Another eve of adventures in the Atlas District/H Street neighborhood (is there consensus on a preferred name for this strip yet?) brought me to the exotic Fruit Bat, located on the north side of H between 12th and 13th Streets NE.
The dark but colorful lighting and brown walls of this South/Central American themed bar evokes images of rainforest huts and lush green foliage—a welcome contrast to the concrete of H St. NE. The place was crowded at 9 p.m. on a Friday before heading to the Atlas Theatre to take in the Best of DC Shorts 2010.
Menus hang from hooks on the wall—a clever way to advertise offerings, except when the crowd is sizeable enough that a tall gentleman must reach over a table of fellow drinkers to get it for you. The seating arrangement offers regular tables, bar tables and wooden platforms protruding from the walls, adding nicely to the themed décor, which consists of colorful hanging plants and fruits. The music reinforced the hip atmosphere with reggae-infused jazz. Fruit Bat is replete with pleasing aesthetics.
What did leave a drinker wanting was the service. A poorly-placed, large swing door to the bar set the tone for getting our drinks—awkward. The only open table was protruding a few feet from the wooden culprit, so we watched and scooted around as the (apparently) only server darted in and out, in and out, without ever managing to actually get any service. We tried to get the attention of either the server or bartender for upwards of 20 minutes without success.
The drinks are a strong delight. Passion Fruit Caiprowska was sweet but not too sweet and had me quickly forgetting my irritation with the wait. The Dark Knight was equally delectable. Standard mixed drinks off the cocktail menu are generously poured. The drinks are acceptably priced for premium cocktails and slightly less expensive than the bar’s upstairs neighbor, Church and State.
We all enjoyed our sweet nectar, Fruit Bat style.
After midnight, Fruit Bat morphs into a mini dance bar complete with a live DJ! The crowd had largely dispersed, or perhaps the space created by removing the tables and pushing the chairs to the wall just made the group in the bar look smaller. Ordering drinks was much easier this time, but I did not enjoy my Lychee Caipirinha. It was just off, tasting more like a cheap margarita than anything else, and was too strong. Based on what I tasted earlier in the evening though, this unfortunate drink was the exception and not the rule.
By and large, Fruit Bat is a hot little spot that I will most certainly frequent again. Next time, I’m trying the much ballyhooed build-your-own-drink menu and the yummy looking South American fare.
Written by guest columnist Marie Francis. Follow Marie on Twitter.