Monday, April 30, 2012

Where I Get My Hair Done: Bang Salon

I am a creature of habit. I will re-read the same book again and again, I listen to the same song on repeat for hours at a time, I order the same things at restaurants I love... you get the point. When I find something I like I tend to not change it up. I'm an old soul, and reluctant to change what works.


source: http://www.bangsalon.com/
Since every other Gamma Girl has provided commentary on her favorite salon, I figured it is only fair that I share mine, as well. I have been going to Bang Salon for three years. When I moved to D.C. in 2008 I was devoted to my stylist at home and would drive back every six to eight weeks for a trim and highlight (again, creature of habit). Unfortunately, my regular stylist at home retired from the world of hair and a friend suggested I try Bang, rather driving 75 miles each way every month or so. It was then that I realized Carol is the best in the business (and reasonably priced).

I need to be honest, my hair is an evolving "work of art" (term used loosely). I have colored my hair since 16. I have been chunky highlighted, heavy highlighted, low lighted, red, bleach blond, black, short, long, layered; you name it, I have had it. In fact, when I started going to Carol in May of 2008 my hair was in between my chin and shoulder, and reddish. She has helped me transform my locks from short and drab to long and sleek. In fact the best compliment I received is when my straight male friend commented that my hair was shiny. After this comment, I literally threw my fist in the air in excitement because in my mind if a guy that is not trying to sleep with you notices your hair, then something must be right. So bless you, Carol.

My Spirit Animal
Source: biographyonline.net
All in all, Carol is excellent, she knows exactly the best colors to recommend based on your complexion (I was espresso for awhile to make my green eyes pop) and will give you suggestions on the best way to achieve a certain look if you explain your goal to her. I often brag about her to my friends and family. Specifically, her most recent miracle is turning my hair from nearly black to chestnut brown, a la one of my my spirit animals Duchess Catherine (the other is Blair Waldorf, but I digress). I am so glad that I had Carol working her magic because it turned out wonderfully! If you are really into things like this, or you are my friend and I call you and blabber on regularly, I will gladly give you a play by play description of exactly how to change your hair from basically black to chestnut (Hint: it is not a short process).

I absolutely recommend Bang Salon. I visit the U Street location that is easily accessed by the S1/S2 bus or the Green/Yellow line. There are also Bang Salons at Verizon Center/Chinatown and Metropole (1519 15th Street NW - McPherson Square Metro). I have recommended Bang to friends and they are all impressed, and especially the ones that visit Carol. Just make sure to schedule an appointment online, they can get busy.

Bang Salon Verizone Center, Source: eastcoastchic.com
So if you are looking to get a perfect cut or color, at a reasonable price, Bang Salon is the place for you. And gentlemen, have no fear, they do excellent men's cuts as well!

Happy Haircuts,


Friday, April 27, 2012

Our Favorite Neighborhood Joints

As Gamma Girls, we love going out and exploring different parts of D.C. and the surrounding areas.  We can't wait to try that new restaurant.  Or revamped menu.  Or snag tickets to the latest play or show.

But there's something about the comfort of sticking close to home after a long week at work.  About strolling into your neighborhood joint and the bartender not only knowing your name but also pouring your favorite drink before you even have time to utter a quick hello.

Therefore, this post is dedicated to our favorite spots in each of our neighborhoods. And we hope that you'll share your favorite neighborhood spots in the comments section below!
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Appealing Kate
Glover Park's Bourbon

I live right right between Georgetown and Glover Park.  As a result, I have the best of both worlds.  While I'm a short walk from all the Georgetown shopping and waterfront, I get to be part of the friendly Glover Park neighborhood.  Which I think is one of the best, cozy neighborhoods in all of Washington.

My favorite spot in Glover Park is Bourbon.  Bourbon is located on Wisconsin Avenue in the heart of Glover Park.  It is two levels with two long bars and booths and tables scattered throughout.

During the spring and summer months it has a small patio that provides for some serious people watching.  It also has full length glass doors that slide open. 
So it's cool and airy on a summer night, but in the winter the doors are closed, the lights are kept low, and the heat is cranked up.  Ohhhhh sooo perfectly cozy.

The menu is simple.  Salads. Burgers.  Lots of comfort food like tomato soup, mac and cheese, and meatloaf.  And did I mention the best waffle fries and tator tots in all the D.C. area?

From the name you probably assume that the bar is stocked with lots of Bourbon. 

Bourbon's outside patio
Source: http://www.bourbondc.com/
You'd be correct in that assumption.  In fact, there are well over 100 types of bourbon. 

