Adams Where? The Weekly 18th Street shitshow? What does WBH have to do with that? Well, your author lived for two years on Calvert Street, just past the insufferable weekend crush of shwasty-faced hoodrats, gang-bangers, interns, fake IDers, and drunk-ass bros, and despite having a sweet apartment, was not thrilled with said swarm of ragers providing a ruinous end for an otherwise nice night out in a different part of DC. So why the hell am I writing this? Because nearly three years later, new delights have opened, old stalwarts have remained, and I’ve discovered under-the-radar gems that I overlooked in my previous desire to avoid 18th & Columbia and environs at all costs.
DISCLAIMER: 18th Street is still chock-a-block with absolute SHIT bars – and I’m gonna name them: Grand Central, Tom Tom, Town Tavern, Columbia Junction or whatever it’s called, Shenanigans, and many others. Avoid. It also still home to most dubious pizza by the slice ever – Jumbo Slice and its derivatives. No level of drunkenness makes this a good idea. Also avoid.
So with that out of the way, let’s get on with it, starting from the top of the hill to the bottom.
Next time somebody claims you can’t get good Indo-Pak food in the DC area, throw some dal in their face and slap them with a hot chapati, and call them out on their ignorance. For the meatier side of things subcontinental, I present: Ravi Kabab, an Arlington institution steeped in Lahori deliciousness.
I make no pretensions of being a wine critic, as I find that profession mostly full of hyperbole and bullshit, and I won’t go into “bits of jam and twig with sniffles of cherry ice cream and hints of fairy breath” here. I do know a damn good wine when I drink one though, and we have a winner here: Château Haut Blaignan 2010, from Bordeaux’s elite Médoc region, home to some of France’s most superb wines. For $7, Haut Blaignan is making a bloody good effort. Yes, $7, if you can find at your local Trader Joe’s. It normally retails for about $16, and I’d put it on par with $30 bottles I’ve had. It’s really that good. Seriously, buy a case if TJ’s has one, or just get a few bottles to enjoy at home by the fireplace or to take to a small gathering and wow the hell out of everyone with your awesome erudition in oenology. Cheers!
So, for those that have read my recent glowing writeup of Little Branch, as well as my comparison of Passenger and Gibson and my review of El Centro, I thought I should clarify what I look for in a drinking establishment that you too ought to consider. Don’t spend money and waste time at crappy bars (or anything else, for that matter), use this handy guide.
It’s noon on a Sunday, the light slowly filters in through your blinds, and you curse the copious quantity of Cristal of last night as if it was a soul-sucking vampire. Realizing that, damn it, you may have earned a day off with that legendary party, but you’re not gonna let a whole day waste away (half is quite enough), you need something to pick you up, set you straight, and let you get on your way.
What is that something? If you’re in the DC area, it’s a visit to the Eden Center for something like this:
Right so here’s the sequel. So I’ve established that sometimes certain things cost a certain amount without many options, and should you want said thing, you’re stuck (the example I used was plane tickets). I’ve also said previously that when you have options, it’s sometimes beneficial to go for a more expensive option. But don’t go rushing out to drop $1000 on something that you could get for $500 and be just as good. Here are my rules:
The value of something – its worth to you – versus its cost is a crucial part of our philosophy. We enjoy the good things in life, but make no mistake – great expense does not necessarily bestow a great product or experience. Certain things have a universal or absolute price – for example, you will never find a transatlantic plane ticket for less than, say, a DC to New York or London to Paris train, but if you want to fly across oceans, this is something you must face. Do you really want to go from New York to London? Then your options are limited and there’s not much you can do about it, so if you can afford it you will probably say “Screw it, it’s $1000 a ticket, but I really want to go. So be it, evil airline, here’s my money.”
On the other hand, many other things are greatly variable – You can buy a $20 pair of jeans or a $200 pair of jeans (possibly $2,000 but then you’re a total sucker and beyond our help). Is that $200 pair necessarily better than $20? No. It may be a bit more durable and stylish, but this is not to say a cheaper pair of jeans, or indeed anything, is by rule inferior. Can I afford $200 jeans? Yes. Would I ever buy them? No, because I’m not an idiot, and even though I can afford them, I would derive no greater utility than from a pair far less – I do not highly value expensive jeans. Does that mean you’re an idiot if you bought $200 jeans? While I’m inclined to say yes, you might not be. You might genuinely derive greater utility out of $200 jeans than I do. (Perhaps you hang out with billionaires who only wear haute couture and will mock you mercilessly if your socks aren’t made of gold thread and your jeans sewn by French maidens in a convent outside Paris. Perhaps that’s a justification for buying $200 jeans. Perhaps you need new friends, but that’s another subject…).
It comes down to knowing what you want, knowing the range of what things cost, and whether what you want is worth said cost. Let me give another example: I’m a car fanatic, and I love high-end, high performance cars. This does not mean, however, that I lust after the most expensive cars for the sake of them being expensive – a Porsche 911 S is cheaper, but arguably better performing than the 911 4S, and is considerably cheaper and more attractive than other options, such as the 911 Turbo. One of the main reasons I like the 911 so much is because of its beautiful styling. Of these three, the Turbo is the most expensive and in some people’s mind the most desirable, and indeed in terms of absolute performance it is superior. Compare the aesthetics however:
The Turbo has a rather nasty spoiler and large side air intakes that ruin the fluid, clean lines of the original car, thus ruining it, despite costing tens of thousands more. If someone were to give me money for the Turbo, and said “you must spend some of it on a Porsche,” I would firstly thank them profusely (WBH encourages politeness), then buy the 2S, because it has everything I want in a 911, and would pocket the remaining cash. Not only is the Turbo not worth the extra money (I mean really, it’s not as if you can drive it at top speed anywhere), but it’s also a question of taste, and the Turbo defiles the subtle beauty of the original.
Keep in mind these are my preferences, and while this example uses something out of reach of most people (the author included), I know what I want, I know the range of options, and I know that the highest option is not worth it. At this point it’s a question of: “Well, do I think it’s worth spending X amount on it?” This applies as equally to jeans as to cars, or indeed as to anything. Ultimately buying something is your decision, but always think in terms of what you want/need, whether X product satisfies those desires, and whether it’s worth the cost.
Stay tuned for part 2 on reasons why spending more (though not always the most) can be better.