REVIEWS: COMPASS ROSE, AFTER PEACOCK, LA COLOMBE, NERO PSEUDO, FOGGY BOTTOM SCULPTURE BIENNIAL, KNOWLEDGE COMMONS, DASER/THIRST
It's been a whirlwind of new eating establishments, theatre and random classes in DC for me this week.
Eating establishments, you ask? Well, I'd been hearing rumors that Compass Rose is the new Rose's Luxury. As you know, I love Rose's Luxury and think it's one of DC's best restaurants, but even I have had to concede it has lost its edge a bit... Has Compass Rose seized that edge? It's a rather charming little place, opposite Matchbox at 14th and T, which is both a lovely spot and one filled with competition for all us discerning 14th Street diners. One possible pro is that it doesn't currently take advance reservations, meaning that until word gets out, you can actually get in on a Saturday night. On possible con is that you can tell it's teetering on the brink of a crazed popularity explosion... The ambience is romantic, modern, intimate, exposed brick-ish, in a pretty townhouse. It has a brighter, less formal back room, and a little patio. Its menu is eclectic international, with a predilection for Georgia. The food was very good, though. I really liked their three dips. I wouldn't yet go so far as to say excellent. A bit too fried for me, perhaps. But I unreservedly bestow the label of excellent on their interesting and beautifully executed cocktails - my BVI was perfect.
It's also been a week for exploring new coffeeshops. And what a treat: a delightful new coffeeshop in Georgetown, After Peacock. You could easily miss this: it's on the corner of 27th and P, where nary a tourist treads... And it's a bit more sophisticated-looking than your average coffee house, almost like a posh bar. The walls are black, and the tables are long and communal, with scattered art books giving a vibe of hip sophistication. The drinks are all around $4, and they are nice. The pastries similarly priced, and are excellent. I didn't try their various lunchy offerings but I feel optimistic. This isn't really a coffee house where you'd bring your laptop. But you might bring your book (preferably something clever), and hang out, feeling cool and just a little glamorous. Or bring your friends who don't want to drink or enjoy the sun but do want an elegant day or evening beverage (it's open til 9 on Tuesday - Friday; til 7 on Sat and Sun). It's like the anti-Lady Camellia in terms of looks of a Georgetown coffee shop - but both of them have a similar idea: let's turn meeting for a cup of tea or coffee into an occasion. The difference is, Lady Camellia feels like a pink place posh Georgetown students would bring their mothers; After Peacock feels like a grown up tea house for in-the-know locals.
I also popped to a very different, more casual coffeeshop, La Colombe on Blagden Alley. Now here is a place to camp out, in this up and coming area north of Mount Vernon Square, feeling hip with your laptop, a book, or some kind of arty journal. It doesn't have loads of seats, but once seated, watch their pretentious coffee making devices and admire the latest DC fashion of giant windows that lift up like garage doors when you want to make a wall vanish to enjoy the sunny outdoors. But the report from my lovely coffee drinking wife (I'm not a coffee fan) - her coffee at After Peacock was better than at La Colombe. You heard it here, ladies and gentlemen...
But what of evening entertainment, you ask? We were at La Colombe en route to the Fort Fringe theatre to see the much advertised Nero Pseudo. I was particularly intrigued as I've seen both glowing and scathing reviews for this Ancient Rome glam rock musical. And I had hopes it might be in the tradition of Rocky Horror, Hedwig, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens and Taboo - but would this musical measure up? Well, while I don't think it will be replacing any of the aforementioned musicals in my heart, I thought Nero Pseudo was actually quite good. The 70s glam rock aesthetic was very nicely done. The performances were excellent. The songs were quite good though not very catchy, and there's something wrong with the sound system so it's hard to catch many of the lyrics (they're printed in the program!). The main flaw with the musical is its simplicity - it lacks subplots and character development, which leaves it with a bit too much time to labor the main points of the plot, essentially persuading a random musician to convincingly pose as Nero. Nothing much happens in this musical. There's very little back story. And yet, it captures a moment. There is something refreshingly energizing and charming about Nero Pseudo. Sure, it could be hugely improved with a good script edit (and a sound system fix!). But if you like quirky rock musicals, this really should be in your calendar. It's on til June 1st.
Also fun this week: the Foggy Bottom Art Walk, aka the outdoor sculpture biennial. If you're looking for an off the beaten track 40 minutes of quirky artiness, you're in luck. Essentially, there's a set of 16 modern art sculptures positioned in various gardens around the pretty streets of non-studenty Foggy Bottom. Find the map online, or just take yourself to 25th and I, and you'll be able to spot the first one - and pick up a map of the route. It's quite a charming and interesting stroll, with the sculptures specially designed for their spaces. I went to the opening day tour on Saturday but ended up guiding myself as it was such a big crowd. If you specifically want a tour, and to talk to the artists, they're on June 14th and July 11th. I rather love that this exists and is on all through the summer.
As for the rest of the week, I had a lovely and requisitely nerdy time at a collaboration between DASER and Thirst on Thursday. DASER is a National Academies-organized monthly meet up for those who are interested in both science and art. Thirst aims to do cool science events in a lounge type atmosphere. The collaboration was inspired, as was the venue: the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue has a beautiful auditorium - take the opportunity to check it out if you can. There was music. There was free beer and cheese. There were several expert scientists amusingly musing on the scientific flaws in the movie Prometheus. The whole thing was fun and sweet and interesting and very well done. NB the website's a bit dodgy but apparently the next DASER is June 19th.
Also fun and well done was my first experience of Knowledge Commons - at various points throughout the year, they have a 'term' in which anyone can sign up to teach a class in any random thing, and anyone can sign up to take the class for free. I took a medical Spanish class on Tuesday, which was one of the best Spanish classes I've taken. And then I took a collage class on Wednesday, which included the history of collage and was extremely interesting, then really fun to suddenly, randomly be making a collage. I love Knowledge Commons. Check out what they have spaces for this week. Amused that one of the classes is British TV appreciation...
What looks cool for the coming week
Has anyone else noticed there isn't that much fun stuff going on this week? Why not? Are you all resting up for a Memorial Day weekend exodus? This is a travesty, I tell you!
Tuesday May 20th - Have you seen the movie Up? It's lovely but prepare to cry. It's on tonight, outdoors, at sundown in Adams Morgan, on the soccer field at Marie Reed school at 18th and California. (handy for Pleasant Pops!) Here's a BYT article about the series. Enjoy.
Wednesday May 21st - It's all about Wednesday night this week. Any interest in Noel Coward and capacity to get out of work promptly? At 5:30 there's a Coward Cabaret at Sidney Harman Hall, and it sounds great. Then hop over to the Corcoran for what may be the very last Uncorked after hours event. Still going strong? Head up to Busboys and Poets where Story League starts at 9pm - the theme of the stories tonight is Shady, and Perfect Liars Club favorite Pierce McManus is performing. Good luck, Pierce! (get tickets in advance - we nearly didn't get in as it sold out last time!)
Friday May 23rd - Oh yes, it's that time of year again: jazz in the sculpture garden! This week: Afro-funk from Togo.
Sunday May 25th - If you want to see naked girls reading classic literature, head over to DC Arts Center for the latest installment of Naked Girls Reading. Or if you want to celebrate Black LGBT Pride with a drag salute to the divas, you can also do that, at the Howard Theatre.