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Empress Lounge, Mandarin Oriental Hotel


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Not quite sure where to put this, but I'm writing about the lobby lounge in the Mandarin Oriental.

Since it serves a limited menu, presumably from the Sou'Wester kitchen, I'll put it here. [Nope, separate kitchen. DR]

This is a comfortable place for a mid-afternoon business meeting / light nosh / high tea / adult beverage, or any combination thereof. I met a colleague for a business discussion, and we enjoyed the non-alcoholic drink menu. I had the No-Jito, which was muddled lime and mint, some mint syrup and club soda, and he had fresh brewed raspberry iced tea, with refills. Also served was a nice bowl of pitted olives and another bowl of salted-sweet nuts and sesame crackers. For $16 total with tax and tip, this was not a bad deal. Of course, valet parking was $18, but what the heck, I used my expense account.

Obviously, the atmosphere is pleasant, if not plush. One table was having tea, another table was having a late lunch, another table was having an early happy hour, and one gent came in and plopped on a nice sofa, opened the Financial Times, and asked for a cup of coffee.

As I walked out, I was thinking that I could live this way rather nicely....

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Come to think of it, my new dream day of decadence would begin with a lunch of the meatballs with creamed grits and tomato sauce at Sou'Wester, then a leisurely and relaxing afternoon in the Empress Lounge, beginning with tea service, casually progressing into the non-alcoholic offerings, and then rolling well into the aperitifs. Early evening, I transfer to the bar at CityZen for some nice pours, then into Eric's hands for some phyllo-wrapped sweetbreads....

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Come to think of it, my new dream day of decadence would begin with a lunch of the meatballs with creamed grits and tomato sauce at Sou'Wester, then a leisurely and relaxing afternoon in the Empress Lounge, beginning with tea service, casually progressing into the non-alcoholic offerings, and then rolling well into the aperitifs. Early evening, I transfer to the bar at CityZen for some nice pours, then into Eric's hands for some phyllo-wrapped sweetbreads....

And don't forget the jazz in the Empress Lounge on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Not quite sure where to put this, but I'm writing about the lobby lounge in the Mandarin Oriental.

Since it serves a limited menu, presumably from the Sou'Wester kitchen, I'll put it here. [Nope, separate kitchen. DR]

Unfortunately, the hostesses at Sou'Wester WILL tell you that some of the menu in the lounge comes from the Sou'Wester kitchen, which we were disappointed to learn was not true when we sat down.

Having been in a LOT of upscale hotel bars lately while wedding venue shopping, the Empress Lounge has one of the better bar snack options, with both a snack/nut mix and a half decent olive mix.

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Unfortunately, the hostesses at Sou'Wester WILL tell you that some of the menu in the lounge comes from the Sou'Wester kitchen, which we were disappointed to learn was not true when we sat down.

Having been in a LOT of upscale hotel bars lately while wedding venue shopping, the Empress Lounge has one of the better bar snack options, with both a snack/nut mix and a half decent olive mix.

Those nuts and olives are indeed quite nice, and the jazz is fun too... I've seen acts there both sedate and rowdy (for the hotel lobby spectrum, of course). This is one of the better hotel bars in the area.

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Had lunch at the Empress Lounge today, and it was well above your average lunch fare. We ordered off the Lounge menu, which looked like it could have been a room service menu. I had the DC Club, which was as nicely prepared as any club sandwich in recent memory, and the accompanying fries were perfect. Companion had the Wagyu burger and swears by it. The nuts and olives served as appetizers. I may detour here more often than heading down the hall to Sou'Wester....

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