Here's the background:
Last night, the sister of someone I know came to town for a visit. We had a nice time at the Kennedy Center's "Performance Plus" event--a talk by George Washington University professor Jessica Krash devoted to songs about love and death, featuring excerpts from works by Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, Corigliani and others. She really did a great job, though some of us wondered why she left out Wagner's Liebestod...In any case, the ticket price included a free wine-tasting (3 Italian vintages, perhaps in honor of incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi?), some free nuts, as well as 1/2-off parking ($7.50 instead of $15). So it was a good deal, as well as educational, and fun.
Afterwards, we decided to try a new restaurant that just opened on the same block as our neighborhood Politics and Prose Bookstore. It still had no sign out front, maybe because it is supposed to be so happening that you peek through a peephole in the front window to see if it is open. It was.
We entered the dark interior, stripped bare to plaster walls and wooden beams. Inside we discovered the joint is named Comet Ping Pong. It is a pizzeria with a wood-fired oven. The "hip" touches include eating off of (pseudo) ping-pong tables, and a real ping-pong area in the back.
The place was very dark, but we did make out--a few tables away--a famous celebrity pink-shirted CNBC talk-show host, Chris Matthews. He was sitting with WJLA-TVs local news anchor (his wife) Kathleen Matthews, alongside what looked like family members. We don't know what they ordered, probably some sort of pizza, because that's all they seemed to serve, but they seemed to be having a good time.
Our team ordered two vegetarian pizzas: one with anchovies and onions, the other with tomato sauce and mozzarella. They were served on a single tray--no plates!--and although the waiter had said they would be 9-inches in diameter, it would be more honest to say they were 9-inches long and about 3-inches wide.
And one of them was burnt.
The salad tasted like it came out of a supermarket pre-washed plastic bag.
The glass for the chardonnay served to the sister of someone I know was smaller than the glasses orange juice used to come in NYC diners when I lived there a quarter of a century ago (very small).
And our waiter seemed to be about 16 years old.
There was no menu, and no prices. There was a board listing pizzas, but no prices on that, either. After some questioning our server told us what things cost, approximately. The $9.00 pizza price quote turned out to be sort of a Washington budget estimate. One pizza cost $10, the other $12....
Still, it was a lot of fun to hobnob with local celebrities, on the day after the historic Democratic wave swept the House and Senate--especially since Matthews used to work for the legendary Tip O'Neill. Now, if we only had been able to hear what he had been saying...