What: A schmoozy cocktail reception to celebrate the reopening of power-dining spot the Palm, which was closed this summer for renovations.
Where: The Palm, 1225 19th St., NW
When: Thursday, October 11, 6:30 to 9:30 PM
Who: There were more power players on the walls—the likes of George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Larry King—than roaming the floor, but the event did draw longtime CBS anchor Bob Schieffer; Democratic pundit James Carville with wife and former Bush aide Mary Matalin; Hardball’s Chris Matthews and his wife, former Channel 7 anchor Kathleen Matthews, now with Marriott; Examiner gossip columnist Patrick Gavin; CNN White House correspondents Ed Henry and Suzanne Malveaux; and a brief swing-by from DC mayor Adrian Fenty. New faces to the Palm walls of fame include Schieffer, Fenty, lobbyist Tommy Boggs, Channel 4 sports anchor Lindsay Czarniak, and gossip gurus Jeff DuFour of the Examiner and Anne Schroeder of Politico.
Food: Guests waited in a long line to snag oysters and crab from a small seafood station and in a shorter crush to fill their plates with crudités, fruit, and cheese. Waiters offered similarly uninspired appetizers, including tomato-mozzarella skewers and spring rolls.
Drink: Flutes of Napa Valley’s Mumm sparkling wine greeted partygoers, who then hopped between a Glenlivet Scotch bar in the front of the restaurant and a martini bar in the back.
Scene: Despite the Palm’s now-larger digs—including an expanded bar and an enclosed patio whose floor-to-ceiling windows can be opened in nice weather—guests had to push and wriggle past one another to snatch hors d’oeuvres and find wandering dates. Standing-room-only tables were a hot commodity, and the few booths in the back? Forget about it. But those who elbowed past the bar to the patio got more breathing room, a view of a showy palm-tree ice sculpture—and an easy exit if they wanted. Many, including Carville, took their conversations to the sidewalk instead.
Boldface names: 3.5 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 1 (out of 5)
Food and drink: 2 (out of 5)
Exclusivity: 3 (out of 5)
Total score: 9.5 (out of 20)