Globe and Laurel Is a Gung-Ho Marine Corps Experience

Richard T. Spooner, ever the Marine, is ever-present at the Globe and Laurel, which he opened in 1968 and moved in 1975 after a fire. Military and police relics, including decorations, below left, cover the restaurant's walls and ceiling.
Richard T. Spooner, ever the Marine, is ever-present at the Globe and Laurel, which he opened in 1968 and moved in 1975 after a fire. Military and police relics, including decorations, below left, cover the restaurant's walls and ceiling. (Photos By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The National Museum of the Marine Corps includes two new dining options: Tun Tavern, named for and designed to look like the Philadelphia gathering place where the first Colonial Marines were supposedly recruited in 1775, and the Mess Hall, a cafeteria that features some of the military's most legendary dishes, including chipped beef and gravy (also known as SOS, but we can't spell that out in a family newspaper).

Tun Tavern is a good place to get a beer during a long day of viewing exhibits, and the peanut soup and Brunswick stew are worth trying, but otherwise its food doesn't venture much past institutional fare.

If you want a real Marine experience, drive about a mile north to the Tudor half-timber building along Route 1. It's the Globe and Laurel restaurant, a shrine to the Corps and law enforcement officers who have trained at the nearby Quantico Marine base.

Richard T. Spooner -- who fought in World War II in the Pacific battle of Tarawa depicted in the atrium of the new museum, as well as Saipan, and later also served in Korea and Vietnam -- opened the Globe and Laurel at its present location in Triangle in 1975. The original restaurant, opened in the town of Quantico in 1968, had burned down.

Spooner, ramrod-straight with his now-white hair still in a crew cut, works the crowd every lunch and dinner. You may find him pulled up in a chair at an adjacent table, discussing current military strategies with some of the regulars. And most of the diners are regulars. He estimates 10 percent of his customers are local residents, 10 percent are tourists and 80 percent are professional Marines and law enforcement officers.

Over the years, the restaurant's walls and ceilings have been covered with relics and memorabilia documenting Marines serving around the world and law enforcement agencies. Shadow boxes built into the walls showcase items such as a canteen carried at Saipan and decorations from the 1890s. There are even examples of the six designs of the Medal of Honor -- though not one that was awarded to an individual.

"If anyone were to give me one that had been awarded to a Marine, I would feel obligated to return it to the Marines," Spooner said.

He chose the name Globe and Laurel, symbols from the badge of the Royal Marines, rather than using the globe and anchor of the U.S. Marine Corps emblem, to represent the brotherhood of marines worldwide. Besides, Spooner said, "I've always found the best pubs in England and Scotland."

In many ways, the Globe and Laurel functions as a men's club. There wasn't another female diner the day I visited. Yet, it's also been a favorite of author Patricia Cornwell and has been featured in her mystery novels. (Her heroine forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has a longtime romance with an FBI profiler, her niece is a former FBI agent, and the FBI training facility at Quantico is a recurring setting).

While the floors at the Globe and Laurel are covered with a bright tartan carpet, the acoustic ceiling tiles are covered with shoulder patches from hundreds of police agencies. Like the Marine artifacts, all of the patches have been donated.

The food at the Globe and Laurel is typical pub fare at lunch -- specials are $6.95 each and include either a salad or a bowl of soup -- with pot roast a perennial favorite.

At dinner, the menu is mostly steaks, though Spooner said the prime rib is the most-ordered dish.


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