Want to know how many I've tried?  None*.  But they do have beer on draft, including Allagash White.  And I am known to drink lots of their wine.  Especially on Wednesdays when it's half-price bottle of wine night. 

In fact, a bunch of Glover Park friends and I meet there almost every Wednesday for what we call "neighborhood friend night."  It's one of my favorite things to look forward to each week.

*okay, that's not totally true. One time I tried a guy friend's bourbon...but apparently it was pappy or something...which is supposed to be really amazing bourbon?
 ________________________________________________________________________
Thirsty Ivy
Georgetown's Martin Tavern

Thirsty Ivy tastefully toasting at one of her favorite neighborhood haunts:

Until Duffy's West opens (ahem, ahem ... Rasika did it!), I'm determined to make Martin's Tavern my home base. Why? 

1. It's in Georgetown, and I live in Georgetown. Let's face it, if I live within crawling distance of your establishment, we will meet. Location = Convenient

On the SW corner of Wisconsin Ave
and N Street NW

2. I love D.C., and it's a very Washingtonian place, rich with history and an efficient staff that look like they know secrets. Reputation = Authentic

3. The relaxed vibe allows me to show up in Sperrys or heels, and I'm a sucker for the cozy, dark booths in the nook beyond the bar -- aka, the "Dugout." Atmosphere = Comfortable
I made a pillbox hat
out of a cereal box!

4. The food is consistently flavorful and satisfying -- like homecooking without the cleanup -- and the drinks are solid and strong -- see above note about crawling-distance. Plus, they have a patio, and spying on tourists lugging their H&M purchases around the neighborhood is always entertaining -- dinner and a show! Food = Enjoyable

5. There are rumors that JFK proposed to Jackie at Martin's (and I channeled her for Halloween <--).  I've read reports to the contrary, but that's not really the point... the point is, LOVE happens at Martin's! (Even if they didn't get engaged in their marked booth, dozens of others have!) Aura = Lucky


Why Martin's? Why not? They're 5 for 5! Make a reservation and check it out for yourself ... but y'all better not all show up at once and take my bar-stool. I WILL pull it out from under you!
_______________________________________________________________________


Capital Katie
H Street's Dangerously Delicious Pies

My portion of this post will be an ode.

It’s an “a la mode ode,” actually. Because my favorite spot in my H Street Northeast neighborhood has got to be the pie shop.

I started frequenting Dangerously Delicious Pies after going on two dates with a man who worked there back in April 2010. Things with the dude didn't last (his primary mode of transportation was a skateboard -- he might as well have shown up to the date with "DOA" stamped on his forehead), but my love affair with the pie shop did.

Source: http://www.dangerouspiesdc.com/

Ever since he let me sneak back into the kitchen to sample the decadent chocolate syrup used in the shop's various wares, I found a way to steer every date I went on in the neighborhood toward Dangerously Delicious' flourescent lights.

The pie shop is a wonderfully different dining experience from anything else in the city. They've got sweet and savory pies, depending on your mood, as well as a variety of quiches. My personal favorites as far as dinner pies go are the BBQ Pork pie and the S.M.O.G. pie (an acronym that stands for steak, mushroom, onion and gruyere cheese), and the Baltimore Bomb (crushed up shortbread cookies and chocolate) for dessert.

The place is casual and unpretentious, yet the service there is reasonably attentive, which is something that generally is lacking in other casual and unpretentious places.

The best part? Dangerously Delicious has a "date-night special," which is two slices of savory pie for dinner, two slices of sweet pie for dessert, and two drinks for $20. You leave more than satiated, and at a bargain to boot.

So next time you're carousing on H Street, stop into the pie shop. And say hi to me, because I'll probably be there.
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Samantha Says
Woodley Park/ Adams Morgan's Napoleon Bistro & Lounge

I moved to this neighborhood because I wanted to be where the action is, and it certainly never disappoints me on that front. The place to go for the most action? Napoleon Bistro & Lounge.

When you first walk into Napoleon, it looks like just another bar. But that's not where you're going. You want to head downstairs, to Napoleon's dance lounge, where the fun truly begins.

The fact that it's underground makes it feel almost forbidden, like you're dancing the night away in a place you had to say a secret password to get in. The lounge is crowded, hot, sticky, sweaty, messy... just the way I like it. They play GREAT music -- the kind everyone knows every word to -- and the men there are always put together and good looking.

