Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Colonel Brooks' Tavern Washington DC -- THE REVIEW
Washington, DC 2001
Met up with my friend Leavitt (I’m sure he has a first name, but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever used it) to go to a dive that he suggested. Oddly enough, it was conveniently located near his house in the Brookland area of DC…wonder why he suggest this place…hmmmmm?
We met up and hopped into the world’s hottest Metro car. How hot was it? I’ve done that hot yoga shit before (twice) and this car easily was 20 degrees hotter than that! We fought our way to the Brookland Station, a part of DC that I had never ventured into before, and pretty much right across the street was Colonel Brooks’ Tavern.
First Impressions: It is a tidy little place. Is it a dive? Not sure yet. We walked in and took a seat at the area BEHIND the bar. Great, bar review purgatory, close enough to see the action at the bar… but too far away to actually be part of any real conversations. (I will find a way to blame Leavitt for this too).
The Bar: Finally…someone left so we quickly hopped into the vacated bar stools. Nice enough looking bar area, there is a picture of the name-sake behind the booze (Leavitt told me the story of the place but he talks so much I didn’t pay attention). The picture is cool, yet creepy, but easily catches your attention when you sit down. Good selection of beer on tap ranging from Stella to Sierra Nevada. Other than that, it’s pretty much just a bar area.
Crowd: In reading through my notes I wrote down (good mix of people) so let’s go with that. It’s the kind of a place where at any second I was waiting for Cornel West to come walking though the door followed by some random nerdy Capitol Hill intern. In short, there was some good people watching going on here. That was until the place was completely empty by 8:45 PM.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there was a Rev. Jim Ignatowski-looking guy sitting next to us rolling his own smokes, bitching about not getting paid “under the table”, arguing that Sarah Palin was the antichrist, and apparently is on some type of frequent drinkers program because he didn’t pay a dime for many over-priced beers. I must say, of all the characters I have run into over the years in dive bars, this guy was one of the more memorable. I didn’t get a picture of him because I wasn’t sure if he would have thought I was an IRS spy and slugged me in the nose.
Service: There are people behind the bar. They seemed pleasant enough, if not a bit quiet. But apparently they make enough money in base salary that making sure your glass is always full (thus ensuring a big tip) is not high on their agenda.
Price: Ouch! $5.50-6.50 a pint! I was drinking Bass, but still. If I were running the place, and wanted people here past 9:00 pm, I may want to rethink the price of drinks. I didn’t see many other places in the area, so maybe they are charging customers the convenience store price. If I want to pay nearly 7 bucks a beer, I will just go to a Nats game next time!
Food: Not a ton of good pub grub options. In lieu of wings, I ordered a “dang” quesadilla (the always health conscience Leavitt ordered a turkey burger). Both were fine enough. Nothing to write home about, but as a bartender in London once said about the food in his pub “it fills a hole”.
Restrooms: Not awful. Again, the restrooms here were of the single-serve variety, so it is a one-at-a-time approach. They could have been worse, and could be used in an emergency if needed. What I found odd that there was an oven mitt seemingly insulating one of the pipes under the sink. Why that was I do not know? It was about this time that Leavitt’s wife showed up (I do know her first name) so I dispatched her into the women’s room to see if there was an oven mitt in there too. Oddly enough…there was. That’s just odd.
Bartender Chat: None to be had. Between the crazy guy rolling his own smokes and the quiet demeanor of the bartenders, I was not able to get more than a few words out of anyone. At one point I did here the crazy guy talking to one of the bartenders and he did use the term “tit suckers” in reference to someone or something. That made me chuckle at the time and goes down as the only real bartender chat I remember.
How Far Did My $20 Go: My 20 bucks went about as far as an H2 in city driving. If you factor in tip, $20 buys you less than three pints. NOT dive pricing!
Final Impressions: The term I used to describe this place is an “urban pub”. It is mostly locals who stop by for a bit, have a drink and move on. If you live in the area I can see why you would want to stop by from time-to-time (other than the prices). However, there is no reason to go out of your way to hit this dive. I bid an empty Colonel Brooks’ Tavern adieu just after 9:00, hopped back on the Metro, and went to a real dive near my hotel…The Post Pub!