The name derives from the building’s past. The first Beuchert’s was opened at this address in 1890 by a German immigrant, John Ignatius Beuchert; during Prohibition, a speak-easy operated there.
These days, a subtle Old West ambiance prevails, thanks to co-owner August Paro, a former Los Angeles-based set designer. His layout embraces brass rails, plank floors, vintage-print wallpaper and antique chandeliers that cast an amber glow over the bare tables. The scenery calls for a tumbler of whiskey, but an urban cowboy might be inclined to toss back a Vieux Carre, among the dozen or so sophisticated signature cocktails.
Here to eat? Bone marrow is enjoying a rich run these days. The version at Beuchert’s helps explain its popularity. Beef bones are propped upright on their plate, in a frame of a parsley salad that picks up crunch and bite from pickled pistachios. The marrow comes with cushions of grilled bread for slathering. Fat and salt and brightness and crunch: It’s all very easy to dispatch.
Sausage boards are hard to escape, too, but frankly, the charcuterie here is not so special. The finocchio (fennel salami) is probably the best of the mere three sliced meats, and the pickled carrots and green beans don’t have much spunk.
A better entry point is a cocktail made under the silent watch of Mike and Ike. They’re enormous bison heads discovered by Paro on eBay and displayed side-by-side above the marble-topped bar that became one of the most popular watering holes on the Hill when it opened in February.
Carolina gold rice gets billing over lobster in a first course. The chef says he thinks the delicately sweet short-grain rice — a loose base for roasted lobster tail and poached claw meat — is a “cool ingredient.” Its rich lobster sauce could stand more salt.
Even in late March, Washington felt like winter some days, but the often-heavy fare at Beuchert’s intensified the sensation that spring might never come. Several hearty dishes — oxtail tagliatelle and braised lamb — come in two sizes, and this diner found the smaller portion to be sufficient. The pasta, listed as a “snack,” gathers winy meat and hedgehog mushrooms on house-made tagliatelle. Its crunch comes from toasted hazelnuts. The lamb, braised in orange juice, is as much about citrus as meat. Tender gnocchi and spinach in the mix help even out the score.