Monday, February 23, 2009
The Argonaut and the Roller Girls
No, this is not a long lost episode in Jason's search for the Golden Fleece. It's a scene from Saturday night's dinner. After catching a flick at Union Station (Go, Fanboys!), we headed down to H street for dinner and drinks at the Argonaut, a quirky establishment recently listed as one of the 75 best bars in DC by the Washingtonian. The bright green walls and inviting patio made me wish for spring, but those wistful thoughts were soon forgotten as the aroma of seafood simmering in garlic butter sauce made its way through the open door. The nautically themed, yet eclectic, downstairs dining room was jam-packed and reminded me of New York bars in the SoHo and Nolita areas. We were directed upstairs where seating abounded, but service was slow. Not entirely the fault of the waitstaff, as we learned they were awaiting the arrival of the DC Roller girls, who call the Argonaut home after their monthly match-ups. Roller derby is apparently making a comeback across the country. But enough about that and on to the food. Our good friends Chris and Erica ordered Cubanos, my brother-in-law Chris and I requested fish tacos and Vince, against the advice of the waitress, chose the oyster po'boy. We also decided on a beer board with hot sausages, grilled meat and cheese for a starter with our pitcher of Dogfish head beer. First the good: Although, I didn't taste the Cubano it looked properly layered and pressed, as a good Cuban sandwich should be. The crispy fish tacos were some of the best I've had, and I order them frequently. The Argonaut has really hit on something by frying the fish rather than grilling or broiling. The breading helps the fish stand up to the stronger flavors of the salsa cruda and the cabbage-slaw. Now for the bad: My guacamole tasted mostly of mayonaise, not my favorite flavor and certainly not necessary with the creaminess of a ripe avocado. The oyster po'boy left something to be desired as did the shoe-string fries; they were stale and undersalted. But the biggest shortfall of the night turned out to be the long delayed beer-board. After asking for it repeatedly, the platter finally arrived as we were finishing our dinner, and I can attest that hot, spicy meats do not a good dessert make. All in all, we enjoyed the Argonaut mostly for its atmosphere, but also for its food. Definitely a fun stop in DC, just make sure you don't have the beer board for dessert!