Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Atmosphere: Basic but comfortable.
Reservations: Not taken.
Price range: From $2.10 for a burger to $5.95 for a T-bone steak.
Credit cards: None, cash only.
Special facilities: Accessible to wheelchairs (except the bathrooms); takeout; half-priced pizza Tuesday and Thursday nights; street parking.
TThe Grog, a neighborhood pub on Wisconsin Avenue high above Georgetown, has served residents since before World War II. It's really just a long hall of 85 seats, a 16-seat bar and a tiny kitchen from which comes bar food of mediocre quality.
Yet the Grog survives and prospers because, well, every neighborhood needs one. To begin with, it's always cool in the summer, the keg beer is always cold, there are lots of electronic games for the kids and the food is cheap and filling, if uninspiring.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example, are half-priced pizza nights, when the $4 large plain pizza suddenly costs $2 and the long dining-hall-style tables fill up with office softball teams, university kids and others out for a cheap carbo load in a comfortable if forgettable setting.
That, in fact, is one of the hidden assets of the Grog. Next door are a laundromat, a Vietnamese restaurant, a gay bar, a mom and pop grocery. A few doors away are an interesting Cuban eatery, a Japanese restaurant, a cut-rate liquor store, a fine European restaurant, a well-known Asian restaurant and a dry cleaners. A post office, a furniture store, an Iranian sub shop, a fast food joint and a drugstore are all within a few minutes' walk.
In short, what you don't find at the Grog is all around it. And what the other places may not have--the time and disposition to put up with a cranky family looking for food--the Grog is more than prepared to meet.
A recent visit demonstrates the options one has dining at the Grog. We stopped by Guy Mason Recreation Center to catch a little fast-pitch softball game before dinner. It was hot and dusty work keeping track of the action, following the arguments and helping boo the umpires from our bleacher seats on the third base side. Then we dropped off some clothes at the laundry, bought a birthday card for Grandma and settled into a table for four at the Grog.
It was a wonderfully clear night and from our seats we could look out to see strolling couples, rich folk going to the fancy restaurants and the few eccentrics who panhandle this section of Wisconsin Avenue.
We browsed over the menu and kept quarters away from the kids until they decided to have once again their favorite American dish: pizza. Then off they raced to the electronic robbers that have won the hearts and what's left of the minds of this generation, while the old folks sipped a decent house wine ($1).
Undoubtedly the best dish in the hall is the lasagna with meatballs or sausage ($4.50). It's big, sloppy and frozen beforehand, but it does the job for hungry eaters. It comes with bread of dubious quality and a salad of broken lettuce and little else.
Burgers are basic but good. The plain ($2.10) is thick and tasty and comes with the obligatory potato chips and pickle slices. We also ordered a small Greek salad ($1.25), which was mostly lettuce and great chunks of feta cheese.
The Grog has quite a selection, actually, for such a small kitchen. There are five salad choices, eight Italian-style dishes, 14 deli sandwiches, five hot dog specialities, six pizza combinations, and soup you should never order. Omelettes start at $2.45 and there are five entrees, from fried chicken ($3.75) to T-bone steaks ($5.95), that seem to move well most evenings.
As it happened, the kids stuck with pizza for the evening: a large sausage one ($5.90) topped with mushrooms ($1.80 extra). Because it was half-price night, the whole thing came to just $3.85, and a good part of it went home in a doggy bag. The pizza isn't my favorite (too bland) but the kids like it and gobble it down no matter how I phrase my complaint.
The tab for the evening came to a brisk $24.90 for four, but that included several wines and lots of cold beer for some of our dusty throats. With so many options available in the neighborhood, we forsook dessert at the Grog, walking a few doors up for ice cream at Bob's. And that's what city living is all about.