I feel like I’m always out eating at some of the region’s most buzz-worthy restaurants. Often, I’m that person who lets my food get cold while I’m busy photographing my dishes from every angle, and I figured it was time to put all of those food photos to use!
So today, I’m pleased to introduce a brand new feature on Packed Suitcase… restaurant reviews!
Moving forward, I’ll be sharing some of my memorable restaurant experiences with all of you here on Packed Suitcase. In each review I’ll follow the same general format – the idea is quick, snappy, visual reviews so you know what’s great (or what’s not-so-great) about each restaurant.
So… first up, my review of City Tap House in Downtown D.C.
City Tap House
Address: 801 I St NW, Washington, DC 20536
Phone: (202) 644-9433
Opening in December 2013, City Tap House has quickly become a popular hot spot for craft beer aficionados and foodies alike. Located near the Verizon Center, this bustling gastropub (which first originated in Philadelphia) excels at elevated bar food and has a robust list of 40 craft beers on tap and countless other beers available by the bottle.
What does the inside of the restaurant look like?
When did I go?
Last Friday night after work. We had reservations for 5:45 and by that time it was already packed.
Describe the crowd.
An upper 20s – early 30s professional crowd looking to unwind.
Who did I go with?
My friend Patrick, who was in town from Atlanta to run in the Cherry Blossom Marathon.
What we ordered?
- 2 x beer flights ($15/ each)
- Ten Spice Wings ($12) – shared
- Sweet Corn & Crab Hushpuppies – with honey-thyme butter and citrus remoulade ($12) – shared
- Seared Jumbo Scallops– curried cauliflower, crispy brussels sprouts, apples, pancetta, piquillo pepper coulis, herb persillade ($27) – me
- Steak Frites – grilled skirt steak, duck fat fries, chimichurri, watercress salad ($27) – Patrick
- Bacon Popcorn and Candied Peanuts (normally $7, but on this day it was complementary to celebrate the Nationals’ Opening Day)
What’s the best thing I ate?
The Ten Spice Wings ($12) were perfection. An order came out with 12 huge crispy, spicy, sweet and perfectly cooked wings, served with a side of homemade blue cheese dressing and a pickled veggie salad. This dish was a nice complement to a cold, hoppy brew and was generously portioned.
Also on my “must eat” list were the Sweet Corn & Crab Hushpuppies with sweet honey-thyme butter ($12). These fritters were tender and doughy, filled with huge kernels of corn and lumps of crab meat. I approached these puppies by breaking them in half, and then shamelessly dunking the halves deep into the sweet butter. Oh, and those brightly colored yellow garnishes laid on top? They’re corn shoots… which I thought was both tasty and whimsically creative.
Sadly, the Seared Jumbo Scallops dish ($27) was overpriced and way over-concepted. The many ingredients (everything from curried cauliflower, brussels sprouts, pepper coulis, apples and some bizarre herb bread crumb mixture) just didn’t taste good together. And, while the scallops were cooked well, two of my three scallops were super small… sad!
Also, while the beer tasting was really fun (we were provided with cards where we could record our tasting notes, which was cool), a tasting of 4 x 4 oz. beers was $15…a bit overpriced when you consider a pint of the very same beers you’re tasting average around $6-7 each.
The Final Verdict: Excellent bar food, solid beer list and great energy, but it can be a little pricey and the entrees are just so-so.