AMORE • BY BETHANY KARN
Somehow, a kiss next to the Washington Monument is not nearly the same as a kiss under the Eiffel Tower. This is not an area known for romantic whimsy. An expedient, multitasking game of footsie is sometimes all the over-worked lovers in the DC area can hope for.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find romance in the DC area this Valentine’s Day — you just need to look for it. For example, the House Agricultural Committee room doesn’t look like much of a love nest, but as former clerk Callista Gingrich can tell you, there is a chubby little Cupid flitting around under those florescent lights. And he’s going to send her to the moon. Isn’t that romantic?
Here is a short list of places in DC and in your backyard that just ooze with romantic ambience:
Romantic rebellion can be found at the Jefferson Memorial. Take your favorite dance partner for a waltz in front of the Jefferson Memorial. President Tom, a light-footed lover of dance, will look on, most pleased. If a National Parks Ranger tries to cut in, politely point him in the direction of a paddle boat emergency and then tango over to the Occupy encampment at McPherson Square and hand out Valentines to the protestors. Or heart-shaped bars of soap. Either will be appreciated.
Valentines is the night to forgo the fluorescent lights of Wheaton dim sum houses and the minimalist beige-on-bland decor of Capitol Hill steak houses. Romantic adventures take off at restaurants that are hard to find, hard to find a seat and hard to see in once you get there.
Groping for the menu or a fork or a knee is a part of the fun, so we recommend the speakeasy charm of The Gibson and the flaming absinth drinks at the 1905 in the Shaw neighborhood. Both are impressively impossible to find so grab your map, your decoder ring and your sweetheart and go explore (for addresses to these establishments and more, see the side bar, below).
The National Gallery of Art has several rooms of romantic art to remind Washingtonians what joie de vivre looks like. The Dutch portraits, in particular, are a feast of food, flowers, dancing and ugly men kissing willing lasses (Above, “Ill-Matched Lovers,” by Quentin Massys).
The look on Adam’s face in this painting by Hendrick Goltius tells me that The Fall of Man was long overdue. Take a cue from this happy couple and go relax somewhere with a juicy apple (and a cat, apparently. Why not?).
Speaking of picnics sur l’herbe, area naturalist and birders know all too that the Sligo Creek Park is teeming with love. Park yourselves on a boulder and keep an eye open for that faithful pair, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard. A heron sighting is always possible and gets the blood flowing. Also, be on the look out for nature’s love nest architects, the beavers, rumored to be building away on either side of the Piney Branch intersection. The trail is secluded and often times quiet enough to allow for you and a sweetheart to get reacquainted with human mating rituals. Let the birds watch you for once.
Dark and Cozy Bars and Restaurants with an air of romantic intrigue:
The Gibson: Complex drinks, tiny tables, no obvious signage out front. A romantic enigma for the two of you to solve. 2009 14th Street NW, Washington D.C., DC 20009. Phone: 202-232-2156
The Tabard Inn: Extra points for cozy fireplace AND rooms to rent upstairs. 1739 N St NW Washington, DC 20036. Phone: 202-331-8528
Jackie’s Sidebar: Red vinyl seating and martinis. Vroom vroom. 8081 Georgia Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 Phone: 301-565-9700
1905: 19th Century decor, votive candles and absinth will inspire your inner dandy and/or femme fatale. 1905 9th Street NW, Washington DC 20001. Phone: 202- 332-1905
The Wine Cellar at Mrs. K’s Tollhouse: Hiding in plan sight can be romantic as well, even at this well-know respectable eatery that makes your Grandmother happy. Pretend you’ve both snuck down to the basement while your parents are having a party upstairs. 9201 Colesville Rd Silver Spring, MD 20910. Phone: 301-589-3500.
The Olive Lounge: Not exactly romantic, but so small, so cozy, so packed that you could end up playing footsie with any one, so if you feel like mixing things up, have at it. 7006 Carroll Ave Takoma Park, Maryland 20912. Phone: 301-270-5154.