This edition of Eating Around Town was written by Abbey Becker.
I want to love Beuchert’s Saloon (623 Pennsylvania Avenue SE) again. I used to live near Eastern Market, and I remember walking by the papered-over front window on my twice-daily walk to the Metro and looking for some kind of notice about their opening. Once they did, I think I probably went at least five times before I moved away in July. I was taken with the atmosphere, the service, the cocktails, the food.
After a visit last weekend, though, I have to wonder if something happened, or if they just had a bad night. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
The feel is much the same, I’m happy to report—it still exudes a neighborhood feel and a genuine kind of coziness that’s tough to find in that part of town, or in the city itself, for that matter. Once inside, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of a big city in 2013, rather than inside an early 1900s speakeasy. (It was once a saloon, and later a speakeasy, from 1880 to 1934.) The twin taxidermied bison heads over the hand-built walnut bar define, in my mind, what makes Beuchert’s great: attention to detail with a little bit of quirkiness. The dim lighting, subway tiling on the walls, brass accents, and jazzy soundtrack make for a throwback that’s all respect for the past and no gimmick. One of my favorite parts is that the owners are still working on the floor during service, even though Beuchert’s has been open since March. To me, that’s a mark of true pride and care.
If you’re planning a visit, I’d recommend sitting at the front bar. In my experience, it’s more fun to perch on the wooden barstools and interact with the bartenders. While the tables at the back make dinners with more than one friend easier, it feels a bit lonelier back there, like you’re missing the action. And there’s something to be said for eating and drinking a fancy cocktail at the bar that makes you feel like you’re echoing what happened there so many years ago.
But let’s talk food and drink here. (more…)