The Golden Booeymonger 1701 20th St. NW. 234-1252.
Hours: Sundays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays until 3:30 p.m.
Atmosphere: Families and sandwiches come together in the rambling rooms of a grand old Dupont Circle mansion.
Price range: Elaborate sandwiches running from $2.50 to $3.75 and entrees from $6.50 to $9.50.
Credit cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.
Reservations: Only for parties of eight or more. Otherwise, you sign up when you arrive.
Special facilities: Accessibility by wheelchair complicated by stairway inside the entrance. There are high chairs for wee ones. Some free parking behind the building; otherwise, parking is tricky.
Little did the elegant upstairs-downstairs members of this 19th-century household near Dupont Circle know that one day their ground mansion would be transformed into a sandwich spot through which urchins in sneakers and other riff-raff would frolic.
But so it was, and so we report today on the Golden Booeymonger, which, unlike its Booeymonger cousins elsewhere in town, happens to be in marvelous old home well worth a family visit.
In you go, past the foyer and up the stairway to a hall, where straight ahead is a lounge with a little bar. Three other doorways lead to dining areas and one to a kitchen from which dozens of young people in tuxedos peel out with loaded trays.
It was nearly 8 on a Saturday night when our foursome tumbled in, and all rooms were buzzing. We signed in with a hostess but didn't have the wit to ask how long the wait might be.
Anyway, the sight-seeing was superb; people in all sizes and costumes milling around, plopping into the couches and chairs in the hallway, gawking at the frieze of cherubs over the fireplace, pointing at the blade fans that whirl slowly over the lounge or reading the menus that the hostess gives out in lieu of tables.
The menu does offer a short history of the dwelling. It was originally staffed by a chef, butler, four servants and scattered parlor maids. Eventually, the mansion became the Parrot Tea Room and Boarding House and, in 1950, the Golden Parrot Restaurant (whose top-floor roomers once included some of our top-flight colleagues from this newsroom).
Next the place was Larry Brown's Supper Club for a few first downs before becoming the Sagittarius Disco. If you're getting impatient for word about the food, so were we during our wait.
In time a wandering hostess did graciously take an order of beers and colas. A good 50 minutes after we'd crossed the threshold, we landed a table near a fireplace and under a palatially high ceiling from which hung an old chandelier in need of a quick bath and some bulbs.
The parents souped -- my wife with a cheesy-good crock of onion soup at $1.50, and I with a surprisingly fine "du jour" -- a creamy potato soup at $1.35.
Now to the items in which the Booeymonger takes special pride -- its "sandwich family." At the Georgetown shop, my wife had sampled some of the hot sandwiches and could recommend them highly. The list of hot and cold concoctions here runs from $2.50 for the "Tish Wish" -- a challenge of raw mushrooms, sour cream, avocado, alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes on branola bread, no less -- to $3.75 for the "Miami Burger" -- lox and cream cheese on a toasted bagel.
The ingredients of the $3.50 "Gatsby Arrow" were too good to pass up, my wife decided -- "roast beef and brie racing in French bread." Pity, but the brie lost the race to the roast beef by a few lengths; mostly it was a bread sandwich.
Our 11-year-old son had commanded an Italian Sub -- that's salami, ham, provolone, oil and vinegar, for $3.10. This sub was more like a sailfish, with half a length of bread lightly layered with cold cuts and a single piece of cheese.
Universal praise, however, for the Steak Special at $3.35, selected by our 9-year-old daughter: a tender slince of rib-eye, grilled with provolone. From the "Eight Situational Entrees" (whatever that means), I chose "The Earthy" at $6.50. This diet-decimater is chicken dipped in herb beer butter, fried and served with a fine light salad (so my wife said) and a potato.
I did ignore the children's side-order of "inion orbits" at $1.50 -- which was easily enough for four and most of which wound up traveling home in a bag.
If you live for desserts, here you should live so long -- there are baked Alaskas, flaming Haagen-Dazs with chocolate sauce and strawberries and Grand Marnier and cheesecake and so on.
Eschewing this molar-derby of sweets, we pushed away. The bills, including one for the hallway beverages, came to a total of $26.62 plus tip -- a gentle enough touch these days, as many a Booeymongermingler is coming to know.