Mad Rose Tavern to Bring High-End Drinking to the Masses

by ARLnow.com February 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm 4,676 91 Comments

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Mad Rose Tavern, a new restaurant and watering hole coming soon to Clarendon, will be many things to many people.

It is a Modern American-style restaurant with Irish, Italian, French and Asian influences. It is a restaurant, bar and lounge that will have extensive outdoor seating. It is a place to get small plates and half bottles of wine, or hearty entrees and tall glasses of beer. What it is not, according to dining room manager Scott Arnold, is a place where only the wealthy will be able to enjoy the finer things in life.

“We’re going to be providing a high-end product at a moderate price,” Arnold said enthusiastically. “I want to give you the best freaking product out there, within reason, for the same price everybody else is charging for crap.”

The best example of Arnold’s luxury-for-the-masses concept is wine. He says the restaurant is going to great lengths to have the best wine available for any price. But the biggest difference will be with high-end wines. Instead of marking a wine that costs $100 wholesale up to $300, like many restaurants do, he said the Mad Rose price might be around $150.

Arnold said his goal is to provide the absolute cheapest price for high-end wines — retail included.

“In-store or online, I will be cheaper,” he said.

With two fulls bars, drinks will be the main attraction at Mad Rose Tavern. The bar will feature 20 beers on tap, all of which will be artisan or craft brews, with the exception of Guinness. Miller Light, Amstel and other “mainstream” beers will only be available by the bottle.

Mad Rose will feature about 20 Irish whiskeys and 40 Scotches. The wine list will hover around 100 different wines, at least at first.

“It’s all about shock and awe,” enthused Arnold, adding that he would have stocked 200 wines had there been enough storage space at the restaurant’s prime 3100 Clarendon Boulevard location.

Alcoholic beverages won’t be the restaurant’s only focus, however.

Arnold said the restaurant’s coffee and tea will be “the best in the city.”

They will import Doka Estate coffee beans from Costa Rica and grind them in-house. Might Leaf tea, which is served at Ritz-Carlton hotels, will be served at a discounted price.

Oh, and the food and the service will be “kick ass,” as well.

“Why not do the best of the best, and just not charge so goddamn much for it?” Arnold asked with a big grin, contemplating the public’s reaction to his vision of culinary alchemy. “This restaurant is going to be packed.”

Management hopes to have Mad Rose Tavern open to the public by the end of next week, but with extensive interior renovations still underway we anticipate an opening later in the month. The restaurant is rumored to have cost owners nearly $1 million so far.

  • LyonSteve

    Guess I’ll add this to the places I can’t afford.

    • Christine

      OK, here’s the deal. I’ve met the actual owners and they do know what they are doing. The GM is also fantastic. It sounds like to me they made a bad decision with hiring Scott and and even worse one with allowing him to speak to the public. Hopefully they will find a gag and muzzle for this tool. My guess is he won’t last a month after the place opens. I have faith in the owner and GM and I can honestly say they will consitantly strive to meet price points and customer feedback and request. Give it a try, I know for the fact that the Executive Chef they hired is promising. 🙂

      • Christine

        Oops, Consistently. Sorry for the type – o

        • Christine

          OK, lots of mistakes…I’m at work and in a hurry. You get the point.

  • Lou

    Give me a $4 pour of Macallan and I’ll be there.

  • Robert

    I’d say the quotes coming out of this guy tell you the market he’s going after – the barely legal, 20 something crowd who want a cheap buzz. Seriously, what professional business person talks like that? Sounds like yet another run of the mill pub in Clarendon. He’ll soon learn that people who spend $150 on a bottle of wine prefer to enjoy it with equally exceptional and complementary foods, and though I’m not in that league, I’d say tavern food doesn’t cut it. Of course the big question on everyone’s mind is how many tv screens will there be? One can never have too many in Clarendon.

    • TuesdaysChild

      Went to Circa last week. Lots of TV screens.

      • Robert

        I was being sarcastic.

        • g_clifford_prout

          You may think a bunch of buzzed barely legal 20 somethings is a problem. I think of it as date night.

  • V Dizzle

    Don’t see anything wrong with his rhetoric. Unlikely he can sustain it, but I’ll happily check it out. A “cheap buzz” for $150/bottle? You must be way above my income level. The 20’somethings I know mainly go for Miller Lite and happy hour food, so I don’t see that being his main draw with 20 taps and a good whiskey collection.

    • Robert

      Guinness, Miller light, Amstel and other “mainstream” beers. My point is that he’s not going to be selling very many of those $150 bottles of wine.

