On Friday night I was meeting a girlfriend for dinner and we wanted to try something new. Neither of us had been to Dickson Wine Bar on 9th and U yet, so we decided to head over for an early dinner and drinks. The bar itself is unassuming from the outside-- its a brick rowhouse that does not have a prominent sign out front so it takes close examining to ensure you are at the right place. The interior has an minimalist feel with wine bottles adorning the walls and wooden perches for people to stand at while they drink. The space is open and airy and has an inviting feel upon first entrance. There are three floors to Dickson Wine Bar-- the main level when you walk in has a bar and some spots to linger, the downstairs has many tables with stools to sit and hang out for awhile, and the upstairs which is technically the dining room where they seat you if you'd like to eat and have table service. Let me just say that I was a little thrown by the fact that the main level does not have any seats. I saw many people ordering banh mi's and other food while drinking their wines and standing up against the wooden counters. I found it to look uncomfortable and awkward, and can only imagine it was worse for them. We waited a bit while having a glass of wine until our "table" was ready upstairs.
We were seated at a ledge... literally the ledge that overlooks the main level with bar stools. It made me quite uneasy as it felt like at any moment either one of us could by mistake knock our glass over and it would likely fall to the level below and maybe hit someone in the head. The wooden ledge itself which acted as our table was incredibly thin, and so thin that many of the plates that were delivered didn't fit evenly so it created a bit of a balancing act to ensure our food didn't fall on the ground. I kept saying to my friend Lauren that it might be challenging for anyone other than a dainty female to eat gracefully in this place. However, I was willing to stay positive in the midst of the imperfections because Dickson is quite a cute place and I always wish that we had more wine bars around because I enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.
We ordered three cheeses and three meats to start the meal and the portions were plentiful. They were served with bread and crackers, and we loved the three chutneys that came with the cheese plate. This was a good start and things were starting to look up for the rest of the meal. However, it turned out that we probably should have just stuck to wine and cheese as the rest of the food fell short. The chicken banh mi was very good with a little bit of a kick to it, but the mushroom flatbread was lacking in flavor even though it claimed to have truffle oil. We didn't even finish it and I found myself wanting more cheese.
Dickson Wine Bar is the kind of place I might stop in for a drink before heading to dinner on U Street, but I think the food and logistics of the space have some complications that make it less than ideal. I know Dickson is already a popular spot so I think I'm outnumbered on this one. Call me old fashioned, but I like a table and chairs.