I have been looking forward the reopening of Doggy Happy Hour at the Hotel Monaco in Old Town, Alexandria for a year and a half. Held in the former Holiday Inn Select, Doggy Happy Hour was suspended for renovation of the 241-room building. Prior to renovation, I was assured that this treasured Old Town pastime was not gone for good, and the courtyard would once again be filled with wagging tails and chowing guests.
I arrived last night at 6:30 to find the mascot, a Bichon Frise named Charlie, presiding over the “leash cutting” ceremony. A red wagon filled with dog biscuits anchored the sleeker, more modern space. Wooden tables and woven chairs have replaced the decrepid green iron patio furniture. Hand sanitizers and menus featuring a small bites menu from the hotel’s restaurant, Jackson 20, topped each table. Servers take orders and bring food tableside now-no more ordering inside and getting a pager.
We ordered pulled pork sliders, shrimp corn dogs, and a plate of cheddar fries with creme fraiche. I got to sample a bit of each and have to say, the shrimp corn dogs were my favorite-a great riff on traditional fair food. The fries were crisp and the pulled pork sliders were good, but needed to improve their pork to coleslaw ratio. I have to be honest however-I longed for the old cheeseburger and buffalo wings we used to snarf down. Sometimes bar food ought to be just that-bar food. And my 2 glasses of pinot noir set me back $20. For white-tablecloth dining? Sure. But,I’m hanging out……with dogs.
Nonetheless, we will be back for the dogs and their people. I’m just switching to beer is all I’m sayin’.
Doggy Happy Hour is held at the Hotel Monaco each Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., April-October.