Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pound The Hill's Bistro & Wine Bar

The secret is out! Known locally as an organic coffee shop, Pound The Hill has recently opened their doors in the evening as a bistro and wine bar where customers can be seated for table service starting at 5pm.  Owner Karl Johnson and Chef Jonathan Taub have built an awesome and value friendly menu around their new wines and beer with the help of many local experts.  Featuring an eclectic global array of items, Pound The Hill's Bistro & Wine Bar is a charming addition to the neighborhood.  Closest Metro is Eastern Market.

With full dinner service available for just under two weeks now, I decided to check them out for a first impression. We arrived around 6pm and were seated immediately in the hallway area where tables are limited, yet cozy and away from the coffee shop atmosphere. In renovating this space in 2011, Pound made an effort to preserve the historical charms of the structure. They cleaned and exposed timbers, touched up brick walls and even restored tin ceiling panels.

Inspired by their travels and love of a wide range of ethnic flavors and regional cuisines, the menu is heavy with French influences as seen in the ratatouille, coq au vin, and cordon bleu entrées.  Listed below each item is a suggested wine or beer pairing. After we placed our orders, our extremely polite server, Shree, brought out the chef's amuse bouche with our drinks - a spoon with a tiny bite of pork pâté and a red wine gelée-like confit on top. It was a nice start to the meal that reminded us of a cross between liverwurst and meatloaf. For starters, we chose the Cordon Bleu Croquettes - a delightful morsel of warm, rich, classic French flavors.  The chunks of chicken and cheese were perfectly cooked in the middle and the light mustard sauce provided a nice tang.  I opted for the Eggplant Ratatouille as my main course, which would be a great choice for those participating in DC Meat-Free Week.  Stuffed with stewed vegetables in a fresh basil broth with brioche and Parmesan cheese, the vegetables were crisp and flavorful, yet the broth was cold prompting an immediate reaction of oddness when contrasted with the hot veggies.   The dish was light and filling at the same time and paired beautifully with the Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc.  Keith devoured the Braised Brisket that he chose and found the portion of beef and potatoes very satisfying.   Overall, the food tasted great and each dish was presented in a lovely way that left us with happy bellies.

Similar flavors are present on the lunch menu, offering a great alternative to the standard sandwich or pizza offerings in the area.  The brunch menu, available only on Sundays from 10am to 2pm, also looks enticing with Korean, Mexican and Dutch twists.  Catering is available and convenient for offices on the Hill.  As their motto states, Pound The Hill is "not just any ordinary shop".  I highly recommend you check them out for both serious organic coffee as well as wallet-friendly eclectic noshes.

Total Rating: 3.65
Food: 4, Price: 3, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Amuse Bouche
pork pâté with red wine confit

Cordon Bleu Croquettes
crispy croquettes filled with chicken, prosciutto, gruyere cheese

Eggplant Ratatouille
roasted eggplant filled with ratatouille in a fresh basil broth
with brioche and Parmesan cheese
Paired with: Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc

Plus Keith ate:

Braised Brisket on Papas 
beef brisket on fork-crushed red bliss potatoes with arugula, 
red onion confit, Gorgonzola cheese and Dijon aioli 
Paired with: Dogfish Head India Brown Ale

Pound the Hill on Urbanspoon

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