    • There will be more moderately priced wines, of course, but the high end will have the steepest percentage discount

  • Josh

    Looking forward to the beers, but still would rather have had Dremo’s in this spot as it should of been…

    • KalashniKEV

      +1 Why did Dremo’s go away and get replaced by… dirt.

      • KalashniKEV


        • Josh

          Land was sold where Dremos and the TBell were for condos to go up… then the housing collapse and now you have dirt.

    • steve

      Dremos would hav ebeen lame without smoking anyways. Thank God it never lived to see the day of the smoking ban, it would have been a travesty.

      Nothing is more pathetic than a pool hall without smoking, hence Continental.

      • bg

        Geez Steve….do you care about anything other than having people be allowed to smoke everywhere all the time? Really? It’s mandatory to smoke while playing pool? You’re crazy. The smoking ban was the best thing to happen to Arlington bars. And it was LONG overdue.

        • And with that, let’s please put an end to the endless debate over smoking in restaurants/bars. Thank you.

  • Brandon

    Hopefully the prices and atmosphere are just enough to scare away the polo shirt and UGG boot crowd without being too expensive or stuffy for everyone else. They shouldn’t serve Miller Lite et al. period, not even in bottles.

    • y8s

      You’ve just reminded me why I convinced my wife that no drop in temperature was ever justification for those terrible elephant foot-shaped boot things.

      • borf

        I can’t wait for 2017 when the whole country finally starts laughing at UGG boots. Note to every woman under 25: your boots are ugly and stupid. Especially if you wear them with sweatpants.

        • Ballston

          2017?? Dont think we need to wait that long.

          Once Snooki wears em, you know its over.

          • borf

            It’ll take a while for the whole country to start laughing though – including the idiots who used to wear them. Kinda like I laugh at skinny ties and Members Only jackets and pastel sportcoats over t-shirts.

        • Katie

          The History of the Ugg Boot.

          “Ugg” is a generic term in Australia denoting the original flat slipper/boots traditionally worn by lower-middle class women to the grocery store, along with their “tracky dacks” (sweatpants). Ugg=ugly. Other Aussies might have worn them at home in winter, but never in public.

          Then came Baywatch. And Pamela Anderson wore them with a bikini on the beach in S. California. And a trend was born. So a U.S. company registered the trademark for the name and started cranking out products from our pals in the People’s Republic of China.

          The main company making them in Australia tried to register the trademark there, and contested in here, but failed. It gets a bit murky from here, but I think they managed to successfully register Ugg Australia. Those “Uggs” are sold in Australia and are made there, using Aussie wool and by workers who earn a decent wage under good conditions–and at roughly a lower price than the US/Chinese product is sold here.

  • Jeff

    With a mouth like that, how classy can this place be? Sorry, but the owner comes off sounding like a real jerk. Not exactly consistent with “high end product” and “luxury”.

    • Tabby

      Dining room manager…

      • YoBimbo

        I have a feeling Mr. Arnold would totally go for a co-ed in sweatpants and Uggs.

  • Scott

    Scott Arnold comes across as a full of himself pompous jerk with a foul month. As someone who lives in Clarendon and has tried every restaurant in the neighborhood and visits many of them regularly, I can say that this is one that I will never try. Good intro to your new neighborhood.

    • modestproposal


      • FrenchyB


  • Sardine

    “This restaurant is going to be packed.”

    Gee, there’s a selling point for enjoying your $150 bottle of wine.

  • I agree with the concept that wine doesnt need to be expensive. You can get a great bottle for 6 bucks.

    • +1, Two wines from Whole Foods recently ranked very high on Consumer Reports, $7 each (Trackers Crossing Cabernet Sauv. & Chardonnay. 2008vint).

  • y8s

    Everyone’s so sensitive to frank talk and the promise of bargains.

    Economy must be getting better…

    • local

      It’s Arlington.

  • Bluemont John

    Ah, yes. Clarendon continues its perilous journey toward becoming Adams-Morgan II.

    • SoCo Resident

      Yep, the “perilous journey” is underway, especially when “drinking for the masses” is touted. Way too many liquor licenses being granted as crime in this area increases. When it is too late to turn back, area residents will ask: how did this disaster happen? The irony of Mad Rose and drinking for “the masses” is that it replaces a substance abuse clinic! Watch out for the drunk walkers and drivers in Clarendon!

      • local

        When was there a substance abuse clinic there?

