The Dish: trout filet with two sides

The Location: The Majestic by Gwen Restaurant and Lounge, 1368 H St. NE, (202) 388-1204

The Price: $7.15

The Skinny: The guy in the black suit and blazing-red shirt, unbuttoned around the collar, is toting speakers and other equipment onto the corner stage at the Majestic by Gwen, one of the few legit sit-down restaurants on H Street NE. I assume he’s with the band, but a few minutes later, his partner asks me if I’m going to stick around for karaoke. “I wish, but I have to head out soon,” I say, and both statements are true. I love listening to folks butcher pop songs, and I do have to leave. But before the karaoke begins, the promoters pop in some vintage tunes; Bonnie Raitt starts wrapping her voice around one of the saddest songs I know: “‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t / You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t.” It’s not even 6 p.m., and there’s only a few people in the restaurant-—-including Gwen Reese herself, in a tan sweat suit——-but they all start singing along to the bluesy ballad. Somebody stops to give Bonnie her props: “That girl can sing!” And just like that, I’m transported back to some of my happiest dining memories at Texas juke joints, washing down fresh fried catfish with a cold bottle of Miller High Life. Gwen’s fried trout filet—-—a day too old, perhaps, and overfried——-can’t compare to memory, but her collards are piquant and her mac-and-cheese toothsome. But, frankly, the food is almost beside the point. This place makes me feel good, down to my blues-loving soul.

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