Every time I've gone to Napoleon, I've danced my heart out and left flushed, sweaty and totally happy... usually on the arm of a tall, dark and handsome gentleman. You should go to Napoleon and get yourself one, too.
________________________________________________________________________


Jules
Cleveland Park's Ardeo+Bardeo

Brunch in D.C. is a sacred ritual for many of us, particularly the ladies.  In fact, this weekend marks my fourth consecutive brunch-going Sunday, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

While my neighborhood has its charms, like beautiful homes and easy access to spots like Rock Creek Park and the Zoo, one thing it does not have is an abundance of brunch options.  Thankfully, we do have Ardeo+Bardeo, which is not only the best neighborhood brunch spot for miles, but one of the best brunches in the city, period.

Ardeo+Bardeo is classy enough that I can take my Mom there when she visits, but not so fancy that I can't roll out of bed, hungover and still sporting last night's glittery eyeshadow, and convene there for gossip and eggs with some friends.

Not only are the food and service phenomenal, a fact attested to by recent visits from Hillary Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor, the prices are very reasonable.  The bottomless champagne or mimosa brunch is an especially good deal- for $25, you get said beverages, a bread basket of treats like chocolate chip scones, and two courses of your choosing.  

Daydreaming about how I'm going to soon be inhaling banana-walnut french toast on the second floor deck of Ardeo+Bardeo has gotten me through many a slow Friday at work.  Thanks, Ardeo+Bardeo, for meeting and surpassing all of my brunch and time-wasting needs!
________________________________________________________________________

Red, White and Bourbon
Rosslyn's Outdoor Film Festival

So before you roll your eyes and skip my post thinking, ew, Virginia, I don't "DO" Virginia, just hold your horses and give me a chance to defend my neighborhood! While yes, I am not technically in "the district," don't be so quick to discredit my neck of the woods. In fact, if you hopped your lazy rear-end on the Orange/Blue line, you may even enjoy yourself. Why, you ask? Great question... now let me tell you about my favorite neighborhood gem, the Rosslyn Film Festival. (Yes, there is more to Rosslyn than Ray’s Hell Burger.)

You know how excited you get for Screen on the Green every year? Imagine if I told you Rosslyn hosts a film viewing every Friday night during the summer, beginning the first Friday in June. The biggest draw, it is free. All you have to bring is yourself, your dog (if you have one) and your own little picnic basket of snacks and blankets and you are good to go. It is a wonderful way to spend a low-key night once the weather gets warm.


Photo Source: gregslist.dc.com 
Each year the festival is themed. Movies in years past focused on the 1990s, superheroes, and SNL in the theater. This year… *drum roll please*... all movies focus on ELECTIONS. So you guessed it movies include Election (with Reese Witherspoon), Primary Colors, and Man of the Year, to name a few. 

So, when we need a pretty relaxing Friday night, Lola and I regularly corral our (yes “our”) friends and head down to the Park to catch a movie and always have a great time.

So just because Rosslyn is on the other side of the Potomac that does not mean we don't have anything fun going on. Come visit, and I promise you'll have a good time... in fact, I triple dog dare ya!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where to Drink on Tuesdays

I keep a pretty detailed calendar and have noticed a strange pattern as of late: Tuesdays have turned into a big drinking day for me and my friends. Who knew Tuesdays were the new Fridays? (And yes - I was asleep by 9:00pm on Friday night as if it were a Tuesday.)

Where have I been drinking these last couple of Tuesdays, you ask?

1. The Gamma Girls & Gentleman Calling happy hour last night!

Thank you to everyone who made it out for the event and to Local 16 for offering up space on their spectacular deck!! We met lots of great, new people and reconnected with several we hadn't seen in a while. We also drank a few mojitos. I'd call that a DOUBLE WIN, no?

If you missed it this time around, we forgive you ... but let's not make a habit of it, mmkay? Keep your eyes open for more fabulous get-togethers!

2. The Sixth and I Historic Synagogue

It's no secret that my name is Thirsty ... and I like beer. Nature or nurture? Eh, who cares?!

Being well-known for something means that people often associate you with that thing that you love. For example, when my friend was invited to a craft beer tasting featuring a Q&A with local craft brewers, who do you think she called?

ME!

Last Tuesday night, 6 craft beer loving ladies filled a table in the basement of Sixth and I where the Beer Activist was hosting a Seasonal Tasting "featuring the springtime offerings of some of the area's best local breweries" (for only $18).

Each brewer brought one beer to share with the class and then took a seat on the stage to tell some stories about the beer and their brewing history. Baying Hound, DC Brau, Chocolate City, Capital City, Lost Rhino, and Flying Dog teamed up to provide a pretty tasty liquid dinner (don't worry, there were pretzel sticks on the table too).

My biggest complaint of the night was the sound situation. Because of the weak system and brewers who were inexperienced with using and projecting into microphones (fine by me - I'd rather they be good at the beer-making), the actual discussion portion of the evening was difficult to hear/enjoy. Plus, my table was particularly chatty (yes, I shushed them!). If THAT was my biggest gripe, I'd say that's not a bad evening at all.

