Archive for July, 2010

Bar #21: MOVA Lounge

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Time: Wednesday 7-8
Cost:

  • $6 Blue Moon
  • $9 Martini

Clientele: Gay men and lady friends

 

We stepped into MOVA between cigarettes outside of Stoney’s. The place reeked of martinis and mojitos. Looking around, I felt like I was in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The first floor is decorated in what is best termed ‘modern decor’; white, rounded walls, mirrors to open the space, etc. It’s not my favorite kind of decor in the least. As I was reminded of Malcolm McDowell singing “Singing in the Rain,” I looked up and was immediately surprised by what could only be described as Chuck E’ Cheese lighting below industrial ceilings. Not being an interior designer, I’d suggest this place for a make-over on one of those cable shows.

Samedi ordered us martinis. After the bartender filled our glasses with ice, Samedi informed the bartender that we didn’t want ice in our martinis (obviously). To which the bartender replied “It’s to cool the glass” in such a flamboyent cocky manner that I think Samedi was both embarrassed and pissed at the dude while I just found the bartender to be highly amusing.

There were some decent looking men here, but then there were a few of those greasy types as well, the ones you know come there regularly and get very little attention, wearing their gold chain and half buttoned shirt with billowing chest hair (see Carl to the right). In the back of the bar someone was having a b-day, which included 4 women. On a clubbing night I can only imagine the same clientele but with more scantily dressed women trying to get their groove on without being molested by straight men.  After my tall, blonde, attractive guy friend arrived and realized that he felt uncomfortable with all the male attention, we downed our delicious drinks and headed out for another smoke.

Bar #20: Stoney’s Lounge

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Time: Wednesday 6-8
Cost:

  • $4 Bud light
  • $5 Beer
  • $5 Rail

Clientèle: Locals

On a sweltering day like this nothing is better than a tall cold one in an air conditioned haven. We decided to hit up Stoney’s on P street. I must confess that I’ve been going to Stoney’s since it was a divey cop bar on L street. It was the type of place where you could walk in and get rude service from one of the many seemingly disgruntled employees. Usually by the time you walked out, you’d be covered in a thin layer of atmospheric grease. Basically it used to be a no frills place where the menu was rather minimalistic, but on nice days they would open up the windows to let in a cool breeze, or if you were lucky you could get one of the few tables that were situated outside. I frequented this place because it was very close to the job. Hell, I was there so often that they actually knew my name and would serve any person (intern) that we brought in. When they closed DC lost one of its better dive bars.

On this day it must have been close to 100 degrees outside so the cold air that hit me in the face when I walked in was more than welcome. I looked around the downstairs bar but didn’t see Cupcakes so I ducked through the door to the left and headed upstairs. I found her at the bar, pulled up a stool and ordered a Lagunitus Pils. As I took my first sip I had to wonder if there is anything better on a scorcher like today than a ice cold beer? I think not. Before we were able to finish our first beers Gin Kitten walked in. Although she looked a bit like a hobo she swore that she had just come from work. We ordered another round and drank in our surroundings. Although every seat at the downstairs bar was occupied the upstairs was fairly deserted. While you can usually get a good beer upstairs the downstairs is where it’s at. Down there you can find something that would appeal to anyone. Feel like a cider? They got that. Feel like an IPA? They got that too. You get the idea. After another beer we settled up and headed out to check out Mova, the gay bar next door.

After Mova, we intended to stop at Stoney’s again, if for no other reason than to get the Mova-stink off of us. This time we went straight upstairs. By now it was close to eight and the place was getting packed. There was no seating at the bar and there were many more people roaming around. The bartender informed us that this was the second week that they were doing trivia and apparently people love trivia nights. Being as we were not here to play trivia we decided to head out. I guess on this night i’ll have to settle for a scalding shower to wash the stink of Mova off.

