Tag Archives: Expensive

The Melting Pot

It’s a twister, a twister!!  A little tornado warning certainly didn’t stop last Friday’s happy hour.  We were going to venture outside of the Ballston bubble (to Clarendon – not far I know, ha), but given the weather we decided instead to just make a quick run across the street to The Melting Pot.  Arriving right around 5pm, it was empty in the first bar (didn’t venture around the restaurant too much, but the hostess mentioned a second bar).  We grabbed the largest table and started to weigh our options for drinks and food.  Being very adult, one of my coworkers ordered a bottle of white wine for the table (that amazingly filled 6 glasses).  It was tasty and priced at $28.  Don’t worry; there were cheaper wine prices.

The next challenge- picking fondue.  Opting for the cheddar cheese and jalapeño selections, our group was very pleased.  With no real rail drink happy hour special, I opted to splurge on a martini for my last drink…but not just any martini, a s’mores martini!  I don’t normally go for these specialty drinks, but this was a wise selection.  Certainly didn’t need any chocolate fondue with a drink like this.  The oreo-covered marshmallows were a perfect topping.  As our happy hour group grew to a total of 9 people, we decided to get two more selections of fondue – the spinach-artichoke mixture and the season special.  During happy hour, the fondue is half-priced.  Now normally all of this still would have been fairly expensive, but luckily one friend had a Groupon that she was generous enough to share :-).  It also probably didn’t hurt that we were fairly engaging with our waitress.  All together we each tossed in about $10.

Does Melting Pot have a great bar scene for mixing with strangers? No, haha.  It was a great place to come with a group of friends though.  While I assume the normal demeanor is fairly reserved, our group was a little on the rambunctious side and lived up the establishment.  I wouldn’t come here all the time for happy hour due to the prices, but I will definitely be back to indulge in some comfort food and quality drink :-).

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Russia House & Bourbon

I know, I know! I’m running about a week and a half behind on my reviews/catching everyone up on my seemingly exciting (not really) life, haha.  Last Saturday, I was invited out with some friends to Russia House.  Prior to this time, I had only been there once and that was for an after party to a friend’s company party.  Me and my gentleman guest showed up to the gathering slightly late to find my friend gathered on the third floor (the piano bar floor).  To review the general aesthetic and floor plans of Russia House, you proceed up an outside staircase at this north Dupont location and enter a very dimly lit foyer.  Upon a quick inspection of the place, you can see that there are many nooks and crannies to gather with friends or get a bit cozier.  There are four floors in Russia House, each offering a slightly different feeling (although I’m not quite certain I feel comfortable speaking as to all the levels).  My time at Russia House has been spent predominantly on the third floor.  This floor is the piano bar level. It has a more open feeling and seems more about mingling than the other levels.  The other levels contain more table space and appear to be more about seated gatherings. Approaching the bar, I had to order a vodka drink.  Going for my typical vodka tonic, it did taste much smoother than other locations (caveat – I have no clue what type of vodka they used nor the corresponding price thanks to the gentleman accompanying me).  I would assume that a location called Russia House though would limit the types of crappy vodka it carries, haha.

The length of time we spent at Russia House was limited.  High drinks prices discouraged my friends.  We left after one drinking and some socializing.  I was slightly surprised that there weren’t more people there given it was a Saturday night, even if it was slightly early (11pm).  Russia House is definitely a classy location.  It can accommodate large groups of people – actually would be my preference for attending.  All references I have heard to Russia House is typically in a swanky connotation and would tend to agree, but not overtly snobby.  If I haven’t made it clear, I love locations with multiple floors and places to get lost/explore.  Russia House does fit that mold very well.  You could think of it almost as a more sophisticated (read expensive) and low-key Local 16.

After Russia House, we trekked over to Adams Morgan to attend Bourbon.  The heels might have been a poor decision, haha.  I had never been to this location of Bourbon before.  Almost a year ago I went on a date at the location in Glover Park.  At the time (seemingly eons before starting this blog), the food was delicious and my custom cocktail was a little bit too adventurous (super herby….like drinking a garden – very fresh).  I now am more acquainted with my personal preferences.  This most recent visitation of Bourbon was quite the different experience.  We entered the Adams Morgan location to find a wait to get upstairs for dancing.  In the meantime, decided to grab a drink on the first level.  Sorry, that gentleman insisted on buying this drink too so I am uncertain of the price, but I would guess average price for this neighborhood (not more than $8 for the vodka tonic with rail liquor).

Yes, Bourbon may be located in Adams Morgan, but this is not the stereotypical AdMo bar.  The upstairs and first floor had very different atmospheres. The first level was relaxed, but still upbeat – definitely a good balance.  After a short wait and some amusing banter with the bouncer to get upstairs, we were finally able to get our dance on ;-).  Upstairs was crowded, but not obnoxious.  I was definitely much appreciative that they did take such care in counting people upstairs.  There was also a bar upstairs, but it was definitely much easier to get served downstairs.  The DJ mixed top 40s while IFC was projected onto the wall…at the time it was somewhere between soft and hard-core porn showing #notcomplaining.  Overall, Bourbon was a pretty awesome place that I definitely look forward to coming back to because of the amazing balance of space (chill and dancing in one venue).  It worked well for my small-medium group of friends, but could also see this being an interesting place to meet people.

