The number of meals I have at Jewish-themed restaurants is sometimes overwhelming (2 in the past 55 days…).
On November 30, 2011, I took my Canadian date to a sumptuous meal at DISTRIKT Bistro — DC’s newest kosher restaurant (see my review here).
Unfazed by this Jewish culinary outing, I lunched on Sunday at Star and Shamrock Tavern and Deli, 1341 H Street, NE.
I’ve been meaning to try Star and Shamrock for a long time. It opened in early 2011, but my interest was really piqued when the Washington Post mentioned both Star and Shamrock and GTJ in this December article on young DC Jews.
Better late than never!
From the outside, Star and Shamrock could not be better. A tavern-style sign bears a giant Star of David with an Irish clover in the middle. If that doesn’t draw your attention, then the restaurant’s storefront title surely will: “Star” — written in what looks like Irish characters — and “Shamrock” — written in what looks like Hebrew characters. So great.
Almost by definition, the inside couldn’t be as good as the outside, but it was still pretty solid. The restaurant features a Jewish-style deli and an Irish-style pub. All of your favorite deli sandwiches are there: Corned beef, pastrami, beef brisket, liverwurst, etc. Other Jewish staples also make appearances throughout the menu: Latkes, reubens, Hebrew National franks, Jewish rye bread, etc. (see the menu here)
Lame as I am, I went with a tuna sandwich, but my date — a tall brunette (**) with an obsession for yogurt, tennis, and model rockets — was a bit more adventuresome and ordered the Latke Madness: “3 potato pancakes, hot corned beef, griddle sauerkraut, swiss.”
I finished my sandwich quickly in the hopes of trying a bit of the Latke Madness. It worked. I got to try it. “And it was good.” (Genesis 1:31) My date, admittedly a picky eater, praised the food in less divine terms, but still gave it a thumbs up.
Beyond the deli sandwiches, Star and Shamrock is also a place to drink (drink menu), watch sports (lots of TVs), and socialize. On Monday nights, S&S hosts a trivia night; Tuesday night is kids eat free night (defined by age, not maturity level… damn!); and Thursday night has live music (see full “Happenings” list).
I would have liked a stronger Jewish theme to the restaurant. As it is, Judaism is limited to the exterior, the menu, and the menorahs on the mantel. Perhaps this is best for attracting the non-Jewish customer, but I was definitely disappointed when I got a “no” upon asking the waiter if I could answer Jewish trivia for a discount (I guess that’s the Mr. Yogato in me). There’s also the fact that the restaurant is NOT kosher, which of course detracts from the Jewishness of the place, though I can hardly blame the owners given my own experience with the Kosher process. (Speaking of kosher food… Maoz recently closed, so we’re back to just two NW kosher restaurants)
The other problem is the obvious one: location. I can count the number of times I’ve been to NE on two hands, and most GTJ readers are similarly ensconced in NW. I haven’t explored how to get around the metro limitation — I would imagine Mike Weinberg knows of a bus that goes to H Street, NE — so for now, the only times I’ll go to S&S are when I can bum a ride.
But overall, the restaurant is very solid and definitely worth checking out if you’re on H Street, NE.
Our meal, with tip, wound up costing $30 — probably about average for a $10 sandwich shop.
In true Twenty First Century fashion, we split the bill.
To learn more about the restaurant and the owners Jewish/Irish background, see this Washington Post review.
I emailed the owner to get more information on the restaurant and to see if GTJ readers can have a discount, but I am impatient and didn’t want to wait to post this. I will update the post when he replies.
(*) Though I am a redheaded Jew, I’m only 1/8 Irish, and the red hair probably doesn’t come from that side of the family…
(**) My date’s self-described hair color: “A luxurious blend of mahogany and chestnut.”