Tag Archives: Fancy

House Rules: Credit Card Roulette

The Chop is not typically given over to gambling. We used to frequent Pimlico when the horses were running, and we’re loathe to back out of a bar bet if we’re absolutely sure that it was Paul Rodriguez who co-starred in DC Cab and not George Lopez. Aside from that though, we tend to eschew games of chance believing the odds are always in favor of the house.

So it may be a bit uncharacteristic of us to come out and endorse credit card roulette, but endorse it we do, and heartily.

CCR is great for fancy restaurants. Just make sure you don't eat like a horse...

For the uninitiated, credit card roulette is a game played by a group of friends out dining or drinking. When the bill comes, all parties at the table produce a credit card, which cards are then shuffled and one is picked at random, usually by a waiter or busboy. The owner of the card picked is then gracious enough to pick up the entire check, while everyone else’s card finds its way back into their wallets unswiped.

Credit card roulette is not new, per se, as the earliest reference to it we found in a quick Google search was 2006. It is however new enough that it has yet to gain much in the way of popularity. Despite a few mentions here and there on TV and in the movies and print media, many people have still never heard of it, and those who do know about it often balk. With the great recession taking hold in mid-2007, most people out there were lucky to be eating at all, let alone in restaurants, and that’s to say nothing of picking up the whole table’s bill. We’re slowly crawling out of that mire though, and we hope that 2011 will be the year that CCR really takes off as a social phenomenon.

Granted, it’s not for everyone. For those who go out often enough though, and who tend to go out with the same groups of friends on a regular basis, the rewards easily outweigh the risks. Hell, we endorse paying the bill out of sheer generosity if you can swing it. The reaction to a surprise check pick-up can range anywhere from genuine gratitude to outright awe. If you’ve never felt this from your guests (and at this point they are your guests), you owe it to yourself at least once. Even as a winner (loser) of credit card roulette though, a hearty round of thanks and appreciation are still your due.

Another great aspect of this game though, and the main reason we endorse it with so much gusto is because of the social bonds it can create and nurture. If nothing else, it’s an inducement for the loser to invite everyone else back out for another meal in the hopes of getting back to breaking even. After a few meals are exchanged and it all evens out (and maybe a few new marks get to pay once in a while) the whole thing becomes more of a gentlemen’s society and rotating supper club than anything else. And hey, who doesn’t like a free meal once in a while.

What about you? Have you played credit card roulette before? Won? Lost? Was the loser a sport or did they get all huffy about it. would you try it again? Let us know in the comments.

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Chop on the Spot: George’s of Mount Vernon

You might be surprised to hear it, but the Chop fully approves of hotel bars.

Most often we find ourselves in one when we’re overseas. Many times hotel bars are the cream of the crop, and some countries’ bars are found to be so wanting that the hotel bar with the western visitors is the only place you can count on getting a decent drink poured and not have to put up with a lot of the unsavory things that are prone to happen overseas.

The clientele in a hotel bar is, obviously, mostly out-of-towners. They seem to be of a few certain types, which are easy to identify at the hotel, but are fairly rare away from it. There’s business travelers, who are pretty straight-laced, and then there are people who travel a lot for work, who aren’t what you’d call “businesspeople” and pretty much drink from the time the trade show closes until it opens again. There’s cougars and hospitality employees and tourists and even the Chop.

Geroge's is located inside the Peabody Court Hotel at the west end of Mount Vernon Square.

Sometimes the Chop needs a break. Sometimes we just get tired of Brewer’s Art and Dionysus. Sometimes we want to drink in a place that’s actually not a basement, and be served by someone in a tie and not a Dead Boys T-shirt. It’s times like this when we hie down to one of Midtown’s best kept secrets, George’s of Mount Vernon.

We’ve been to George’s a few times for dinner, and are never disappointed. The ambiance is hard to beat, the food is delicious and without pretense, and the service is much more personal and friendly than you’d expect in such a place. It also doesn’t hurt that the prices are set so that one can easily pick up the check on date night.

We didn’t get the full benefit of George’s though until we went there for happy hour. The bar in there feels more like home than any bar in the city. But not like your fixer-upper Hampden rowhouse… like a really, really nice home.

The 12′ ceilings, crown molding, 10 foot windows, chandeliers, and posh leather furniture all give the impression that you’re in the sort of place that Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein drank when they lived in Baltimore, and hell, maybe they did. There’s something nice about stepping back into the jazz age for an hour, and a stiff old-fashioned in this place will set you right. It’s just the thing to brace you up for the travails of modern life.

Best of all? George’s happy hour is Sunday- Friday, and all beer, glass wines and rail drinks are 2-for-1.

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George’s is in the Peabody Court Hotel, 101 W. Monument Street in Mount Vernon. (410) 727-1314.

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