Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Union Pub

Some bars you have to walk into with low expectations. More specifically, you have to walk into Union Pub with low expectations.

Upon entering, you'll notice that the owners have managed to somehow create an ambience that has all the coziness of some soulless bar you might find in a newly remodeled, Midwestern airport. Interesting choice.

God willing, you'll never have to set foot in this place, but if you get dragged there by some peripheral friend of some peripheral friend, the one consolation we can offer you is that they have cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. There’s also ample outdoor seating which would spare you the indignity of actually being inside the place. At least, till you have to take a wazzer.

Some quick calculations: When your body has absorbed the 0.007% of Pabst which has nutritional value and needs to empty out the excess, you'll probably find that the bathroom is about 620 degrees Kelvin and you'll walk out drenched in a sweat that's about 43% alcohol and covers 98% of your person.

Another drawback is the jukebox. We were forced to listen to the late 90's rock station that they had chosen to put on, and while it was fun for awhile to try to name the bands—Filter, Tonic, Seven Mary Three, Lifehouse—when that one Three Doors Down song came on , Rowdy let out a snarl and made for the jukebox... Within 30 seconds, he could be seen jabbing at the jukebox with his phalanges and cursing like a Chilean sailor (trust us, those are some swearing-assed marineros). The jukebox, you see, was malfunctioning and it took him the better part of 20 minutes to get anything out of it. By that time, the scowl on his face as he wandered back to the bar for more Pabst sent women and children fleeing for the exits.

After a another beer and some idle chit-chat, Rowdy calmed down and our group turned its attention to the ongoing harassment of the female employees occurring at the hands of a male co-worker. (for more on this story read Hurray for a Child). After instigating a brief altercation, we slid out the side door and walked east, still slightly awed by the out and out butt-suckiness of the place.

- Rowdy Chowder


Tunnicliff’s is right across from Eastern Market and we’ve gotten sauced there more times than either of us care to count. One issue for us is that we tend to roll deep when we hit it up, so sometimes enough space for our entourage isn’t easy to come by.

Upon your arrival, you’ll likely be greeted by one of several waitresses with vaguely Slavonic accents. They might try to tell you they’re from Virginia, but when they say Virginia, what they mean is Belarus. (Home of the unforgettable Svetlana Boginskaya)

The vibe at Tunnicliff’s is pretty low key and the music is usually lame, but in a fairly innocuous way. The crowd is a shade older than what you find in the bars on Pennsylvania Ave—locals from their late 30s to mid-40s-- usually couples or very small groups, so not the best place to mingle, but if you take your own party there, you’ll do just fine. (Assuming you can find enough space)

In general, the food at Tunnicliff’s is pretty good. We have seen the super grilled cheese with tomato, onions, and bacon lure patrons into believing that they have finally transcended this mortal coil and been elevated to a higher plane. Upon consumption of said sandwich, Chowder is given to reminisce about his “lost years” in that Burmese opium den. The price of such illusion and nostalgia inducing taste, however, is usually a couple bucks more than it should be. They do have a late night menu that is considerably cheaper and offers some of the same tastiness.

Tunni’s has an adequate selection of beers on tap. They have most of your standard stuff, and recently added Boddington’s to the list which doesn’t hurt their cause. Service has gone slightly downhill in recent months and we have some suspicion that some of the newer bartenders may be of BORG lineage. (Shields up!) Several of them look just alike and appear to be humorless gents not at all concerned that you’ve been trying to order a Guinness for 9 minutes. They do make a damn fine Bloody Mary, though.

Late evening, from about 8 till 11 post meridian is usually the best time to Tunni some Cliff’s. You can eat and drink well here before moving on to a livelier venue.

- Rowdy Chowder

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bouillonnui Goes Down the Rabbithole

For one reason or another, at certain points in our lives, we have to go to
a bar that's not on Capitol Hill. I know, it can be a strange and confusing
concept to deal with at times, and it can have grave consequences. I
decided to venture off of the Hill this past Tuesday night.

I entered the Capitol City Brewing Company on 11th and H NW, and saw
that the bar was full except for one seat.

B: Is this seat anyone's?
OO: Yours.
B: Thanks dude.
OO: I love you.
B: Sweet.
OO: Lemme buy you a drink. (motions towards bartender)
B: Ummm, (I could probably take him in some sort of rape situation)
sure. Sooo......
OO: What's your name? (winks)
B: Bouillonnui
OO: What line of work you in?
B: I work at a bookstore. You?
OO: I rob banks. USED TO. USED TO rob banks. Not no more. 10 years
in the Pen.
B: Was it awesome?
OO: The Pen? It was ok. Lemme ask you somethin'; I'm testin' you.
How many crumbs in a loaf of bread?
B: One?
OO: Nope. None. None till you break it.
B: "None till you break it." I see. What's your name man?
OO: Double O. (winks) I looove you.
B: That's cool. Love's such a complicated thing....
OO: You want another drink?
B: I'll buy this one.

