Georgetown is not typically associated with light-hearted fun and reasonably priced fare. Mostly, when I think of Georgetown, I think of it as a haven for the prep-school crowd: lounging at expensive hotel bars, with even more expensive drinks. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had a good night out for less than $25 -- Martin’s Tavern being the rare and notable exception.
Into this fun chasm, thankfully, enters
, the Chicago-based company founded by Dale Schwartz.
Having taken over a gargantuan 34,000 square feet of space on the first and second floors of The Shops at Georgetown Park (1064 Wisconsin Ave. NW), Pinstripes combines expansive canal views with loads of outdoor space, six bocce courts, 14 bowling lanes, a bistro, an extensive wine cellar and event space upstairs which can easily accommodate 600 people.
When I walked around Pinstripes, I just couldn’t help but be impressed by the sheer size of it all, especially in Georgetown. Airy, open space is hard to come by when the price of D.C.’s commercial real estate is heart-poundingly expensive, but it shows Schwartz's ability to see what was missing in Georgetown and double down to make the investment.
Of course, there is no point in having a good venue if the food and cocktails are awful, so it’s worth noting both menus are delicious.
In fact, I was really surprised at how good the food was at Pinstripes and not just good for a bowling alley, but food good enough that I would order it at a standalone restaurant. If I were Filomena across the street, I would worry about the excellent quality of Pinstripes' chicken and goat cheese pasta ($14). Made with fusilli pasta, rosemary cream sauce and fresh cracked pepper, the dish combined the ingredients dreamily to create a rich bite.
Another dish worth mentioning is the Italian jambalaya risotto ($19). Crafted of spicy chicken, sausage, pesto shrimp and roasted pepper, the risotto paired subtle flavoring with heartiness (at a massive portion).
Since I have a sweet tooth, I tried every single one of Pinstripes' seven desserts. Don't judge -- you can order them as a "flight" for $12.
And thus I can say with authority that the desserts are very good, but the caramelized cheesecake ($7) was the best. Every bite had a burst of caramel flavor, which then smoothed itself into a creamy, soft taste a good cheesecake should have.
Of course, the food will welcomingly fill your appetite, but you should not skimp on the opportunity to try the tasty handcrafted cocktails. I really loved my limoncello martini ($10), made with housemade limoncello, Grand Marnier, fresh lemon, and a splash of sour. The cocktail was sweet without being saccharine and, dangerously, seemed to have barely a glimmer of alcoholic residue. I know the bartender did not skimp on the alcohol quotient so ladies, beware of the potency of this limoncello martini!
Also try the ruby and ginger ($10). Made with Sandeman reserve port, Reed’s premium ginger ale, and served over ice with a cucumber garnish, this cocktail felt as fresh as a southern iced sweet tea.
It made for a great companion for my first time ever playing bocce, which I gleefully won against the charming General Manager Ben ("won" being a very loose term for "cheating outrageously").
Overall, my friends and I had such a fun time at Pinstripes, filled with lots of good food and drinks. It just could turn Georgetown into an inexpensive destination. Maybe.