First Bite

A Brussels-Like Alehouse, at Home on H Street

By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Granville Moore's (1238 H St. NE; 202-399-2546), the city's latest gastropub, is a nod to a good-deed-doer, an easy trip to Belgium and another promising sign of change in an otherwise scrappy neighborhood.

The name refers to the late African American doctor who once lived on the top floor of the rowhouse and used the ground level as an office, where he treated patients for little or no payment. Entering its weeks-old replacement -- a dimly lighted watering hole wrought from reclaimed wood and featuring exposed brick and old-fashioned bar coolers behind an aged-looking counter -- is to step into the sort of tavern you can encounter by the score in Brussels. A small back patio beckons in weather that won't fry eggs.

The drill: a list of more than 50 imported Belgian beers, handwritten on two chalkboards, and a short printed menu of salads, sandwiches, mussels and fries served half a dozen ways. We dropped by just as chef David Nugent was leaving (that was fast!) and Teddy Folkman was arriving -- kudos go to a juicy hamburger and a big bowl of steamed harissa-fired mussels -- but the basic script is not expected to change dramatically, says managing partner Chris Surrusco. The pub's fries, for instance, will continue to be cut by hand, blanched in hot peanut oil, cooled and then crisped in 375-degree oil just before serving. (The double-frying makes for superb fries.)

While we wait for Granville Moore's to settle in -- a list of signature cocktails is forthcoming -- we're happy to sip on Saison Dupont. The brew is a light, crisp, unfiltered ale that leaves a peppery finish on the tongue and makes a good companion to a pot of mussels.

Folkman comes to the job from the kitchen at Balducci's in Washington; Surrusco was tapped for both his restaurant and beer expertise, having previously worked at Stardust, Restaurant Eve and Rustico, all in Northern Virginia, and Capitol City Brewing Co., where he learned to make beer 11 years ago.

One of the few sit-down places to eat in the so-called Atlas District, about a mile northeast of Union Station, Granville Moore's is poised to gain a blockmate later this year: Sticky Rice, a pan-Asian restaurant with a sushi bar, at 1224 H St. NE. Like Granville Moore's, the dining venue is co-owned by nightlife veteran and neighborhood champion Joe Englert.

Entrees, $9-$16.


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