Grub On (Not): Eatonville

It’s taken me a dreadfully long time to write this article. Once you’ve been sick for a full four days after eating in a certain restaurant, you’re a bit wary of talking about food for a while. Two weeks ago, I wanted to try Lauriol Plaza and spend a night in Dupont. Unfortunately, after 10 minutes of an unsuccessful parking search, I gave up. I decided this just wasn’t worth the effort and I would find a more reasonable parking situation at U Street.
So I drove with my Significant Other and our rumbling tummies to U Street. My first instinct was to try Black and Orange, and  just take it home after the long day at work. But as we crossed 14th Street, and I caught the rush of that strong draft, I changed my mind, much to the chagrin of my boo who isn’t as apt to change as I. My mind had decided that Eatonville would be a much better choice.
When walking or driving past the restaurant, I’m always floored by the design of the huge windows and open layout of this place. If you’ve never heard of Eatonville, it’s a Southern/Soul Food restaurant within the U Street Corridor neighborhood. It’s named after the town in Orange County, Florida where Zora Neale Hurston was born and the location for her novel Their Eyes were Watching God, which I read in High School but generally can’t recall what it was about. It was a good read, though.

The outside view

The outside view

For a Friday night, we were surprised that this place was almost empty and were seated almost immediately, taking a long, hungry, desirous look at the drink menu. There are so many wonderful options here, very similar to Busboys and Poets, of the same proprietorship, and across the street. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gone as hard as I did, but  screw it, I went for broke here. I finally chose a drink with three different rums in it, spiced, dark and light. Brief side note, I am a rum/tequila fanatic and believe in another life I lived in the Caribbean/Central/South America region of the world. Also vodka’s gross. You would like yourself more after a night of binge drinking if it includes no vodka.  Just saying, its the devil.
I couldn’t conceal my glee when our drinks came back and mine was poured into a Mason jar. Wunderbar! I think Mason jars are the perfect Folk tribute to any kitchen.

Three rum delight

Three rum delight

The room is currently spinning from my delight at the glass display of my colorful drink and I’m only settled by munching on our basket of corn muffins. I hoped beyond hope that they were sweet and not that dry-corn mealy crap that often disguises itself as cornbread. Don’t be duped folks, if it has no sugar or cinnamon in the mix, you’re eating BS-bread, not cornbread. You’re welcome.

The cornbread had sugar, thank Goodness, and was pointing due North, go figure

The cornbread had sugar, thank Goodness, and was pointing due North, go figure

Finally, time to order the food. My boyfriend and I went back and forth so many times. I saw another table near us with the Southern Fried Chicken, Macaroni & Cheese and Collard Greens. I thought immediately, Yes! That’s what I want. Then I second guessed myself. That just sounded way too safe! I am, after all, a budding travel show host. So I’m almost required to go for the most diverse, the most out there, the most non-routine food on the menu! So I went for the Shrimp and Oyster Po’Boy. This was mildly breaking my cardinal rule, but I fancied myself content with the decision.
What is the cardinal rule, you ask? If you can’t readily see the sea from inside a restaurant, do not, I repeat, do not consume any sort of bivalve mollusk they may produce there. Fish is fine, shrimp is okay, but if it’s an oyster, mollusk, scallop, etc., just don’t freaking do it. You’re tempting fate and your rectum, sir!
I don’t know what made me do it. Maybe it was my adoration of Po’Boys that made me go into the dark side. Great big freaking sigh. The thing comes out and it’s a pretty good portion. It’s also topped with tomatoes and lettuce. In my mind, I’m already thinking, wrong! Where’s the cabbage and why are there tomatoes on this? But I continue to tempt fate anyway. The “baguette” was more of a loaf of French (see American) bread and not a true baguette, but I could overlook that (do you see how many concessions I’ve already made?).  My first bite–a breaded piece of jumbo shrimp  and it was so tasty that I took two more bites, in quick succession. All of the sudden, blech! Bit right into the worst tasting oyster of my life. It tasted like bad dreams and hopelessness.  I swallowed the large bite I’d taken, and pulled out the rest of the oysters from the sandwich. I pushed my way through it  because I was famished, but would later come to regret that.

Death on a plate. Fries were good

Death on a plate. Fries were good

When I got home after the boo date, I was not feeling so well and high-tailed it to the bathroom as soon as I stepped over the threshold. I went to bed quickly, and woke up in the middle of the night for trip number two. Over the course of the next day, thankfully I was working from home, I visited the bathroom no less than 4 times, and didn’t discover until the next day that not a single trip included Number 1. My boyfriend, who’d had the Cheeseburger, was looking rather chipper when he came over later, which sort of made me hate his guts for being so safe. But I have to admit, he made a good call that night.

I had another dinner engagement the next evening at Aria, which only made my tummy worse with the bland food, but I just wasn’t ready to give up the opportunity to review a new restaurant! At 6am the following morning, I had my head in the porcelain bowl and proceeded to let my life go into the u-bend. I then pulled a Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers and set up camp around the toilet for a little while. The entire weekend and Monday were just more of the same, superfluous trips to the bathroom and attempts to heat up broth and bouillon to fill my stomach.

It was a hell of a weekend. The one bright spot was my amazing boyfriend (be jealous) coming over to take care of me, bringing me Pedialyte that I refused to drink, rubbing my tummy and making me delightful batches of Sleepytime tea and honey.

Basically, after the longest post I’ve written thus far, I’m telling you, stick to the Cardinal Rule – if you can’t see the sea, don’t eat the seafood! And avoid Eatonville. This place has ruined food for me, and I won’t be able to drive down 14th Street any longer without cringing at those big ass windows and open layout. I think I want to vom right now.
Thank you for listening to my rant, and GOOD NIGHT!

Score: 1 out of 5

After all, the artwork on the walls looked nice.

Eatonville on Urbanspoon

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Written by Marrissa P.

Marrissa P.

Marrissa moved to Paris from the US with 3 suitcases in January 2010 to study international business at the American Business School.

She is passionate about travel and is the host of a travel show webseries, Taste and See. She enjoys travel writing and can often be found borrowing books from the public library on the subject. In her spare time, she is co-authoring a graphic novel and volunteering for an international economic development organization.

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  1. andy March 26, 2013 11:10 am  Reply

    I am so sorry about your unfortunate experience at Eatonville – I am the owner and was truly distressed when I read your post. Would love to talk to you further and see how we can do better. Thank you.

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