In a whirlwind few days, we’ve seen the plays and eaten and drunk at most of the restuarants from Great Evenings Out # 1, 6, and 7 from Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC. What a great time! We have to admit to feeling just a little smug about what a great roster of choices we’ve made.
On Tuesday, we spent the evening in the Gallery Place/Chinatown area. Starting with China Chilcano, which was sleek and bustling at 6 PM. Bright neon sculptures echoing the giant drawings at Nazca, Peru, shone down on the crowd. House-filtered sparkling and still water are always complimentary here, so we started with some bubbles. We shared three appetizer-sized items — a Chinese-influenced shrimp dish, a salad of thinly sliced octopus in a scrumptious sauce with nice greens, and braised bok choi and oyster mushrooms. Pisco cocktails with a sour cherry liqueur set it all off nicely. Two servers looked after us attentively and helped us wrap up on time. None of this was special treatment – you’ll have to tell a lot more of your friends about the book before there’s any danger of that.
Walking a few hundred feet up 7th St NW took us to the Lansburgh lobby where we met our friends to see the show. A 90% full house was ready to laugh as the curtain drew up. This, by the way, is one of those rare shows where the term “Curtain” isn’t just a leftover bit of language. A beautiful screen of red and gold fabric hid the stage from view. We were especially surprised at this because Father Comes Home From The War from Great Evening Out #6, which we’d seen the night before, also had a real live curtain. Coincidence or trend? Only time will tell. Shortly, that curtain opened on The Critic and The Real Inspector Hound.
We’re not going to give a review of the plays, but there are some fun things we have to point out from The Critic. First, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, from beyond the grave, was poking fun at your Insiders. One of his characters, Mr Puff, makes his living by writing glowing reviews of plays he has not seen, and getting paid for it. At intermission, we had to admit that we are, in a way, Mr and Mrs Puff, but as we are paid directly by the people who seek our advice rather than by the producers of the shows or restaurants, we can live with ourselves.
Puffers we may be, but we are your puffers.
Second, there is a delightful set piece with lovely 19th century style moving ocean waves on the stage within the stage that is a joy to see and is such a spectacle it would redeem a worse play. It is simply lovely, and also a welcome upgrade from a popular recent stage trick of having actors ruffle lengths of blue silk to indicate the sea. Proof that if you leave an idea to age for a century or so, it can graduate back to novelty when you pull it off the shelf.
Post-show drinks at Oyamel were lovely, and on our Facebook feed we drew the envious comments of our friends for having such a full night out on a weeknight. We sat at the quieter side of the bar and picked a couple of Mezcal based cocktails. Both were smoky and well balanced on the sweet / tart scale. This isn’t a beverage world we know much about, so we chatted with the bartender and figured out that Mezcal is to Tequila more or less as Scotch is to Bourbon. They both use the same base ingredients, but those ingredients are more heavily roasted in the case of Mezcal, so you get a smoky flavor.
Learning this much stimulated our curiosity, so we wrapped up with a well curated and documented flight of three different Mezcals accompanied by a tart red fruit drink that was presented as a palate cleanser between tastings. We shared many tiny toasts to this now verifiably Great Evening Out and to all of you who are on this adventure with us.
The Critic / The Real Inspector Hound perform Tuesdays- Sundays through Feb 14. Top ticket price is $110. 450 7th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004 . Box office 202-547-1122. Web: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/plays/evt_detail.aspx?id=441&source=l