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Striking Accord in Mount Pleasant


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Q: What happened when Napoleon went to Mount Olive?

A: Popeye got pissed.

The sautéed spinach at Tonic is a simple little plate of barely cooked greens, unadorned, and strong to the finish. At $2.25, it’s a fine cru in a fleet of outstanding vegetarian side dishes: real mashed potatoes with sour cream and a shipload of butter, baked beans that actually taste as if they’ve been baked, corn bread that’s so evil that it’s the devil’s work, cole slaw that’s snappy, acidic and fresh. If you’re a vegetarian, abandon all notion of being so for healthful reasons and head directly for these terrific, expansive side dishes.

The half-rack of ribs special was chef Bernie’s own recipe, and was emblematic of this kitchen’s use of spice: not hot spice, but spice spice. Cooked with Jack Daniels, and covered with a ghastly looking paste, the subtle use of spices in this saucing was almost Indian in its influence, and grew on me as the dish wore on even though the quality of the ribs themselves seemed merely good at best.

And the Tonic Salad had the odd combination of curried sausage and blue cheese, mixed in with high-quality greens and a perfectly fine vinaigrette. However, if you toothpick the pieces of sausage out from the salad and mix them with the mashed potatoes, you get the best bangers and mash in the entire city of Washington despite that not being the intent of the kitchen.

Leave the pizzas for elsewhere, as they’re okay but nothing more than that. The crust is thin and matzo-like, and the tomato sauce and cheese are decent but ultimately boring.

Half-price drafts and rail drinks are served from 5-7 weeknights (not sure about Friday), as well as half-price hamburgers and veggie burgers. The hamburger that came sailing by looked terrific, and all the sandwiches are served with tater tots (tater tots!). I nabbed one from my neighbor’s plate and they are housemade and really good if a bit too salty.

The evening ended on a sour note (literally, sour) with a Gimlet at the ever-charismatic Bossa in Adams Morgan.

Feeling guilty for contributing to the gentrification of a previously interesting neighborhood,

Rocks.

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The Tonic boys are doing well in Mt. Pleasant...I dine (and booze) there quite often. The Cheesesteak is a mighty fine meal in itself. I overheard that everybodys favorite 4 dollar coffee store is opening in MP...Now I can buy my crack and a latte on the same street...sweet

listen to Black Sabbath..often

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I overheard that everybodys favorite 4 dollar coffee store is opening in MP...Now I can buy my crack and a latte on the same street...sweet

last I heard, that was still in dispute. Lee's on Irving and Mt. Pleasant is closing (sniff) and Starbwars is a contender for the spot--was reported at one point in time that they had it, but that was retracted.

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update--asked the nice folks at Lee's tonight (where else in the city can you get Woodford Reserve for $27 AND good nicaraguan rum???) about the word that they were closing, and the guy said no. "We wouldn't leave you guys."

also--I adore Tonic. I've got a habit of taking final drafts into noisy bars, squirreling myself away at a back table, and editing by candlelight. that joint's the perfect tonic for the working brain....good and cheap beer/food, attentative staff who don't drive you bonkers. :rolleyes:

Edited by babka (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Yes, tonic is very good. The cheesesteak is exceptionally tasty. More restaurants should serve tater tots to adults.

Love,

Mr. Roger Troutman, who enjoys food and beverages.

CHAIR, INTERNATIONAL DINING RESEARCH INSTITUTE

WASHINGTON, D.C.

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  • 1 month later...

Pretty accurate, but it kind of misses the point. Tonic is an above-average neighborhood joint (though I'm pissed that they lost a carry-out order on me when I was in a hurry) and a dramatic improvement over its predecessor. There's no reason why someone in, say, Clarendon, should care about it, though.

I think Tom was just trying to spread his time around to under-reproted enighborhoods, like Mt. Pleasant -- kind of like Bruni going to Brooklyn this week.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Striking Accord in Mount Pleasant, Tonic is Dominant, what about the rest?

OK, that is absolutely horrible. I'm not even going to give you a smiley, because that would just encourage future musical puns on unsuspecting eGulleteers.

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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He was right about the steak at Tonic. It was pretty lackluster when I had it a few months ago. I didn't get any anchovy butter on mine, even. And the service could be a little better. The other night when I sat at the bar for a couple of hours, at least once I had to wait around a few minutes for another drink to arrive, and they weren't busy at all. But it's a fun place where people feel welcome. That's what really matters. The cheesesteaks and tater tots really matter, as well. Most of the customers knew the bartenders by name, and in return, the bartenders knew peoples' drinks. It's nice to have a place like this in my neighborhood. The cheesesteaks are good. They come with tater tots.

Love,

Mr. Roger Troutman, who enjoys food and beverages.

CHAIR, INTERNATIONAL DINING RESEARCH INSTITUTE

WASHINGTON, D.C.

