NATIONAL HARBOR, March 7, 2013 ― Conservatives in dark suits, in dark paneled rooms. Opinion and policy makers standing ready to help shape tomorrow. Strategists plotting a return to power and the political transformation of America.
But first, it is time for a good steak.
And a strong cup of tea. Tea Party Conservatives can discretely celebrate their chance to consult with the like-minded over Bond 45’s prohibition-era style libations served masquerading as the drink of the temperance set, tea.
At Shelly Fireman’s Bond 45 Prime Steak and Seafood at National Harbor, the intoxicating, earthy aroma of big steaks fills the air like the intoxicating scent of politics. It is accompanied by the more delicate scent of smooth amber scotch, poured over crystal-clear ice.
Dishes laden with fresh choices from the antipasti and salad bars arrive at the table, followed by platters bearing perfectly grilled meat. The warm, bright pink interiors of the steaks are cloaked in the rich dark - dare we say conservative? - suits of their grilled exteriors.
The drinks are strong. The staff are friendly, attentive and ready to please. It is a total luxury dining experience. It makes one proud to be on the red (meat) side of the aisle.
As they enter the restaurant, patrons stroll past the open air kitchen. Servers move expertly around guests who stop dead in their tracks to “ooh” and “ahh” at the aged steaks, mounds of house-made mozzarella and bruatta cheeses, and antipasti that include Sopressata, Bresaola, and Prosciutto di Parma.
The polished wood and dark hues absorb ambient light and sound to create a subdued and elegantly welcoming environment, even when the restaurant is bustling and busy. The effect is as classy as William Buckley.
Walking through the restaurant, you can’t help but notice the incredible art work hanging from the walls. The owner, Mr. Fireman, hand picks each piece; most of them come from “starving artists.
There are some incredible pieces – creative, vibrant work that might not otherwise have been seen by an appreciative audience. For the art lover, this lifts a great dining experience to another level, as if you joined Mitt Romney for dinner and Ron Paul dropped in to chat – class joined by excitement.
The food at Bond 45 isn’t just steaks. Some of it is positively fun, stepping away from the strictly traditional Italian style. Chef Jason Mayle keeps dinner lively with dishes like the Fravioli Grandi, large (and by large I mean a healthy 4” x 2”), fried ravioli stuffed with mozzarella and stracchino cheese, then wrapped in a paper thin slice of Prosciutto de Parma. The combination is even smarter than Charles Krauthammer.
Not to be missed are the delicacies from the Mozzarella bar. A brilliant choice is the Burratta Mozzarella – a shell of fresh mozzarella with a pocket of softer mozzarella and rich cream – that when opened becomes a remarkable, buttery mixture. Eat it with fresh, peppery arugula or spread on a piece of crisp bread.
Steaks are either 28-day dry aged, or organic grass-fed. Many are large enough to serve two, particularly when paired with one of the restaurant’s incredible salad choices, including flavored roasted beets and asparagus with arugula, or a walnuts and gorgonzola salad.
When asked what makes for the perfect steak, manager Sean Michael says without missing a step, “A real good grill man …” Chef Jason fills that role perfectly; the platter he sent to our table had sliced pieces of T-Bone and Rib Eye, both of them grilled to perfection.
A steakhouse staple are the rich sauces people often slather atop their steaks. No sauces are required here, as the meat has depth of flavor, is perfectly “juicy,” and feels perfectly smooth and unctuous to the mouth. There are, however, toppings of Gorgonzola, Maine lobster, and jumbo lump crab along with Bernaise or Hollandaise sauces are available if you want that extra level of richness.
I’ll beg the pardon of those who like sauce on their steaks, but I am a purist. I enjoyed the steaks, with their occasional bursts of sea salt, with nothing more than a bit of peppery arugula and crisp parsley. It may sound odd, but instead of pushing it aside, take a taste of arugula with your next perfect bite. You can say thank you at CPAC, and you will be able to find me at Bond 45.
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