Table for One: District Chophouse
Anyone that knows me knows that I love red meat, often craving it in mass quantities. So a big treat for me is to go out for steak dinner, usually to a steakhouse since I don’t really believe one should go to a pasta place and order steak, or a steak place and order chicken, etc. Two Fridays ago I tried to book a table at District Chophouse but apparently families don’t stay in on Good Friday, they go out so no place had a table within my price range. Well for good food, I don’t always have a price range, but I wasn’t in the mood to go 5 stars or 4 dollar signs that evening, so I passed. Well last Friday I managed to grab an early table at 5:30 and went to get my nosh on.
It’s an interesting thing when you’re eating by yourself, it really depends on where you’re going. I would rarely do it in the burbs because people stare. Now these are people that often can’t or don’t cook, sometimes have their families with them and they stare at me? In the district there seems to be less of a stigma about dining alone, however there are parts of town I wouldn’t do it in, definitely not Dupont or surrounding areas because as cute as I might look, eating on my own still seems a bit pathetic. A peek into my past entries confirms that, in general, I hate eating alone. Still, I was in the mood for a ridiculously large steak and some gin & tonics (with lemon) and I knew that I was not in the mood to schlep around to the various stores that I’d need to visit to create such a meal and cocktails at home.
So the benefits of eating on one’s own: it’s much easier to people watch, you can read, the servers are (sometimes) nicer and more chatty, you never feel rushed to match someone else’s pace when eating. The drawbacks: people tend to watch you, you don’t get seated in optimal areas, more often than not you can be ignored by your server and you do have to learn to pace yourself and enjoy yourself. Doing that alone in public sometimes means a new way of thinking, I can’t think of this meal as I would lunch at the office which must often be wolfed down at my desk or if I do go out, while it isn’t uncommon to be alone, it is unheard of to linger over lunch — there’s just too much to get back and do!
District Chophouse’s menu is fairly standard steakhouse fare, there are the crab and lobster dishes, of course, they have a wonderful caesar salad where they lightly grill the lettuce so it carries the aroma of your impending entree and that just preps my appetite even more. I was going to try the surf and turf as I rarely do, but my server Stacie said that the night’s special was a 22oz. Prime Rib, my favorite cut of meat. SOLD!! Their house salad is pretty standard fare, nothing noteworthy but they do bring fresh baked cornbread in a little iron skillet to the table and that’s pretty hard to resist filling up on. If they had an eat the monster sized steak competition, I’m sure they’d serve up a lot of the cornbread as a distraction.
My table was right next to the kitchen/serving area, so while I had good reading material – City Paper Food Issue – it was hard to have much sympathy for the plight of the server when I was overhearing more than any customer needs to. Thankfully the cocktail was good and strong and text messages from friends got me through the wait for food.
The steak was delicious, it came with a rosemary au jus and mashed potatoes. The mash were great but my focus was on the meat. Stacie stopped by to see how I was doing and seemed dubious of my ability to finish the steak, something about skinny guys always ordering a large steak. (She called me skinny, bless her heart!) Of course I took that as a challenge, but a welcome one and managed to polish off the meal, finish my reading and Stacie was definitely impressed, but laughed when I answered, “Are you kidding me?” to her question about dessert.
I usually recommend the Chophouse to people when they’re looking for a good steak place that won’t bankrupt you, admittedly this excursion did cost me about $50, but go to Smith and Wollensky and you’ll easily pay twice that or more per person. I was in the mood for steak and I was not disappointed. Still, I did have to take it easy on the food on Saturday — there just wasn’t any room!