The Hotel Washington’s spectacularly unremarkable roof top bar and the newly renovated Point of View share the same stunning views of DC. The drinks, cuisine and the décor have been updated and upgraded. Sadly, mediocre service is still a component of this place. Lines to enter are frustratingly long (even though I don’t wait in them) and woefully mismanaged. Bartenders and cocktail servers are possessed with haughty pretentions that seem to expect a guest’s gratitude for their admittance. With a round of drinks for my group of three being north of sixty dollars (including tax and gratuity,) I became even less enamored of this place where too many people wear sunglasses past the point of need, and take themselves far too seriously.
About a half a mile away from P.O.V. is another newish rooftop hotel bar, the SkyBar at the Beacon Hotel. The Beacon has never been known for high-end food or high quality service – I seem to recall one of the critics of record skewering the place with a one star review that was better than my zero star prior experiences. I was coaxed into giving them another chance by a gorgeous summer evening and a stiletto wearing ingénue I have known for a while.
Sticking to beer on tap because of a frighteningly mundane and overpriced selection of wines by the glass is the smart way to go here – assuming that you like a dark brown ale more appropriate to cool weather drinking. Still, I’d rather pay for the only beer on tap option, New Castle Brown, than spend twelve + dollars for a glass of wine that I know cost the bar six dollars for the bottle equaling a 1000% mark-up.
Overpricing and lack of seasonality aside, SkyBar is a pleasant place to spend an after work evening before going some place else for food. Crab Hush Puppies were lacking in discernable crab flavor specifically, and flavor flavor generally. Wasabi Guacamole had heat but not salt, and the Calamari Salad was rubbery and overly salted.
Policy is another new place with outdoor space (sure, it overlooks an alley and the back of buildings but it fits with my open air/new place theme so just go with it.) The look of this place is overly mod and severe with an all black interior on the dining room level. Un-shaded tear drop lighting adds to the severity. This place isn’t my style but I understand its appeals to some.
With all of its hipster striving, Policy may not seem like a place for serious dining, but the food is serious, and seriously good here. The menu may seem like a 2001 Greatest Culinary Hits album – lamb lollipops, duck spring rolls, short ribs, hanger steak – but the dishes are executed very well and priced reasonably too. For maximum enjoyment, I would recommend early week dining because this place can get loud without too much help from the music and chatter.
Bar Dupont in the recently renovated Hotel Dupont is the new winner of the “We’re Really Pretty So We Don’t Have to Be Good Crown.”* It is visually charming, but there are so many things wrong with service, food, management, and concept that the only nice thing that one of my favorite food bloggers and I could say after one visit was “at least the mustard was good.”
I’ve been back since that ill fated visit in part to confirm all of my harsh thoughts, and in part for the same reason I’ve had second dates with gorgeous but incompatible women. I want so much to like the place.
I am fatigued with clueless restaurant owners who are satisfied with mediocrity as long as it yields profits and their fraternity of the lame is too full with members. I place them in league with talented writers/directors who make shitty movies. I don’t begrudge them the right to get paid for making bad movies, I just wonder why THEY ARE ok with it.
* don’t worry, Lauriol Plaza, you can bounce back and reclaim the title next year.