Comparing this newer location to the old one just doesn’t seem right to me. While it might have lost that new bar smell its a far cry from what the old location was. This place is much larger and nicer. The menu has been expanded, although there is still nothing too fancy here just the staples that one would expect in a decent bar. Personally I love the mac and cheese. The bar area is rather smallish. I’d say that you can fit about 15 people around it but they make up for it by having a few tables surrounding it. Much like the old one on a nice day they will open up the windows to allow a nice breeze to blow through. The one area that the old one outshone the new was outside seating. They usually have two small tables out front and those are usually occupied early on and rarely relinquished. If you are lucky enough to cop one of these it is a great vantage point from which to do a little people watching. If you can’t get these and still wanna check out the yuppies, hipsters and weirdo’s you can still do this from the window tables

If you have a larger group then I’d suggest heading upstairs. This area is not usually crowded so it should be able to accommodate you. There is a loungey area to the back with couches and a coffee table. They also have an internet jukebox up there so you can pick what you want to listen to. Much to my disappointment they removed the pool table from the front area of the upstairs and replaced it with more tables. I get that people probably weren’t using it much and more tables means more customers but it just seems to me that good bars should have a pool table. On the bright side, the prices here are comparable to just about any other bar in the city.

Bar #19: Big Hunt

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Time: Saturday 12am – close

Cost:

  • $4 Miller
  • $5 ‘ass’ beer
  • $5 rail

Clientele: tattools and regular local DC folk/interns

This was the last stop during my joint b-day celebration. Upon entering we headed straight upstairs ordered our choice of beer with ‘ass’ in the name (eg. big-ass wheat) and made our way out to the patio. We clearly love outdoor space and this spot was no different, but it was a wet night and Big Hunt has no covering for the patio. Luckily when placed on a bench, my bright yellow raincoat also doubles for a dry spot to sit. The patio is a bit strange as it’s placed between tall buildings, but it does the trick.

The night was filled with fake tattoos for all and unlike the previous bars we hit up they fit in at the Big Hunt. With people wearing stars on their faces, skulls on their shoulders and vampire bite marks on their necks we managed to fit right in. Well, as much as you can while wearing fake tattoos. At some point I managed to make my way to the jukebox. After putting $5 in I couldn’t manage to find all the songs I was looking for which is unacceptable from any modern jukebox. It was necessary that I play my namesake song. Talking Heads seemed to appease me and I rejoined the group to continue celebrating such a joyous occasion as Say Aah played over the speakers.

With monstrous teeth lining the ceiling and tats scattered throughout the bar, this place has a divey feel that is rare in Dupont. The beers on tap are decent and different from the regular fare you’ll find in most bars. Prices are reasonable but not cheap dive-bar prices.

Bar #18: Public Bar

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Time: Friday 10-12

Cost: $5 Miller

Clientèle:  Regular DC weekend crowds

This place is one that I read about on the Washington Post some months back. I believe that the going out gurus came here when it first opened. I don’t trust those guys but they said it was a cool sports bar and man do I love a good sports bar.

As I walked up the stairs I couldn’t help but to reminisce about the days when this used to be Club Five. I’ve spent many a night here dancing and drinking the night away and I was very interested to see what they had done to the place. I was feeling pretty good as I had already consumed about three martinis and two beers at that god awful Gazuza. I walked up the stairs and stepped into the space that leads to where the main dance floor used to be. I did a lap around the place to see if they could really be considered a sports bar. There are a good number of tv’s lining the walls and I really do like the immense windows overlooking Connecticut Avenue. Its a damn shame that there weren’t multiple games on that night. Apparently some of the tv’s can be controlled by the patrons who are closest. If you have ever been frustrated in a sports bar when the nearest tv is showing a blowout you know this could be a pretty sweet feature. Even though this is supposed to be a sports bar on this night it feels more like a nightclub. There were plenty of people who were dressed to impress and there was pounding dance music coming through the speakers. There is a pretty large open space in the middle (Used to be the dance floor at Five). I do kinda feel that all that is a bit of a waste. On any game day you could fit multiple tables in there and it didn’t seem that it is being used as a dance floor either so what’s the purpose? At this point i decided to head upstairs to join my group. I stepped out on the deck and it was packed to the gills. I can’t say I blame everyone for being up here. It is by far the best feature of the place. I found my group and we pushed up to the bar. Even though the mix of intoxicants in my system had my head spinning I decided to order up another dirty vodka martini (since i was already drinking them why change now). The bartender informed me that they can’t serve you drinks in glasses on the deck. Whatever! Just get me that drink. I received my martini and much to my surprise it was incredibly tasty. At this point I’m standing there sucking down martinis at what might be record pace surrounded by several attractive women. Damn life is good! A group of guys trying to get to the bar invade our space and at first I’m understandably irritated. One of them strikes up a conversation and they turn out to be pretty cool. We are kicking it for a little while, making plans to get up when one of them decided to make clumsy advances on one of the ladies in my group. Undeterred by her lack of interest he continues to press his luck. After several minutes he gets the not to subtle hint and leaves it alone. The women are visibly irritated so I order up a round of shots to take the edge off. Bad idea! Although they were tasty this is what pushed some of us over the edge. I can see it on faces. Heads are spinning and stomachs are churning. At this point I escort one of the ladies outside, we chat for a few minutes and against our better judgement we decide to continue with the night. As we walk off I can only think that this can lead nowhere good.