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Pretty accurate, but it kind of misses the point.  Tonic is an above-average neighborhood joint (though I'm pissed that they lost a carry-out order on me when I was in a hurry) and a dramatic improvement over its predecessor.  There's no reason why someone in, say, Clarendon, should care about it, though. 

I think Tom was just trying to spread his time around to under-reproted enighborhoods, like Mt. Pleasant -- kind of like Bruni going to Brooklyn this week.

But what does someone on 16th Street care about Clarendon? Just kidding...

I feel sorry for the soles of my shoes when I walk around Mount Pleasant (aka The Cliffs of Hell), and Tonic offers relief from that. I went there last week, in the worst mood in the world, the same day I was robbed.

I had like $20 or so in cash and needed cold beer fast.

Smashed down some Stellas, tater tots and the side of spinach I like so much, and still had the coinage to tip the friendly, neighborly server appreciatively. At least Tonic has nice people that put you in a better mood, whereas across the street, loitering in front of 7-11, they are mean people that make me think negative and sometimes morbid thoughts.

Edited by morela (log)

...

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Pretty accurate, but it kind of misses the point. Tonic is an above-average neighborhood joint (though I'm pissed that they lost a carry-out order on me when I was in a hurry) and a dramatic improvement over its predecessor. There's no reason why someone in, say, Clarendon, should care about it, though.

Boy, Bella Roma really WAS bad, wasn't it? I ate brunch there a couple Sundays when I lived on Monroe a couple years ago. Terrible, terrible terrible.

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At least Tonic has nice people that put you in a better mood, whereas across the street, loitering in front of 7-11, they are mean people that make me think negative and sometimes morbid thoughts.

I hear you there...

I was robbed in front of the 7-11 two summers ago at knifepoint.

But as for Tonic, the place is a happy neighborhood joint that you can go to where people are watching Jeopardy and playing along, they have one of the best jukeboxes in the city, and it has a great atmosphere.

I mean it isn't the Raven, but what could be really?

Jennifer
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  • 2 weeks later...

There once was a joint called Tonic,

whose critics weren't exactly all on it.

Five beers soothed our cares,

with two burgers quite rare,

a tab of 30 -- symphonic!

Edited by babka (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Is that Red Bean? The guy who's been working on opening it has had his life chronicled in the Washington Post Magazine for the past several Sundays.

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  • 5 months later...

Tonic once had a wonderful dish, a rich, peppery chicken served with fine drafted beer.

Then management, sadly and mistakenly thinking that it should update its menu for the neighborhood's incoming clientele, removed the spicy dish this fall, replacing it with a sad, bland, broiled chicken breast, much like that served in every other one-star wanna be in the region.

The beer's still good, though, especially at 5 pm on the Monday of Martin Luther King Day.

Maybe if we figure out how to ask, they'll even resurrect the poultry.

Edited by babka (log)
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Tonic once had a wonderful dish, a rich, peppery chicken served with fine drafted beer.

Then management, sadly and mistakenly thinking that it should update its menu for the neighborhood's incoming clientele, removed the spicy dish this fall, replacing it with a sad, bland, broiled chicken breast, much like that served in every other one-star wanna be in the region. 

The beer's still good, though, especially at 5 pm on the Monday of Martin Luther King Day. 

Maybe if we figure out how to ask, they'll even resurrect the poultry.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

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If one were coming from, lets say 1600 block of Wisconsin Ave (below Sushi-Ko but above Marvelous Market) and one wanted to go to Tonic at, say 5PM on a holiday, what would be the best route?

Bonus for avoiding windswept streets as this person will be on two wheels and its 23F out there!

Purely theoretical of course, this proposed social gathering.

Edited by DCMark (log)
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I was going to use that landmark but decided it probably violated some Eg rule about gaining pleasure from things other than food.

No, but near there. If I was there now there is no way I would leave it to see you mugs! :hmmm:

If one were coming from, lets say 1600 block of Wisconsin Ave (below Sushi-Ko but above Marvelous Market) and one wanted to go to Tonic at, say 5PM on a holiday, what would be the best route?

What, your coming from Good Guys?

Edited by DCMark (log)
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I was going to use that landmark but decided it probably violated some Eg rule about gaining pleasure from things other than food.

No, but near there.  If I was there now there is no way I would leave it to see you mugs! :hmmm:

If one were coming from, lets say 1600 block of Wisconsin Ave (below Sushi-Ko but above Marvelous Market) and one wanted to go to Tonic at, say 5PM on a holiday, what would be the best route?

What, your coming from Good Guys?

3155 Mt. Pleasant between Kenyon and Kilbourne. If you come up 16th street, Mt. Pleasant is an angeled left (there is a traffic light) just after Columbia Road. If you hit Park, you've gone too far.

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As somebody who lives in Virginia but may be visiting the Federal District at some point in the near future, I have a question for the locals: Is Tonic walkable from Columbia Heights metro, or should I cab it from Woodley Park?

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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