Our waiter told us that they only have a few chefs and everyone comes all at once so they usually have people waiting for an hour or an hour and half. I think that’s ridiculous! If it were good food it would be ridiculous but since it wasn’t even that great I almost cried about the 74 wasted dollars on the meal (on top of buying a ticket for a seat).  I ordered the pork chop, which was served with mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. The pork chop itself was very tender but it lacked seasoning. It could have definitely used some salt and pepper because the texture was nice. My mashed potatoes were super lumpy and I hate lumpy mashed potatoes. I know potatoes don’t have to be satin smooth to be tasty but these were much too lumpy to have been palatable had I not been ravenous. The vegetable medley was tasty especially the squash and peppers, I enjoyed it. For dessert, I ordered the cheesecake with strawberry sauce. It was disgusting. The crust was like cardboard and the custard tasted completely spoiled. I had liked the cheesecake last year but this was disgusting. It was served with a thin strawberry sauce that tasted like syrup and some kind of brownish pink stuff on the plate (I have no idea what it was besides gross).  I didn’t try RJ’s food because he had beef although I did try some of his dessert. It wasn’t very good because it consisted of a dry, cheap brownie and some very cheap, melted ice cream. The food was really a big disappointment.

I love Glenn Miller’s music. It’s always a treat to see and hear a live performance of music that you love.  Last year I was completely over the moon after this performance, but this time not so much. I thought that the sound of the orchestra was still really great on their signature songs (Moonlight Serenade and In The Mood) but I didn’t like their set list. I was looking for Elmer’s Tune and Shoo Shoo Baby- no such luck! They have added some songs since last time that I didn’t like at all.  I thought they played too much Latin music, too. I understand that they don’t want to tour with the same set list, but it was very surprising in contrast to last time. I don’t think you should have less of an idea what kind of show someone is going to do the second time that you see them perform. They also have a new bandleader, who is super smarmy and over the top and that really dulled the experience for me. The lady who is their female vocalist was okay but a disappointment from the dynamic girl they had last year. At least they still had their wonderful male vocalist and we got to dance to A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

Since, I don’t like that much current pop music I bet you can imagine how often we go dancing right? Hardly ever, I think we’ve been dancing (not counting college dances- which I really miss) 3 times. I don’t like the music or the way people dance in modern clubs so that’s not a fun scene for us. I love to dance though! I love it! And we dance a lot at home so it’s always really exciting to think about getting the chance to dance to music outside of our little living room. Last year we danced and danced and it was amazing. The dance floor at The Carlyle Club is really small and gets crowded really easily. Sometimes when people hear music they really enjoy particularly if it’s swing music they can get a little crazy.  Selfish dancing was really a problem when we went two weeks ago. There was a large group of people who all knew each other and took up lots of room showing off tricks and sometimes we couldn’t even try to jump on the dance floor. It really upset me to get knocked into or crowded off because I paid for a ticket, too. We recently took some ballroom dance classes so we just wanted a little area to dance in. Sometimes we were able to squeeze into a little area where the orchestra blasted our ears and we were under an air-conditioner vent and partially behind a curtain. At least we were dancing! They also played Alice Blue Gown, which is one of my favorite songs! It was very special to get to dance with my sweetheart to that beautiful waltz.

I’m sure that you can tell the evening was a pretty big disappointment. If we ever return to this venue I’ll be sticking with a cheaper seat at the bar and eat elsewhere!

Overall Experience- 4

The Glenn Miller Orchestra- 6

Dinner ( Pork Chop)- 3

Dessert- 0

He Said: The Carlyle Club

The Carlyle Club Filet Mignon

The Carlyle Club Filet Mignon

Recently we went to go see the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Carlyle Club in Alexandria.  We got seats at a table so that we could eat dinner there, and be closer to the dance floor when it was time to dance.  We’d seen them perform in that same space before about a year ago with a different female vocalist and band director, and we sat at the bar, where we could not order dinner.  It was a very different experience this time.

