Liberty Tree – The Good, Bad and Ugly


1016 H Street NE

The Good, Bad and Ugly

One thing I pride myself on is the ability to provide an objective review. Normally I dine with others and ask their opinions as well as my own which gives more than one perspective which I think is a good thing.


We started out with a ‘simple plan’. Sixteen friends and moms going out to dinner to celebrate a birthday. Sounds simple right, but slowly turned into an ugly scene when the manger finally uttered the words “I understand you guys don’t want to pay your bill”.




I am just going to give it to you straight. This is a very unattractive venue. When I was growing up in this city long ago, the area where the Liberty Tree is located was just referred to as H Street or the bad part of town. Let’s just be honest. It was not the safest place in the city. Fast forward more than 30 years later and its called The Atlas District. I guess that would be the official name. My personal name for this section of town is The GRUNGE District.


Have you ever been to Seattle, which I adore, but the ‘fringe’ area where it starts to get a little creepy? Well sorry but that’s what this area feels like to me.


For instance, I think the interior of Liberty Tree is depressing, the facade too for that matter. Their website refers to the dinning room as “upscale”…huh..ummm, I can’t co-sign on that brother! In fact I will go even further and say that there is absolutely nothing upscale about the Liberty Tree. I would not recommend this place for a romantic dinner. The servers, while nice enough, may have nose rings or visible tattoos, shorts with chucks and black ankle socks and tee shirts. Just saying, this is very different to lets say the 14th street corridor or PennQuarter.



Also something worth noting that I have only experienced in third world countries, and Ephesus, was a dog in the restaurant. That’s right a dog, twice. A black     lab-ish looking dog (on a leash) was brought from the back or side someplace and walked smack dab down the middle of the main dinning room out the front door. Then later back in and wait I guess it was three times because again I saw a chick walk him back outside – but she stopped for a minute to chat with someone who caught her attention at one of the tables in the “upscale” dinning room, while fido was with nose pressed against the front door anxious to get out. Now, don’t act like you don’t have your pooch or cat walking around your dinning room at home…..








Hey no getting around this fact, the food is very good here. I wanted to try the pizza but was too tempted by other items on the menu.


Remember there are 16 in our party so I was able to get feedback from folks on a few items.


 Here is the report: The menu is here


Bow Tie Pasta – Duck (Comfort Food)



Ground Duck



Pizza – Very good. Everyone who ordered pizza was very satisfied. The crust looked thin or hand tossed. Light on sauce and ample toppings that looked very fresh.


Spinach Salad



Bow Tie Pasta with “homemade ground duck sausage”. This was outstanding and very different. It had a hearty taste with brown sauce, cranberries complimented very well and red pepper. One question though, can ground duck be considered ‘homemade’ or just ground onsite. No matter I highly recommend this dish!


Fried Oysters



Spinach salad was said to be very fresh with almonds.


Fried Brussel sprouts excellent and gives this spot on 14th Street stiff competition.


Brussel Sprouts



Grilled Salmon, Fried Oysters and New England Chowder disappeared so fast….she said it was very good. The chowder was very creamy and full of clam meat, no complaints. The oysters were plump and so pretty.


I think they had a fire oven that I assumed was for the pizza.




Let me mention the only items that did not receive good ratings were the fish and chips and the banana pudding. The fish and chips were said to be ‘tasteless’ and the pudding was too rich for almost everyone who had it. It seemed to have a caramel sauce.


Bread Pudding


So, remember I mentioned there were 16 of us for dinner and I gotta admit I think a few of the ladies got kinda loud, a little too loud for my comfort level but hey it wasn’t my birthday. After this fine company and food I was especially ready to hit the bed I mean the streets and par-tay! So finally we asked for the check and in particular could we have separate checks.


The server went back and forth at one point saying yes then finally coming back and say that he would not be able to accommodate that request. Not even two checks. Well, here we go…… some folks only had an appetizer while others had three courses and a drink so it was not possible to just split the check equal ways which by the way was more than $600. As you can imagine the food was coming fast and furious  and the check was as long as H Street.


We had to do it the old fashion way and have each person one by one review the check and note their charges…some paying cash, others credit card so you see where this is going right…yep trouble. Finally, 45mins later everyone has paid up and tada…..$75 short soooo we had everyone double check and again short. Someone else took over the accounting position and said…hey everything is good. So we handed in the check, cash and credit cards…FINALLY.


So about 15 mins later the server comes back and guess what, yep short $75. Well, I was seeing RED at this point. Mind you, he mentioned to us earlier that no one could leave until he cleared the check so well, no comment. But when he came back with the bad news about the check it had been over an hour working on that check and I just don’t have the patience of Job.


The folks who paid cash began to trickle out, me of course I play the points game so always use my credit card so had to wait. The server sent over the manager and when he approached the group the first thing he said to us was “I UNDERSTAND YOU GUYS DONT WANT TO PAY YOUR BILL”. Very insulting and outrageous for the manager to make that type of accusation. I’ve never seen anything like that before.


Well, that’s all he had to say. I kindly told him that I have indicated what I consumed, it is correct, please allow me to sign for my card because I am leaving. In no way was anyone at anytime attempting to not pay their bill. In fact we spent well over an hour trying to pay the bill. Everyone was very sure they covered their food and when I started to think about it, its highly possible that the server could have made a mistake and charged us for items we didn’t order. Like I said the bill was very long and with so many of us and so much food coming and going, it was almost impossible to ask everyone to check things off property to see if we had items on the bill that we did not actually order. The bill had been marked up so bad it was already getting hard to read.

((Question, is paying the tip mandatory in DC? I mean the tip was about $100 and the money was $75 short so did we really have to pay the $75 because technically that was really the tip.))

Bottom line is I paid my bill and left so I am not sure how it was resolved but it was very insulting to all of us. I had not been to the Liberty Tree since March 2012 and I am afraid this experience left a bad taste for me.


But if you’d like to experience the food, which was very good, head on over. Short walk from metro red line stop Union Station.