Of course there was a red carpet at last night’s opening party for STK. The swanky “Not Your Daddy’s” steakhouse “geared toward females” officially opens today in Dupont in what was once a California Pizza Kitchen (as well as Casa Nonna). But yesterday, D.C.’s wannabe glamazons, pseudo-celebs, rich dudes, and lowly food writers such as myself showed up at the promise of passed hors d’oeuvres and free booze.
I arrive around 15 minutes early to find a line already stretching down the street. As everyone waits for the staff behind the velvet rope to make sure we were “on the list,” some hot models wearing short skirts and midriff-baring shirts hand out temporary tattoos with puckered lips and the STK logo.
Suddenly, an imposing security guard in a suit pulls none other than Dan Silverman of PoPville out of the line. Apparently, he’s not dressed up enough in his jeans and collared plaid shirt. Don’t they know that’s the PRINCE? I’m also wearing jeans and start to wonder if I’ll be yanked out of line next. But I remind myself of nightlife rule No. 1: Always let in the chicks. It takes a publicist intervention, but the security guard eventually lets the Prince in too.
After dodging a photographer taking red carpet photos, I head straight to the bar. The back wall is covered in horns that someone compares to a close-up of a cat’s tongue. I get a cocktail called Green Intensity with vodka, lime juice, basil, and serrano chile—spicy, but good. (This is my second time sampling STK’s drinks; they visited Washington City Paper‘s offices last week to hand out cocktails.) Time to scope out the room: rounded banquettes ripe for bottle service hug the wall. Bed-like lounge seating in the shape of a bowling pin occupies the center of the room.
Before long, it starts to get crowded. Very crowded. I can’t move without bumping into some guy with well-manicured facial hair or elbowing some woman in a black dress (which, let’s face it, is pretty much everyone). My colleague Jenny Rogers is waylaid for 15 minutes in the bathroom—it was monopolized by a woman in a romper. Despite its lady focus, yes, STK had only one bathroom stall available for its female patrons on opening night. (The second stall was out of order.)
Beginning to feel claustrophobic, I spot an open area across the room. But it turns out the reason it’s less crowded over there is because it’s the VIP section. Another guy in a suit turns me away. Until (!) a publicist appears. I’m in. Suddenly, I’m standing next to tech millionaire Michael Saylor, Washington Kastles owner/millionaire Mark Ein, and some guys I’m pretty sure are professional basketball players. Oh hey, isn’t that Reggie Love?
By this time, I’m starving, and the platters of sliders keep passing me by. I eye a dozen unattended burgers and go in. “Sorry, that’s for our table,” a woman says of a completely empty table.
So I leave. And go to Shake Shack.
Photos by Jenny Rogers and Laura Hayes