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Tony and Joe's Seafood Place, Tony Cibel's Touristy, Dockside Seafood and Bar at Washington Harbor


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So far as I know, all of the places down there on the waterfront suck (with the possible exception of Agraria and the jury is still out on that one). Sequoia is on its umteenth owner and probably only turns a proft from the Miller Lite in plastic cups it serves by the gross at its outdoor bar in the summer. That whole area seems to close up after the weather turns chilly in the fall and after the interns all go back to school. The 2 areas in the middle, Tony & Joe's and Nick's are both owned by the same people.

ETA: But that doesn't mean I don't go down there once in a while for cold cup of beer and a cigar.

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I stopped by Tony and Joe's this afternoon, mainly for sociological observation - and yes, I was scoping out Agraria earlier if you must know my true motivation for being in the vicinity.

Draft swill is a cleverly priced $5.00 - think Dos Equis Lager, Amstel Light, etc. You give them a $20, they give you a $10 and five $1s back - you're nearly forced to leave a dollar as a tip. When you put it on the bar, the bartenders will eventually notice it, perhaps five minutes later, having no idea who it's from - thus not a micron of appreciation for any individual patron. In essence, please don't leave your tip expecting anything in return.

Reading over a disastrous outside-bar menu, freshly shucked Blue Points on the half-shell were $2 each. Sounds good, right? And guess what? They were! Three of 'em, promptly delivered, and more importantly served at the proper temperature, i.e., at about 60 degrees and not at the ice-cold 40-degree taste-killing chill which plagues many of the big-name bistros in town right now. They were fresh, enjoyable, and almost surely the only thing on the bar menu worth ordering.

In the name of science, I went inside and ordered three more - three more showed up, every bit as good as the ones outside. If you ordered these at Old Ebbitt, or Pesce, or Beck's (yes, Beck's), you'd be very happy with them, and for only $2 each.

I reiterate: Nothing else I saw on the menu, or observed being brought to the tables, was anything more than deep-fried slop, and the beers are criminally expensive, priced shrewdly in order to maximize the tip. No tabs are accepted out on the deck; only inside the restaurant.

Other than the oysters, the one selection of oysters, there's nothing about Tony and Joe's that would draw me back: The crowd, the young crowd, isn't particularly handsome; in fact they're rather ugly as these crowds tend to go. The atmosphere is lovely, of course, a fountain spraying, Washington Channel a stone's-throw away, and people smiling, laughing, and having a genuinely good time. Seriously now, how many places in town can make so many people so happy? Not many, at least not by my count.

You go to Tony and Joe's for the sun, the deck, the cold, flavorless beers, and to join others who are enjoying themselves. As bad as the food may be (and believe me, it's bad), the atmosphere has the potential to be infectious (literally, infectious, but that's for another thread, I suppose...)

And as for Agraria, the original reason I went to the Harbor today ... they seem to be talking the talk about sustainable, farm-raised ingredients. I spent a long time chatting with a wonderful Eritrean bartender who's pretty pumped about what Chef Ricky Moore is doing there, enough so to make me want to go back and try during dinner hour (I was there much earlier than service started). I think this is a fertile depth for plumbing by a hotshot young dining reporter (MeMc, synaesthesia, are you reading?), and would make a fine article in an independent publication, the topic being ... "So, how is the much-hyped Agraria doing these days?" I'd do it myself if I wasn't so busy with other things. Ricky Moore may well deserve his due - or, perhaps he doesn't. Who takes the plunge here?

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Reading over a disastrous outside-bar menu, freshly shucked Blue Points on the half-shell were $2 each. Sounds good, right? And guess what? They were! Three of 'em, promptly delivered, and more importantly served at the proper temperature, i.e., at about 60 degrees and not at the ice-cold 40-degree taste-killing chill which plagues many of the big-name bistros in town right now.

Rocks,

Surely you know that serving oysters at 60° in a restaurant is outside the "zone of safety" for handling perishable food. The "zone of safety" is below 45° and above 140° for any kind of perishable food.

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Surely you wouldn't tip less.

Surely I wouldn't, but $6 for a miserable little plastic cup of Miller Lite just plain hurts.

Rocks,

Surely you know that serving oysters at 60° in a restaurant is outside the "zone of safety" for handling perishable food. The "zone of safety" is below 45° and above 140° for any kind of perishable food.

Still, oysters taste better when they're allowed to warm up in the few minutes just before serving (so does steak tartare, toro sashimi, kibbeh nayeh, etc.).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Still, oysters taste better when they're allowed to warm up in the few minutes just before serving (so does steak tartare, toro sashimi, kibbeh nayeh, etc.).

Cheers,

Rocks.

Yes, we both know that, but technically, restaurants can be cited and closed for those kinds of temperature violations. Really.

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Nine years later, and I have nothing novel to say about Tony and Joe's Seafood Place. You have to give them credit: They have a winning formula in terms of serving lots of customers and almost surely making lots of money - I suspect those $5 drafts I had nine years ago are now something more than that, and people buy lots of them.

I'll tell you what, though, Tony and Joe's has 2005 Don Perignon on the menu for $200 a bottle, and if you can find that in the U.S. for under $150, you're doing really well, so if you feel like pulling up in your boat and splurging on the deck? You're not getting ripped off; the rest of their wine list looks like it's been culled from a Safeway.

The Executive Chef of Tony and Joe's, as well as Nick's Riverside Grill, is David Stein, and I'm willing to bet this man is making a handsome sum - restaurants like these are where the money is.

This Jun 9, 2007 post of mine gives a glimpse into the roots of Farmers & Fishers, now a multi-multi-million operation - don't forget (or blame) Chef Rickey Moore - the man can cook. He went back to his roots in Durham, NC, and is producing James Beard-caliber food in a seafood shack - you will be hearing about Rickey Moore in the future, I promise you, and if you're ever in Durham, go out of your way to have lunch at Saltbox Seafood Joint, the best seafood shanty I've ever been to in my life - Rickey did the exact opposite of selling out, and in doing so, he's going to become a wealthy man one day.

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Quote

 

The massive indoor/outdoor, 500-seat seafood restaurant—the first to open at the burgeoning Buzzard Point development—is perched at the intersection of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and flanks a large marina. It’s a quick hop by water or land from Navy Yard, the Wharf, and further down the way, the Georgetown waterfront, where Casten and uncle/business partner Tony Cibel have operated Tony & Joe’s and Nick’s Riverside Grill for over 30 years.

Casten’s philosophy: “You can’t go wrong being on the water, unless you serve bad food.”

 

I would argue that Tony & Joe's and Nick's have survived notwithstanding serving bad food.  Hope The Point serves better (the restaurant referred to in this article).

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