Thursday, December 01, 2005

Review: Asylum Bar & Lounge

Located at 2471 18th Street in Adams Morgan, Asylum looks, on the outside, like the kind of place you go into to fight. The all black trim around the windows and motorcycles parked out front give some clues to what you'll find inside, a great contrast to neighboring establishments in their Capital City glossiness. Asylum is gritty, but not in the unfriendly way. There's even a welcoming vintage red motorcycle hanging in the front window (I think it's a 250cc Ducati racer, maybe. Someone email me if you know).

As you can imagine, the theme centers around motorcycles, beer, cigarettes, and the devil, as evidenced by the 3D red demon motif that surrounds the bar. But this is okay, because it matches the music. There's local artwork featured on the faux dungeon walls, much of it also pertaining to the underworld. Or artist angst, take your pick. The crowd is usually diverse enough to put some random selections in the digital jukebox (which is probably one of the best in the city, aside from Common Share). Going from Johnny Cash to Bjork to The Cure to Lil Wayne, you never know what you're going to hear. The randomness extends into events held there. On some Mondays, you can catch Raheem DeVaughn's homie W. Ellington Felton spinning stuff you haven't heard in years (or never at all), or witness bike messengers rush the spot, dripping wet trying to get stamps for an AIDS benefit ride. In early September, Asylum featured Applesauce Wrestling. No, I did not attend. For that I am sad.

Saturdays are popular for the $.25 Miller High Life tap special. The prices increases every 30 minutes, so stock up early. For $4, you can get pretty smiley, just be sure you're near the toilet. For you beer snobs, there's lots of fancier options not usually found at most bars. The 'tenders are heavy-handed, much to everyone's satisfaction, and the ladies wear skimpy gothicicly lacey tops that show umm, tattoos to match their jet black or fire red hair. Being a 2-wheel oriented establishment, the drink of choice seems to be Jack Daniels. Food service can be slow sometimes, as there's usually just one server. Overall though, as a bar experience it's second to none (at least on that street). Downstairs near the pool table, the television is usually tuned to some 2-hour "adventure lifestyle show" that I can't seem to find on anyone else's cable. It features surfing and mountain biking, so of course wanderlust sets in after your 5th drink. Upstairs the TV's usually showing some random B-movie, soccer, or violent cop show, depending on who has the remote. As a patron, you can sometimes scoop it and control the viewing experience. Most folks aren't paying attention anyway. The crowd picks up steadily until around 7, then it dies down again until the late night crowd visits around 10 or so.

The food is very good, with lots of vegetarian options (to balance out the other sinning you'll be doing). Go for the veggie chili cheese fries (share, it's a big plate) or the veggie quesadillas.

Check out the Happy Hour: Monday - Friday 5 - 8pm
~$2 Drafts including Shiner Bock, Miller Lite and Miller High Life
~$3 Drafts including Yuenling, Red Hook IPA, Guinness, Old Dominion Lager, Bass Ale, Sam Adams White Ale, Pilsner Urquell & Eggenberg Pilsner
~$3 Rail Drinks & $3 Glass of Wine
~$ .25 Wings
~$ .50 Tacos
~$ .50 Veggie Tacos
~$ .75 Soft Tacos

Overall, Asylum is a cool place to take your more adventurous friends that are visiting for the weekend. Saturdays are good because the pace is a little slower, and you can begin the night's session around 6pm.


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