March 1 is a date that local barbecue lovers have circled on their calendar: It’s the day that Standard reopens to the public.
The 14th Street beer garden, which won raves for its pulled pork sandwiches, Oktoberfest-style vibe and liters of German pilsner during its initial summer, has been shuttered since early December because most of the restaurant’s seats are outdoors.
“We wanted Standard to be a seasonal business that would run flat out for the nine nicest months of the year and then take a break when D.C. got cold — like an ice cream stand at the beach or something,” is the way owner and chef Tad Curtz explained it last November.
But it’s not like this has been wasted time: Curtz and partner David Rosner have “a bunch of new things” in the works for 2012, though he cautions that “they’re not all going to roll out on the first day.”
The biggest news is the opening of a “side patio” area along T Street, which Curtz says will add 30 to 32 seats to the perennially packed beer garden. Don’t count on it always being available, though — it can be rented for private parties and will close one hour earlier than the rest of the patio.
The menu’s getting freshened up, too. Pork ribs, short ribs and chicken, which were offered occasionally last summer, will be making more regular appearances, while Curtz says he’ll be experimenting with “some other weird things” like crispy pork cheeks and lamb in his smoker. There will be more vegetarian options — “it’s something that people have asked about” — while the bar will pour cider and wine in addition to the usual beers in liter and half-liter mugs.
Once warmer weather hits, I’m looking forward to the return of the Tuesday Night Crabtacular — sitting outside and feasting on platters of a half-dozen crabs covered in Old Bay. (These cost $18 last year.)
Last summer’s surprise hit was fresh-made doughnuts, and they’ll be back, with the addition of a new chocolate espresso version, though Curtz says he’s looking for someone to make them. (Last year’s pastry chef “went back to school,” Curtz explains.) E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to apply.
The gates open at 5 p.m. next Thursday, and Curtz is looking forward to it: “I hope people will come.”
Somehow, I don’t think he’ll have to worry about that.