The first decision you have to make at Camelot Show Bar is the same one you have to make at any restaurant, even the ones without naked women dancing on a stage: What do you want to drink? It’s the question that the tall blonde in the skimpy bikini underwear has just put to me. The urge to order alcohol is high. It may be 1 p.m. outside, but deep in the bowels of this dark, clubby M Street NW skin parlor, it feels like it could be 1 a.m. And you’re way behind on your buzz.
But I have an overly developed sense of shame. I can’t look at naked women and drink. So I tell the waitress that I want water.
“Sure, one bottled water,” she says and immediately walks away before I can correct her. Still, sparkling, or tap are apparently not options offered at Camelot. It’s bottled or nothing.
The bikini waitress drops off the smallest bottle of Evian I’ve ever seen, along with a tiny wine glass filled with ice and two straws. I can’t tell exactly from the scribbles on my final bill how much I paid for the water, but it appears to be somewhere in the $6 to $7 neighborhood.
It’s going to be a long lunch.
I’ve ordered the jerk chicken “chef’s special” with the idea that, if I’m really going to judge a dish coming out of the Camelot kitchen, it might as well be something that the head cook at least claims to have developed himself. As a lark, I ordered a side of onion rings, fairly certain that they would be Sysco‘s finest.
My lunch took forever to reach me. I had sit through one stripper after another after another while the kitchen pretended they were busier than Ray’s Hell Burgers on a Saturday night. This tactic, of course, has its desired effect: You feel compelled to do something while you sit there watching naked women climbing brass poles for your enjoyment. You either give them a buck here and there or wait for the dude sporting the oversized Polo shirt and nasty grimace to shake that fucking cash out of you himself.
I almost breathe a sigh of relief when the bikini girl brings my lunch. She tries to place the plates on the table without her boobs falling out of her skimpy green bra. Her technique has all the grace of a construction worker with a jackhammer.
The chicken is surrounded with sides: mashed potatoes (one step up from the boxed variety), wilted greens (bitter, a little spicy, and passable), and a large chunk of a hard, pasty baguette. The thick breast meat (of course!) is surprisingly juicy. I was expecting a hard, dry brick of overcooked chicken, but this breast is moist, even at its thickest sections. It also packs spice and heat, more than I thought the kitchen would serve the typically middle-aged clientele that waddles into the Camelot. The meat wasn’t grilled, like genuine jerk chicken should be, but baked instead. No matter, I was pleased to savor something without feeling guilty.
Oh, and those rings? Totally from Sysco, or some other food-service giant.