First of all, I survived the 4th of July in DC. And I must say, seeing the fireworks display over the reflecting pool on the national mall with the Washington Monument towering behind us was a great experinence, even if we did share the lawn with around 700,000 other tourists. (Apparently very few locals bother with it because it’s a total zoo, and a major pain to get through the security.)

And though I’d like to have a moment to relax, you can’t take a vacation without paying for it. No rest for the weary and all that, right? Tonight I’m working hard as a restaurant guinea pig. (Hey, somebody’s gotta do it.)

It’s a rough life. I’m off to 5 Degrees tonight to sample the new menu for a test dinner before the grand opening this Friday. Five Degrees is the newly reinvented Blue 67, complete with new decor featuring a modern interpretation of 70’s colors — pumpkin orange, squash yellow, and a dash of mod black/white/silver — with a neo-baroque vibe.

The menu offers American contemporary food, otherwise known as upscale versions of comfort food. Owner Francois Safieddine told me his favorites are the veal sliders with spicy fries ($8), but I’m curious to try the oysters five ways ($9) – baked, raw, fried, flan, and soup — and the lobster quesadilla ($9) with mango salad and creme fraiche. Blue 67 fans will see most of their fave martinis still on the list, with a handful of new offerings like the Dragon Boat ($8), with Soho Lychee liqueur, Grand Marnier andn Limoncello lemon liqueur shaken with pineapple juice and garnished with lemon. Yummy.

We’ll see how things go tonight, as these practice dinners are exactly that — practice. I’ve been to a handful of these now, and so far I’ve had water sprayed all over me when a nervous waiter accidentally shook up our bottle of sparkling water, food served at all kinds of wrong temperatures, and long lonely waits between visits by our servers. The idea is that they work out the kinks early and will hopefully be ready for business as usual come opening day.

I don’t mind. The patio will rock tonight and that Dragon Boat martini is sounding pretty damn good right now. We’ll see how it all works out tonight; 5 Degrees is alreay booked for a private party on Thursday hosted by Douglas Kerbs of Fuller Towne & Country Properties, a fashion show and soiree for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theater on Saturday, and the Denver Art Museum’s CultureHaus membership bash next week.

I’m sure I’m in for all kinds of faux pas and major goofs tonight — they’d better get the kinks worked out early for this soon-to-be hotspot.