Mount Vernon Square is a curious area, prompting one of my good friends to ask, “Where are we?” as we approached The Passenger, located between K and L on Seventh Street NW.
That’s because, unless you are headed to the convention center, there isn’t much else to draw you. Sadly, I can’t say The Passenger is worth the trip, though if you are in the area, by all means. I’m surely not recommending that you DON’T go there.
I had heard thangs about The Passenger. Sidenote: The word pretentious, as in this bar isn’t pretentious, appears a half-dozen times on the Yelp reviews. In retrospect, not a good sign.
The pub is one long space, with some booths, a super-crowded bar, two tables in a dark, non-climate controlled room (the whole place was HOT) and a back room filled with tables…for two. Not sure why an entire room would be only devoted to couples. Also, somewhere in the mix is the Columbia Room, which is one of those secret nightspots. $50 worth of drinks – not on the itinerary.
In my mind, fairly or not, I recalled the bar being known for great cocktails, which my companions were craving. The drinks seemed stiff enough in that regard, though we ordered nothing crazier than an Old Fashioned. I generally stick to the brews, and there were a few good ‘uns on tap.
“I’ll have a…”
“Sorry, all our taps are out.”
Ahhhh. Well, the canned beer selection was good. Dale’s Pale Ale was in the house, also some Brooklyn brew. The bargain category is held down by $4 Tecates. The Dale’s, Brooklyn and a few other good ones were all $5.
But, at least from my experience, all those prices should appear with *please add 20 minutes asterisks, because that’s how long it took to get a drink. The waitresses were incredibly unclear on how to order from the tables, so we kept sauntering up to the bar, and waiting, waiting waiting…
The Passenger also had some food, mostly gourmet-looking hot dog entrees for something like $8. Good for desperation, perhaps, but I would walk west or south if I was looking for the good stuff.
I came away underwhelmed; the opposite of my first visit to The Raven or The Red Derby, for example. It was not filthy or cheap enough to be a dive bar, nor was it trendy enough to be a club. The music was mostly classic rock. Fine, but not a reason to go there. I didn’t really notice the transportation theme The Post raved about; the bar just seemed dark and hot.
Mostly, I thought it was a cool space that needed a better air conditioning system and either faster bartenders or a more clear system for drink ordering. I might be back, but it won’t be my final destination. It wasn’t on my first visit either. Overcrowded Wonderland Ballroom, ho!