- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2004

Washington is getting a taste of Tinseltown on Oscar night.

Local restaurants and hotels hope to cash in on the 76th Annual Academy Awards tomorrow with everything from cinematic cocktails and entertaining entrees honoring Oscar nominees to overnight stays that treat guests like Hollywood stars.

“People in general are discerning about their discretionary dollars, so we have to provide more of a reason for them to spend them,” said Natalie Juenger, marketing and public relations executive at Capital Restaurant Concepts, which operates several restaurants including Paolo’s. “More than ever we have to look for every kind of opportunity.”

Paolo’s is rolling out the red carpet for its second annual Oscar party at its locations in Georgetown and Reston with special menus and Oscar ballots.

Paolo’s in Georgetown will sell cornmeal-crusted fried jumbo onions called “Lord of the Onion Rings” for $6.95 and “Pirates of the Caribbean Shrimp: the Curse of the Pearl Pasta,” which is Caribbean jerk shrimp with pearl pasta tossed with grilled pineapple and finished with a spiced rum coconut cream for $19.95.

Paolo’s in Reston will have specialties such as “We Found Nemo,” baked catfish stuffed with brie and spinach atop Parmesan risotto and sauteed snow peas for $14.95.

Ms. Juenger said the company has spent the past year and a half trying to re-energize the Paolo’s brand.

“An event like the Oscars gives us an opportunity to go further with that,” she said.

Plenty of other area restaurants and bars are taking advantage of Oscar’s glitz and glamour, too.

“I can tell you this, the front bar music will be down and the volume of the TV will be up,” said Chris Genor, general manager at Clyde’s in Georgetown.

Clyde’s will continue its years-long tradition of hosting an Oscar pool. In addition to its regular Sunday special of half-price bottles of wine, Clyde’s will reward winners of the pool with prizes such as gift certificates.

“It’s interesting to see —everyone has a bottle of wine and is having a good time,” Mr. Genor said.

Bars have concocted cocktails honoring the Oscar extravaganza:

• The bar inside Hotel Rouge on 16th Street in Northwest is serving the “Blazing Biscuit” in honor of “Seabiscuit,” a mix of Blavod vodka, Stoli Razberi vodka, Bols black raspberry liqueur, lime juice and Red Bull for $7.

• The Circle Bistro at One Washington Circle Hotel will start the Oscar celebration at 7 p.m. tomorrow with its drink of the night: “Lord of the Circle” — a martini with Stoli Citros, orange juice and vermouth garnished with a lemon peel ring for $8.

• The Hay-Adams’ Off the Record is offering a slew of silver screen specialty drinks from the “Lawbreaker,” in honor of best actor nominee Jude Law to the “Hazemaker,” saluting “House of Sand and Fog” and “Mystic River.”

The Fairmont Washington D.C. has created the “Mystic Martini,” a $12 mix of Hpnotiq liquor, Galliano and Grey Goose vodka, garnished with Chocolate River sticks. The drink has been offered since the end of the past week, and more than 50 have been sold.

In addition to the movie martini, the hotel bar is handing out ballots for people to choose the winners for best picture, best actor and best actress. The person with all the correct winners will receive a weekend for two at the hotel. In the event of more than one winner, the hotel will have a drawing to determine who gets the prize. The hotel has received about 100 ballots.

“It’s just something fun for our guests,” said Kevin Blake, director of food and beverage at the Fairmont.

For those staying over on Oscar night, the Hamilton Crowne Plaza on 14th and K streets has created the “Hamilton Stars” package for $169. The package, only available tomorrow night, includes an overnight stay, champagne, chocolate, popcorn and a novel from one of the five films nominated for best picture.

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