THE PERIGRINATIONS OF A PARIAH
DAY EIGHT & NINE: WINDING DOWN IN WASHINGTON
Two early evening suppers after two busy days at the fair brought our time in Washington to its natural conclusion.
On Saturday, the second day of the fair, we were joined by two of our German partners for a simple family style supper at SKEWERS.
There is very little to be said about this. It was neither excellent nor downright horrible but merely a joint that served decent, if over priced Kebabs ( or kebobs as our colonial cousins infuriatingly insist on calling them ) to a primarily young and hip crowd.
No one died in the eating of this meal
Sunday was the last day of the fair. Many people, with huge good sense, had headed back to their hometowns and left the hardened few to see the fair to the bitter end. Or in my case, until 2.30pm where I decided to leave the gang to mop up the last survivors and head back to the hotel for a kip and to rest my tootsies which by now were suffering an appalling attack of gout and glowing red in quite an alarming manner.
By 6.00pm though, I was feeling much better and also dosed up to the eyeballs on a wide variety of OTC medication. So, I met up with the two of my colleagues who had no further plans and headed out for out last night of the fair supper.
THE TABBARD INN
A very attractive restaurant in a hotel near Dupont Circle.
The room is charming and light and airy. There was a terrace which looked welcoming, but the hostess told us they were only offering “ light Summer fare” there. I do hate it when people use the word fare. It makes me think they should be dressed as Maid Marion. It sounds doubly wrong coming at you in an American accent. But then, most things do.
Our table was not quite ready so we managed to prise a drink from a surly barman when he finished chatting to his chum by which time we were ready to sit down.
A rather elongated process followed where the two hosts kept taking it in turns to tell us that the other was going to seat us with neither showing any inclination to do so. Finally after much confusion we did manage to get to a nice table by the terrace and have a look at the menu.
The list changes daily so there were no specials and there was much on their to tempt. Unfortunately, the service was definingly hapless and there were long waits between getting the menu and ordering and then between that, receiving our food and subsequent courses. I think they only had one actual server in the room supported by a host of ineffectual bus boys.
The kitchen shows signs of someone quite able in charge, but is let down by the front of house ( almost the exact opposite of our experience at Mie N Yu where our server was really rather good and let down by inept cooking )
To begin, I, along with one of my colleagues ordered fried calamari with anchovies. They also had a single oyster each which I, of course, had to forgo. The cooking was on the money. The seafood was crisp and fresh and reminded me of the fried seafood I have grown to love so much on visits to Spain. There was a twist here with a little green curry paste running through the batter which added nothing. A small shard of metal we found in the portion served to my chum, Bernard also added nothing and drew barely a grunt when we pointed it out to the waiter. We could have kicked up a real stink and I expected some sort of apology or at least a tannoy announcement saying “ beware our seafood has a high metallic content” but no. The server merely took the metal off us and walked off. I really expected him to say “ don’t tell everyone or they’ll all want some."
The main courses too showed a really deft touch. I had a soft shell crab stuffed with more crab meat mixed with basil and garlic. Served with a concasse of tomatoes, it was a perfect light dish after a heavy week. One of my colleagues tried halibut which was meaty if a little overcooked. I think there is about a 10-15 second point at which this fish is perfect. Hard to get right. This was a pretty good attempt.
Bernard was having no luck at all. His seafood stew looked very good with a salmon sausage, shrimp, mussels etc etc, but it was stone cold. Not tepid, but cold. They whisked it away when this was pointed out and brought the same plate back with, it seemed, just having poured hot stock over it ( or nuked it – which I thought more likely ) A shame. It could have been a contender as the tastes were very good.
The wine list was short but very well chosen and allowed me to do this Spanish thing with a bottle of Rueda for $32. Worked perfectly with our food choices.
Shared puddings of sorbet and some pie or other were just fine and went well with a glass of Tokaji which left us with a bill of about $200 including service which while friendly enough needs to go to a home for the terminally hapless.
So, my meals in Washington were a mixed bag. Only one was really any good and that was Georgia Brown’s. The rest went from “perfectly fine” to “I am going to hunt you and your family down” But, as so often in times of convention, the meals are a secondary thought and do not really give a fair example of what a city has to offer. I suspect that were I to come here for a weekend just to eat, my choices would be different and so would my opinions of Washington as an eating city.
After the meal, Emmanuel, our driver, took us on an unplanned tour of the city by night time. All very elegant and impressive if hampered by another flare up of gout. Still, given that it is all I got to see of the US capital, I could hardly complain
Next stop, Las Vegas