Tabard Inn Brunch: One of the Best…Around!

So after years in DC, SPY finally made it to Tabard Inn for brunch. I know, it’s about damn time. For those that don’t know, the Tabard Inn is one of the most well-respected brunch places in the city. Built in 1922 as a Romanesque-Revival row house, it blends in perfectly with the townhouse neighborhood (a stark contrast to the tacky Topaz Hotel next door I might add), has a classic yet quirky interior, and a beautiful outdoor patio.

Beautiful shots of the grounds

Then there is the food. You see, the Tabard Inn is one of the best brunch places in the city for a reason, and that reason is DONUTS. The Tabard Inn makes their cinnamon sugar donuts and vanilla whipped cream fresh every brunch and they are SPECTACULAR:

photogenic donut

Honestly, I crave them even now. Since you must order the donuts, I recommend you get one donut and a savory entree. The menu changes each brunch, but I ordered a goat cheese, bell pepper and squash frittata, which was excellent, while ironcityspy had a sardine nicoise salad, which although an order FAIL (sardines really?), he did love. Wonkette also cited a savory tart that I covet but wasn’t on the menu that day.

Finally, as if the food and historic location weren’t enough, the Tabard Inn is eco-friendly. With beautiful green rooftop gardens and solar panels, it is modern in the ways you hoped it would be.

green roofing!

Yes, my illustrious readers, SPY fell in love with the Tabard Inn that day and I think you will too. Just make sure to get reservations. Walk-ins are possible (we did) but unlikely, especially if you are more than 2. The Tabard Inn is, in the words of the Karate Kid:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fWvub_WBho]

So apparently M Street Spa gives happy endings

Yes! SPIES in the news!  

DCist loves spies

DCist reports that M Street Spa in Dupont (at 19th and M Streets NW), was busted last week for prostitution. A sting operation arrested two people, an employee for soliciting ladies of the night and an owner for basically running a whorehouse.  M Street Spa is next to Naturally Yogurt, House of Kabob, and Camelot the strip club. Hmm, which one would be a clue??  

Oh, and I know what you are thinking. No, despite my skills with a magnifying glass, your beloved SPY was not involved in this sting operation. Some people are just too naturally classy to make a convincing ho.  

Undercover SPY in a what looks like a whore-barn

However, if given the chance, I would have solved the mystery instantly.  I mean it’s a spa,  on the 3rd floor of a townhouse, next to a strip club and has NO yelp reviews? Seriously, what place has no yelp reviews?  

No word as to what will happen to the owner and employee. If I pay attention to the story later, I will let you know. However, it’s highly unlikely. I am lazy and never claimed to be a journalist.

Exploring Room & Board, the most fancy of IKEAs

So awhile back I blogged about 14th Street’s vintage furniture stores. I also blogged about rckndy, a very cool décor store at U and 15th streets. SO now, to solidify14th street’s status as the mecca of DC furniture, I am blogging about their contemporary furniture stores, starting with the newest addition: Room and Board.

A 4-story furniture warehouse at 14th and T streets, Room and Board’s layout is basically IKEA. Namely, tons and tons of different model rooms with furniture displayed, including a beautiful outdoor patio on the top floor to display the outdoor furniture options. The building itself was actually built in 1919 and used as a Ford Model T showroom.  Some pics of their style:

 

Nice no? Very good staples. However, unlike IKEA, this furniture is not built for the transient. There are different upholstery options, it’s not assemble-yourself, and the nice leather chairs are closer to $800 than $200. So as poor SPY in a nice store, I basically spent my time trying out every chair and sofa, in a sort of mental ‘form v. function’ cost-benefit analysis.

My conclusion? An early-1960s Mad Men inspired living room is simultaneously the most awesome looking and the most uncomfortable, while nothing beats a hideous old-man leather recliner for comfort. You’re welcome.

Uncomfortable but so bewitchingly stylish!

 Anyways, after like 45 minutes, I found myself simultaneously coveting a new DC townhouse to decorate (so many color palette options!) and Swedish meatballs. NO, don’t hate on the meatballs. They are delicious and you probably haven’t tried them so have no right to judge.

With Swedish lingonberry snacks!

God, now I am hungry. Crappy breakfast yogurt time. Happy Monday!

Room and Board, 1840 14th St. NW, DC, 20009, 202-729-8300, website (with more pics!)

Big cats obsessed with Calvin Klein fragrance and other District news

Okay. I know it’s not district news, but just give it a read. According to the Wall Street Journal, scientists have been testing different perfumes on big cats in order to lure them towards hidden cameras/snacks and other things in zoos. Most perfumes, like Estee Lauder Beautiful, have failed miserably. However, Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men, a cologne branded as “the pure essence of masculinity,” has proven intoxicating to cheetahs, jaguars and all kinds of big cats. Apparently the fragrance uses synthetic animal scents (like civet), to make it’s musk. Ew.

