Come February, 2007 18th St. NW will open its doors to the empty bellies of Adams Morgan (well, fingers crossed anyway). As someone who lives there, you can only imagine my excitement…especially considering my options are pretty much limited to mediocre bar food and radioactive-sized slices of pizza. Bill Thomas of Bourbon & Breadsoda has been working on the new restaurant with chef Michael Hartzer, who has previously cooked at Citronelle, Ray’s the Classics, Viridian and, most recently, the late IndeBleu. Originally set to open this past summer, Jack Rose is a bit off schedule, but considering the final product, I can see why it was worth the wait…
Some serious work is being put in the old gym space, which holds three levels, 6,000 sq ft, and seating for around 140 to 150 people. The basement will function as a chef’s tasting room and speakeasy-style lounge, while the ground floor will serve as the main dining area. Two-thirds of the top floor will be taken up by an open air roof deck and the rest – an enclosed room reserved for private parties, complete with a fireplace and a small patio where you can watch debauchery unfold on 18th St. But the best part about all this space? There’s room for five bars (five!), not to mention a WOOD-FIRED BARBECUE PIT THAT WILL ROAST PIGS ONCE A WEEK AND SERVE DELICIOUS MEATS UNTIL 2AM FOR AROUND $9. If you couldn’t tell, that’s the part I’m most looking forward to.
Enough about the building plans, what I really wanted to find out was what’s on the menu. Rumors were that it was going to be “fancy American food,” and considering myself to be a fancy American, I figured it was my duty to give it a try. For the past couple months, Bourbon has offered a preview of cocktails and appetizers that could potentially make their way onto the menu at Jack Rose. Many are still in an experimental phase, but if the end result is anything like what I tasted Thursday night, I’d say we’re in good hands.
The Saint – Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, topped with black beer (Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout) & garnished with lemon (photo by Katie Dance)
Normally you wouldn’t find me ordering a cocktail (let alone one with gin), but with 1500 spirits, 100 bottles of wine, and 20 different kinds of beer, I guess I can afford to deviate from the usual PBR and a shot of Jameson. In this case, I’m glad I did.
Crispy Belly Clams – Fried Ipswitch Clams, Lemon & Caper Tartar, Parsley (photo by Katie Dance)
Happy to learn this appetizer will definitely be featured on the menu, especially since it has all the characteristics of food I love: salty, fried, and completely addicting.
Sweet Spiced Sausage – Roasted Fennel, Butter sauce, Clementine powder (photo by Katie Dance)
Roast Duck – Leg Confit, Curly Endive, Potato Crouton (photo by Katie Dance)
Hartzer’s take on this French bistro classic is topped with quail eggs fried in foie gras butter. FOIE GRAS BUTTER, PEOPLE. I don’t think any three words have made me drool so much…except for maybe “fried chicken bucket” or “Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”
When creating the menu, Chef Hartzer was hoping to stray from the seafood/raw bar concept DC has come to know so well, and opt for something more down to earth and approachable using fresh, organic ingredients from local farms. He called it “a return to classic American cuisine,” which after some explanation, I have come to define as “food you’d expect to find on the Oregon Trail, only better because you don’t have to forge any rivers in a covered wagon and nobody’s dying of cholera,” or in simpler terms, “yummy pioneer shit.” There will be steak and chicken, of course, but menu items will primarily consist of wild game like squab, venison, rabbit, etc. Honestly, I didn’t even know what squab was before this, but judging by this slightly terrifying/mostly delicious looking picture I found through Google images, it looks like something I could probably get into.
As you can probably guess, Jack Rose is not exactly a vegetarian’s paradise, but the chef promises there will be at least one veggie-friendly entree and plans make good use of the fresh, local ingredients in various seasonal vegetable sides, soups and salads. Entrees will be priced around $12-30, so whoever wants to take me out to dinner when this place opens – bring cash, cause I plan on eating all of them.. at once. If you want to get an early taste of Hartzer’s handiwork, hit up Bourbon in Adams Morgan on Wednesday or Thursday. I believe this week will be one of the last before they open, so hurry up and go check it out for yourself!