Bar Belle: Clarendon Grill

I have four more weeks to excuse my erratic, sometimes psychotic and definitely crazy behavior of being in college. Four more weeks to indulge in activities on which I will look fondly back as my “college days.” Four more weeks to open up a tab at a bar while trying to figure out how to explain to my father that Buffalo Billiards is a grocery store at which $50 was spent to buy dinner ingredients and not beer. Four more weeks until I won’t receive “college night” emails updating me on the latest drink specials in the D.C. area.

Four more weeks.

While some seniors are making scrapbooks and planning farewell dinners, I am going balls out to make sure I rate as many bars as I possibly can before my four weeks are up. This week I give you Clarendon Grill.

Three stops off the Orange/Blue Metro Line from Foggy Bottom, Clarendon Grill is probably closer than a lot of the bars I have reviewed, yet I think a majority of us feel like a trip to Virginia is too far away. What I have discovered is that Clarendon is not only a quaint shopping town during the day, but at night Wilson Boulevard becomes its own Sunset Strip, with venue after venue offering the best of local music. Places like Iota, Whitlows, ReRa, Clarendon Ballroom, and Clarendon Grill are all within walking distance of one another and have some great drink specials to go along with the music. This past Sunday, I made it to Clarendon Grill to watch four bands battle it out for the annual Last Band Standing contest and oddly enough, this low-key Sunday night became one of my favorites of the semester.

The whole vibe of Clarendon Grill is this warehouse-like atmosphere with quirky art, spackled fixtures, concrete floors and a large stage near the front. The bar itself covers the entire back wall of the building, which made it incredibly easy to get the bartenders’ attention. It took around four or five trips to the bar before I realized that under the glass casing, the countertop had trapped an array of pebbles and Tonka toys, which I instantly became nostalgic over despite my never having played with a Tonka truck (I was more of a Lego kid). The wooden supports that sporadically grow from the floor paneling are covered in vertical slats of wood that protrude out at differing lengths. The ceiling lights are covered by old paint buckets that still have traces of plaster stuck to their outsides. For a bar that sounds so cold and bare from my description, the crowd and service made this place feel really alive.

Of course, I have to mention my favorite spot to visit – the bathroom. Surprisingly, it was really clean and large and, not to jinx any of you gals, I never had to wait in a line for a stall! I did, however, have to wait for a sink because some band groupies decided it was utterly necessary to rip their V-neck wife beaters further down in the front.

The bands were fantastic and the drinks were pretty cheap ($3 bottles of Bud,) but the one big downside (or upside for you nicotine fiends) was that Virginia hasn’t jumped on the smoking-ban bandwagon, thus I left smelling like my aunt and uncle’s basement.

If you have any interest in checking out the Clarendon scene, Last Band Standing will continue this weekend with doors at seven and music starting at eight. If you take the Metro to the Clarendon stop, make a right at the top of the escalator and the Grill will be on the left side of Highland Street.

And don’t give me that “Oh, but it’s a Sunday” excuse, because all I have to say is: four more weeks!

Bar Belle Rating: Three of Four Belles.

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