However, Darwinians rejoice. Because you know who wears the pure essence of masculinity, alternating between that and AXE body spray??? THIS guy:

Jon - Kate - 8 + tiger man shirt

Oh how perfect. Could you imagine?? Jon sauntering through the zoo, man-earring glistening in the sun, then suddenly gets maul-loved by a random tiger while wearing an obnoxious shirt of a tiger, all because he used stupid ‘essence of a man’ cologne that is basically artificial civet musk??

NAAHHHHHHHH SSSIINGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX07j9SDFcc]

Okay, I am done. Here is some other District news:

The owners of Politics and Prose are SELLING the store after 26 years. It will still operate as Politics and Prose (it BETTER dammit) but it’s tough news, especially given the uncertainties of the industry (Washington Post)

The massive old laundry store on 14th street is set to be turned into a massive new Italian restaurant (PoP)

East Falls Church wants a waterfront district. Problem? They don’t have water (Greater Greater Washington)

DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) is launching a blog.  Gentlemen (and women), arm your complaints! (DCist)

Oh, and WATCH THE WORLD CUP.

News roundup replaced by new restaurant roundup today because food is delicious

Willkommen new DC beer garden!

So basically, news this week has not been that interesting. It has either involved bodies (on the side of the road, in the Potomac, in overturned vehicles etc) or Fenty. All suboptimal. So instead, I have decided to round up the restaurant buzz! Here are some restaurants that are going to be opening around town:

  • Point Chaud (14th Street): A new creperie on 14th and S St. Soft opening set for today or this weekend. 1734 14th St NW (PoP)
  • Beir Garten Haus (H Street): Damn straight DC is getting a new beer garden. It’s Grand Opening has been postponed, but the owners promise it WILL be opened by 6/11. Yes, the World Cup. 1355 H street NE. (http://biergartenhaus.com/)
  • Cuba Libre (Penn Quarter): Mojitos, salsa and patio dining come to Penn Quarter. Cuba Libre has successful locations in Philly, Alantic City and Orlando. Set to open in June. 801A 9th St. NW (Zagat)
  • Carmine’s (Penn Quarter): The famous NYC eatery is opening a new 700 seat location in Penn Quarter. It is slated to open by late summer. 425 7th St. NW (Washington Post)
  • Lupe Mexican Cuisine (Dupont Circle): Will replace Sesto Senso next to public bar. No information on the new place. Prince of Petworth asks a good question, did anyone ever eat at Sesto Senso? 1214 18th St. NW (PoP)
  • Uniontown Bar & Grill (Anacostia): Yes, Anacostia. The first sit-down eatery in one of it’s poorer neighborhoods. Antibiotic-free meats, fresh juice mixers, sandwiches and beer. But will the business model work? (Washington Post)

Oh, and one rumor I had to pass along. Trader Joes may open a location near 14th and U St. I KNOW. But this is hearsay. A guy at Prince of Petworth asked the manager and he said they were actively looking for space at 14th and U St. Would REVOLUTIONIZE spy shopping. Get excited!

Trio, the Greeks, and DC’s diner drought

So since we are reeling off a holiday of freedom, I figured I would discuss an all- American classic today: the diner. Well, all-American in theory at least, because immigrants own basically all of them. The same immigrants that are, god love them, making food in the U.S. and the Queen’s commonwealth not, well, this:

Stupid haggis and stupid casserole

Everyone loves imported culture! Anyways, perhaps because it’s an inherently transient town or because it’s a much more Southern town than NYC or other diner hot spots, DC has very few independent diners. It’s why you should visit Trio. Started by a pair of Greeks in 1950, Trio serves no-frills comfort food, bakes their pies fresh every day, and has a very nice staff. They also serve a nice greasy spoon diner breakfast, which I love because I love PANCAKES. In honor of their 60th anniversary, they are doing little monthly specials.

A little DC diner classic on 17th Street

So you should go. Then Trio’s owners can send the money back to Greece to compensate for the fact the nation doesn’t really pay taxes but demands tons of social services. Oh, and sidebar, Greece, you are NOT an emerging market. Mostly because you were the FIRST MARKET EVER. So either you have been emerging since Jesus or you overspend on wages and social benefits. Just saying.

Oh and before I forget…

Trio also owns Fox and Hounds bar next door, which is actually called “Trio’s Fox and Hounds.” However even though they both offer cheap, outdoor after-work drinks, Fox and Hounds is always packed while Trio’s patio never is. Evidence:

Bizarre no? People would rather sit in the baking sun at Fox and Hounds than drink in the shaded and fanned space of Trio. And they are the same thing. I don’t understand people.