I enjoyed my time at Public Bar. I thought that it was pricey for a place that is supposed to be some sort of sports bar. I didn’t try the food and I’ve heard that it is pretty tasty. The drink prices aren’t too bad depending on what you are drinking. A Miller Lite will run you about $5. Since I didn’t get the full sports bar experience I think that another visit is in the cards. I’m thinking during football season.

Bar #17 Gazuza

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Time: Friday 6-9

Cost (happy hour prices):

$4 beer

$6 martinis

$9 Cuba Libre

Clientele: Hookah enthusiasts; people who like red interiors

It was Cupcakes’ birthday, and we were preparing to go out balls-to-the-wall that night. Our night would begin at Gazuza, a hookah-sushi-martini bar located in Dupont Circle. After assisting the birthday girl with the careful and diligent application of around 35 or 40 fake tattoos (we were going to give her two full sleeves of skulls, guitars, and glittery unicorns, but we got bored after doing just one upper-arm), we embarked to meet our friends at Gazuza.

When we arrived at the second-story martini bar, the place was dead, save for a small group of interns from Cupcakes’ office who were celebrating the end of their semester. This was okay, though, because it gave me a chance to scope out the place. It’s very pretty inside, with crimson painted walls and intimate seating areas with low-sitting chairs and tables. The patio is the bar’s best feature. It’s a huge second-level space with a roof and plenty of seating, separated from the rest of the bar by a glass wall.

I drank Heinekens all evening, and when happy hour was over Miller Lites, and Cupcakes and I ordered some sushi. The food was decent but not notable, but at 50% off for happy hour, I’m not complaining. Once our other friends started to arrive, the pace of the evening picked up. The space upstairs is wide open and is great for rolling from one conversation to another amidst a large group. And hookah! I don’t know how many hookah bars DC has, but the only other one I’ve been to in the area was attached to an Indian restaurant of questionable cleanliness where Indian pop music blasted from the speakers straight into my central nervous system. Sharing hookah with friends in Gazuza felt like luxury by comparison.

I should note that many of our friends were not digging this joint (Samedi included). One buddy of ours even refused to come meet us until we had moved on to the next venue (he eventually showed up after a verbal smackdown courtesy of yours truly, though he still wouldn’t quit bitching). But once the party got rolling, people were sufficiently boozed up to not much care where they were anymore. Despite their complaints, the crowd hung around for 2-3 hours before heading off towards Public Bar.

A few things that didn’t sit well with me: you can smoke a hookah indoors, but not cigarettes. I wonder if they would allow cloves, or other nicotine products that smelled sufficiently like muffins and kittens and rainbows and all the happy stuff that delicious smokeable treats and ladies’ farts are made up of. Also, the staff will not close out your tab if you have a specific waitress, you have to wait for her, no matter how busy or inattentive she may be. Every place that does this pisses me the fuck off. I’m a paying customer, how dare any business owner inconvenience me while taking my money. My waitress was busy serving while two other waitresses just stood by the register dicking around, not even acknowledging me. Customer Service rule #1: never, EVER pretend not to see a customer. These same waitresses were also nudging and jostling their patrons around on their way to and from the kitchen, instead of just saying “excuse me” like normal people.

Final thoughts: nicely designed, great patio with a nice view of the street, hookah, overpriced, service started out alright but quickly fell to “meh” and then “blows.”

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