Upon checking in at The Madison in downtown Washington DC, I did the same thing that I do in any new city that I travel to-I started researching where to dine! The helpful concierge handed me a five page restaurant list. I scoped out the places which were on the same street as the hotel for a starting point and then cross-referenced them with Urbanspoon. I had made a selection and just had to run it by Lynn, my roomie for the weekend, who had not yet arrived.
While she was freshening up, I went back downstairs to speak to the handsome concierge again, this time to determine if there were any other sights that we might see on our walk to and from Old Ebbit Grill. Did I feel like a hick from the sticks when he pulled out a tourist map and showed me that the Old Ebbitt Grill was next door to the White House!
We knew before arrival that they were fully booked for the evening, but we decided to take our chances and find a stool at the bar. This turned out to be the perfect choice as our bar keep was a feisty little thing with a big personality. I haven’t seen a multi-tasker like she was in my life. So too, we got to witness the dining room servers with their variety of world accents, requesting their wine and cocktails from our bartender. Well in truth, they shouted their requests at her. This turned out to be part of the charm of this bustling place.
My first beverage choice was a DC Brau “The Public” which was a local pale ale. The flavour was very hoppy, which made me very happy…. (sorry I could not resist).
I was delighted to see that they identified that their mussels were from the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island but decided upon a cup of chili to start. I loaded this up with the available options of chopped white onions, sour cream and cheddar. Lynn took our server’s recommendation and choose the bacony clam chowder (Boston style).
We took time to pause before we selected our main courses to soak in the cozy ambiance of the room. It was not hard for me to imagine whispered and highly political conversations taking place in the low lit booths or the deals that must have been negotiated by lobbyists at the bar top. Imagine the number of fascinating people who have passed through these doors since 1856? I noticed as I walked down the white marble stairs and passed the “Cabinet” room, that they had been worn away in the centre of each step by constant use.
I had my first taste of Lynne’s soft shelled crab. I was fascinated by textured and the taste was sweet and succulent.
I chose a jumbo lump crab cake. It was stacked inches high, was crunchy on the surface and meaty and delicious on the inside.
We were perfectly satisfied and content to be on our way but our server insisted that she treat us to dessert ( there had been a temperature issue with my meal). I couldn’t resist the strawberry short cake made in the authentic style and crowned with local strawberries.
Lynne, the baker, was delighted with the strawberry and rhubarb pie and commented particularly on the skill displayed in the making of the crust.
We did find our way for a view of the White House that night. I was especially thrilled when I saw a light in a room go off and another go on. My imagination was stirred again of Michelle putting the girls to bed….
Kath’s quote: “Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods. A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building.” -Carlo Petrini