Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Review: The Red and The Black

The Red and The Black is a nice new bar and restaurant(?) on DC's mythical H Street, Northeast. The thoroughfare is, of course one of those places that was deeply and negatively impacted by the 1968 riots. It's still largely African-American and might scare a few of you, what with the crackheads and prostitutes and all. Fear not, gentle suburbanite, for gentrification moves swiftly in the Washington of today. From 3rd Street west to Bladensburg Road, one can find glimmers of hope in new restaurants, coffeeshops, stores, and a few nightclubs. Many of them are Black owned and doing pretty well (at least on H Street Day). This one isn't, but it seems to fit and definitely doesn't cater to the trendy types you'd find at say, Tabaq. I'm not sure what it is, but there's something about H Street that has drawn the best of the bayou north in recent months. At the last H Street Festival, I bought an awesome piece of artwork from a New Orleans artist displaced by Katrina; sorry I can't remember the guy's name. As some authentic Louisiana blues blared in the background, I exchanged my $25 for a lottery cage filled with the smiling faces of 9 white baby dolls...no heads, just their faces. Oh, and a few little baby doll arms, one proudly holding a silver plastic hand grenade. It's entitled "Made in China" and was listed as a "Wal-Mart special." It may be possessed, who knows. Come to one of our parties and you'll see it hanging in the garage beside the John Deere sign.

But back to the bar.... I was there on a slowish Tuesday night to see an indie rock band called "The Slack Republic." The venue is perfectly suited for such a performance, and the band had a great time it seems. Upstairs is small and intimate, the overall theme being that of a New Orleans "funhouse" (in all flavors of the word). The colors are dark but happy (is that possible?)- lots of red lights and paint, old photos, a squeaking wooden floor, pots of jambalaya. The beer list is expanding, but they've already got some the favorites that you don't find everywhere. On this night, Bilal Salaam happened to be explaining the virtues of Chimay ale to an unknowing tourist who'd apparently stumbled into this spot while looking for someplace else. Dude's slurred speech made me think he was having a good time. The staff at The Red and The Black is down-to-earth and friendly, and the internet jukebox is honestly the best one I've seen in the city. The folks at Cue Bar pool hall need to visit these guys because theirs is probably the worst. (Despite the lack of musical virtue, I still frequent this spot every Friday after work; an hour of pool is $12, and they too have a good beer selection.)
has too many familiar faces, and you don't wanna trek all the way out to Clarendon or Hyattsville or, God-forbid Adams Morgan, check out H Street, Northeast. There are quite a few other bars in the neighborhood; a full bar-crawl review can be found here. My next visit is to the spot next door, a literal house of odditties called The Palace of Wonders :: WashPost Review. Oh, and before you head over there, watch this. Thanks.

Visit :: The Red & The Black


Anonymous inas said...

sounds like a cool place....did they gumbo there? I know Bilal Salaam too...did a show out here in bama...we met up at the Martini bar I've been telling you about.....

6:03 PM  

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