Ladies like wine bars. There is just something about them. They’re cozy. They’re comfortable. There is an upscale ambiance about them. You can have fun hanging with a friend, your mom, a date. Usually solid food choices – at the very least they have cheese (always an A+ in my book). They just have that all-encompassing mojo.
I have been a loyal patron of screwtop wine bar in Clarendon for the last nine years or so (it’s been open almost 10 years). When I have visitors from out of town, I bring them here. My brother in California still talks about the Buffalo Sliders and Baked Goat Cheese. In fact, I have to ship my family the spicy plum chutney that is served alongside the Baked Goat so they can try to recreate it at home. It’s that good.
We made a visit recently and each time we go, we’re left satisfied and relaxed.
When you arrive to screwtop, hopefully a seat at one of the tables will be open. Fair warning, the place is small and doesn’t take reservations. And it’s not exactly a well-kept secret any longer. I’ve found the winter to be more crowded than the summer. Arriving on the earlier side is better, but if you can’t swing it, try after 7:30 or 8:00. We usually can find a table at that time. The 6:30-7:00 time frame is usually tough.
This is a seat yourself sort of place and once you find a spot, a server will bring over the menus as well as a container of their delicious truffle popcorn. It’s addictive, and luckily you can order a larger size if you gobble down the kernels as quickly as we do.
They frequently change their wine offerings and have a full page of whites and reds to choose from. You can order by the glass, a flight or by the bottle. They also have a cute shop as part of the restaurant where you can take bottles to go. Glasses range anywhere from $7-$18.
We opted to start with a salad instead of our usual basket of truffle popcorn. The Spring Awakening salad was a perfect start with arugula, feta, almonds, asparagus and radish all in a light lemon vinaigrette. We added grilled chicken which was a tad try but provided extra protein.
Our typical rotation here is cheese and charcuterie. Because of Josh’s gluten intolerance, we’ve found this to be the easiest route. In addition to their normal selection of bread and crackers, they offer gluten-free crackers as well. As with their wines, they change their cheese selection frequently which is great for us because we rarely have the same meal or wine each time we go.
The cheese selection we chose this time played to our upcoming trip to Spain. We selected four different Spanish cheeses and added two charcuterie: speck and finocchiona. The platters also come with mustard, apricots, jam and cornichons.
screwtop has a wide variety of menu items and I have tried several over the last nine years. The Baked Goat cheese I mentioned above is incredible: a log of goat cheese rolled in herbs then baked until warm and bubbly. It is served with baguette and spicy plum chutney. They have killer grilled cheese sliders. My girlfriends and I used to come JUST for this item. They have the perfect amount of cheese and are served alongside tomato coulis for dipping. Their other sandwich selections are delicious as are the majority of their salads and starters. Everything is fresh and pairs well with the wine. Bonus: this place won’t break the bank. For the D.C. metro area, I find it extremely affordable.
Josh calls screwtop a “ladies place.” We often see tables of women (and it’s a place I regularly come with girlfriends). You will also see plenty of people on dates, whether first or 50th. We just sat next to a couple clearly on their first date and they were enjoying themselves and the wine! Like I said: ambiance people. Wine bars have it.