Rx: A Little More Care in the Kitchen
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
A spinoff of Tonic in Mount Pleasant, Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy claims a few advantages over the original.
The younger restaurant is bigger, weighing in with more than 200 seats and three floors. Its menu of American comfort food runs longer, thanks to extra kitchen space. Meanwhile, a lounge with couches and TVs on the third story also makes the Foggy Bottom property -- which opened as a pharmacy in the late 19th century but was most recently occupied by George Washington University -- a source of entertainment as well as fuel: Tuesday is movie night, and Thursday means episodes of "Lost."
Open since May, Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy only recently got its liquor license, though beer and wine (and cocktails made with them) are the focus. In a deal with the university, hard alcohol is limited to brunch cocktails.
As for the food, which is designed to appeal to starving students and suits from the State Department nearby, there's a lot for the kitchen to work on. A grilled cheese sandwich sports only a veneer of cheese; the tomato soup that comes with it tastes like a cross between spaghetti sauce and ketchup. Our pizza shows up with an oddly damp crust, and beef ribs "rubbed with a secret blend of spices" are nothing any discerning spy would care to unravel. Crab dip, entree-size salads, burgers and main courses such as blackened catfish and vegetarian lasagna round out the possibilities.
Tonic's bookends give us hope: Chicken wings are extra-crunchy and plenty sassy, while the dense cheesecake tastes worthy of an echt deli. Those wings, by the way, go for 50 cents during happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. weekdays).
Jeremy Pollock, one of the restaurant's managing partners, has an obvious soft spot for his latest project, having graduated from GWU in 1994. He also promotes one of the city's more unusual cocktails, called the White Trash Mimosa, which sounds as if it were dreamed up at a keg party. The drink mixes Miller Lite and Tang.
"It's interesting," Pollock tells us.
"It's kind of refreshing."
We'll stick with bloody marys, thanks.