Visit for Wines and Lunch in March
In March, we were staying at the Hay-Adams, for my wife to attend several days of meetings on Capitol Hill, and I headed down into the semi-basement of the hotel, just as Off the Record opened. As per my usual, I was seeking wine, and I knew I’d find it there.
Now, Off the Record is hidden away just a bit, and there is not a great deal of signage in the hotel lobby, unless one looks carefully, or asks directions. As the hotel is on a bit of a hill, on 16th Street NW and H Street NW, the semi-basement is down two flights of steps from the lobby, but from the H St side, it’s only a few steps, and the windows, look out onto H St, but at ankle level.
As the name indicates, it’s a favorite haunt of politicians, and those, who meet with them. It’s a very cozy bar, with seating scattered around a bit, and some in nooks and crannies, that make that table feel private. It is adorned with 100's of political cartoon/caricatures, that are fun, just to admire, and then to try and figure out all of the various characters in each panel. I always find a new one, or two. One thing that I like is no political party, or even member, is immune from those pieces of art - Off the Record is totally bi-partisan.
I sat at the bar, and had the wine list in hand quickly, while the bartender began setting up for the day - the lunch crowd had not yet arrived, and I had the bar to myself for a bit.
The wine list had not changed, since I visited less than a year before, so I settled in with the Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley ‘15. The weather outside was rather gloomy, and it just felt like a “Shiraz kind of day.” I also had the Tr Elliott Bootlegger’s Hill Russian River Pinot Noir ‘16, Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ‘15, Hubert Borchard Sancerre ‘18.
I decided on the OTR Burger w/ caramelized onions, sugar-cured bacon, wild mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, plus OTR mayo, on a nice onion bun, served with fries - this turned out to be a great Burger, juicy and flavorful. The fries were pretty good, as well. This was only the second time I recall eating at Off The Record (usually just drink wines and relax), and each time, the food was good.
I spent the next hour, or so, on my tablet, with my wine in front of me. I checked out the coasters, which change with some frequency, and all by the artist, who had done most of the recent caricatures on the walls. Those too had not changed, and I think that I had all in my collection back home. Usually, the bartender points out new ones, since my previous visit, but could not think of any others. For the moment, my collection is complete.
I have always found the service to be most friendly, even though I am not a politician, or a lobbyist. I try to keep politics out of my life, as much as is possible, and let my wife worry about such, as she has to work both sides of the aisle.
After a bit, I headed up to my room to drop off the tablet in the safe, and go out and explore the parks, across the street - wishing for nicer weather, as so many of the trees were in bloom. Just a lovely little bar, tucked away in an historic hotel, and a great way to wile away an hour, or two. On this visit, I did not dine there, but in the past my wife and I have, and enjoyed a few nice lunches. I think that the food is from the wonderful Lafayette Restaurant, a floor above this cozy bar.
I will return, as I always do, whenever in Washington, whether we’re staying at the Hay-Adams, or not.