Smoke {The Old Sage}


Two years. That’s how long it’s been since I did the thing I swore I wouldn’t do with this blog. I let it rot in space. Of course, I have a whole host of reasons why… work, lack of time, too much travel. Travel really did play a part. For a while, we went from trip to trip and it felt more like a travel blog. That was never the point. Even more than that, though, I just got a little bored. Feeling bored almost felt like a betrayal.

There have still been Thursday night dinners, some more memorable than others, but all in good company. About six months ago, I started taking food photos again. I’ve started five or six posts and scrapped them all. No matter how good the meal, all felt flat, bland, and contrived (my writing, not the food). Last week, though, on our way home, we stopped at the Old Sage for happy hour. Just a few minutes after sitting down at the bar, I realized what was wrong with the other posts. Over the last two years, I’d forgotten that the food, no matter how amazing, is just one small piece of the experience. I knew it, but I’d forgotten what it felt like.

The Old Sage opened in Capitol Hill a couple of years ago in the space rather abruptly abandoned by the Local Vine. It’s a barstaurant (I know, I hate that word too, but it fits) focused on whiskey and meat… In other words, B’s promised land.

We had cocktails there twice before, once before dinner at Osteria la Spiga with my cousins and once after dinner at Osteria la Spiga with B’s brother. The cocktails are great – well crafted, served in glassware with as much heft as the price tag. On both visits, we glanced at the menu and mentally committed to coming back for food.

B just left on a business trip to Malaysia. I’m really, really not thrilled about it. He’s headed to a relatively small area on unfamiliar airlines. Normally I’d be excited for this adventure for him, but it’s harder to be excited about this one. All of this is to say that we thought the Old Sage would be a good way to spend some of our limited downtime before his departure.

The environment of the Old Sage is decidedly masculine. Dark woodsy tones, a heavy bar laden with scotch and whiskey bottles, a massive mural of a steam engine, and a potbelly fireplace all lend texture and tone to the atmosphere. The heady scents of peat and wood smoke impart a sensual depth on the whole scene.

As we usually do, B and I chose a few things to share. We were fairly certain we over-ordered, but just couldn’t narrow our choices.


From the friendly staff to the cocktails to the burger to the frozen chocolate mousse, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal, but more than that, we enjoyed our time. I’m skipping most of the photos because I’m apparently out of practice and they came out terrible, but everything we ordered was photo-worthy. We shared the Beef Short Rib, the Old Sage Burger, Red Chili Beef Flatbread, and the Frozen Chocolate Mousse. It really isn’t about the photos or even the specifics of the food anyway. It’s more about remembering why it isn’t just about the food.



The food is important, of course. Without the quality ingredients, unique flavors, and thoughtful presentation, there is no experience, but it definitely isn’t about eating. Rather, it’s about how the thought and consideration that go into the food create a powerful and emotive focal point for our senses, giving our minds time to rest and unwind. And that is absolutely worth every calorie.


The Old Sage on Urbanspoon


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