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  • Reservations Recommended

    Restaurant Review ~ DC Boathouse / 5441 MacArthur Blvd., NW

    Driving by the sparkling waters of the Potomac on a cheery and sunny spring day inspires dreams of boating on its waters. A lot of DCers and others share the same idea, apparently — in kayaks, canoes, and rowboats. Watching those activities should inspire boaters and all others to stop by for a meal at this family-owned restaurant in the Palisades.

    While it is not on the banks of the river, its whole atmosphere is very boat- and water-centric. Almost every inch of space and décor–including two kayaks hanging from the ceiling — speaks volumes about boating’s popularity in the area. Even the dozens of tee shirts that refer to boating teams decorate the walls. And an upside-down rowboat by the front door acts as a menu holder. It is impossible not to get the message: boats rule.

    The menu of such a water-centric eatery does offer its fair share of water-appropriate dishes, from crab dip and fried calamari appetizers to crab cake sandwiches and grilled tuna or Atlantic salmon entrées. In addition, the owners do offer numerous other basic American meat plates, from hamburgers and cheeseburgers to grilled steaks, pasta and chicken-based entrées. Patrons can even indulge in whole or half racks of baby back ribs.

    For all those embracing the idea of boating and of the Potomac, why not enjoy seafood-based dishes? A tempting starter is the array of five crunchy, fried coconut-crusted shrimp with a sweet-spicy dipping sauce. Tasty, indeed, though the kitchen should include at least one more to the dish. One other shrimp dish and two crab-based offerings also brighten the appetizers section. Landlubbers can choose from mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, and chicken tenders.

    Main dish options include entrée salads with steak, chicken, or Albacore tuna, or a Greek or Caesar salad. Skipping down to other main dishes brings in the sandwich selection: burgers, of course, but also steak and cheese subs; a spicy Sicilian sausage sandwich; a turkey or Boathouse Reuben; and ham and provolone rolls.

    But take heart: if you want a sandwich-based entrée with its seafood focus, you can order a tuna melt, a crab cake sandwich, or a crab cake Reuben. The last seems tempting enough, for sure, but the chef needs to add more crab meat to make it really crabby; the flavors are good, however.

    The kitchen offers daily specials and has drawn up a brunch menu that includes the standards of pancake, French toast, sausage and eggs, and eggs Benedict. Patrons can also browse the wine and drinks menus while figuring out what to eat at lunch, dinner, or brunch. By the way, for those wondering about the various Greek-inspired dishes, the answer is that the owners are of Greek heritage.

    DC Boathouse / Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11am–10 pm; Sun. to 9pm. (202) 362-2628.

     

    Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.