Bond 45: Service is More Inspector Gadget than James Bond

Bond 45: The Italian Kitchen Steak and Seafood restaurant is a New York import to the steak-crazed, DC restaurant scene. Uniquely situated in Maryland’s stylish National Harbor complex, its views of the Potomac are spectacular and as such, a reservation is recommended.

The casual eatery has an old world parlor feel that’s a welcome departure from the dark, wood-paneled steakhouse stereotypes, stuck in the 1980’s. The Bond 45 menu is also unique, offering an eclectic mix of Italian American meets Texas steakhouse items, with pasta dishes as well as seafood.

Upon arriving, the hostess seated us promptly, however the server seemed overwhelmed. The Bellini barely tasted of the advertised white peach mixer and was lackluster. The first course promptly began with giant, steaming hot popover rolls, which nicely compliment the charcuterie and the cheese appetizers. By far however, the best dish is the creamy Buratta mozzarella. Although mozzarella bars have been popping up in the DC area recently, Bond 45’s stands out with a simple concoction that was memorable and left you wanting more.  The cream-soaked, hand-made mozzarella has a rich flavor and practically dissolves on your tongue.  It comes perfectly complimented with ripe beefsteak tomatoes, garnished with diced red onions, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Satisfaction awaits. The shrimp cocktail was fresh, however, we expected larger, meatier shrimp more befitting a steakhouse.

As for the main meal, the 8oz. filet arrived slightly cool, accompanied by room temperature Brunello red wine reduction sauce which would have been better served warm – why would diners would want to put cold sauce on warm meat? The rib eye steak was juicy, flavorful and more memorable than the filet. The Mediterrean branzino was as expected; the fleshy, grilled and mild-tasting whitefish was elegantly garnished with olives and lemon and was satisfying but forgettable. Our meals were accompanied by the roasted potato side dish, which was bland and the grilled asparagus which was tasty but unfortunately overpowered by an alfredo-like cheese sauce, dulling the summer fresh flavor of charred asparagus in its prime.

When dining at a steakhouse, service level expectations are high. Unfortunately for our party, the server forgot to refill drinks and ask how our meal was going, then he stopped by after our plates had been cleared, at which time we had to request a desert menu when he chose not to offer it. Another server brought the dessert tray and told us that chocolate chip cookies were complimentary and she said would bring some with our coffee, but alas, she did not. When no cookies arrived, after we finished our coffees, our original waiter told us that they were simply too hot and that they would melt if he brought them out. This preposterous comment drove us to complain, and magically the cookies appeared not two minutes later. By the way, they were at room temperature when they arrived—an infuriating discovery, given the circumstances.

Overall, the service at Bond 45 felt amateur and left a bad taste in our mouth after a $275 tab for four. However, if you’re already going to National Harbor, reserve a seat at the bar and enjoy the appetizers and views of the Potomac. Otherwise, skip the expense of dining at Bond 45 unless you can stomach indifferent service and good-enough steak.

Location: 149 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, Maryland

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