Sadly the night ended up unrequited, and Double O never did pay for that
drink. But it's good to think that I came out of my field trip a little wiser
to the ways of the world, mostly the bread and crumbs part.

- Bouillonnui

Sizzlin' Express

Many of you will doubt the dopeness of Sizzlin' Express, and to you dopeness doubters, we say "Backoff, asshats!" Sizzlin' Express, while lacking certain things you may look for in a bar, such as a Jukebox and low lighting, more than makes up for it with other good, simple pleasures.

Sit down in one of the comfortable high-backed padded chairs (a vastly underrated plus), and you will quickly be greeted by one of two Korean (Korean-American?) bartenders, from whom you can procure either Heineken, Coors Light, Sapporo, or Sam Adams on tap. (Speaking of Sam Adams, what the fuck? If you're at a bar with someone, and on tap they have, say.... Guinness, Stella Artois, Miller Lite, Shiner Bock and Sam Adams, and that person picks Sam Adams, doesn't your opinion of that person drop by about 40 percent? What are they thinking?
"I'll have a Sam Adams," (???) Yeah, and then let's all go join the Drama Club and go to a Goo Goo Dolls concert. Then we'll have exciting lives.. that'll be great.)

Sizzlin' Express will also give you your beer in a frosty mug (they, along with Mr. Henry's form the Frosty Mug Corridor on the Hill) which isn't shitty. While you drink your beer and soak in the Adult Contemporary music, you'd be advised to order some sushi. Try ordering the Alaskan something, we don't know if it's any good, but you'll feel cool ordering it.

The clientele: Mix 1/3 cup black, octogenarian churchgoers, 1/3 cup Cops, 1/3 cup random Hillers, and sprinkle in the occasional Japanese tourist.

All in all, nice place for an afternoon beer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

18th Amendment

18th Amendment is aesthetically confused. The shiny, silver, black and glass façade doesn’t exactly blend with the rest of the block. (Not that one really wants to blend in with Mattress Discounters, which is about 4 doors down.) On the inside, the black walls and chrome-rimmed lights hearken back to an obliquely early-mid 1900’s metropolitan noir which, at least, is in tune with the exterior of the property. The front portion of the bar has lounge chairs and low tables that may have looked very chic in the early 90s in some under-21 club in suburban Indianapolis, but here they seem completely out of place. The new, very long, hand carved bar is kind of interesting in an amateurish way, but, again, it doesn’t fit with the other décor. In fact, the eastern half of the bar is homey in a way that makes the western half feel alien. The place can’t seem to make up its mind whether or not it’s going to be a dive bar or a swanky lounge, so it ends up looking ridiculous.

Now, despite the owner’s obvious mistakes in ambience development, it can be an alright joint to hang out in. The bar is often a bit understaffed, but the bartenders are a friendly lot and drinks can be got semi-cheaply. Food-wise, the burgers and wedge-fries are good and the pizzas aren’t too bad. We’re not so down with the Stromboli, but if you’re cool with the feeling of 7 weighty musket balls in your gut, give it a try.

Weekend crowds at 18th can vary wildly. We’ve been there at 12:30 on Saturday nights when it’s been virtually empty, and then again, we’ve been there at 10:08 pm when it was SRO and there were passed-out girls strewn across the first floor pool table laying in puddles of beer and Jagermeister. (Yes, you can still see the stains.)

The highlight of 18th Amendment for us is the Key-Hole Bar located in the basement. It has a sort of cave-like vibe and comes equipped with a pool table and an internet jukebox. It’s usually not too crowded, nor too loud, and makes for a good place to take a small group of peeps on your way to drunkville. Even with the jukebox kickin, you can spin yarns and listen to other conversations wafting about in the cavernous enclave. I was there just last week with my friend Smashley, and we overheard a Senate staffer quietly spilling his broken hearted guts out to some indifferent lass who had come with another staffer on her arm. An apparently non-related scuffle broke out too, and resulted in the spilling of the better part Smashley’s Yuengling, but in a twist of fate, two replacement beers were provided by the bartender, so we came out ahead.

Overall, a solid bar to drink in for the non-aesthete.

-Rowdy Chowder

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Le Wrath de Bouillonnui

A man from New York enters the Pour House at 7 pm.
Another man from Los Angeles walks into the Hawk n' Dove at the same time.

