Saturday, January 21, 2012

Boxcar Tavern

Boxcar Tavern is the latest restaurant from Xavier Cervera (Molly Malone’s, Lola’s, Senart’s) and features a menu heavy on comfort food and gastro pub staples, including Welsh rarebit, London broil meatloaf, and seafood lasagna. Opening just before the New Year, Boxcar Tavern sports a number of antique pub signs from the U.K., as well as old signs that hung outside Finn Mac Cool’s and the Hawk N' Dove, two Capitol Hill bars that Cervera took over. Located directly across the street from Eastern Market, Boxcar Tavern is small but a welcomed addition to the North side of Pennsylvania Avenue.  Closest Metro is Eastern Market.

The slush was still on the ground from the year’s first snow fall last night, yet Keith and I decided to venture out into the blistery cold to warm up with some classic pub food at Boxcar Tavern. We arrived at 6pm and the restaurant was completely packed, mostly with basketball fans at the bar watching the last minutes of the game. The hostess took our name down and we waited at the bar for a table to open up. Immediately I noticed the same decorative style as seen in Senart’s and Molly Malone’s - wood trim, warm colors, and rich fabrics. With seating for 60 diners at a time, the expansive wood bar overwhelms the elongated space with tiny booths along the opposite wall. The layout is very narrow and small, but Cervera made do with the space available by expanding towards the rear alley to allow for more dining space.

About 10 minutes later, we were seated at one of the small booths. Our server greeted us warmly and allowed us time to peruse the menu. I settled on the Fried Virginia Oysters to start. Served with a relish aioli akin to tartar sauce, the oysters themselves were delicate and creamy; however the breading did not stick to the meat at all making it difficult to dip in the sauce. There is a similar issue with the onion rings at Senart's, so perhaps the technique should be adjusted.  For my main entrée, I chose the Roasted Organic Chicken as the mushroom bread pudding that accompanied it seemed interesting. The chicken itself was cooked well with a tasty tarragon jus; though a little too dry on the edges. The bread pudding was a bit meh – a little too dense and not enough mushrooms for what I was expecting. Keith ordered the Wild Boar Stew, which was the perfect hearty meal for this wintery evening. Overall the service is descent, the food is better than average, and the atmosphere is casual – a great option to grab a beer with friends and hang out while noshing on classic comfort food.  With the recent buzz, the place seems to get busy fast, so arrive early or be prepared to wait. 

Happy hour runs from 4-7pm nightly and features $4 wines by the glass and $1 off all beers, which are regularly $6, except for Guinness ($7) and Miller Lite and Yuengling ($5). On Wednesday nights from 7pm to close, Fat Tire drafts cost $3 and Jameson drinks are $4.

Total Rating: 3.58
Food: 3.5, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Fried Virginia Oysters
served with a Relish Aioli

Roasted Organic Chicken
with Mushroom Bread Pudding, Haricot Verts & Tarragon Jus

Pus Keith ate:
Wild Boar Stew
Root Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes & Cabernet Demi Glace

Boxcar Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. Sucks the breading does not stick on those oysters...they look delicious!


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