Saturday, August 04, 2007

Accidental H Street tipple

1238 H Street NE; click for more pixHere's the story of how I accidentally became Granville Moore's first ever customer.

Clipper City Brewing's Friday sales meeting in Baltimore had concluded and I had just turned my car onto the interstate exit ramp heading back south, when my Legends, Ltd. representative phoned. (Legends, Ltd. distributes Clipper's beers in D.C.)

Well, she told me, Chris Surrusco at Granville Moore's needs a keg coupler for one of his Belgian kegs. His pub's soft opening was set for later that day. Would I turn around, head a few miles north to the distributor's warehouse, pick up the coupler, and deliver it to the pub in NE DC, she asked?

Most Fridays, I'm scheduled for in-store demonstrations or beer events of some sort. By fortune, not so this Friday. And Clipper City's brewery is not far from the Maryland warehouse for Legends, Ltd.

So I acquiesced ... and that's how I soon found myself in Granville Moore's at 3:30pm, shortly before the opening.
Chris pours me the first draft; click for more pix
Chris thanked me with a bolleke of De Koninck. For an August afternoon in Washington D.C. - 96°F, humid, and an unhealthy air alert - this low-alcohol Belgian draft was anodyne refreshment.

In addition to the De Koninck on the draft tower, Chris had Stella Artois (pays the bills!), Urthel's Hop It (a hoppy Belgian ale), and St. Feuillen Tripel.

I didn't stay for the actual opening - I had a few more work-related stops scheduled for that afternoon. upstairs front alcove; click for more pixBut I did take the time to stroll around and observe how the pub had come together since May when I had last visited.

Form follows function: Granville Moore's Frittes, Ales, & Moules is in an old and narrow rowhouse. It's cozy, yes, but commodious, it's not. So Chris will only have those 4 taps; but two will be rotating taps, that is, on which he'll move through small batch Belgians. He'll stock a bottled list of in excess of 65 Belgians.

Belgian beers come many miles often from small output breweries. We here on the east coast of the US are very fortunate that we can often sample those beers. But sometimes that familiarity leads beer fans to always expect to have them on hand.

Chris does not. He is willing to creatively deal with different availabilities and recurring un-availabilities. I appreciate that sensibility.

By the way, Chris is a hophead. So he'll always have an American IPA available in bottle. But you'll have to ask for it; he's keeping it unlisted, sub rosa.

It looks as if some things remain to be completed, but the overall effect is that of Chris' conception of a rustic Belgian brasserie. The kitchen seemed a hive of activity so I didn't peek in there.

Chris began with the idea of a very limited menu: moules done 5 ways, double-fried frites, a grilled sandwhich or two. As you can witness from the menu, his chef, David Nugent, has aggressively expanded upon that concept. Even so, Chris assures that the prices will be reasonable, or should I say, brasserie-esque.

And then another surprise: Chris' bartender walked in, and it was Chris Frazier, now a former brewer for the Old Dominion Brewing Company. He told me that he would also be bartending at the soon-to-open Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church, Virginia. What's up with Coastal Brewing/Dominion/Fordham? Well, that's another story.

More photos here. Also, here's a story on co-owner Joe Englert, who is the wizard behind several DC pubs and several along H Street NE.

Granville Moore's
1238 H Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 399-2546

[UPDATE: 2007.08.09]
I returned today during regular hours (6pm on) with friends. I had a delicious draft Urthel Hop-It (earthy and spicy aromas, that is, not US-style grapefruity hoppiness) served in a branded goblet.

Appetizers & salads
-Seared Georges Bank Scallops w/ Bacon & Corn Ragout.
-Arugula Salad w/ Kriek Swelled Dried Bing Cherries, Point Reyes Bleu, Toasted Walnuts, Red Onion.
-Belgian Endive Salad w/ Asian Pear, Fresh Coconut, House Tweaked Ginger, Mint.

Frites
-choice of 8 different sauces: Roasted Garlic Aoli, Heinz Classic, Cucumber Raita, House Smoked Red Pepper Catsup, Wholegrain Studded Dijonaise, and 2 tbd.

Sandwiches
-House Ground Angus Burger w/ Homemade Pickles & Frites.
-Croque Monsieur w/ Organic Farm Egg, House Smoked Taso, Gruyere, & Frites.
-Grilled Organic Vegetable Sandwich w/ Belgian Ale Washed Chevre & Local Greens.

Moules
-Belgian Tripel, Toasted Elephant Garlic.
-Preserved Lemon, Black Olive, & Harissa Broth.
-Applewood Smoked Bacon, Braised Leeks, Parsley, & Cream.
-Tamarind, Lime, Cilantro, Palm Sugar, & Thai Chili.
*** all moules served w/ frites, 1 sauce.

Entrées
-Exotic Mushroom Risotto w/ Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fresh Thyme.
-Grilled Pacific Snapper Filet w/ Heirloom Tomatoes, Poached Fennel, & Saffron Broth.
-Natural Chicken Breast w/ Toasted Israeli Couscous, Cerignola Olives, & House Preserved Lemons.

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