I'm a huge fan of Washington's hotel bars; and whether you're looking for a stylish cocktail or a surreptitious meeting place, there are few better places to grab a drink. So when I heard about an Irish hotel bar, I had to make a trip over. I knew it was too good to be true as some friends and I walked in -- a watering hole lodged off the lobby of a Red Roof Inn is more "motel bar" than "hotel bar."
We were told the Irish Channel Pub was named after the Irish Channel section of New Orleans, and that the atmosphere and menu reflect this juxtaposition. To be honest, I was hoping for a few portraits of Louis Armstrong or Jelly Roll Morton on the wall, and catfish po' boys washed down with a Bass, no matter how sacrilegious that may sound. No such luck.
The Irish Channel is decorated in that Guinness-Ad-and-Mirror style meant to suggest "Dublin Pub," but comes off as "Faux-Irish Americana," down to the rugby shirts and Toucan clock on Kelly green walls.
The menu is more peculiar, with a mix of Irish pub favorites and Cajun delicacies. (I have to say this is the first time I've seen chicken & andouille jambalaya and corned beef and cabbage listed together.) The sandwiches and entrees we tried were passable bar food -- not great -- and the Cajun catfish sandwich was nowhere near spicy enough. The fish and chips are decent, though, and service is friendly if a bit distracted.
Located just down the block from the MCI Center -- the hotel is on H between Fifth and Sixth - it's a popular place for meeting before Wizards and Capitals games, thanks to the nightly food and beer specials, which include $3.50 pints, cheap wings and chicken tenders, and $6 fish and chips platters on Mondays. Live Irish music is offered Thursday through Sunday.
-- Fritz Hahn