Saturday, February 16, 2008

Beer-forward and wine-friendly

The folks that brought you beer-centric Rustico in Alexandria, Virginia, are doing it again.

But now it's a restaurant in Washington, D.C., with 2 floors, 50 taps, and 500 bottled beers. Slated to open at 14th and N Streets, NW — name to be determined Birch and Barley (and ChurchKey) — it's being described as "beer-forward and wine-friendly": a dining room on the ground floor and a spacious bar upstairs.

From the Washington Posts' Tom Sietsema, here's a more detailed description:

Each level will have its own menu designed by Frank Morales [Kyle Bailey], the executive chef at Rustico, who intends also to fill that role in Washington. For the dining room, he's thinking pizza from a wood-burning oven, leg of lamb with turnip butter, and roasted lobster in Sauternes, dishes destined to serve two in the vessels they're cooked in. For the bar, the chef has developed numerous themed trios of small plates that will be served together on a wooden board. Tuna, for instance, will be offered grilled, with tomato oil; as tartare, with a poblano pesto; and in the form of carpaccio, with roasted lemon jam.

Meanwhile, co-owner Michael Babin is aiming for "the finest beer destination on the East Coast." To that end, Rustico's beer director, Greg Engert, plans to stock the future endeavor with 500 labels, 100 styles and 50 draft beers.
Greg Engert has told me that he's planning for 5 (!) casks on service at all times.

That might be a worry for the freshness of the casks.

But, as he has done at Rustico, Greg will serve each cask from a cooler set at 52 °F, each cask protected by a non-pressurized blanket of carbon dioxide. As to worries about supply, he has purchased several '11s' — 50 liter casks — that he'll send to breweries for filling.

The published date for the opening is 15 April. That may be optimistic ... but good luck!

[UPDATE 2008.08.20: November 2008 opening projected.]
[UPDATE 2008.04.12: August opening predicted.]
[UPDATE Early summer opening 2009.]
[UPDATE: Late 2009 is most current opening projection.]

Pictured above are Greg Engert and Lucy Saunders, author of Best of American Beer & Food, sitting in the lounge at Rustico.

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