While we were in Washington we dined at Old Ebbitt, the oldest saloon in the nation's capital.
Established in 1856, it was a favorite of Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Theodore Roosevelt and is still a popular meeting spot for political insiders, journalists, celebrities and theater-goers. Its Beaux-Arts facade, mahogany and velvet booths and bars set in marble, brass and beveled glass are Washington at its finest, and The Oyster Bar at Old Ebbitt is D.C.'s most famous.
About a block from the White House, Old Ebbitt has been a favorite of ours for a long, long time.
At Christmas the restaurant is beautifully decorated and usually jam-packed as it was on Friday evening. The bar, the glorious main dining room and the adjacent rooms were all packed as was the lower private dining room. Reservations are a must at Old Ebbitt but if you make your plans early, you won't be disappointed.
We sat in the main room and the atmosphere was busy, loud and festive.
We enjoyed icy vodka martinis, traditional New England clam chowder, legendary crab cakes, rock fish, coffee and a butterscotch brownie sundae dessert that consisted of a chewy warm brownie surrounded by vanilla sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and fresh made whipped cream.
Everything was wonderful.
And all of this will cost you less than $100. per couple, tax and tip included.
But don't go for the tariff (though it is appealing).
And don't go for the atmosphere (though it is suitably elegant and unique with real, working gas lamps).
And don't go for the service (though it is professional and very efficient).
No -- go for the food. Because the food is Great American Food cooked just as you like it.
And while you're there you may also see some famous power brokers. In prior visits, for example, we've spotted the likes of Teddy Kennedy and Newt Gingrich.
Bottom Line: If you haven't been to Old Ebbitt, you haven't been to Washington.