Would I return for a second round? Without a doubt, yes! 

If you are a novice and don't know a lot about beer or what types you might like, this is a great option for you! Others have hand-selected beers for you to sample and then teach you about it -- another double win! If you're already a beer lover (like me!), you'll enjoy it too.

Even when I try new labels, I tend to stick with what I naturally crave -- hops, hops, and more hops. Tastings, though, serve as a good way to branch out and experiment with new flavors. For example, Chocolate City (one of D.C.'s newest breweries) brought a limited edition beer (their last keg, actually!) called The Mothership Connection (yes, that's a P-Funk reference) that I never would've ordered otherwise. Even though this dark Weizenbock was far from my usual West Coast IPAs ... I didn't hate it and am glad I got one of the last sips of the season!

As it turns out, I also went to a craft beer tasting (yes, I see the pattern there too) thrown by LivingSocial on Sunday afternoon ... outside ... in the 40-degree rain ... Let's just say I've had better beer experiences (see above).

So, that's what I've been up to -- Tastefully Toasting on Tuesdays!

Cheers,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where NOT to Eat: The Hamilton

It all started over a bet about the Super Bowl.  I obviously bet on the Patriots.  Adam bet on the Giants.

Yes, I lost the bet.  It was a sad, sad day for New England.

The wager?  A bottle of whiskey.  Instead I paid up over whiskey drinks at Jack Rose one night.  But the entire time I was waiting for payback.

Enter St. Patrick's Day.  At Sign of the Whale.  And car bombs. 

The bet this time?  Who could drink one faster.

The wager?  Dinner.

I won (are we surprised)??

Dinner discussions began.  Adam told me to send him a list of places I wanted to try.  That he'd select one of the places I suggested but that I wouldn't find out which one until we arrived for dinner.

Yey for surprises!

I was secretly hoping that The Hamilton would be the one he picked since I've been dying to get in for dinner and write a review.  I had been to The Hamilton before, but it was just for late night drinks. 

Guess what?  Great minds think alike.

The Hamilton, located at 14th and F Street NW, was opened this past fall by the same restaurant gurus who own Clyde's.  And it is immediately apparent.  Both have similar decor.  Big plate glassed windows.  Dark wood paneling.  It pretty much oozes the D.C. vibe.

We arrived a bit early for our reservation and were finally shown to our seat after waiting about ten minutes.  The place was packed.  Our table was in one of the rooms that doubles as a dining room and a bar.  Oh, and did I mention that the place has over 850 seats...so yeah, it's ginormous.

I immediately noticed that it was loud.  Really, really loud.  Sure, it was Wednesday after work.  But when two people come in for a date, why would you seat them in such a loud room?  I was kind of annoyed.

Luckily, our server came over and took our drink order.  Adam got whiskey.  I got a martini.  Dirty, of course.  Both were good.  But can you really screw up either?  I also noticed that the drink menu features over 20 draft beers and over 20 wines by the glass.  This place has such a go big or go home style.

So, it's no surprise that The Hamilton's menu is huge.  Lots of American dishes.  Seafood.  Steak.  Burgers.  It even features an entire sushi menu. 

Now, while I'm all for choices, it was a bit much.  And definitely not a place I would want to eat sushi.  As I mentioned, the decor is very Washingtonian.  Mahogany trim, dark carpets, historic prints on the walls.  It reminds me of Old Ebbitt...would you want to eat sushi at Old Ebbitt?  Nope.  Me neither.

But the conversation was a-flowing so we took our time looking at the expansive menu.  I debated between the pan roasted salmon and the wild Alaskan halibut, finally deciding on the latter.  Adam went with the half roasted chicken.  And then we split the Brussels sprouts.  I looooovvvveee Brussels sprouts.

The food came out fast.  But I was immediately disappointed when I noticed that my fish was extremely overcooked.  And the Brussels sprouts were gray and slimy looking.
 
Wild Alaskan Halibut
Although the halibut itself was overcooked, the dish had nice flavors.  It was served with snap peas, Vidalia onions, and pea shoots in a tarragon butter sauce.  The sauce was kick ass and  made up for the dry fish. 


Half Roasted Chicken
Adam really liked his chicken.  It looks like it was cooked well--- all the way through but still juicy.

The Brussels sprouts though?  A big, fat, failure.
 
Brussels Sprouts. So sad looking.

We decided to skip dessert and each have another cocktail instead. 

While the conversation and company were great, I was so disappointed by the food.

So much potential. But a total let-down.

Would I go back? 

