Last night my buddy-ol-pal Kathee invited me to be her “plus 1” at a premiere tasting of Cap Lounge’s new menu, revamped and revitalized by DC’s latest celebrity chef, and my old college pal, Teddy Folkman.
The Lounge has been THE site on the Hill for years of many a debauched night ruled by shots of Jamison’s, regrettable hook-ups, political wheeling and dealing, and celebrations to mark every occasion (everything from recreational sports league happy hours to informal engagement parties). In fact I’m one of those proud to cite the Lounge as the bar where I scooped up my later-to-be husband…”scooped” being the operative word. Newbie Hill interns have grown up and blossomed into senior staffers with the Lounge as their after hours backdrop; it’s Our Place, our own personal Cheers, and life as we know it couldn’t continue without it.
The saying goes: the more things change, the more things stay the same. And this is certainly the case at the Lounge and I’m so happy to be able to say so! (Thank god that old doughnut machine is gone though, as is the musky frat house odor of old beer and mop water.) Teddy’s kept many of the timeless favorites on the menu like the wings, pizzas, tacos, quesadillas and hangover breakfast greats and although the interior has been renovated, it’s really only been for sprucing up purposes. The walls are still plastered in political memorabilia (including my favorite: a full-length nude portrait of Kissenger on a velvet couch – and a big portrait of a cigarette-smoking Obama is due any day) and it’s nice and dark to facilitate yet more ill-advised late night hook-ups, and you’re surrounded in old wood – from the bars to the floors to the ceilings to the walls. COZY! There’s still a rocking jukebox, plenty of room to mill around, loungy couches for intimate tete-a-tetes, a pool table and a bajillion TVs to catch any game you might want to watch – or election returns, it is Capitol Hill after all!
You can see some of Teddy’s influences from Granville Moore’s in the expanded beer selection and the presence of mussels on the menu and the herb/salt mix on the fries. He’s also ramped things up a little too. Even though the fare stays true to its bar food roots you can also nosh on tuna steak sandwich with tomato-olive tapenade, goat cheese poppers or fried Tabasco oysters. I sampled those oysters by the way and they rival any that I had in New Orleans! Kathee had the grilled cheese sandwich and it was “Big O Face” inducing – no Velveeta on Wonderbread here. I had the fish and chips, cooked perfectly and the batter was so deliciously peppery and flaky! And the pumpkin-chipotle dipping sauce that came with my crispy tuna rolls I could have eaten alone with a spoon.
If you hit the Lounge on Sunday’s you can join his friends and fans watching, hazing and mocking Teddy openly and loudly for his antics on the Food Network’s Next Food Network Star. But go now, who knows when he’ll be eliminated. My money’s on him making it to at least the final six! He’s fun to watch, has the chops and the integrity, and don’t forget that he threw down one of the judges – Bobby Flay – on Throwdown with Bobby Flay! **whip cracking**
So there are changes but the Lounge is still the Lounge. You can count on it for great food, drink and friends – and probably some obnoxious political know-it-alls and terrible pick up attempts. I’ll see you there!