The secret garden behind Firehook is the most charming alfresco dining space of any Cleveland Park restaurant -- and one of the finest in the city. Framing the walled patio are about a dozen cabana-like nooks for table seating, shaded by a grape arbor growing through its wire support. Five more tables open to the sun surround the large, elevated fountain at the center, ringed with flowers. On the wall of the two-story building north of the garden, a mural pays tribute to the garden's former caretaker, the Roma restaurant, which the Abbo family operated here from 1932 to 1997.
On summer evenings, folks sip iced drinks and work on their laptops at tables under the arbor. Several child-size plastic Adirondack chairs in red, orange and yellow entice youngsters to sit.
The courtyard has the rare quality of being both quiet and kid-friendly; parents can truly relax in this enclosed space after a long walk spent trying to prevent toddlers from darting into Connecticut Avenue traffic. Ideal for casual dining on the way to or from the National Zoo, the counter-service cafe inside serves baked goods, drinks and packaged salads and sandwiches, such as tarragon chicken.
-- Anne Kenderdine (Aug. 24, 2012)