Things to look forward to readers:  This weekend marks my one year drink anniversary.  Oh look at all we can learn about ourselves in just a year.  Thank you for your votes on my poll; it looks like I’ll be strolling around U Street on Saturday :-).  Still uncertain of the exact lineup of bars, but I’m hoping to start early (around dinner time) and working my way around the neighborhood – making sure to hit some standard/favorite locations of mine, but also trying some new along the way.  Promise to do my best to keep coherent memories and take pictures for the post-celebration review!

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Boundary Road

One of my goals for the spring and summer is to explore H Street more.  Admittedly, I have only been out on H Street a handful of times.  This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to venture to the neighborhood with a gentleman.  We walked into this quaint restaurant/bar and he was greeted by name.  Despite not having a reservation, we were able to steal a table right in the middle of the place.  In this small place you can either sit at the brief bar space or a table, either way it all has a very open feeling (aided by the high ceiling and view directly into the kitchen).  Initially, I will say I was quite impressed with said gentleman because he was a local at this charming establishment and seemingly knew the entire staff almost as if they were family.  Don’t worry though for those of you concerned, that positive impression of the guy faded as quickly as the awesome qualities of Boundary Road jumped out at me.  After initial conversation died down, we ordered some drinks.  I had to go with the aptly named drink “I’m thinking about getting a Vespa” and the “gentleman” ordered a five & dime.  My drink was quite summery/refreshing and his tasted like an adult root beer – absolutely delicious.  I would definitely get the five & dime at my next visit.  Everything appetizer/plate we ordered was mouth-watering…the meats, the cheese, and the steak finale – yum!

I will say our bill was on the hefty side…the “gentleman” thought it was quite important to brag about his significant increase in salary and how well-off he was, but come time for the check he was very eager to split the bill. Yes, yes I’m a feminist, but my general rule of thumb is a first date should be about treating the lady (assuming the lady was not the one handing out the invitation). Another public service announcement for the men out there reading this and in need of dating advice…arrogance trumps all in terms of the lasting impression.  Little chivalrous acts like walking someone to the metro is not excusable for being generally full of oneself. 🙂

All in all, we ordered a full plate of pierogis ($16), two meats & one cheese ($15), and the grilled hanger steak ($22).  Unfortunately, my receipt is not itemized and I am uncertain as to the exact prices of both of the drinks (probably around $7-8).  I can say that our total bill was $71 including tax.  This was definitely more than I would plan on dropping normally on a Thursday, but at least I got to try some place new and had some…interesting…company, haha.  Overall, I would definitely recommend Boundary Road for its relaxed atmosphere and delicious albeit slightly expensive menu.  Because this place is tiny I would not recommend it for groups larger than four, but is a good date location (despite my failings, haha).

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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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Cafe Saint-Ex

Entrance to Saint-Ex

So in starting this blog, it was my goal to give as much of an unbiased presentation of these establishments as possible.  Many people rave about Saint-Ex.  While I do wind up here a fair amount on weekend nights, I’m not quite sure why.  They apparently offer some fairly good food, but I have not sampled it so that isn’t the reason.  The drinks are definitely not the most affordable in the area ($6-7 for a rail drink and I swear there have been times when I was charged more), so that’s also not the reason I come here.  Hmm….there must be some reason I frequent here.  Dancing? Oh yes, let’s just reason with the dancing.

There are two floors to Saint-Ex – a crowded ground floor with full lighting that offers some tables during the non-crazy dancing hours as well as a bar with some places to sit and a basement level with smaller bar where the dancing goes down.  Downstairs also has tables during the non-dancing hours of the weekend with dim lighting.  When the dancing starts though, be prepared for the temperature and humidity of the basement to rise exponentially and the lighting to diminish even more.  I will say that I am a sucker for places that have dancing.  The DJs can be hit-or-miss at Saint-Ex.  One time I came and they were only spinning oldies, completely avoiding top 40, which definitely put some of my friends off.  Other times I’ve definitely raved about the balance of indie and popular music.  I’m not too picky about this though as long as I have people around me that can match my enthusiasm.  Coming to Saint-Ex for New Years was actually a good decision.  There was no cover, it was less crowded than other nights here, and the music was a good top 40 spin.  My life was also made very easy when every guy I met there was named Chris (3 total) and wanting to buy me a drink 🙂

The clientele at Saint-Ex is typically a mixed bag.  It targets more of the preppy DC population than a strong hipster crowd.  I will say I almost always leave this place with an amusing story from waiting in the bathroom line…One time I even let a few people go ahead of me just so I could keep counseling this guy on his relationship with his drug addict girlfriend that was cheating on him, oy, haha. When venturing to Saint-Ex for a weekend night there are a few things that you can count on – expensive drinks, basement dancing, entertaining bathroom lines, and crowds.  While I can’t quite pin down what makes Saint-Ex so popular, I’ll still continue to go.

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