- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2002

The first impression upon entering the swinging double doors at Fado, on Seventh and H streets NW, is of a college beer-drinking dive. Lots of small, round, wooden, crumb-covered tables. A faint spilled-beer stickiness to the floor. A long bar stretching off to the left. A round table nestled up against a banquette under one of the street-front windows.
But go a little farther into the restaurant and it becomes more cavernlike and much cozier. The restaurant is broken into several different areas for dining and drinking, with a fireplace warming the atmosphere in one of the rooms to the rear.
The stone and concrete walls hold pictures of simple scenes of the Irish countryside and old-timey pictures of Irish folk of another era. Cupboards are loaded up with Irish-flavor bric-a-brac, crockery, pottery, farming implements, tins and other tchotchkes to give the restaurant an Old Country feel. The wood-planked floors and rough-hewn, slatted barrels standing around the room add to the feel.
Sit toward the back of the place, relax and enjoy. Fado is an excellent escape from the cold. It envelopes you with dreams of distant lands where people are laid back, and feeds you with Irish meals and whatever is on tap.
The menu at Fado's is partly drawn from rib-sticking dishes such as shepherd's pie and boxty, which is described as a traditional Irish meal. It's a rolled potato pancake stuffed with a variety of fillings, including seafood, steak and portobello mushrooms, vegetable or a chicken and sausage combination.
The fish items on the menu tend toward salmon, which is served smoked as an appetizer, grilled as a sandwich, or marinated and sesame-encrusted served on a bed of rice and vegetables as an entree.
The smoked salmon is an excellent choice for an appetizer at Fado's. Tender and fresh, the fish is served with insanely hot horseradish, vinegary capers, a bit of lettuce salad, chopped onion and several slices of wheat bread.
Although it resembles any British Isles-type restaurant in terms of food choices, Fado has gone out of its way to make its own dishes more authentic. Boxty aside, the shepherd's pie, for instance, was different than most other to be had in town as its potato crust was thinner, the meat is in chunks rather than ground, and there's a lot more gravy.
The ambience at Fado's is warm. Homey and heated by the fireplace, the restaurants is filled with folk and modern Irish music. The more recognizable tunes particularly call one to order Guinness or a shandy. (Though exciting that they make the hard-to-find locally shandy, the brew resembles plain light beer a bit too much, rather than a lager mixed with lemonade.)
For a late lunch on a week day, Fado is pretty empty. A table of Frenchmen consultants, based on a limited knowledge of French ate, drank and were merry. A smaller group of high school girls occupied another table, and much more quietly discussed typically girl problems.
Service was good and the food was brought to the table promptly.
Overall, Fado seems a perfect place for a brainstorming meeting over lunch. But it's down-to-earth atmosphere may be too relaxed for a job interview or deal-signing meeting.

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