We had Callan and Lauren try out The Source by Wolfgang Puck over by the Newseum. Here are their thoughts on this chic restaurant.
What would you say your first impressions were when you walked into the restaurant?
Lauren: I thought it had this relaxed ambience of a cocktail lounge where people would come to after a long day at work just to unwind and let loose. As the night grew darker, the lighting and mood also turned it into a nice, cozy date spot. The place wasn’t too loud, like some cocktail bars can be, and I really liked the set up of their lounge. Everything from the atmosphere to the decor had a style so chic and modern. Definitely sets the mood for a nice evening out with a date.
Callan: I agree with Lauren about the composed ambiance of the lounge. I thought that the vibe had a relaxed, sophistication to it. It was elegant, but still slightly edgy and had a younger feel. I definitely agree that it would be perfect for a first date, because it was relatively quiet and intimate. As the sun goes down, the lighting becomes ambient and the entire lounge has a warm, golden glow.
What about the staff? Were they nice and accommodating? How would you rate their service?
Callan: While I didn’t have any particular issues with the personality of our waitress, I thought that the service was a little bit slow. It took a while for us to get our drink orders in, and we were only checked on once or twice during the entire meal. That might just be me being nitpicky, but I felt like I needed a little bit more attention for the price point.
Lauren: I agree with Callan. The service was a little slow considering the amount of people actually dining at the time. But I kind of enjoyed the solitude. Sometimes it can get a little annoying when the wait staff checks in on you every couple minutes, especially when I decide to take a huge bite and my mouth gets so full that all I can get out is “‘mm fine, thanks.” At one point, our waitress did stop by and asked if we wanted one of our dishes heated up again, because we were too focused on eating the other dishes. I thought it was quite considerate of her to offer to do so.
How did their menu look? What did you guys end up ordering?
Callan: There was a very wide variety of options on the menu. One menu had items from the upstairs restaurant, one had small plates, and the last one was mainly dedicated to sushi. It was nice to have a wide range of options.
Lauren: Extensive. They gave us four menus, as Callan listed. I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to eat. We actually ended up ordering from the sushi and small plates menu. We thought we’d have more of a variety of foods to try rather than ordering from the entrée menu from the upstairs kitchen.
What about for drinks? Did you guys get any cocktails?
Lauren: After looking up and down the cocktail menu, I found the Hello Kitty to be the most appealing. I’m the kind of girl who loves fruity cocktails, and the Passion Fruit Rum was really what got me hooked. I think it was a good choice. You could really taste the orange and passion fruit with that slight hint of cranberry mixed in. There was a faint burn as it went down my throat, which might have come from the ginger and the Bacardi, but other than that I really enjoyed the drink. I don’t like drinks that have been masked by so much syrup, but the Hello Kitty perfectly balanced the burn of the alcohol with the sweetness of the fruits. Although, I’m not quite sure why it’s called the Hello Kitty.
Callan: I ordered the Xiang Li “Fragrant Pear”, which was essentially a pear-based martini. It was incredibly smooth with just the perfect hint of sweetness. I normally don’t elect to drink drinks that are vodka-based, but this one didn’t have any of the aggressiveness that I normally associate with vodka. It is the perfect example of a “girly drink”. I felt sophisticated drinking something out of a martini glass that wasn’t a martini, but also wasn’t a cosmopolitan. It almost went down too easily, which of course could be dangerous. But in the end it was very refined, clean, and not cloyingly sweet.
Tell us, how did everything taste? Were they up to your expectations? Did any of your dishes disappoint?
Callan: We split a spicy tuna roll and a dragon roll, and I ordered the tuna poke. To be honest, I was expecting more from the sushi and was slightly disappointed. The spicy tuna was good, but the spice seemed more like an afterthought. I wanted the spice and the tuna flavor to be in tandem, but the spice came too far after I had already enjoyed the tuna. The dragon roll probably could have used a little bit more salt, but I enjoyed the creaminess from the avocado.
The tuna poke was not bad, but it was very small and consisted more of rice than actual tuna. I actually felt a little bit hungry after I finished it, and had to eat a few handfuls of nuts when I got back to my apartment.
Lauren: As Callan said, we split the sushi rolls while I also ordered the Fried Rice Bowl with shrimp. Similar to what Callan thought, I found the sushi to be a little more than disappointing. As an avid lover of sushi, sashimi, and all things seafood and fish, I didn’t think their sushi was fresh and authentic enough for my liking. I was put off by the addition of cucumbers in both the rolls, something I know is commonly found in California rolls. I suppose variation is fine, but I wasn’t expecting to crunch on a fresh cucumber when I was used to the soft avocado slices in these signature rolls. I did enjoy the avocado slices on top of the dragon roll, just not the cucumbers inside them.
As for my other dish, I was really digging their fried rice. I love foods that have a lot of veggies and diversity in them. This fried rice bowl definitely had those two qualities. It included green peas, scallions, and slices of asparagus. The fried onion topping sprinkled on top gave the overall dish a nice crunch. The shrimp was cooked just right and went well with the sweet and spicy sauce it was mixed with. I really enjoyed the half-cooked egg when mixed with the rice. It reminded me more of a Japanese rice bowl rather than a typical Chinese fried rice dish. Regardless, I think this dish won the night–for me, anyways.
Finally, if you had to rate them, what grade would you give? Would you ever go back?
Callan: I loved my drink, and if I went back it would likely just be for that. Of course, I haven’t eaten anything from the actual restaurant, and I would hope that it would be of a higher quality than the food from the lounge. I generally thought that everything was underseasoned and, for the price, I was expecting better tasting sushi. I felt that this was an example of a celebrity chef putting their name on something, thus, people will eat there despite the price and quality. I’ve eaten at other Wolfgang Puck restaurants and, unfortunately, this was the most disappointing. C
Lauren: I would probably come back to try their happy hour. I think you can order any three from the Bar & Lounge menu for $30 during their happy hour, and I would get the fried rice bowl again. Other than that, the menu prices seemed a bit high for the quality and quantity of the food. The fried rice was delicious, as I said before, but I’m not quite sure if it was $16 delicious, especially since the bowl was relatively small. I’ve got to agree with Callan about the celebrity chef comment. Although for drinks, I would definitely get the Hello Kitty again, and maybe I’ll ask why it’s called that next time. I give this place a solid B–it was the fried rice that won me over.