Carlyle Club bill itself as a restaurant, so I had high expectations.  The first thing that disappointed me (yes, I said first, buckle up) was how long it took to have our order taken.  We had been seated for about 20 minutes before someone even came to take our drink order.  Keep in mind, we were checked in at the front desk, and seated by a maitre de, so they can’t say that they didn’t know we were there.  We had wound up with our tickets at a table sitting with two other people who were just as surprised it was taking so as we were.  Their salads and entrees both came while we were waiting for our order to be taken!

Then we were disappointed by the selection of appetizers on the menu.  Most were salads (don’t they include salads most places?) so there was very little to share except fried calamari, and with Kari’s seafood allergy that was out too.  It’s probably just as well.  The calamari that I saw on everyone else’s plate didn’t look too bad, but most people had left theirs on their plate.  That must really be something, considering how long the wait for the main course was.  That wait was surprisingly long as well.  It took another 40 minutes after we ordered to get our entrees.  When pressed, our waiter finally apologized and explained that on show nights, everyone comes in at the same time and the three cooks just couldn’t keep up, but that he would say something.  I saw some people getting their entrees over an hour after we had gotten our food.  Kari got the pork chops.  I considered the crab cakes but got the filet mignon instead.  Overall, the food was a very safe American menu.  Truth be told, it had a wedding food feel.  Kari’s pork chop was served with the bone in which left it extraordinarily moist.

My dish was passable, but given the wait, it may be a case of hunger being the best sauce.  I ordered the filet medium well; it also came with asparagus, mashed potatoes, and gravy over both the steak and the mashed potatoes.  The steak was cooked properly, and was easy to cut.  It didn’t however seem like the meat was seasoned very much, if at all.  The potatoes had some lumps, but were made edible thanks to the gravy.  The first asparagus spear was tender and grilled properly.  I was pleasantly surprised, as I typically don’t like asparagus.  After that, they undercooked, too crisp, and not tasty.  I really hope that wasn’t how we got our food any faster.  The gravy really wound up saving this whole dish.  I’m a sucker for a good gravy.  I didn’t miss the crab cakes when I saw them on someone else’s plate.  It looked like there was hardly and crab, and they were mostly filler.  Seriously people, if you’re a restaurant and you can’t make a fantastic crab cake in this area, don’t even try!  Just leave it off the menu entirely!

Then we got dessert.  When we sat at the bar last time, we were able to order dessert.  We greatly enjoyed the cheesecake with strawberry sauce that was available at that time.  This time, I got brownie sundae, and Kari got the cheesecake.  The brownie itself was really good.  Very rich, very chocolately, and what you would expect from a brownie.  The ice cream and the whipped cream were both awful.  They were clearly from the cheapest, store bought container they could find.  Kari’s cheesecake tasted like it had spoiled, and had what I think was a raspberry sauce, and some unidentified brown sauce.  Why are we always stuck with the Robert Stack brown foods!

The music was good, but not as good as the last time.  It’s really hard to truly bomb with such great built in material.  We really enjoyed the female vocalist last time much better.  The current band director has a much more lounge music feel than last time, and that is greatly to the band’s detriment.  He seems smarmy, and he really got on my nerves.  The music selection also wasn’t as good.  They didn’t play some songs that we loved before, and included some songs from outside of the Glenn Miller catalogue .  The most egregious was the Girl from Ipanema .  Yes, they resorted to that lounge classic, that you could hear almost anywhere, the great Glenn Miller Orchestra.

The dancing wasn’t as fun this time either.  We’ve taken a few ballroom dance classes since the last time, so I thought the dancing would be more enjoyable.  However, this time there were far too many dance floor hogs, especially for the small dance floor that the Carlyle Club provided.

Going to a concert like this can be really fun, but if you go to the Carlyle Club, do yourself a favor and get a seat at the bar.  You get a better view, and you don’t have to worry about the food.

Filet Mignon- 4

Glenn Miller Orchestra-7

Overall experience-3

Dessert- 5