Internet and coffee sans hipster crowds? Try Steam Cafe

Sweatpants are A-Okay at Steam

So as I am currently “between jobs” (cough), I have become quite the tester of wifi coffeeshops. In general, I tend to evaluate them on a set of 6 criteria:

  1. coffee quality
  2. snack options
  3. hipster scale
  4. crowdedness
  5. background music
  6. availability of the internets.

For example, months back I blogged about MidCity Caffe, a wonderful option that scored very high in all categories, save it’s hipster scale reading of 7.0, which was due to the presence of 3 flannel shirts, a che hat and 2 NYT crossword puzzles being solved simultaneously. 7.0 is dangerously high.

I then started thinking about other options in the area, like Busboys and Poets, Tryst, Steam Cafe, and Kramers, and ultimately, it’s always the same basic face-off. Utilitarian vs. stylish, or in actual cafe terms, Steam Cafe vs. Tryst. Steam Cafe is the utilitarian model. And no, I don’t mean hipster exposed brick utilitarianism, I mean pure mall food court utilitarianism. Complete with hard chairs and grainy photos of ice cream cones. The Steam model is not trendy, but it is also not crowded. Family owned, classical music playing, the food is great but not that healthy. The internet works perfectly and sweatpants are welcome.

Juxtapose that with Tryst. THE Tryst. Open concept, hip tatooed cashiers, vintage comfy couches and chairs, very delicious coffee and food, and TONS of people. Definitely not the place for my fug olive-colored sweatpants. Music is usually good, but loud. Internet is perfectly accessible.

SO. Where do I go you ask? Where do I go if I need to use the internets with the company of a croissant snack ?? STEAM CAFE. In a second. Look, Tryst is great to grab lunch, take people from out of town, pick up some food to go. But to work? I just can’t do it. When I schlep my laptop around DC I need to know I will have a place to sit when I get there. I need to know I will have music at a decent volume, be able to look hideous and, because my computer is stone age, have an outlet to plug in to. Steam has these things, plus excellent paninis, plus staff that are unbelievably nice.

So if you need to work, you should try Steam. Just not on a weekend. We all hate people that camp out all day and only purchase one cup of coffee.

Big plans for the Dupont Underground and a bit of afternoon news

I know, you are confused. “But SPY,” you say, “today isn’t Friday,  why are you doing news”?? Well, half of it is for me. I had limited internet access in the Far East, so wanted to see what was happening around town. Also, I MAY have forgotten to post on Friday due to airplanes and deliverable due dates (yes, I do have an actual job) so this is sort of compensating. Also, this Dupont Underground thing is super interesting.

The Dupont Underground by Mika Altskan

Basically, there is an 100,000 square foot stretch of abandoned trolley tracks beneath Dupont Circle that the city is planning to turn into an art/cafe space. Per the website:

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Jack’s on 17th Street replaced by Turkish restaurant Agora

Happy Monday reader(s)! Big day today, because today I am finally FINALLY back from the Far East. Ahh. Such a nice feeling. Back to my bed and my food and my routine. So, in celebration of coming home, I decided to open this week about something I observed walking to Dunkin Donuts this morning (yes, Dunkin Donuts, maple frosted, and it was delicious thank you). Namely, Jack’s Bar and Restaurant on 17th Street has officially closed and is being replaced by AGORA.

Jacks from Yelp

First reaction? Suspicion. I know, I know I should be happy about a new restaurant coming into town. But look, I really did like Jack’s. Jack’s was what 17th Street was known for: nice outdoor seating, food and happy hour specials. And unlike other happy hour places that just offer half-priced burgers or wings, Jack’s offered half-priced PASTA. Like angel hair pasta with goat cheese and pine nuts for like 5 bucks that you could order with happy hour priced wine and just bitch about your work day. So for what it was, Jack’s was perfect really.

It also ALWAYS had people in it, so when it closed for apparent construction my friend and I were perplexed. Was it a face lift? Were they doing construction because 17th street was being torn up anyways by the city, so why not renovate? There was no way Jack’s just went under, right??

Well, turns out we were partially right. After doing some research on Agora, I discovered it was started by Jack’s owners. The owners are Turkish and actually disliked Jack’s growing reputation as a bar rather than a restaurant, so decided to just shut it down and open up a pure Mediterranean restaurant. According to the Washington Post, Agora will specialize in seafood and innovative takes on Turkish classics (so no simple hummus and baba ganoush). The owner even brought his father in from Turkey to help shape the menu and their olive oil will come from their family farm in Turkey.

Curious non? I will definitely give it a try. Though it better be good, because $5 goat cheese pasta is NOT easy to find. Just saying.

Oh, Agora is supposed to open this month, will keep you posted

Earth Day and other events in the District

Now I know I normally do not comment on events. It’s because I am NEVER aware of anything in time for people to actually plan for things. However, since it’s Earth Day on Thursday (go planet!) and the DC international film festival and I am sort of “between” jobs (cough), I figured I would help you plan your week. You know, list 4 things to check out and 4 things to miss….

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