“I would rather eat in a saloon than drink in a restaurant,” Clyde’s founder Stuart Davidson would often remark. Clyde’s opened in 1963 as an American neighborhood bar, and it evolved to today’s farm-to-table dining through the sustenance of local farmers and artisans. Among the first in Washington, D.C. to describe their cuisine as locally-raised and sustainable, the chefs take a detour from the norm and choose locally-raised, farm-grown fruits and vegetables.
Location: Clyde’s is at 3236 M Street N.W. in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Menu: Today, Clyde’s menu offers classic America cuisine, with vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. One vegetarian example is the four cheese and spinach ravioli. It has a spicy arrabbiata sauce topped with Grana Padano.
Clyde’s also offers gluten-friendly items and will modify others when requested. They do offer gluten-free pasta and mark other gluten-free choices on the menu. While they are careful to avoid cross-contact; their kitchen isn’t completely gluten-free. Be sure to let your server know if you have a food allergy or other dietary need.
On Sunday’s in autumn, they offer lobster dinners for about $18 including coleslaw and French fries. You can’t miss all the lobster flying from the kitchen. Another added value is you may bring up to three bottles of your wine without a corkage fee.
Thoughts: At Clyde’s, you won’t find yourself scrolling the internet on your phone, as the décor will keep you busy. Model airplanes hang from the ceiling while plane propellers decorate the walls. The aeronautic theme continues, where framed pictures of aircraft and aeronautical-themed advertising hang on the exposed brick. On cool evenings you have the warmth of the fireplace.
It’s a casual family-friendly environment, where casual dress is the norm. Many Sunday afternoon diners came with young children.
The environment has a casually elegant feel. Sun streaming through the skylight provides a bright and airy ambiance. While white tablecloths cover the tables, green glass water bottles employed as vases hold a single rose stem, offering casual elegance. The silver Wilton Armetale water pitchers add a relaxed feel.
Servers, in beige khakis and light blue button-down shirts, with white aprons, line the length of their arm with up to five plates at a time to serve guests. Watching the challenge is fun.
When we arrived for Sunday dinner, there wasn’t a wait. However, it’s a good idea to have reservations as the restaurant is often fully seated. Tuesday through Saturday, they frequently have live music. Check out their website for specifics.
When I was in Washington D.C. in the fall, I was seeking some comfort food to combat the crisp autumn air. It had been over 25 years since I had been to Clyde’s; yet, I still remembered the saloon-style chili with beans. It’s a simple recipe that tastes sweet and slightly spicy. There’s the option to top it with cheddar cheese, onions, and sour cream. Yes, simple but memorable.
Some of my other favorite dishes are:
- The elegantly presented crab tower. The layered dish starts with a coconut-curry rice cake; then comes a seaweed salad. A fresh crab salad piles on next, followed by the beautiful orange-red tobiko with a mild smokey taste. Tobiko is Japanese for flying fish roe. Finally, three slices of creamy avocado adorn the top. A ginger miso sauce decorates the plate for a beautiful finish. A crispy rectangular won ton wrapper leans into the stack to provide even more height to the dish.
- Clyde’s six-and-three-quarter-ounce hamburgers made of locally-sourced ground chuck cooked to perfection. Top your burger with Clyde’s chili, caramelized onions, or sautéed mushrooms. You can turn it into a cheeseburger by adding American, Swiss, blue, cheddar, Monterrey Jack, or Muenster cheese. Their proteins include burgers using hormone-free, grass-fed beef, and Bell & Evans chicken that is locally-sourced, antibiotic- and hormone-free as well as humanely raised.
- The vanilla crème Brulee. Its glossy top cracks as your spoon breaks through the caramelized sugar topping to reach the thick creamy custard.
Price Range: Starters range from $6.59 for a cup of French onion soup or Clyde’s chili to $15.99 for the crab tower. Entrée size salads range from $7.99 to $18.99 for the pan-seared steak salad or the pan-seared salmon salad. Sandwiches run from $12.59 for the turkey club to $19.99 jumbo lump crab cake. Mains start at $16.99 for Shepard’s pie and go to $41.99 for the New York strip steak. Pasta costs about $18. Most of the desserts are $7.99. Dinner for two is about $50 including tax and gratuity.