Fri 30 Jan 2009
The end of January is typically considered the most depressing time of the year. Progress has slowed to a crawl on those weight loss resolutions, bills from holiday shopping are showing up at your doorstep, and baby it’s cold outside with no end in sight! Here are three top spots to warm up on cold, dark winter nights.
This upscale American restaurant feels almost European. Tucked into a sidestreet in DuPont among centuries old townhouses and in the shadow of St. Matthew’s Cathedral dome, you could easily convince yourself you were on a quick getaway to London. The bar and lounge of the Tabard Inn keep the fantasy alive. Club chairs and couches gathered in small groups sit underneath low, beamed ceilings and – when the temperatures turn cold - a fire burns in the fireplace. Walking into the Tabard Inn’s lounge, I always feel like I’ve stumbled through a magic wardrobe into a small town English pub. The restaurant has hosted its fair share of romantic meals in its day (it ws a favorite of Mike and mine when we were dating) but these days we’re just as content to take in some warm cocktails next to the roaring fireplace. The lounge includes waitress service so you can settle in and defrost from the harsh outdoors. If you’re feeling especially induglent, I highly recommend the hot buttered rum.
Two more top spots to warm up after the jump.
Sova Espresso & Wine Bar
When I moved from San Francisco to Washington, DC, I was shocked by a few things: the ridiculous amount of tweed I saw on M Street, the fact that people tied cardigans around their shoulders without irony (I thought only Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air did that) and the total lack of coffeehouses. And no, chains like Starbucks do not count. Luckily for me, and DC residents, more coffee places are popping up all over the city. Our personal favorite is Sova, which opened about a year ago in the H St Atlas District. Owner Frank Hankins carved out a warm, comfortable environment from a two-story townhouse. I love the chandeliers hanging over tables and the warm colors and art on the wall. Upscale but worn-in sofas and tables all over the coffeehouse invite you to sink in with a book or catch up with a good friend. Sova serves up strong coffee, tea and non-alcoholic beverages from its ground floor espresso bar. Upstairs, Sova has expanded to include a wine bar focusing on by-the-glass options. Since it opened, Sova has become a crossroads – a meeting space for the DC community. On a recent visit, Mike and I sat near Galludet students in an intense study session, actors running lines for an upcoming performance and church choir members meeting before practice. This is what a coffeehouse should be.
Teaism is a bright oasis on a cold, rainy day. Teaism has three locations in the city – Lafayette Square near the White House, downtown (Penn Quarter) and DuPont Circle. All three are lovely, but DuPont is my favorite. Trading physical space for character, the DuPont location is mostly a kitchen on the ground floor and small wooden tables and chairs upstairs. If luck is on your side during your visit, you may even score the coveted window seats on the second story where you can sip your tea, catch up with a friend and gaze on the beautiful architecture of the buildings outside. Teaism has both hot and cold dishes available, featuring moderate portions. The salmon bento box and summer rolls (available only at lunch) are my favorite dishes – light, full of flavor and simple. Teaism is a year round destination for us. On cold weeknights, it’s a great way to warm up. When the weather is warm, I can think of few Sunday morning activities better than wandering the DuPont farmer’s market with a Teaism bubble tea in hand.