Monday, July 5, 2010

Country Club Living

The Washingtonian recently published its annual "Best-Of" issue. There were the usual 'bests' including cupcakes, golf courses and the best tailor. As I'm sure you can expect, I was most interested in the best places to eat. So, when skimming the magazine's pages for potential double-date locales, I took the advice of the Washingtonian readers and made a reservation for 4 at H Street Country Club.

Before the doors of H Street Country Club first opened in 2009, there was no where to play mini-golf inside the district. If you wanted to enjoy some friendly competition - and maybe some flirting - while lining up the perfect putt, you would have to get in a car, drive somewhere and probably play behind whiny kids. Luckily, that is no longer the case. At this country club you can rest assured that everyone is 21 or over, that the food will be more sophisticated than french fries and the drinks will include some adult beverages - sounds like the makings of a perfect date to me.

The creative mind behind the Mexican-influenced food is Chef Ann Cashion, a James Beard Award winner. Her fresh and authentic cuisine is executed by Pablo Cardoso. Between the four of us, we were able to sample a number of the dishes off the menu and more than a couple of the specialty drinks. (Full disclosure: we had a LivingSocial deal that helped pay for all the food that we ordered). We started with the calamari, which was battered and fried to perfection. I am not one for spicy foods, but it was a nice change of pace to have hints of chiles coming through to give the flavors a bit more depth.

The two boys at the table chose to order the lamb enchiladas for their main course, and I think both of them were about ready to leave their significant other's cooking behind for the juicy and tender meat. My good friend chose to try to Steak Tampiqueno, which was outstanding. The skirt steak was marinated with lime juice and served with all the proper 'upscale' fixings - including guacamole and rajas. Following dinner, my boyfriend commented that "the first surprise [of the evening] was that there was Mexican food on the menu in the first place. The second surprise was that it was good quality Mexican food." Yes, some of the main dishes on the menu can be a bit pricey, but they do offer happy hour specials every night weeknight and on Tuesday nights they offer $1 tacos. Not too shabby...

But what sets H Street Country Club apart (read: what makes it such an amazing place to take a date) is its Washington-inspired, indoor 9-hole mini golf course. The sites, people and jokes of the beltway are all at your feet. I honestly don't think I know a single person who doesn't enjoy a good game of mini-golf (especially if they can have drinks served to them on the course). It's a great way to hang out with a date without feeling the pressure to keep a conversation going for a full evening, but it's also a great activity to spice up an evening with your significant other or friends. A quick word to the wise - the later it gets the more crowded the course gets. I would recommend putting your name in at the "caddy shack" when you arrive and head downstairs to play some skeeball while you wait. For some, my boyfriend included, that is the most exciting thing the Country Club has to offer. They even have skeeball leagues throughout the year.

Oh - one more tip: don't forget your camera. You will want to capture the (inevitably) hilarious evening in photos so you can show your friends what a great time you had. And, lest we forget, golf is the path to enlightenment.

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