Jensen, an avid consumer of poetry, was tasked by his business partners with naming the newcomer. He drew on a line from an ancient Greek drinking song, translated by Irish bard Thomas Moore (1779-1852). The restaurant, darker than Tail Up Goat, opens with a handsome bar and continues with a dining room made sleek with green tile floors, skinny chandeliers and displays of wine.
My first taste is liquid and lovely: sherry, rye and Grand Marnier fuel the elegant “Up-To-Date” cocktail. My second sample has me pushing it away. Thick potato chips planted in bland mashed potatoes translate to unfortunate “chips & dip.” The snack makes me regret not ordering instead grilled oysters spiked with garlic butter and hot sauce.
Sybert’s small plates yield serious pleasures. Skinny skewers of crisp-edged pork on a swirl of honey hinting of fish pepper? Sold. Scallops seared in a wood fire and nestled with shaved celery and mouth-puckering kumquat? Gone in a flash, though for $16, I expected more than three bites of seafood. One of winter’s most appealing salads combines radicchio and kale with crisp-chewy croutons and a creamy dressing made bold with anchovies.
I look forward to eating my way through the chef’s wonderful pastas, cooked to retain some welcome resistance. Right now I can vouch for bucatini scattered with sweet minced onions, pork jowl and garlic-lit bread crumbs, and twisty casarecce combined with pleasantly chewy little Sea Island red peas and chopped collards, smoky from their pass over the wood grill.
I anticipate bellying up to the bar for more of the beverage director’s picks, too. Jensen says his “wanderlust” influences his current library, a collection that’s expected to change seasonally but now embraces overlooked reds from Provence, lesser-known varietals from California, picks from central Italy and the work of friends. See: syrah from veteran restaurateur Peter Pastan, the muse behind Two Amys.
Tail Up Goat is tucked away on a quiet residential street. Reveler’s Hour unfolds on a commercial stretch, resulting in more foot traffic and what Tyler calls “new neighbors,” including young parents with noodle-loving kids in tow.
The vibes are different. The thing they both (already) share: big fan clubs.
1775 Columbia Road NW. 202-588-1616. revelershour.com. Pastas, $18 to $24.
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