For drinks?  Absolutely.  The place is huge with so many different bars to choose from.  Hell, you could do a pub crawl just within The Hamilton. 

But would I go for dinner again?  Not. A. Chance.

After dinner we walked to Chinatown to meet up with some friends at Rosa Mexicano, drink tequila, and make bad decisions.  But, really, would you expect anything less? 




Monday, April 23, 2012

Where to Shop: Fornash

Who doesn’t like accessories? Whether it is a fun pair of sunglasses, the perfect shade of lipstick, a great handbag, or a headband, simple additions can turn any outfit classic in a matter of minutes. It is no secret that style icons Jackie O., Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn are all known for their impeccable accessorizing. While I am by no means an icon, or think that I am a fashion guru by any means, I do share their adoration for accessorizing.

Last weekend I decided that since Spring is in the air, I needed to spice up my wardrobe. Taking a cue from the lovely ladies mentioned earlier, I was on the hunt for custom (and admittedly preppy) jewelry. It was on this hunt that I discovered Fornash, a locally owned and operated chic boutique located in the Ballston Mall in Arlington (easily accessible by the orange line).


Fornash is the brainchild of D.C. local Stephanie Fornash Kennedy. Originally starting with handbags, the boutique now includes clothing, jewelry and accessories, including custom monogrammed jewelry and gifts (insert Red White and Bourbon excitement here, I mean even my iPhone background is monogrammed). As soon as I walked in the store, I was in heaven. Brightly colored scarves, dresses, custom monogrammed products, jewelry with nautical themes, horse bit accessories, costume jewelry, headbands, ribbons, you name it, they have it for sale. Heck, even Oprah is a fan of Fornash, check out one of her favorite products, the gecko bangle.







While shopping, not only was I thrilled about everything Fornash offered, but I was highly impressed with the level of customer service I received! Despite visiting on their first day of opening in Ballston (Fornash was previously located in Georgetown) the staff was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. They helped me order my monogrammed earrings and were very accommodating when answering questions I had about the products.
My visit ended very successfully with the purchase of monogrammed earrings, an anchor necklace and coordinating earrings (Maryland girls have a soft spot for the Naval Academy), bangles, and a headband. And I was very happy when not even a week later I got a call from Fornash to let me know my earrings were ready! (Yes, my initials are CBS like the news station. Yes, I am in love with that).


I will absolutely be visiting Fornash again in the very near future! In fact, I receive nothing but compliments (even from Nordstrom sales associates) when I wear the products. I highly recommend Fornash for anyone looking to purchase some accessories or gifts for a special lady in your life! And for all you going to Gold Cup on May 5, or if you are hosting a Derby Party, horse bit items are 20% off online, just enter BIT to receive the discount.



Oh, and I hope to see a lot of you at happy our tomorrow at Local 16. More information here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/335151336543208/


Happy Shopping,






Saturday, April 21, 2012

Where to Date on the Cheap

This one's for the dudes.

Men of D.C., while I can't empathize since I didn't pay for most of my meals or drinks from November 2009 to November 2011, I get it. Dating is expensive, particularly in major metropolitan cities such as our fair nation's capital. And while you want to be sure to impress the fair lady you've snookered into meeting you after work, you also don't want to suffer a bank account raping in the process.

Luckily for you, I've got a date idea that will allow you to be the debonair gent your mother raised you to be while simultaneously taking it easy on your wallet: Happy hour at Oyamel followed by a Pay-What-You-Can performance* from the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Now, Appealing Kate has already touched on Oyamel once in this blog, but she and her gentleman caller ate a full meal. If you're trying to date on a budget, that's not what you'll be doing there.

But let's back up a second and talk about how to accomplish this date in order:

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
641 D St. NW
(Mere steps away from the Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter Metro station)


First, you'll want to get on Woolly Mammoth's website and look at their show calendar. Figure out when a new show is just kicking off, because the first and second performances -- generally a Monday and a Tuesday night -- are Woolly's patented Pay-What-You-Can performances. That means that at a theater where tickets normally range from $40 a pop skyward, you can get tickets for the meager contents of your wallet. Awesome!

I should note that even though the performances are marked "Pay What You Can," popular convention would have you shell out $5 per ticket (though, admittedly, I showed up with seven dirty $1 bills before and still got two tickets). So, if you're going this route, plan to have at least $10 in your wallet -- the Pay-What-You-Can shows are cash-only.

Another thing to note about this is that tickets for the Pay-What-You-Can performances go on sale at 5 p.m., and since they are so cheap comparatively, there is always a long line. Plan to get there as close to 5 p.m. as possible to secure your seats.

