Restaurant – The Arsenal at Bluejacket

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So first, off – my Dad gave me the ok to post his picture.  Yay Dad for being cool with the internet…even when you’re not cool with “The Internet” (inside joke).  Secondly, Opening Day was great.  Maybe not the game itself – that was fine.  The pageantry was there, there were great moments (Bryce Harper getting his Silver Slugger, MVP Award, and a key to the friggin’ city!), but there was rain, and the Nats lost which is always kind of blah.  And since the game had been delayed for more than an hour and we were tired and cold, we left at the seventh inning stretch…moments before Bryce hit a homer.  D’oh!

But probably the best part of Opening Day was getting to spend it with my Dad and brother Ben.  And to spend the early afternoon relaxing at The Arsenal – the brewpub attached to Bluejacket (my favorite brewery in Washington DC).  This is our third year in a row of having lunch at The Arsenal on opening day.  For the first two years we even sat at the same table, but not this year.  We were right in the thick of things and had a fantastic waitress named Heather who took amazing care of us the entire time.  She was so pleased that we were returning that she a) comped some of our beers and b) the chef gave us free pickled veggies.  (Note: this is another #notsponsored post, so that was just Heather and the staff being awesome…not pay-for-play)

[normally there would be a picture of beer here, but I’m having problems uploading most of my pictures.]

Where do I start?  How about with beer, since it is a brewery.  Since we like to try as many beers as possible, and we don’t know how many we will like, it’s usually a good bet to go with the tasting size instead of the full size.  Doing this, we tasted 12 different beers over the course of our stay, ranging from lagers to darker maltier beers.  A lot of breweries do IPAs well, because the IPA is apparently an easier style to brew, and mistakes are easier to cover up.  I’m not a big fan – what I do like is the new trend in sour beers (and I have for a while).  The more mouth-puckering, the better!  The best beers we tried that day were incidentally an IPA and a Sour – The Killing Moon (an Imperial IPA), and Rheinhard De Vos (a Sour Ale).  Both had such interesting depths of flavor that changed while you were drinking it.  Definitely thoughtful beers, meant more for appreciating instead of refreshing you on a hot day.

[this would be a picture of food!]

One of my favorite foods at Bluejacket are the Tots.  Yes…tater tots.  And they’re so good.  They’re cubed and crunchy, but hot and squishy inside.  Pretty much perfect.  We had two orders – one regular, and another “smothered” (meaning with cheese and ham gravy), but with the smothered components on the side since my Dad was not interested in the smothered tots…at first.  Then he tried them and loved them.  Haha!

We also had a super yummy charcuterie board which had some great salamis with a fantastic whole grain mustard – my favorite kind of mustard!  There was also a pate/smushed meat item that I should have written the name of, but didn’t.  Dad wasn’t interested (once again), so Ben and I had the pleasure of smearing it on the crusty bread which accompanied the board, and it was so freaking good.

This would be where I showed you our pickled veggies.  We were really grateful to the kitchen for sending them out to us (seriously it was super nice) but it turns out that not one of the three of us is what you would call a pickle fan.  We ate some of the pickled veggies – green beans, butternut squash, carrots – but there was a whole half of the board that went untouched because dill pickles, bread and butter pickles and the like don’t really do it for us.

We also had an order of the pretzels which were quite tasty – they were sold as “everything pretzels”, and I totally get it.  The flavor of the added toppings really made the pretzels pretty great.  But if we’re begin honest, the point of the pretzels was to put additional carbs in our tummies to soak up the beer.  I’m sure they’re amazingly tasty and deserve more praise, but when you’re freaking out about the variety of sour beers…it’s hard to focus on the food.

All in all we spent 2 hours at Bluejacket.  We happened to be near a window, so when the Budweiser Clydesdales trotted by (with a Dalmatian sitting shotgun on the wagon!!!), we had a good view.  [Imagine I’ve added a picture here].  We got to the restaurant right around noon, left at 2:30 or so to wander to the stadium, and between entering (see the empty picture at the top of the post), and leaving…things got MUCH busier.  You’ll notice we didn’t get any entrees.  I think this is again the yumminess of the beers and appetizers that is to blame, but also the fact that these appetizers are not minuscule portions – they were definitely filling.  I may have eaten a hot dog later at the game, but that’s just required.

So – it’s definitely a place I recommend.  If you are there on a busy night (anytime the Nats are in town and playing), it’ll be hard to find a place to sit at the bar.  But if you do, you’ll find yourself rewarded with a variety of creative and delicious beers, and great homey food.  And if you’re there next year on Opening Day, look for me in the restaurant and say hi!

Details: Bluejacket/The Arsenal, 300 Tingey St SE, Washington, DC; reservations online

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