Sunday, March 18, 2012

Where NOT to Eat: Mad Hatter

I have a confession to make… I have a type. Actually, this is not as much of a confession, as it is an objectively true statement. In fact, anyone who knows me for more than 5 minutes can easily figure this out. What can I say… I have a weakness for preppies. As soon as I see a man with a bow tie, critter belt, and Polo, I literally melt. For as long as I can remember, I have always adored men that looked like they stepped out of a Vineyard Vines or Southern Proper ad. Naturally, I tend to show up to places where these men hang out, as well. Thus, it made perfect sense to suggest the Mad Hatter for dinner when a college friend was in the area and wanted grab a bite to eat and watch the games. Mad Hatter is located in Dupont Circle, where Greg wanted to meet (1319 Connecticut Ave NW – Accessed by Farragut West & Dupont Circle Metro stations), had outside seating, and there were plenty of TVs so we could monitor March Madness. Triple score! (Photo Credit:

For the most part, Mad Hatter has never let me down in terms of its patrons. While I would not say preppily dressed individuals represent a majority of the people here, I never have to look too far for a checked print button down or backwards cap. However, for all of you that do not share my penchant for prepsters, fear not, the only time I’ve heard a “USA!” chant here was during the World Cup in 2010. But, I am getting off topic here… focus RWB… (Photo Credit:

After confirming numbers for dinner, I called Mad Hatter Thursday morning and secured a reservation for an outside patio table at 7:30. Mother Nature, on the other hand, had other plans, as the rain started coming down at 7:15. Fortunately, there was plenty of seating available inside; the friendly hostess greeted us immediately and took us straight to our table.

Prior to Thursday night, the only food I had ever eaten at Mad Hatter was typical bar-food snacks during a big game, or during a late night dance fest (and in full disclosure, I was not 100% sober). Still, I knew that I should not expect gourmet cuisine and kept that in mind when ordering; my friends were also aware. In all honesty, we were just happy to be in a place where we could eat, drink, and watch the games all at once.

Upon taking our seats, we immediately noticed that it was hard to carry on a conversation amongst the loud bar chatter adjacent to our table. While there is a wall-like structure separating the dining room from the bar area, it is very hard to hear what is being said amongst the noise. In fact, Greg commented, “RWB, this is the only time I will say this to you, ever, but would you please speak a little louder, I can barely hear you.” (Photo Credit:

Once we adjusted to the volume level, we perused the menu and made our initial choices. In typical game night fashion, we ordered the nachos as an appetizer. I suggested these, remembering I had eaten them before and recalled their gooey, cheesy, deliciousness. However, we were all sadly disappointed when they arrived at our table. The nachos contained little cheese and the chips were dry. My former server instincts kicked in and I presume that the nachos had been sitting under a warming lamp for a while and the server forgot to pick them up. Nevertheless, we ate them anyway, mainly because we were all extremely hungry.

After ordering drinks and appetizers, we moved on to the main course. Rob ordered the burger with a side of mac ‘n cheese, I ordered chicken fingers, fries, and cream of crab soup (I am from Maryland, do you think I could resist this?) and Greg ordered a gyro, fries, and a Caesar salad.

Again, because I grew up in Maryland, I am a bit of a crab snob. The runny Progresso light-esque liquid they pass of as cream of crab is embarrassing, to say the least. For starters, cream of crab is supposed to be chowder; it should be thick, not runny. Second, the soup contained a serious lack of Old Bay; when cooking a crab dish, it needs to be loaded with the seasoning, or use none at all. Finally, the soup was made with imitation crab… I was disappointed on so many levels.

After less than thrilling appetizers, when our meals arrived, I naively thought that our night could only improve. Since it is nearly impossible to mess up chicken fingers and fries, I cannot say I was disappointed with my meal. Similarly, Greg’s gyro was “fine,” although relatively forgettable. Rob’s burger, on the other hand, was grossly over cooked. Ordering a burger medium means there should be some pink; this burger looked like it was prepared in the Sahara desert and was absolutely scorched. Unfortunately, his mac ‘n cheese wasn’t much better. To me, the side dish tasted like oversized pasta shells smothered in the nacho cheese sauce they use at high school sporting events. Yes, it was that unappealing. In fact, the food was less than presentable, so I didn’t even bother taking photos.

Despite the less than delicious food, things did turn around, for me at least, when I spotted a few well-dressed prepsters in pastel shorts and half-zips. My heart actually skipped a beat; seriously, it pitter-pattered. But, I am sorry to say that the adorable boy sighting was not nearly enough to encourage me to return for dinner at Mad Hatter in the near future.

My suggestion: stick to Mad Hatter for drinks, dancing, and watching sports, you will be much happier. In fact, you can probably find me here cheering on the U.S. during the summer Olympics, I mean Michael Phelps is a Marylander. (Photo Credit:

Cheers to beers… and America,


  1. Aw, that's disappointing. I've always really liked their happy hours. I agree about the cream of crab though - as a fellow Maryland girl, I hate to see the bastardization of my favorite soup.

  2. That is exactly what I thought, I've always had so much fun at Happy Hour, and the bar food was always good. So I was a little bummed. I'm going to stick to Mad Hatter for Happy Hour and dancing moving forward and I know I won't be disappointed!

  3. You figuratively melt, not literally.

  4. She could literally melt. Maybe she has the same reaction to preppy guys as say a Nazi does to the opening of the Ark of the Covenant.