      • Lou

        And they claim one of the reasons they are against the plan to privatize liquor stores is because it might lead to more alcohol abuse problems. Who are they kidding? Might have something to do with the 4% meals tax they get on marked-up drinks from a bar as opposed to drinks you consume at home.

      • Bluemont John

        I would much rather have a substance-abuse clinic there.

        Look, I’m not saying one more bar is the end of the world–but an area turning from a low-key shopping district into a bar district happens incrementally. Already Clarendon has become one of the top three party destinations for 20-somethings, the others being A-M, Ballston, maybe U Street–at least that’s what I hear. (My 20s were, ah, a looong time ago.) Obviously some people support this change, but I don’t.

        • borf

          You need to get out more.

        • anon

          Ballston is not a DC nightlife hotspot. A-M, U street (definitely – spider kelley lines at many bars on a Saturday night) and the up and comer H st.

          • Ballston

            And I would argue that Dupont, Georgetown, Chinatown/Gallery Place are all much bigger nightlife draws still than Clarendon, even with the adddition of another bar……

      • Maria

        Oh my god, you are such a downer.

      • Potatoman

        Is the “substance abuse clinic” you are talking about, Endependence? Because I am pretty sure that was a non-profit to help people who needed assisted living due to disability…

    • Adam

      Sweet! Let me know when the 2AM Shwarma, Falafel, and jumbo slice pizza arrive!!

  • BonAir mom

    Dear editor – This article is not an article, it’s a press release. Please get back on your game and stop being a publicist for restaurants. Thanks.

    • The restaurant hasn’t even opened yet, for crying out loud. It’s new and full of promise. People want to know what it’s all about before it opens. This is a “feel good” story amidst crime, politics and the like. If you want to read something bad about the place then wait until it opens and read the Yelp reviews, you’re bound to find the negativity you seek there.

      • SB

        +1 I love articles like this and they’re a big reason why I read ARLnow. I want to know what’s coming to the area.

        • AllenB

          +2 Completely agree with SB.

        • Radar

          +3, my favorite things to read on ARL now are future openings of restaurants and shops in the area.

        • local


        • Ballston

          +5. i’d say +6 if you could post the list of beers they will have on tap……

        • + alot, it would still be nice to have message boards versus going back to the articles…those threads live on, are accessible, and help create some community among the readers….

        • + alot, it would still be nice to have message boards versus going back to these articles…those threads live on, are accessible, and help create some community among the readers….

      • Tom

        Thanks for the info. Your blog is required reading in my office.

      • SD

        I personally appreciate the breadth of articles on this site. I love finding out about new restaurants in Arlington, and found this one quite interesting. If there are articles I find less interesting, I keep scrolling.

    • Maria

      Also, for the record, even if it was a press release, it would be appropriate for it to be here because press releases are meant for the – wait for it – press. It’s right there in the name!

  • charlie

    crap, goddamm and kick ass?
    well he didn’t say it would be classy, i suppose.
    High-end drinking to the masses. There is a reason those don’t go together.

  • Mel

    I see an empty box for Hopslam in one of the pictures. If that’s any indication of the beer they will have, then this place may be all right.

  • SouthArlJD

    If I can’t walk in the door and get a Sam’s for a happy hour price of … say … $4, then ambiance or not I’m not going to bother with it. Sounds too pricey for me. I’ll continue hanging out at Summers, where at least I can get any game I want to watch on TV, or over at the Quarterdeck.

    • Katie

      You do that!

  • Jeff

    Mouth breathing restaurateur = mouth breathing patrons.
    Sounds awesome.

  • ClarendonDweller

    This place reminds me a little bit of the recently-opened Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill. A place that tries to be a step above the spider kellys, grill’s and mr. days of the neighborhood. Not knocking those places at all – I frequent all of them – but I welcome new places that will maybe attract a slightly older crowd to mix with the 22-year olds. I also think the Dining Room Manager’s enthusiasm just might have not translated well to print – I’m guessing he doesn’t talk with blogs or press very often. I’m sure he learned his lesson and will find a different way to express how excited he is about the place.

    • Maria

      Thank you for some logic and sense.

  • lYonParker

    Goddamn! This sounds like a freaking kick ass place!

  • Adam

    I know some of the staff and management from some other Arlington establishments, although I’ve never met this Scott guy. There are people in the management and ownership team who know what they’re doing, so I’m looking forward to this place opening up. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and see what the result is. I hope it’s good…there’s always room for another excellent boozer with good food and a good vibe.