Both men are of the same age, height and weight and have an equal desire to get ridiculously, horribly schnackered. They both sit at the bars of their respective establishments, and start drinking pints of Yuengling.

Question: Which man gets drunk first?

Answer: Neither.

Why: Because neither the Pour House nor the Hawk n' Dove clean the lines to their taps, and their draft beers taste so shitty that the men can't continue.

Seriously, go in there sometime. You will not, not be disappointed.


Why is this? We have no idea, but it needs to change. You can't have two bars with as much potential as the Pour House and the Hawk messin' up this bad.

Moreover, you know what happened to those two gentlemen? They were so disgusted at the taste of the beer that one was forced to make out with a Republican Hill Staffer, and the other went and jerked off a reindeer. True story.

- Bouillonnui
(edited by Rowdy Chowder)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Li'l Pub

Li'l Pub is that bar that you walk by and think to yourself, "Man, if I was just a little cooler, I'd probably go in there right now." Bouillonnui's theory is that the dirty windows keep many patrons away. Looking in from the street, Li'l Pub looks cramped, dingy, and a little dangerous. Go in sometime, however, and, assuming you're slightly not lame, you'll find a neighborhood bar that's both cheap and friendly.

The first time we went into Li'l Pub, we asked the bartender what they had on tap, and she promptly snapped back, "Nuthin'." When asked if they had a menu, the answer was "Sometimes we got sandwiches." Good enough for us, we decided. The menu is whatever they feel like making that night, sometimes it's Meatloaf, sometimes it's Hummus, and sometimes they got sandwiches.

In the back, they have a couple of pool tables in a well-lit room and the folk there seem to take their games seriously. In the same room, there is an internet jukebox where you can go nuts and play that Timberlake song you've had in your head for the past week. And when your friend gives you shit for it, you can claim machine malfunction. ("I swear, I was trying to play the Decemberists")

Now, let's talk free stuff: Every night, they watch Jeopardy on the TVs at either corner of the bar. Whomever so answers Final Jeopardy correctly, gets a free drink. And if the free drink opportunity doesn't pull you in, then you might just consider going in to check out the

Lil' Pub is quite proletarian in a very special, John Waters kind of way. I think most of us have had that moment in Hawk n Dove where we swore we would punch the next eager-faced Hill staffer who made any sort of obnoxious comment within our earshot. This problem will not show its ugly countenance at Lil' Pub. You have our word.

- Bouillonnui and Rowdy Chowder

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Conrad's Pub

Conrad's Pub is a tiny sliver of an English pub on Pennsylvania Ave between 3rd and 4th Streets SE. It seats about 12, or maybe just 10. We would say it's primarily good for serious hetero-male conversation and/or having a couple while waiting on your carry-out order at the Thai place next door.

For those of you who are lookin’ to escape the Hill-jerks, Bon Jovi-jerks or general jerk-jerks sometimes to be found at the Pour House, this is the perfect spot to have a cheap, quiet drink. The Rubenesian beauty hanging above the bar will keep you company until you've got enough Yuengling in you to move onto a more happenin’ spot.... like the Club.

Conrad’s also features that Capitol Hill rarity, the amicable and accommodating bartender. At many spots on the Hill, you will find yourself frustrated when trying to flag down the bartender for a drink. Not so at Conrad’s. Bouillonnui and Rowdy Chowder have been to Conrad’s on several occasions, and even on a Friday night it didn’t take long to get a drink.

- Bouillonnui and Rowdy Chowder

Mr. Henry's and the Half-Priced Burger

For the sake of argument, let's say you walk into Mr. Henry's on Monday evening. You'd probably find half-priced burgers and mostly same-sex couples dining amongst many eerie paintings of cherubic young men and women. The burgers would be pretty decent, and on tap you'd find Rolling Rock, Sam Adams, and a fine beer of their own called Mr. Henry's Red Lager. Word also has it that if you order a cocktail, they'll pour your favorite libation liberally and to perfection.

If you were to order, say, the Jalapeno Poppers, you might get a plate back with only 4 of the said poppers, and think to yourself, "Really? Really???" There's also a chance you'd mumble, "Geesis, I ain't payin $6.50 for this shite." But then Jamiroqui might come on the Jukebox and that would make everything alright. (well, maybe...)

At this point, you'd pay your bill, anywhere from $15 to $30 depending on how bad your Monday was. If you planned your night out well, you probably head on over to Lil' Pub for Jeopardy. If not, you go to 18th Amendment for a game of Pool and hope some lame-o hadn't beaten you to the Jukebox. Or, if you're supercool, you pick up a fifth of Evan Williams and go watch Fishing with John for the rest of the night.

- Bouillonnui and Rowdy Chowder