Now, if you've navigated the Pay-What-You-Can performances correctly, you'll have gotten your tickets by about 5:30 p.m. Woolly Mammoth shows generally start around 8 p.m.

What to do until then? That's where the Oyamel happy hour kicks in.

Oyamel
401 7th St. NW


From 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, you can get $5 margaritas and two-for-$5 tacos. And though the addresses of these two joints would have you thinking they're unrelated, the restaurant and the theater are actually right next door to each other.

So, men of D.C., get you and your date some tickets, then scoot on over next door and have her meet you for margaritas and tacos while you wait for the show.

To review:

2 show tickets: $10
2 margaritas: $10
2 tacos: $10

Grand total: $30

For dinner and a show in the District, that's pretty good. And considering Woolly has artsy, non-traditional plays at their theater, you'll no doubt have a lot to discuss afterward.

The next Pay-What-You-Can performances are slated for May 28 and 29 for "Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play," so you've got plenty of time to plan!

Happy dating!




















*While the Pay-What-You-Can performances are by far the cheapest ways to see plays at Woolly Mammoth, they're not the only shows for the budget-conscious. Woolly also offers $20 seats for anyone age 30 and younger, Stampede Seats (about 10 balcony seats available first-come-first-serve for $15) and discounts for groups.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Friendly Reminder: Happy Hour!

Instead of our regularly scheduled post, I just wanted to send out a friendly reminder to all of you that the amazing Gamma Girls and charming men from Gentlemen Calling are co-hosting a happy hour NEXT WEEK!

When next week? Tuesday. April 24th. 6pm-9pm. 

We have worked with Local 16 to secure their outdoor patio for our private happy hour AND, for your drinking pleasure, a ridiculous deal on tasty mojitos (only $5!). It's no piggy-backing space shuttle, but it's still pretty freaking exciting.

Local 16's rooftop (source: www.localsixteen.com)

I'm sure you're asking yourself, "where do I sign up?"

Answer: right here --> RSVP through our Facebook page (please "like" our page while you are at it!)

Step 2: Invite your friends (only the cool ones though) and come eat, drink, and be merry with us!

See you next Tuesday!
(sorry, I couldn't resist)


Cheers, y'all!








Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where to Have Some Outdoor Fun: Upton Hill

Those of you who know me outside this blog may know that I've recently joined a softball league in my neighborhood.  I've played in other softball leagues before... in law school and for a few summers when I worked on the hill after college. 

But this latest league I've joined?  It's legit.  Like we have practice.  And our coach scolds us when we swing at pitches that are outside the strike zone.  And we have first and third base coaches.

Although I'm a fairly athletic person, softball has never been my strong suit.  But, I love a good challenge.  And I love feeling part of my neighborhood.  And part of a team.  And any excuse to be outside.  So, I signed up for softball.  And since I'm uber competitive and didn't want to let my team down, I knew I needed some serious practice leading up to our first game.

That's why this past Saturday, I headed out to Upton Hill's batting cages in Arlington to work on my batting skills.

Source: http://www.nvrpa.org/

I had no idea what to expect.  I just figured it would be a couple of batting cages.  But as we drove in through the Upton Hill gates off of Wilson Boulevard, it seemed sort of like we were driving into a state park.  Upon further research, I now know that my inclination made perfect sense...as Upton Hill is part of the Northern Virginia Recreational Parks Association.

In addition to outdoor batting cages, we saw a colorful mini golf course "And what's that over across the parking lot?" I thought. "A pool and water slides?"  Who knew?!?



Upton Hill has nine batting cages, some softball, some baseball.  $5 gets you 6 tokens.  Each token gets you 16 pitches.  Aka a cheap and fun way to spend some time.

There were little kids hitting balls with supportive dad's coaching them (adorable).  And couples having friendly competitions (also adorable).  And people like my friend and me...just practicing and batting on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon (don't worry, we were adorable, too).

If batting cages isn't really your cup of tea, Upton Hill also has a mini golf course.  I love putt-putt and will definitely be heading back to play the course soon... and according to the Upton Hill website, "the deluxe miniature golf course boasts one of the longest mini golf holes in the world."  Sweet.

Upton Hill also has picnic tables and hiking trails and the water park.  So many fun things all right in the same park!

Can you sense how excited I am about this place? Because you should.

Why?  Because I love activities! 

Sure, a fancy dinner with a charming man is fun.  And grabbing tapas and margaritas with my girlfriends is a blast.  But I'm someone with an insane amount of energy.  I love bopping around and being active.  And I looooovve a good competition.  And Upton Hills allows for all of that!!

Now, who wants to go play some putt-putt with me?!?