    With that said, the cynical voice inside my head tells me that $150 wine will be a very hard sell. Hey, Scott, instead of selling $300 wine for $150, try selling $40 wine for $30. This isn’t Komi or Citronelle, and people don’t go to Clarendon taverns for high-end wine. Good wine at good value sells. But expensive wine at a steep discount isn’t a winning business plan. There’s a reason no one else is doing that, and it isn’t because they haven’t thought of it.

  • steve

    Yay, another sissy nonsmoking only bar. Let me guess, you won’t even be able to smoke outdoors, right?

    • Ballston

      bro, this isnt Richmond…. smoking in arlington isnt cool. I’d say the majority of people in Arlington are very happy with the smoking ban in Virginia

      • Steve

        So naturally because this will be a health spa they will limit people to two drinks as any more is unhealthy, and of course will not offer red meats or fried foods because they are bad for you, right?

        • borf

          If you drink or eat meat, some of it doesn’t spill over into my mouth like your disgusting smoke gets in my lungs though.

          Smoke all you want, I don’t care about your health, I care about mine.

          • YoBimbo


    • I’m told there will be smoking outdoors

  • Andy

    Glad we have articles like this to keep our minds off such minor issues as revolution in Egypt.

    Anyway, I actually did a delivery to this place during the week and got talking to another manager, bar manager I think, he’s the Irish guy. I wanted to weigh in a bit on this after reading the previous comments.

    He painted a slightly different picture, he was big into the fact that they’re going to source locally where they can, beer, food etc. He was finalizing his beer and scotch lists when I was there and seemed pretty proud of it, but sadly never swore 🙂
    He said they were more after the 25+.

    I asked about TVs, there’s only five, and none really in the dining area.
    The guy was busy, but took the time to chat with one of (I’m guessing) many delivery drivers that day, a lot of management just don’t do that. And he took my details saying he’d let me know when they were doing their invite friends and family night.

    I say good luck to them, even the over excited guy.

    • Snookie

      You can go to EgyNow.com for that.

      • Andy

        I’m going to have to go work on my Arabic

  • Ballston Neighbor

    Aaaand – this is why I’ll stick with Eventide when I’m out in Clarendon. I’m in my early 30s, and Scott Arnold has managed to completely turn me off to Mad Rose.

  • ARLismyHomeTown

    Although I agree that Scott has started Mad Rose off to a terrible start, you all should see the inside of this place! No place in Clarendon is comparable, really excited for the drinks and fun.

    Heard some really great reviews about the Chef, and both the owners seem to be really proud of this. My friends and I will be here almost every week- perfect competition for the neighboring restaurants/bars.

    Be expecting me soon, Mad Rose!

  • steve

    I realize the people in Arlington are too pretentious/snobby, a nice real dive bar would actually be nice. One where people are out to enjoy themselves rather than showing off, but that’s asking too much in an area so insecure and status oriented as the DC area, especially arlington.

    • CW

      Does Jay’s not count?

      • steve

        You have the PBR drinking hipsters going there. It’s how these hipsters can try to “feel” like they are “being one” with the “working class”.

        • YoBimbo

          Hmmm… I didn’t see any PBR-sters the last time I was there.

      • YoBimbo


        Jay’s is exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Josh

    The bar/taps are in the window at the courtyard by Sobe (which is still in business how?) so it’s pretty cool to walk by and see exactly what they will have on tap… One not in the link above is Hopsecutioner and a micro-brew pumpkin beer which, which I’m not sure who would still have this, but isn’t that good anyways (brewery has slipped my mind), but has a headless horseman as the logo

    • MRT

      That pumpkin beer isn’t on tap, or in bottle. It’s a fill in tap so we can test the lines.
      Any other questions, feel free to ask.

  • Steph

    me and my girlfriends would love to come to Mad Rose, the lights and atmosphere look great. try looking in from the back area- i can only imagine how much fun the outdoor seating will be when those windows open up in the springtime.

    Its about time Spriderkellys, liberty, and the ballroom have some decent competition!

  • 22203

    I still can’t figure out what’s worse: this guy’s complete incompetence to the true mission of this bar; or the tacky, and insensible rhetoric he decided to use to relay his idea of it.

    Either way, I can vouch for the TAVERN, its’ owners, and its’ other staff, as committed to opening a bar, where the locality and hospitality are at its core—not a $150 bottle of wine. Staff will take an active role in creating a sensory thoroughfare between quality fare and drink—locally sourced, when possible—where pairings of high quality service and taste won’t cost a down payment.

    It’s a place worth a look, and a sorry thing to walk past just because a “big grin” idiot couldn’t find better words to describe it in his “kick ass” dictionary.

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