Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Room 11

"The patio at Room 11" by squidpants, on Flickr

"The patio at Room 11" by squidpants, on Flickr

I’m not precisely sure why, but something about Room 11 reminds me of New Orleans. Not the crazy raucous Bourbon Street tourist madness that immediately comes to mind, but the lazy corner bar where the locals go.

Maybe because the actual space is so tiny, just a bar with an outside patio that dwarfs the inside. Maybe because the first night I was there, the clientele was such a fascinating mix of local characters. On one side, I could eavesdrop on the brothers Brown concocting their latest cocktail bar, on the other, a courtly group of GI Generationers enjoying the vino. The next visit it was the after-work young professionals crowd, enlivened by a dandy with a dog.

A complete cross-section of the Columbia Heights neighborhood? Well, not entirely. “You enjoying that wine and cheese?” a man sneered as he passed by.

But, no social commentary today. Let’s talk about that wine and cheese instead. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Cork

"roseflight" by Il Primo Uomo, on Flickr

"roseflight" by Il Primo Uomo, on Flickr

There’s a slew of new boozy places in town, and I’m going to be busy trying to hit them all. So I thought for this week’s edition of Drinks I’d focus on a bar that has been on my list for a while, but somehow haven’t gotten around to writing about. 

Well, maybe I was being selfish!

Cork was a raging success before it even opened. Just the initial rumours of a wine bar on the 14th Street Corridor was enough to send us Shavians into a frenzy, pros and cons fiercely debated. Though owners and Logan Circle residents Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts were strongly dedicated to keeping it a neighborhood spot, the advance chat was so good that it was impossible to get in for weeks, if not months, after it opened. Suddenly the brave little wine bar that could was the toast of Food & Wine. And with Cork Market & Tasting Room opening this fall a little across the way, there’s no sign of a slowdown.

Sad to say, I still can’t recommend Cork on a weekend night. It’s just too crowded, there isn’t much space to wait for a table in the bar area (there isn’t much of a bar area for a wine bar, actually) and the decibel level is extreme. Of course if all that doesn’t bother you, go for it. It’s certainly a lively scene. But I’m more an off-night girl myself.

On a quiet mid-week night, the owners’ mission to “demystify the world of wine” really comes through, and it’s a true pleasure. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Vinoteca

Malbec at Vinoteca

"Malbec at Vinoteca" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

So, here’s my question: the wine bar proliferation over the past few years – fad or fabulous? I mean, with all these places popping up everywhere, are people actually learning about wine? Becoming educated oenophiles? Or still just stabbing nervous fingers in an overwhelming list and hoping like mad they pronounce “viognier” correctly?

Seriously, dear reader, hasn’t it come down to one thing and one thing alone – the size of the charcuterie plate? Isn’t it all about the meat and cheese?

Well, maybe not. In a city like DC there really are a lot of wine connoisseurs who would be far more qualified to talk about this trend than me. I’m just lucky to have two neighborhood wine bars – Cork and Vinoteca – where I can hang out and slowly pick up some idea of what I like. Of those two, I think Vinoteca has evolved the most. It didn’t spring out of the gate fully formed as a Frommer’s pick. There were some hiccups along the way since its opening in fall of 2007. But after several recent sojourns with good service giving spot-on wine recommendations, not to mention one of the best charcuterie plates in the city, I’ve really warmed up to Vinoteca as a favorite drinks spot.

And maybe not just for the sinful duck prosciutto… or the fact that they have tasty venison, lamb, and bison sliders… though that certainly helps! 

Continue reading