The Space: Rustic with a contemporary vibe, this rehabbed double-storefront features reclaimed barn wood, pale wainscoting, flattering vintage lighting and an ornate old-fashioned bar. Bay windows fitted out with cushy banquette provide cozy nests, while high-tops near the bar are prime perches for watching the action in the open kitchen. Interesting antiques and artifacts, like a huge micrometer, are set atop the room divider. If your dinner date is boring, they’ll provide conversation fodder.
The Food: Smokey aromas greet diners, signaling that many of the dishes on the moderately priced, French-accented American menu are cooked in a wood-fired smoker/oven/grill. Most entrees are in the high teens/low 20s, and options like the roast chicken and cassoulet come in adorable cast iron skillets set on wooden boards. There are snacks like chicken liver pâté on toast, appetizers that range from lush, such as buratta-filled ravioli glistening with caviar (overheard from a diner: “what are those black dots?"), to adventurous - think headcheese and snails. Naturally, there’s a steak frites and a burger, as well as skate with socca (a French chickpea pancake). One youngster was digging into a dish of mashed potatoes. In short, something for pretty much everyone.
The Drinks: The cocktail list includes options like the Scrooge – black rum with winter spiced molasses, spicy ginger ale and lime. There are also well-priced interesting wines and beers.
The Vibe: Convivial and relaxed, with a lively bluegrass soundtrack - there's a been-here-forever feel about the place already.
The Crowd: If opening night is any indication, this will be a food maven beacon, as well as a much needed neighborhood spot for local residents to go to for something other than bar grub and beer.
The Details: 1813 Columbia Rd. NW; 202-234-6732