4.15.2012

the (egg) scale: Was it worth it?

Skillet Diner on Capitol Hill (FRI 4/6):  I've been dying to try this place.  As much as I always wanted to, I never got to their food truck mostly because they didn't park their truck in front of my house.  But the concept is up my alley: down home with a gourmet touch; anything that mixes my blue-collar heart with my fancy-pants palate is not gonna have to try too hard to get to second base with me.  We got there early-ish, because we figured it would be a scene (it is).  The food is near perfection; it strikes a great note -- not too fussy like a lot of "simple concept" places can be.  But there was something I couldn't quite put my finger on about the service; more than that -- the overall ambiance.  It wasn't bad, exactly; it was just not fully satisfying.  Our server was cute and (mostly) pleasant when interacting with us, but nobody seemed to enjoy working there with each other.  Nothing overt, but shrugs, sighs, whispering - being an open concept floor plan where there are no hiding places for staff, this bleeds.  I ordered one of the specialty drinks, but the house rye was out; did I want to substitute?  Well, sure, whatever.  So she has me pick from the menu; I didn't care.  But right off, I think this is odd; wtf do I know, the bartender should sub based on his apparent expertise, yeah?  But no biggie.  Until I overhear the bartender talking to our server (open concept!) about what the difference in price should be since I'm not having the house rye...uhhh, pardon me, barkeep.  Later, I subbed the poutine for fries with my meal (uh buh duh), but got plain ol' fries anyway.  Again, no biggie at first, but when I pointed it out, our server (our only direct unhappy moment with her) huffed and said merely, "Oh. I thought you said fries." - definitely with a tone that implied that she was still pretty sure I'd said fries - and then walked away. What the...? Turns out she was going to the kitchen to order a poutine, but still.  The rest of the meal was without further hitches, but it was too late.  By that point, I was too aware of the atmosphere to lose myself in any surface charm Skillet might have held.  But dammit, the food was phenomenal.  But their truck is in West Sea every Saturday now within walking distance, and I think I'll just go there.  This restaurant is (egg)-tolerated!

Canon on Capitol Hill (FRI 4/6):  Fuck this place.  I guess it's maybe a speakeasy concept, but there's a dude outside who has to tell you if it's okay for you to go inside.  Meh.  We waited outside for a minute, then he lets us in where we then wait for the unsmiling and rather cold hostess who tells us there are no seats.  Then why did that dude let us in?  We are allowed to stand by the bar until something frees up.  Jesus.  Really?  People do this?  I guess so, it's packed, and there are more people outside waiting for Zuul the Gatekeeper to grant them passage.  But I just want a quick drink, so see ya suckers.  This bar is (egg)-shunned!

Tavern Law on Capitol Hill (FRI 4/6):  Thank you, Canon, for douche'ing us so we could go here instead.  Everyone is friendly; people (staff!) actually smile.  It was crowded, but not packed.  The drinks were effing delicious.  And they have a way more bad ass speakeasy -- through a secret door, and you use a special phone to call up to to see if they've got space.  I can't wait to try it!  What Canon can only dream of.  The bar is (egg)-acclaimed!

Happy Days @ New City Theatre (FRI 4/6):  This show was great; better than great.  Really well-done from top to bottom.  It's basically a one-woman show, with some occasional appearances by a husband (is Seanjohn Walsh ever not spot-on?), and Mary Ewald is a fucking force.  I admire Beckett, and love to read his work.  But do I enjoy Beckett? Onstage?  I dunno; I'm wary.  Rightfully so, I think.  Like Shakespeare, it's incredibly delicate; really hard to make it sing and really easy to make a clunker. So I was reluctant to have high hopes despite the glowing reports I'd heard.  The first five or ten minutes had me worried:  you could tell it was done expertly, but it felt stilted and stylized, intellectually stimulating but not emotionally so.  I'm not even sure when that feeling disappeared, but certainly by 15-20 minutes in, I was caught.  This play and Ewald's performance wormed its way under my skin, stayed there, and every once in awhile buried deeper.  I starting crying at curtain call, and I can't even fully tell you why.  A grotesque and beautiful show.  This show is (egg)-acclaimed!

