Monday, March 28, 2011

Where are you being watched?

It has been said that DC is filled with more spies than any city in the world--do you ever feel like you are being watched?  I do and I have confirmed my suspicions!  Let me explain.

Perhaps a nod to the good ol' boy history here, or the hunting culture close by in Virginia horse country, or nothing more than just a whimsical designer's touch, but taxidermy – real and faux – dominates!  Based on three experiences in the past month, I can safely assert that deer heads are just as much a part of the DC dining scene as politicians and fanny-pack wearing, camera carrying, cherry blossom-seeking tourists.

This trend is not new.  From stately classics like the Capital Grille to reliable institutions like the Old Ebbitt Grill to the German-influenced newcomer Biergarten Haus, the eyes have it!

Let’s start at the top. The Capital Grille is known as one of the most reputable high-end steak house chains in the country.  And at the DC location, feels like a cross between a Mad Men set and a gussied up dining room at a hunting lodge.  While admittedly both comparisons I have not experienced, at the urging of B, I did recently relish a dinner here.  And under the watchful gaze of stuffed animal heads, and that of a pewter eagle seemingly taking flight from the kitchen, we enjoyed some of the finest service and most polished steakhouse classics in DC.  Where else does each server take such pride in their work that they provide their personal business card after the meal?  And while great steak is a hallmark, the accompaniments are just as memorable.  They will gladly serve you a cup--vice a bowl--of the french onion soup.  The macaroni and cheese teems with large chunks of sweet lobster claw meet and the house made coconut cream pie is on my short list of best desserts in DC.
The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon

Old Ebbitt Grill has whimsical faux taxidermy of all kinds. Yes, you will find the standard deer head, but can also enjoy oysters under the watchful, perhaps even, envious eye of a walrus!  Here again, the dated feel is part of the charm.  And while waiters and waitresses are not quite as polished, the majority are efficient, friendly, and well seasoned – Old Ebbitt is one of the top ten highest non-chain grossing restaurants in the country!  While part of the Clyde’s Group, the food and service here always seems a notch above Clyde's (and vastly superior to the reliably dreadful service at the Georgetown location).  A recent brunch offered a zesty, crunchy romaine heart Caesar salad and an indulgent Southern-inspired take on shrimp and grits. Coo coo ca choo!
Old Ebbitt Grill on Urbanspoon

On H Street, the feisty ram Hans greets you as you belly up to the bar at the Biergarten Haus.  While I cannot yet comment on the food, the German beer, offered in both half and full liter steins, can be a meal in itself.  After a couple of liters, Hans might just appear to bob his head to the oompa music.
Biergarten Haus on Urbanspoon

So DC diners, next time you are out, look up and around…you never know who or what may be watching you!

1 comment:

  1. Actually they are real at the ebbitt. There are pics of them and storys as well,from the early 19th century.