All words by Elsie Yang
Munich has come to Mt. Vernon Triangle. Restaurateur Eric Heidenberger has brought a piece of his heritage to the nation’s capital in the form of Prost DC (919 5th Street NW), an unapologetic celebration of all things German. Heidenberger is no stranger to the DC food scene — his restaurant group is also behind Northside Tavern, Madhatter, and Bottom Line (in fact, when I paid Prost a visit last week, Heidenberger wrapped up his work at the new restaurant just in time to help out the team further north in the city). But this concept is unique — not only for Heidenberger, but for DC as well.
Sure, there are plenty of (great) beer gardens in the city. But few are as authentically German, and yet surprising, as Prost. Heidenberger’s familial influence is clear in the food offerings, which are certainly geared toward the carnivore. “There’s just not a lot of ocean near Munich,” Heidenberger jests in response to my attempt at pescetarianism at the restaurant. But if you’re ever going to abandon your normal dietary restrictions, Prost is a great place to do it. The beer bratwurst is one of the best I’ve come across, and the beef short rib on the locally sourced spaetzle is as tender as it is flavorful.
Classic German pretzels and pretzel buns are the product of an authentic German bakery in Bethesda, and the same local business makes the aforementioned egg noodles that can be paired with either that delightful short rib or seasonal roast vegetables for the plant-based among us.
Other German classics include a cucumber salad accented by a creamy dill dressing, and a fantastic potato salad whose acidity is cut with the addition of bacon. And if you, like I am, are obsessed with all things deep fried, do not leave without trying Prost’s french fries, served alongside a house vinegar mayo that is distinctly European in its persuasion.
But of course, a Bavarian beer hall must be all about the beer, right? Well, surprisingly, not quite. Yes, the restaurant features a wide selection of mostly German beers, which you can try 10 at a time with the Ein Meter Bitte (literally, one meter, please). True to form, this offering features 10 200-ml glasses of beer so you can truly sample most (if not all) Prost has to offer.
But where Prost truly sets itself apart from other beer halls in the district is with its cocktail program, expertly led by Jenny Feldt. Hailing from Le Diplomate, Feldt is doubtless leading Prost’s beverage program to widespread fame with a carefully curated selection of creative and delicious cocktails. They’re drinkable without being too sweet, and surprisingly strong (but in a sneaky way). The Prostini is Feldt’s take on a classic pomegranate martini, whereas the Kirsche Colabier with fino sherry, marashino liquor, cola, and Helles lager, is an adult take on a cherry Coke. My personal favorite is doubtless the Streets of Berlin, a more spirit-forward beverage featuring gin, fernet, and sweet vermouth. And for the colder months, there are two warm beverages — the Prost Appelwein with whiskey, hot cider, apples, and cinnamon; and Jenny’s Gluhwein, a homemade mulled wine that is spice rather than sugar-forward.
While Prost is just over a week old, the first several days of business have proven quite successful. “We’ve had great turnout these last several days,” Heindenberger says, noting a string of busy dinner services right off the bat. But of course, there’s more still to come. For example, in seeking to fill the role of a true European bar, Heidenberger’s team is hoping to bring in a few more televisions to offer soccer fans a place to watch the morning Premier League (and other) games on weekends (and weekdays).
And speaking of weekends, Prost is already offering brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, with trendy dishes like avocado toast on traditional German brown bread, and less healthy options like the Prost breakfast burger. But if you’re going for brunch, don’t miss the dish Heidenberger calls “so good” while his eyes roll back — the Deustch Baby, a traditional German pancake served with either savory or sweet toppings.
While opening a restaurant during the pandemic (and right before the cold season) is no small task, it seems as though the Prost team has all the makings of great success. And to that, we can certainly raise a glass.
919 5TH ST NW
p. (202) 290-2233
Thu/Fri 2pm to 12am
Sat/Sun 10am to 12am
Featured image via Prost