- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The look of 1905, a second-floor bistro in a U Street-area row house, is Victorian fabulous: a large, soft-glowing chandelier, a dark wooden sculpture covered in white candle wax, mismatched tables, chairs and benches, some of them draped in lush fabrics.

But “fabulous” does not describe the service. On a recent Wednesday night, when the dining room had all of eight other guests, our entrees arrived more than 45 minutes after we had finished our appetizers.

When we inquired whether there was a problem, we were met with a blank stare and this response: “What do you mean?”

What we meant was: Why was it taking almost an hour to prepare an Angus burger and a grilled sirloin steak? Our waitress clearly didn’t want to be bothered with our pedestrian inquiry. You see, 1905 is unique, urban, cool.

This is a place that stays open until the wee hours and features live jazz on Thursdays. It’s a place to chill.

Agreed. But it’s still a restaurant where food - quite good at that - is among the offerings. So, if guests are there not only for the anise-flavored absinthe, incredibly narrow bar (you literally bump elbows with bar clientele when heading through a narrow passage to the restrooms at the back of the restaurant), Victorian furnishings and reggae tunes, a little service would be nice.

It’s a shame, too, because the food really is good, except for the bread, which was dry and arrived at the table only after a couple of inquiries.

The menu, which is relatively short but sweet, can be characterized as new American with a bit of French around the edges.

We started with the pan-roasted shrimp with capers and chorizo - a wonderful combination of salty and chewy - and the crawfish bisque (the soup of the day). Both were top-notch, with the bisque having nice texture and thickness without being overly creamy.

Then - during our superlong wait - we rolled our thumbs, planned the week and spent time noticing more of the dining room’s features. A large piece of art in a corner caught our eye and interest. Black-on-white images that looked like Edgar Allan Poe. Tasteful and fitting.

We also noticed that the communal table in the middle seemed too narrow to fit two plates across from each other, and the narrow wooden benches along the walls increasingly felt as if they could use some cushions.

During the long wait, we saw the typical restaurant tide: the dining room emptying and the small bar filling.

Then, at 10:15 p.m. they arrived. The burger and the sirloin steak. Both were prepared perfectly to order with nice sides: lightly steamed green beans and a Parmesan potato croquette to go with the steak and crisp-on-the-outside, buttery-on-the-inside large wedges of french fries to go with the burger.

Better late than never.

Desserts at 1905 are nothing to write home about, although they did arrive promptly, and we did enjoy a cinnamon-infused bread pudding with coffee ice cream.

There’s much to like at 1905. We applaud the decor, drinks and food as well as the overall uniqueness. But is that enough? The too-cool-for-school attitude might work for some, but not for us.

RESTAURANT: 1905, 1905 Ninth St. NW; 202/332-1905; www.1905dc.com

HOURS: Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday until 3 a.m.

PRICES: Starters $7 to $9; entrees $12 to $22; desserts $5 to $8

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: Street parking

ACCESS: No wheelchair access

METRO: U Street/Cardozo

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