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (TUE 4/10):  On rental DVD; I completely missed it when it came out in 2002.  Oh my gosh, I really liked this movie.  Sam Rockwell is astonishing as Chuck Barris; a portrayal that is not merely impersonation or mimicry.  Clooney's direction is so unusual and refreshing.  Theatrical -- single shot scenes that are hard to believe.  My favorite trick of the movie (credited directly, I think, directly to Clooney & Rockwell equally) is that there is not one wink or nod in the whole movie commenting on what an unbelievable premise it is.  That one choice makes all the difference between it being the funny but mean comedy it could've been and turning it into a funny but piercing character study.  Secondly, it's packed with style and doesn't rely on straight narrative technique, giving it a dreamy quality that forces the audience to decided for themselves: real or fantasy?  A moderately patient movie, though; was slow for me in some places, but never for long.  The movie is (egg)-acclaimed!

Pan Africa Grill (WED 4/11):  Monkey and I will travel far for Ethiopian when the mood strikes us (well, to the Central District, mostly), and we were excited to have a place in our own neighborhood.  Pan Africa is actually authentic and fusion African, but I honestly went for the Ethiopian vegetarian platter with injera.  It was good, but not crazy good; it didn't beat our fave places in the CD.  The injera wasn't as flavorful, not as sour as I like it, and it also seemed a little dry.  The veg platter wasn't as varied as I've had, but it was all good; however don't think I go back just for that.  What I would go back for are the other entrees we got with the combo platter (veg platter + 1 entree sample for each person).  Holy crap.  The lamb tips were amazing (Monkey's choice) even though I don't love lamb, and I got a chicken thing that was really good.  The prices here are higher than the places we love in the CD, but we don't have to leave W-Sea and that's hard to beat.  When I crave the straight up comfort and taste of a Ethiopian veg platter, I'm still going to go to the CD, but Pan Africa will be a welcome addition to my regular neighborhood places.  This restaurant is (egg)-condoned!

Lark Eden @ Theater Schmeater (THU 4/12):  What a delight; this show was quiet and lovely and ultimately quite moving.  The story of three women's best friendship from schoolgirls to old ladies, it unfolds exclusively in the notes and letters they've written to each over the years.  Like almost everybody in the whole world, there's nothing extraordinary about their lives except for the impact they've had on each other.  The play is charming and unassuming and rings true.  All three actors match each other, note for note.  Nobody steals this show, but rather they share it and make the entire package better by doing so.  They are wonderful, and I can only assume the director (also the playwright) had a hand in guiding that.  However, the director's hand is not obvious in the show (appropriate, I think) ... except for two staging choices that were odd and could've been distracting if the lovely play & performances had not won me over instantly.  The first was the configuration:  Three music stands with three chairs, and the actors were stationary; this worked quite well because of the style of the show, no problems there (I might have given them writing desks instead music stands for a prettier picture, but no matter).  But it was staged shallow, wide, and flat with the actors fairly close together at center stage and also fairly close to the audience; while the audience stretched the entire length of the space.  The audience at either end (including me) had to physically turn body & head to center for the whole show - weird (and possibly uncomfortable).  The space has more depth they could've easily taken advantage of - scoot the actors back, cut the ends off, and add a few more rows.  Or a modified 3/4 thrust - a semi circle with the ladies in the middle - would have been lovely.  The second staging issue I had was that they had their scripts in binders with them on the stands; they were decorated to look like scrapbooks but they were clearly binders since they were clearly turning the pages of the scripts.  It was so obvious that this was obviously a choice, but I didn't get it.  I like the scrapbook idea, but I wished they'd been pulling physical letters and photos out of them.  I got over both issues quite quickly because the journey was so compelling, but they apparently stuck with me since I just spent so much time cataloging them here.  I think mostly because I couldn't figure out why.  But these are all thoughts I had after the fact; during the show, I was completely engrossed and engaged, and I left wanting more.  This show is (egg)-acclaimed!

(egg)-regulars:
The Deluxe - I like this place; the staff is always great and the food is solid.  They don't mind when Bug Poppa and I want to play Jenga.
Endolyne Joe's - One of our "go-to" choices in the neighborhood; they never disappoint.
Capitol Club - Good happy hour food, good drinks, great staff, and PILLOWS!

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