in good company

~ This is the seventh in a series of posts about Presidential Food


Important things can happen in a tavern.

Random, fun, history-making, world-changing important things.

Like resting from a long day of travel and savoring a good meal with friends, dancing the night away in the ballroom, or attending a musical or theatrical performance. While you’re there, why not meet with other like-minded people to plan a revolution?

Our founding fathers certainly found Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia, to be the place. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, it was the political, business and social center of the city. Its reputation as an elegantly appointed establishment attracted many of the important political figures of the day.

Gadsby’s is actually two buildings; 1785 tavern on the left, 1792 City Hotel on the right, which houses the restaurant, and was considered a skyscraper back in the day.

Washington headquartered here during the revolution, and delivered his farewell address to his soldiers on the front steps at war’s end. Jefferson’s inaugural dinner and ball took place here. In fact, our first five Presidents all spent time here, chatting about America over their rum punch and Madeira.

Third floor ballroom; 5 Presidents partied here.

Photos © Office of Historic Alexandria

No public building in America is more intimately associated with the struggle for independence and establishment of national sovereignty.

Recently, Len and I were lucky enough to be invited to dine at Gadsby’s. It was our third time there, and always a treat. The tavern has been beautifully restored and features Colonial fare served by knowledgeable “in character” servers.

Colonial hottie sets our table.

Frank, a professor from Ohio, and Liz, our hostess.

I had the seafood plate (rockfish, shrimp and scallops).

Len had the gentleman’s pie.

Mr. John Hall, an urbane raconteur and minstrel, delighted everyone with his rollicking and bawdy wit. He wandered from table to table, greeting visitors with tidbits about life in the 18th century. I asked him if Mr. Jefferson had been by lately, and he said he had not seen the President for some time, as he had been in seclusion over matters of State.

Mr. Hall regaled us with “Greensleeves.”

Mr. Hall couldn’t take me up on my engagement offer because of his “wife of 26 year.”

A quick glance around the room proved interesting, too — I saw Sara Zarr and Sameera Righton look-alikes, a man with an ill-fitting wig, and a woman who had stolen my necklace. We reluctantly called it a night, disappointed at not seeing Lafayette or John Paul Jones.

I think I should collect Colonial taverns; it’s so much fun imagining people of yore gathering, noshing, celebrating, gossiping, and debating, while cooking up a recipe for a new nation. What those walls must have heard! Merriment and a mission.

*Photo of Gadsby’s exterior by Dmadeo, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

13 thoughts on “in good company

  1. wow, I want to eat there! I am seriously jealous…it is generally open to the public? You mentioned being “invited” to dine there…or is it just used for parties and events?


  2. Re: Mmmmmmm

    Ooh! I love Colonial Williamsburg. Haven’t been down there in awhile. It’s so beautiful during the holiday season with all the fresh greenery and decorations. Several great taverns there, too. My favorite is Christiana Campbell’s.

    Hope you get there sometime, and thanks for visiting, Kim!


  3. No, it’s open to the public for lunch and dinner. We were just lucky this time, since it was Liz’ treat. I think they also do private parties, too, though. And you can tour the original tavern (which is a museum) next door.


  4. How fun! And yum, that food looks good!

    Ooh ooh–and about your last post…(I really must list you as a favorite so I don’t forget to visit!)
    You won’t believe this…My three year old neighbor across the street sleeps with an Obama bobblehead and has for the last year. She can’t go to sleep unless she’s cuddling it. We went over for dinner on election night and her little brother Harry said his first word. Guess what it was? O-ba-ma! Really! His parents had only been coaching him for two months straight!


  5. What fun! Thanks for sharing your night out with us.

    Is that a lute Mr. Hall is playing? I’m not always on top of my stringed instruments.



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