I was stumped. Looking for a place for G’s birthday. Keep in mind this is a guy who hates his birthday and will threaten to call off said plans at a moment’s notice. Talk about pressure. So I asked around for recommendations.
Here’s the problem. We tend to go to places in DC only (sorry suburban dining fans!), and we tend to eat out a lot. We also tend to have strong opinions about places after we’ve tried them. The result? Even after checking out the DC Eater Map and other sources, I couldn’t find that many viable new options.
That said, Blackbyrd Warehouse intrigued me. However, they don’t take reservations, and as of this writing, they don’t have a phone number or a web site. So how does a wannabe hipster check it out?
Well, not for a birthday celebration, that’s for sure! Instead, we decided to head to Blackbyrd on a random weekend. No expectations – in fact an expectation that it would be annoying and crowded and we’d have to wait.
Instead, at 8:30ish on a Saturday, it was pretty empty. There were a few couples on dates, some sitting at the bar and others in one of the handful of booths. We took one and perused the menu, while checking out the maps of the Eastern Shore of Maryland circa 1776, hanging on the walls.
My drink, the Blackbyrd, was yummy and strong. After 2 suffering bastard’s G was in a good way. Meanwhile, the lights got one shade dimmer every 20-30 minutes, and new people came in and made their way to tables and chairs.
We dug into our shellfish plateaux, a three level chilled seafood extravaganza. Fortified by the complementary cocktails, we samples chilled crab legs, lobster, oysters (Rappahannock – very cucumber-y and lush, as well as their brinier West Coast cousins), clams and shrimp. By now, the lights had gotten even dimmer, and the drinks were making their way through us – perfect environment for digging into food and shells!
We also ordered a few more small plates – a salty trout pate on flatbread, peel and eat shrimp cocktail and heirloom tomato and feta salad (so fresh!!!). And we dug into the wine list – flinty whites that brought out the shellfish, my favorite being a Muscadet.
A highlight of our evening, though, our server. He looked like a cousin of Clinton Portis, with a stylized pointy fro and a matching beard. He also had a terrific oval tourquoise ring and wore a cool vintage t-shirt. Only downer (for me) was the rolled up jeans and sneakers. Not sure what footwear I was expecting, but that wasn’t it.
By the time we rolled out of Blackbyrd, it was pretty busy. Someone was lucky – and happy – to get our booth. And there was a steady stream of people heading upstairs to the bar/club there as well.
Definitely would try it again. Maybe for happy hour, which is Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 7 pm (perfect for early work getaway) or 11:30 to 1 am (great post-930 Club concert stop?). Of course, next time, I’ll start with the oyster shooter.