Let me preface this article by saying that I’m not a big “date” person. I’m just not. It’s not that I’m anti-social – far from it. Hanging with my boys, and my family, usually is what I do. However, I did recently go on a date – and the two of us dined at Dirty Martini, a relatively new spot from the Michael Romeo Group at 1223 Connecticut Ave. NW (the former MCCXXIII, better known as “1223,” for those of you club-goers).
First of all, Dirty Martini is not a nightclub, unlike other Romeo joints, including my personal favorite, Tattoo Bar, as well as FUR Nightclub, Lotus Lounge and Midtown. The ambiance at Dirty Martini is, without question, appealing and inviting. You feel like you’re in a sophisticated and upscale – yet casual – locale. It’s a chill place to grab some tasty drinks, chat up your friends/significant others, and relax. The music is decent enough to give Dirty Martini a fun vibe, while at the same time not so loud that you can’t hear yourself – or your date, in my case – talk.
As stated on its Web site, Dirty Martini combines a “classic dining club and a modern restaurant/lounge into one fantastic culinary phenomenon.” I take exception to the part boasting of its cuisine – more on that in a second – but overall, Dirty Martini is an enjoyable alternative to the numerous overpriced and stuffy restaurants in DC, along with the grungy frat-house bars and pretentious clubs.
On to the grub. We started with the Bruschetta, featuring marinated Roma plum tomatoes, fresh garlic and Buffalo mozzarella served on fire-toasted Ciabatta. My impression: Not great, but not terrible either. (I do have a sliver of Italian in me, so I’m somewhat critical of this food genre.) For the most part, it does the trick as a first course.
For entrees, my date had a salad, and I honestly can’t remember which one she had. It looked so-so. I got the feeling that she felt it was okay – like the Bruschetta, not amazing, but not horrendous.
I, on the other hand, had my usual fish selection. This time, it amounted to pistachio-panko encrusted sea bass with red-skin garlic mash and grilled asparagus. The verdict? Pretty D*MNGOOD®, to my delight, because I didn’t think it would satisfy my taste buds whatsoever. Since I eat fish six or seven times a week, I’m a decent judge of seafood, and while many other restaurants in and around DC have better fish dishes, Dirty Martini is not half-bad. Initial kudos to the restaurant, for sure, on the fish front.
Overall, I give Dirty Martini an above-average grade. The environment is awesome. The martinis are, well, I have no idea actually. I only drink beer. My date did have a few cocktails, and they looked a little fruity to me, but she enjoyed them. The bartenders are really cool. Attentive and friendly. The wait staff is competent; doesn’t blow you away, but doesn’t disappoint.
I’ll need to go back a few more times to better judge the entire food menu, and it won’t surprise me if – by and large – the food isn’t stellar. But, it’s a nice date-night spot. Especially if you have a fantastic date.
Which I did.
|Address:||1223 Connecticut Ave., NW (Jefferson Pl.) Washington, DC 20036|
|Metro:||Dupont Circle and Farragut North|
|Serves:||Lunch (Monday-Friday); Dinner (Daily)|
|Specials:||Monday (Dinner): select half-priced bottles of wine; Sunday (Dinner): $1 off classic cocktails and $2 off draft beers|