I have a love-hate relationship with Tonic. I love it because it’s the only sit-down restaurant we located in the very heart of GW’s campus. On a sunny day, all I want to do is sit on their patio, dine under their umbrellas, people watch and wave to my friends passing by on their way to class. It is a prime spot to see and be seen.
Whenever I do go to Tonic, however, I’m majorly disappointed by the food! It’s just so mediocre and I end up asking myself, “Why did I just pay $15 for this?” After having the Portabella Sandwich ($13), a sad mushroom with cheese and red peppers inside a small pita, I wondered why I didn’t just get a Six Buck Chuck from Burger Tap & Shake. After having one of their disappointing pizzas ($13), I realized I would’ve been more satisfied had I stayed in and ordered from Domino’s. And after settling on Tonic for brunch because the wait at Founding Farmers was 3 hours long, my boring Big Stack ($11) of pancakes made me want Founding Farmers’ Bananas Foster Stuffed French Toast even more!
At Tonic, you’re really paying for location and history. Before being transformed into a restaurant, the building that Tonic is in was once a pharmacy opened by GW alumnus Richard Lucien Quigley. Since its opening in 1891, Quigley’s Pharmacy was a popular campus hang out. More than just filling prescriptions, Quigley also served burgers and sodas to GW students. The pharmacist was a friend to the students and according to Hatchet articles, Quigley would lend them money for dates. The story of Quigley’s is really interesting; I recommend reading more about it on Tonic’s website.
The building definitely has character. The brick walls on the ground floor are painted with reminders of when Tonic was Quigley’s Pharmacy. On the second floor, crayons are placed on tables so guests can actually draw on the brick walls and their paper place mats. Because Tonic is located on the same block as two “frat castles” and a dorm housing two sororities, Greek graffiti dominates the wall like competing gang signs.
On Tonic’s third floor is a cool bar and lounge area that hosts events such as Trivia Night, happy hours and even concerts.
Despite bashing Tonic’s food, I’ve been able to find one menu item, that I actually like a lot: The Funky Chicken Club ($13), a chicken sandwich topped with bacon, three pepper aioili, lettuce and tomatoes, served on an onion and poppyseed bun. It comes with a pickle and your choice of a side of tater tots or a salad. The obvious choice here is the tots! Tonic is famous for them and all the waiters wear t-shirts with clever phrases promoting their tots.
The sandwich itself is just really good and the crunchiness of the tater tots and the pickle really complement the crispy bacon. It is delicious! Sadly, after I finally found something I liked at Tonic, they changed their menu and my beloved Funky Chicken Club was removed! However, you can still order it by name, it will just be charged as a chicken sandwich with bacon.
Obviously, I will keep coming back to Tonic. Its location is really unbeatable and it’s just a fun place to come for a meal with friends. Perhaps now that the menu has been changed, I will be able to find some better options. Tonic, I have not given up on you yet!
*I just found out that Tonic has Wine Down Wednesday every Wednesday from 5-10 p.m. During this time, you can get half price bottles of wine with the purchase of two entrees. If you’re part of the under-21 crowd, Tonic will not let you down; enjoy a dessert on the house instead!*