Getting in The Zone Near Verizon Center
By Fritz Hahn
Washington Post Weekend Section
Friday, January 6, 2006
Most of the new nightspots around the Verizon Center are going for a sleek, modern look. Not so at the enormous Clyde's of Gallery Place, which manages to evoke an opulent Gilded Age hotel, a timeless New York saloon or a genteel country club, depending on where you sit.
Wander through this 23,000-square-foot behemoth and look around. Notice how every surface is covered with richly detailed cherry wood or tiles. Check out the art: a floor-to-ceiling oil painting of Babe Ruth crushing a home run, canvases of fishermen hauling in the day's catch, portraits of local landmarks, bronze statues of pugilists, football players and, in the boardroom-like private dining room, a life-size horse at full gallop, complete with jockey. Gaze up at the Tiffany-style stained glass overhead.
Most impressive of all is the majestic grand staircase, topped with a barrel vaulted ceiling, that leads to the largest dining rooms. The second floor is filled with glass cases holding all manner of antique trophies and cocktail shakers.
There are three bar areas, each with its own personality. The round first-floor bar is best for groups or meeting friends, thanks to large booths hugging the wall and plenty of counter space. Through a door is another huge room with a rectangular bar and dining space. And up that picturesque staircase are a third bar, usually quieter, and a small lounge area with clubby chairs and small coffee tables.
Once you've settled in, few surprises await. Clyde's does pretty well with a solid, all-American menu of burgers, seafood, salads and red meat. The beers are basic, and mixed drinks are well made, though we didn't ask for anything more complex than a Manhattan. Fans of Old Ebbitt Grill should note that Clyde's is replicating the legendary oyster happy hour here, with half-price mollusks from 3 to 6 and again from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Which reminds me -- if you're looking for late-night eats, this is the place to be: A late-night menu is available until 1 a.m. daily, and the bar is open until 2 during the week and 3 on weekends.