The bar is opening in stages.
Beginning today, Brookland's Finest will open at 11 a.m. daily, with food served until two hours before last call. (That's 1:30 a.m. during the week and 2:30 a.m. on weekends.) The bar and dining room will be up and running right away. When the management is comfortable with how things are running, Tomelden says, they'll add tables with seating for 20 people on the bar's fenced-in patio facing Jackson Street. And after that, the plan is to start opening for breakfast.
You can get coffee in the morning and beers at night.
Within a month "or so," Brookland's Finest will start opening at 7 a.m. for breakfast. "We're on the trek to the Metro, so we envision people being able to grab coffee and a bite on the way to the train," Tomelden says. At first, this will consist of pastries and "quick breakfast sandwiches," with a full daily breakfast menu coming at some point down the road. The restaurant is working with M.E. Swing on its coffee program. Drip and iced coffee are available now; a full espresso bar is on the way.
Meanwhile, the bar is stocked with a mix of local and regional beers – DC Brau, Port City, Atlas and Sly Fox take up six draft lines, at $7 per pint – down to PBR in cans for $4. Unlike the Pug and Solly's, there's a cocktail menu, though gin rickeys, dark and stormies and Manhattans are as complex as the $12 drinks get.
There's no happy hour.
The menu goes from crab cakes to steaks.
Chef Shannon Troncoso was the executive chef at the Barracks Row branch of Matchbox. "I knew her as a customer at the Pug," Tomelden says with a laugh. "That's how all my business gets done." Troncoso has put together a solid all-American menu that runs from burgers and crab cakes to bone-in pork chops with braised veggies and seared salmon over cheddar grits. Food starts at $12 for appetizers and sandwiches, while entrees are mostly in the $16-$18 range. (The full menu is below.)
Once the kitchen gets its sea legs, look for daily food specials, such as a Sunday seafood boil.
There's a patio, but …
One of the coolest features of Brookland's Finest is the bar seating on the patio. A large section of the wall rolls up, garage-door style, to allow patrons to sit at an outdoor bar and order food and drinks directly from the bartenders. There's a catch, though: There are six bar stools, and you can't have a drink outside if you're not seated. You also can't order a drink inside and wander outdoors with it. Tomelden says this restriction comes at the request of neighbors. "The neighborhood is concerned about a beer garden, or having a loud outdoor bar," he explains. When tables go out on the patio in a few weeks, anyone seated there will also be able to have a drink, bringing the total to 26 potential drinkers.
The patio will be open until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends.
It's family-friendly. Very family-friendly.
At Sunday's soft opening, which was in conjunction with the Brookland Home and Garden Tour, it seemed like every other table in the brick-walled dining room had at least one child, and the patio was buzzing with kids playing tag. Tomelden, who has three children and lives a block from the new establishment, is encouraging families to come in together. He's even planning stroller parking out front, next to a bike rack.
Brookland's Finest, 3126 12th St. NE. 202-636-0050. Brookland's Finest on Facebook (no website yet).