"I used to drive by on my way home from work and wonder, "What sort of place is this?" and always wanted to try it. A part of my job is writing restaurant and food reviews, the requirement being that they are older than 25 years. So, for my most recent column in the magazine, I finally checked out Thistle Dew, as it is located in a house built in 1894.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre is located within a voluminous structure that sits majestically at the corner of 19th and P Streets. The building, a Victorian house, was constructed in 1894 and accommodates three successful businesses: the Dessert Theatre, Gina's Caffe, and a law office. The theatre itself is located in the basement, and showcases plays on Friday and Saturday evenings. To sweeten the deal, literally, patrons get a dessert of their choice in the dining area during the play's intermission. After the refreshments, the play resumes within the theatre area.
On the evening I visited Thistle Dew, I previewed the two act show "The Butterfly Within," written by one of the theatre's proprietors. Having never been to a "dessert" theatre, I was unsure what to expect. I got into a line to receive my admission, then was invited to have a beverage of my choice, or to purchase a glass of wine for $6. (Both white and red wine are available and the glasses poured are very generous for the price.) I was then directed to sit wherever I liked inside the theatre. I was surprised at the petite dimensions of the venue, and how close patrons sit to the limited performance area. The benefit of the size, though, is that there is not a bad seat in the theatre, and one is able to hear lines being read without any amplification.
During the two-hour (Jesus, God it was painful) presentation's intermission, I followed the other guests to the lobby and dining area to receive the dessert portion of the theatre experience (included in the ticket price). I was given a choice of coffee, tea, or water to drink, and then got into a buffet-type line to pick a dessert. The selections that evening included apple pie, a chocolate torte, tiramisu, cheesecake and ice cream. Plates were also copiously being served a la mode. The desserts are not made in-house, but still seemed to satiate customers, hungry from watching the first act of the play.
I looked around to see the last morsels of chocolate cake and the crumbs of pastry being scraped from plates. Soon after, I returned to the theatre area with my stunning mystery companion and the rest of the crowd to see the remaining act.
Following the play, I spoke with the owners of the establishment. They purchased the Victorian together in 1993. The house suffered a fire in 1996, but after years of hard restoration work, it is as grand as it was originally built. The theatre within it shines weekly, hosting playwright workshops on Monday evenings, and play productions on the weekends.
The wine cost/serving size.
The concept of the place.
The beautiful house it is in.
The petite-ness of the theatre area itself. Which can also be a bad thing:
1. Claustrophobics beware.
2. A much older crowd.
3. The owners decide on your portion of dessert. And it's sort of uneven that way, as they are trying to rush and serve everyone in a small amount of time.
4. Wine is extra $$$
5. Ticket price is $22. Kind of steep for non-professional productions.
6. The play itself.
The Ugly: My most scathing thing to report is:
Desserts are not made in house! To me that would be the most charming thing ABOUT a DESSERT theatre. They appear to be purchased from Safeway and/or Costco/Sam's Club, as was the Ice Cream Tub that was being served. I am such a freaking food snob, I bathed in my second glass of fairly OK wine instead of scooping any sugary GRUB into my face.
2.5 Sparklies outta 5 Sparklies. I probably won't be back unless I take my mom there, because she would probably enjoy it.