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REPRINT: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/restaurant-in-search-of-light-and-i-dont-mean-something-to-eat/

Get a group of frequent restaurant-goers together, and soon enough, their note-sharing will reveal the small things that can diminish an otherwise nice experience. Are we talking #FirstWorldproblems here? Absolutely. Does that stop us from venting? Absolutely not.

The upside to being canceled at lunch? The chance to catch up on my reading. So off I went to Mastro’s — yet another new D.C. steakhouse in a city stocked with them — carrying several pounds of newspapers that I hoped to shed by the time I asked for the check.

I never made it past a headline.

While Mastro’s has much to recommend it — prime beef, top-shelf drinks, live music seven nights a week — proper illumination is not on the menu. It is a dark room with darker draperies blocking all but a sliver of natural light, the posh steakhouse is by turns Las Vegas, where the casinos are lighted to make you forget what time it is, and Luray Caverns hold the electricity. When I expressed concern to my waiter, a relative beacon thanks to his white jacket, he brought me a table lamp, typically an evening amenity. The supposed fix glowed with the force of a single birthday candle.