With a name like American Tap Room, you might expect a beer selection that would rival ChurchKey's or R.F.D's. Not quite. There are 20 draft beers at the large, dogleg-shaped bar, most sporting such familiar names as Bud Light, Stella Artois and Sierra Nevada. Thirty-two bottles round out the selection. The gimmick with the beers is they come in two sizes: a 16-ounce glass ($5-$7) or a 22-ounce glass for $1 more.
"It's hard to not get the larger size," says Tom Leuba, 46, a lawyer from Chevy Chase who's watching football. "It's not a bad deal," says Sean Keough, 26, who's sitting at the next stool, sipping a super-size Sam Adams Oktoberfest.
The bar area, a mix of blond wood and marble counters, is bathed in light at happy hour, when specials include discounted hot wings and cordon bleu sliders for a standing-room-only crowd. Customers with drinks fill tables along the sidewalk. A pianist plays jazz, standards and classical music every night, setting the mood for a relaxed evening out.
Both Leuba and Keough agree that the Tap Room is a "great place to watch the game," with flat-screen TVs arranged at every angle above the bar, on the walls, in the side dining rooms -- even in the bathroom. It seems there's not a bad seat in the house, whether at the stools that line the walls that offer great street views through plate-glass windows, or even standing at the bar.
"It's not really a sports bar," says Leuba, who has taken his children here for dinner. "It's a restaurant with bar in the middle."
Coming soon: 50 house cocktails devised by bar manager Berry Feiz, including a blue vodka concoction topped with a fright wig of pink cotton candy. When it's served, the cotton candy quickly dissolves into the drink. It's as sweet as you would think.
-- Fritz Hahn (Sept. 24, 2010)