Wednesday, May 27, 2009

H St. Country Club - Quick First Look

Despite my lack of posting over the last couple of months, somehow I was graced with an invite to tonight's preview of the H St. Country Club. I guess it makes sense because I do talk about eating a lot, but it caught me off guard. I try not to take myself, or this occasionally asinine blog, too seriously; so the idea that I might be credentialed to something as a media member is kind of flattering.

Anyway, I bounced down to the Country Club about 8pm to soak up my share of the free food and drink being provided. When I walked in I was given a press packet filled with boilerplate about the Country Club and its chefs, owners, and management and a drink ticket. Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

My first drink was an excellent frozen guava margarita that was suggested to me by Joe the bartender. I can just imagine the brain freeze I'll get this Summer when I suck one of those down after walking the half a dozen sweaty blocks between my crib and the Country Club. Then with drink in hand, I took a stroll around the place.

I had been to the Phish Tea Cafe, the restaurant that previously inhabited 1335 H St. NE, and they had only used a fraction of the space and not nearly as well. Big Joe knows what he's doing, is well capitalized, and it shows in the final product he's put together here. The H St. Country Club (HSCC) has a unique concept that has been executed very, very well.

I'll spare you a lot of blather about sumptuous wood tones and all the decorative flourishes that you'll see throughout the bar. The mini golf course upstairs is what much of the buzz about HSCC has centered on and it lives up to the hype. Even with the shitty camera in my iPhone, I managed to get a couple of half-decent pix of the mini golf course.





I know a lot of foodies are hyped up for Ann Cashion's new joint, but it looked like they were only serving selections from the bar menu tonight. Everything I tasted was good, but there's only so much you can do to nachos and quesadillas to dress them up. I missed out on the empenadas (which looked great) but consoled myself with the hot lima bean dip which is much, much better than it sounds.

The only disappointment of the night was my second drink, the Hot Tamale; a Ketel One Martini with jalapeno stuffed olives. The olives were a little mushy and not nearly salty enough and the jalapenos should have been hotter and lacked the vinegary tang that I was looking for.

11 comments:

IMGoph said...

alright! the first person who actually has a little bit of criticism of the joint.

seriously, i can't wait to check this out, but i've been wary of nothing but positive comments. i figured someone had to have a little something to nitpick (i'm such a heel, aren't i?)...

i'm just glad it was nothing major!

monkeyrotica said...

This sounds like a great addition to the neighborhood. I'm sure they'll spend the first month or so ironing out the rough spots, but Joe knows WTF he's doing. I've been going to his establishments for years.

One question: how do the balls stay on the course? Is there some kinda barrier that keeps them out of the walkways? I can easily see some overenthusiastic golfer driving one across the room.

Once Capital City Diner opens, I'm buying everybody a milkshake. AND A WHOLE BUNCHA STRAWS!

Hill Rat said...

@IMGoph

I think that, like myself, most folks realize that no place is going to be perfect the day it opens and temper their criticisms. Being a douchey blogger instead of a douchey foodie, I have no such qualms.

@monkeyrotica

Indeed, I've been a patron of many of Joe's places over the years. Crappy olives in a martini are easily corrected. I don't know if you can see this in the picture, but there are rails around most of golf holes to keep the balls in play.

ibc said...

@IMGoph:

i figured someone had to have a little something to nitpick (i'm such a heel, aren't i?)...The handle on the john in the downstairs men's room is cracked. It's the little things.

@Monkey:

Balls are kept in by artificial grass fringe that's deeper than the "fairway".

@HillRat:

If you think crappy olives are bad, just thank your lucky stars you're not a Gibson drinker.

Anonymous said...

I was at one of the mock services this past weekend -- tried the food and drinks ...

Must say I was VERY impressed with the whole vibe of the place -- there is not one place like it in D.C. that has the same young and hip feel ... I sat for dinner and tried appetizers, main and dessert and gotta say it was all very good, particularly the duck (Most expensive on the menu at $22) -- but there are other less expensive options that are very good as well...

They will sell a truck load of appetizers and may need to clear out a table or two for space upstairs so people can get to the bar while waiting for mini-golf but overall -- the place rocks and I wish them all the best.

Small but nice touch: the super air blasting hand dryers in the bathrooms which must be used and seen to be appreciated.

There will be some growing pains as in any business and they have Joe Englert's experiences to fall back on when they need to change and adapt. The comment about the Rock N Roll hotel being next door was right on, there is a group of people there most nights looking for places to go ... This place will be absolutely packed by the H St. crowd and local students looking for a great time ...

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