A Review of Arena Stage's "A Long Day's Journey into Night" (and Zaytinya)

Last week I went to the play "A Long Day's Journey into Night" by Eugene O'Neil at Arena Stage.

I've got to be honest...after a long week at work, the thought of sitting through a three-hour play on Friday night was not exactly appealing to me.  I even thought about cancelling so that I could lay on my couch all night in sweatpants instead.  But, not wanting to be that girl for bailing last minute, I decided to rally.  And I'm actually really glad that I did.

I started off the night meeting my date for drinks at Zaytinya.  Having heard good things about Zaytinya, and being a fan of Jose Andres' other local restaurants, I was looking forward to checking out the happy hour.  Of course my indecision about cancelling made me late, but when I arrived my date had managed to score us two seats at the end of the bar.  Sweet.

We ordered drinks. My wine was good, a nice fruity Savingnon Blanc, but I was disappointed to see that there were no happy hour specials.  Come on, Zaytinya.

Zaytinya's cheese platter
We ordered, at the suggestion of my date, the cheese platter.  I looooovvveee cheese platters.  Mostly because I get to nibble and try all sorts of different flavors together.  We also ordered the spanakopita, also my date's suggestion.  The cheese platter?  Delicious.  The spanakopita?  Eh.  Not bad, but nothing to write home about.

The service was a little slow in the bar, and the bartender was less than friendly.  I found it annoying that my date had to ask the bartender to tell us what the various cheeses and sides on the platter were.  But I loved the atmosphere.  Extremely high ceilings.  Minimalist feel.  Professional 30-something crowd.

As we left Zaytinya I noticed for the first time that it has an outdoor patio.  And that said patio was closed.  Which was strange because it was a beautiful night out.  Hopefully they have since opened the patio.  It would be a prime spot for some al fresco dining.

Poste patio

And speaking of al fresco, next we grabbed a quick drink down the street at Poste.

This was my first time visiting Poste's outside patio.  I was uber impressed. 

Lots of comfy couches spread out in an expansive courtyard.  Although $25 + tip for two drinks seemed a little steep.  I guess that's Chinatown, though, right?  No happy hour AND overpriced drinks.  Ohhh wellll.

After finishing up our drinks and looking at the time, we hopped a cab to Arena Stage and ducked into our seats just in time to catch the curtain going up. 





A Long Day's Journey into Night takes place during the summer of 1912.  It's regarded as one of O'Neil's great pieces, and he received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play in 1957.  The storyline follows the day in the life of the Tyrone family at their summer seaside cottage in Connecticut.  The Tyrone family is dealing with many types of addition--- the wife and mother, Mary, suffers from morphine addiction, the younger son suffers from alcoholism.  The two other characters, the father and eldest son, drink throughout the play.

The themes, as you can imagine, are intense.  Each of the characters conceal, blame, and deny their addictions.  Yet at the same time, each truly does want to help the other.  Anyone who has family members that have experienced alcoholism, drug addition, or mental illness can most certainly relate to many of the discussions and interaction that occur in the play.  And if you've been lucky to avoid those issues in your family, you will at least be able to relate to the sibling rivalry and worry over aging parents, which also are discussed in the play.

The highlight of the play was, without a doubt, the lead actress, Helen Carey, who played Mary.  She was outstanding.  Mary's character is intense.  She is up and down, happy and sad, clear-minded and then suddenly very confused and disoriented. Ms. Carey was able to transition into these different states of mind perfectly.  She was incredible to watch.

Not knowing much about Eugune O'Neil, I was unsure what to expect.  Because this play is part of Arena Stage's Eugene O'Neil festival, I saw another one of his plays, "Ah, Wilderness" last month.  You can read that review here.  When I reviewed "Ah, Wilderness,  you will recall that I wrote I was a little bored.  There was just so much dialogue.  Not enough action.

But now that I've seen both plays I realize that this is what O'Neil is known for.  He doesn't have lots of action on stage.  He is all about the words.  And perfectly crafted dialogue.  While I prefer more fast paced plays, recognizing O'Neils skill for dialogue made me not only appreciate Arena Stage's performance of this play, but "Ah Wilderness" as well.

And it also reminded me just how well Arena Stage puts on a show.  The set was detailed and interesting.  The actors flowed and worked well together.  It was a truly spectacular piece of art.

Of course our night didn't end at Arena.  After three hours of sitting still, we hopped a cab to Glover Park's Breadsoda to play pool and drink beer.  But that's a review for a different time.

