Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Greene Turtle

The Greene Turtle Exterior

The Greene Turtle may not be flashy, but it certainly is consistent…so far.  I will start this with a caveat that I have only been to the Greene Turtle location in Ballston.  Yes, it may be a trek for you DCers, but I’d certainly hope the other locations could provide a similar experience.  The Ballston location is fairly new, yet it is quickly becoming a favorite work happy hour location of mine.  The happy hour offers $2 rail drinks and $2 domestic beers on tap (select kinds – it’s nothing fancy, but certainly incredibly cheap). The happy food specials are fairly decent.  A gigantic basket of pub fried (with tons of bacon!) is $5.  Well worth it, if you ask me. I have personally not been disappointed with any of the other food I’ve sampled from my coworkers’ plates.

A coworker's standard drink - an Irish Trashcan

The layout of the restaurant is slightly strange and almost everyone I’ve been there with has commented that they could use more bar space.  There is a fair amount of restaurant seating, but the bar gets packed and loud fairly quickly on Friday evenings.  I can’t imagine how this sports bar handles the crowds during big games.  Luckily, our office is less than a 5-minute walk away and someone can generally get there early enough on a Friday to get a table in the bar area.  There are TVs all around the place so as to ensure that you will not miss your favorite sporting event.  I overheard someone saying that it has about 50 TVs throughout the establishment.  If you can’t see the sporting event you are looking to watch, I’m assuming that only reason would be because it’s some obscure sport.

The overall atmosphere at Greene Turtle is jovial and laidback. The wait staff certainly adds to this experience.  They are attentive and more than willing to engage in conversation…that or maybe I just have a very chatty group of coworkers, haha.  I will specifically call out our waitress this past Friday, Kathryn, who memorized everyone’s name just when checking our IDs.  She made our extended happy hour an even better one.  The Greene Turtle is a great experience for big or small groups of people.  The only caveat with larger groups is that you might want to go earlier rather than later to ensure bar seating.  I have never been there that late, but I’ve been told that a DJ starts spinning around 10pm.  There isn’t actual dancing space so I’m not completely certain the purpose of this, but if it’s good music, I will stop sipping the hater-ade.  The Greene Turtle can boast it’s friendly and attentive service, affordable happy hour drinks, and awesome appetizers. I will definitely continue to come here with coworkers.

Vodka Tonic

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The Gibson

The Gibson is without a doubt one of my favorite bars in DC.  If you’re not familiar with this establishment, you are certainly missing out.  First….you need to actually find the place though.  Designed as a speakeasy cocktail bar, there is no sign on the outside of the Gibson.  If you know the street address, there is a faint gray number posted above the door that is really only visible if you’re looking for it.  Entering through an unmarked door feels slightly strange the first time.  Once inside, you see a bouncer waiting in a dim hallway.  The Gibson prides itself on not overfilling or packing people in so it’s a more enjoyable and relaxed experience than fighting people for seats at other bars.  For this reason, there is often a wait on the weekend to get seats.  You can make reservations, which I would advise for a weekend night especially for larger groups and when you don’t want a wait.  I’ve been fortunate enough and haven’t ever been forced to do this.  On one occasion it was almost a problem with a group of five people, but we were allowed to just go to the upstairs bar.

On the weekends, they open the upstairs bar.  This is slightly more relaxed and more of a typical bar atmosphere (read first-come, first-serve seating).  The downstairs bar has a much different feeling though.  There is an inside bar area that is dimly light for an incredibly intimate feeling, in addition to an outside patio.  The downstairs bar has cozy booths, bar seating, and some tables scattered by the bar, as well as towards the back patio.  The patio at The Gibson has a similar feeling to other trending U Street bars that have instituted patio seating.  It’s quite lovely during the warmer months.

The one drawback about The Gibson is pricing.  I’ve had many friends complain about the expensive tabs here.  It is a cocktail bar after all.  This means that the ingredients are fresh, unique, and typically strong.  One cocktail from the menu here generally runs $10-16, but is well worth the treat (if you choose correctly).  Talk to the servers/bartenders and they can direct you towards a drink you will like.  I will admit that most of the time when I get a drink here I can’t identify all the ingredients, but if I stick to those ingredients that I do like and can identify, I’m rarely disappointed.  The best drinks I’ve had here were ‘Glittery Bitch’ and some kind of bubblegum pop drink.  Both were deliciously sweet and perfectly girly for my tastes.  My guy friends have had some of the stronger whiskey drinks and have been equally satisfied.  The menu itself is broken down into different categories based on what you are looking for – fizzy and sour are two of my favorite categories.  Ordering a drink with some fruit ingredient also typically means looking forward to a nice visual display, not just a healthy taste of booze.

Places like The Gibson really make bartending into an art that I highly respect.  I go here to treat myself and always find it well worth the venture.  I’d recommend The Gibson for small groups of people.  This is not the type of bar to go to solo.  It is a great date spot too (I just saw it listed on WaPo’s listing of DC locations to lock lips).  This classy establishment is not necessarily a place to spend an entire evening, considering the lack of food and prices, but is certainly a great place to start or end the night.

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