all photos: Shauna Alexander
Before Iron Gate closed its doors in 2010, it was the longest continuously running restaurant in DC food history. Three years later, Neighborhood Restaurant Group (who with GBD, Bluejacket and now this opening is having their banner busiest year ever) is ready to breathe new life into the DC institution. Located at 1734 N Street, the NEW Iron Gate is not just lovely, it is beyond lovely.
The somehow-both-cozy-and-expansive eatery is helmed by Chef Tony Chittum, with help from pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, NRG Wine Director Brent Kroll and the newest addition to the team Jeff Faile (formerly of Fiola and Casa Luca and one of BYT’s favorite Drink Diary Alums).
Experience wise, the space is separated into the front bar, a la carte garden, and the main dining room (which will be serving tasting menus only). The front bar portion is warm and cozy, with a sturdy ouzo and wine list (including the new NRG label wines, sourced by Kroll in Greece), a handful of carefully selected beers as well as an anticipated cocktail menu by Faile. Great news for those who upon visiting would choose to never leave: NRG has plans to soon enough serve a breakfast menu here on week-days.
Once you’re past the bar area, you enter the courtyard, which even on this past chilly Thursday was nice and toasty due to restaurant’s very liberal (and welcome) use of heat lamps, candles and fire pits. The menu, equal parts Italian and Greek inspired, and locally sourced, will focus on a sturdy bread program, some amazing cheeses and meats, with the century old wisteria tree creating a romantic effect that you just can’t buy.
And just as you thought that things could really not get any more cozy, you duck into the main dining room where Chef Chittum will be whipping out the four and six course tasting menus for 48 people lucky enough to be seated there at any point in time.
With the fireplace crackling, and the cozy leather banquettes dotting the place, it is easy to imagine this dining room becoming a definitive addition to BYT’s SEAL THE DEAL date guide. In fact, just being there for a few min, made us feel like we were having a very special birthday during which someone was proclaiming their undying love to us while we just found out we got a new puppy waiting for us at home.
Which is not to say that the place is not welcoming, it is. This special occasion vibe-it is not its fault. It is just that it is bound to have that effect on people. But, trust us, you should be completely comfortable just cruising in on any old Tuesday and digging into those freshly baked foccacia breads as you would be on a special occasion. See you all there.
IRON GATE opens this Tuesday, Nov 19th for Dinner. Check out http://irongaterestaurantdc.com/ for details and reservations