In the meantime, if you want to see some incredible acting, see this play.  Although long, Helen Carey's performance is worth it.  So worth it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where to Eat: The Chesapeake Room

One of my friends is a paratrooper. If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably seen us interact. It is no secret that there is a rivalry between the branches of the military and needless to say, as a member of Army Special Forces, paratroop was none too pleased that on Saturday night I ended up on Barracks Row, a place filled with Marines. I would type some of his comical gems here, but I’d rather not get investigated by the FCC. He eventually forgave me for hanging out in “enemy territory,” however, once I explained that I found a place that featured Mid-Atlantic cuisine and specialty whiskey cocktails. He understands my Maryland roots and whiskey obsession and sent me this as a peace offering (photo credit: www.facebook.com).


I had never tried the Chesapeake Room before Saturday. In fact, most of the times I end up on Barracks Row I am taking shots or pounding beers, very classily, at Molly Malone’s or The Ugly Mug. So on Saturday, after leaving the Nats game, my friends Amanda, Rob, and I wanted to go someplace new for dinner. I suggested walking to Barracks Row; Amanda had never been to this part of town and I knew that since the weather was nice there would be a lot of people out and about. I was right, Barracks Row was packed! As we walked along, Rob suggested that we try The Chesapeake Room. We checked out the menu, I saw Mid-Atlantic cuisine and specialty southern cocktails and was sold. My friends agreed. We put our names down on the list and waited for our table at the bar. (photo credit: www.thechesapeakeroom.com)

While waiting for our table, we checked out the drink menu. As if I didn’t already think this restaurant was right up my alley because of its name and the use of Old Bay in most dishes, the specialty cocktails were a mother ship calling me home. Not only was there a drink called the “Seersucker Jacket” (Note: The name of this drink made my little heart beat faster thinking about a cute boy I know that loves seersucker just as much as I do), but they had a custom cocktail that was made with Maker’s Mark, as well. I was in heaven. Rob tried the seersucker jacket, Amanda had the Sweet Emily, and I stayed true to my whiskey roots and ordered a Horse’s Neck.




I do have to point out, though, that one of the only downsides of our night at The Chesapeake Room was the long wait time. Since it was such a gorgeous night, tables were moving slowly and we waited over an hour to be seated, despite being told that our wait would be a half an hour, max. However, I can’t say we minded waiting at the bar too much after one sip of our drinks. (photo credit: www.thechesapeakeroom.com)


After waiting a little while longer, we were taken to a semi-circle leather booth. The Chesapeake Room offers outdoor patio seating, indoor seating, as well as a full bar. While we would have loved to sit outside, since the weather was perfect, there were no tables available. So for those of you wanting to check it out, make sure you call ahead! (photo credit: www.thechesapeakeroom.com)


Once seated, we took a look at the menu, and Captain Loves Anything With Crab And Old Bay (also known as Red White & Bourbon), took all of three seconds before deciding on the cream of crab soup and crabcakes for my meal. However, Amanda and Rob took their time perusing the menu and we chatted while deciding what to order. Our waiter stopped by to take our order for appetizers - Rob and I each ordered the cream of crab soup and Amanda ordered scallops on a mushroom risotto. Since we weren’t fully ready to order our meals, he gave us a few more minutes to look over the menu.

The appetizers arrived shortly thereafter. The soup was divine. Although a little thinner than I am used to, the chunks of crab meat and just the right amount of Old Bay made it heavenly. Amanda’s scallops and risotto were delicious as well. The scallops were grilled to perfection and the mushroom risotto was the ideal accent.





But, here is where I have one other complaint. We never saw the waiter again until 15 minutes after the food runner delivered our appetizers. I have been a server and understand that things are crazy during peak meal times. The restaurant was extremely busy, but the fact that we had to flag our waiter down just to order our meal was a little ridiculous. Fortunately, we weren’t in a huge rush and were enjoying chatting with each other so this was just a minor annoyance to us, but had we been pressed for time it would have been very upsetting.

Once we placed our orders (crabcakes for myself and Rob, hanger steak for Amanda) we continued chatting and waited for our meals. The waiter brought some amazing cornbread between our appetizers and entrees and soon our meals arrived. First, there was enough food to feed an army. Second, it was delicious. I devoured mine in a very unladylike fashion, I’m sure. The crabcakes were phenomenal. They were made from lump crab meat with very little filler and just the right amount of Old Bay; served with homemade coleslaw and mac ‘n cheese, it was my sown little piece of Southern/Maryland heaven. We also ordered Chesapeake fries to share (yes, they are steak fries covered in Old Bay, yes they are everything I imagined). Amanda really enjoyed her hanger steak as well it was cooked exactly as ordered and tasted great.







Overall, I recommend The Chesapeake Room for dinner and drinks. The specialty cocktails are delicious and the food was wonderful. I will absolutely be back!

Happy Seersucker Season,