Monday, February 25, 2008
Although we were originally slated to meet up with our friends in Old Town last night, somehow the venue got changed to Chinatown in DC so after a quick stop for happy hour at Chadwick's (by far the best happy hour we've found so far) we jumped on the metro and headed into DC.
The venue was Rocket Bar which had been talked up pretty highly to me with its pool, shuffleboard and other games. Rocket Bar is one of those bars that I think heavily benefited from the recent smoking ban in DC (at least from the perspective of a nonsmoker like myself). The bar is located underground and has a dark cellar-like atmosphere. Were it full of cigarettes, I'm sure the ventilation would not be sufficient to keep it from looking like a dark fog at night. Instead, it was a much more relaxed atmosphere where the bar was pretty full, but not too full--a nice balance.
The beer selection was nothing extravagant like Rustico, but still pretty decent with about 10 different beers on tap, mostly microbrews and imports. It was also a relief that they had a well-organized tab system since the past couple of times we've been out with friends we've ended up with a 12-inch receipt that felt like a calculus problem.
While there was a lot of talk about playing shuffleboard all night, the reality was that by the time we arrived, all of the shuffleboards were taken. Furthermore, as you would expect given the limited supply and high demand, the rental rates were fairly expensive--$18/hour for a pool table. I don't want to get on a "back in my day" rant, but that still seems like a lot to pay for a bar pool to me. Still, I'd like to go back some time and try to grab one of the shuffleboard tables before they all get taken.
One complaint we all had was the music. The selection came from a jukebox which is usually leads to a fun mix, but the balance on the speakers were completely off. The bass seemed to be turned up to 11 which would be manageable if the speakers could handle it, but instead it sounded like one of those people driving around with their windows down in an Geo Metro trying to blast 2pac on a factory installed stereo.
Still the music wasn't too loud, the place wasn't too packed and the air was relatively clean but the bar was still lively and we all had a fun time. It did lack food service which disappointed some in our group, but they had an interesting policy of allowing any outside food in at all which is fairly plentiful with of the restaurants nearby. This isn't quite as convenient as hailing down a waiter, but it does lead to a less messy and less crowded bar without waiters carrying plates and drinks everywhere. We ended up opting for some tasty chinese food afterwards which honestly was probably tastier and cheaper than your average bar food anyway!