116 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
This edition of Eating Around Town was written by Abbey Becker. Abbey previously wrote about Stachowski’s Market and she lives near Eastern Market.
Boundary Stone Public House (116 Rhode Island Avenue NW) is everything I imagine a neighborhood bar should be. Living on Capitol Hill, we’ve got Tune Inn, but then you’re mostly relegated to ordering a burger or something fried. Tunicliff’s fills the “local bar” slot perfectly–I’ve seen people of all ages, cops, and firefighters there at all hours of the day–but the food isn’t anything to write home about.
If you’re going on a weekend night, good luck getting a spot to sit. It’s great that it’s doing so well, but if you plan to eat, be ready to hover (at a distance, of course) and slip into a seat just as the last person gets up. Those that aren’t inclined to wait long may want to try brunch on the weekend or a weekday dinner. Even if you can’t sit right away, you can sip a beer or whiskey near the bar until something frees up.
Speaking of drinking, you can do it well at Boundary Stone. The whiskey, bourbon, rye, and scotch lists seem pretty extensive. (I’m a gin drinker, so I’m just making an assumption based on what others have told me.) There are always a couple of local beers on tap, and there’s a good selection of cans. If you’re there for weekend brunch, they’ve got $12 bottomless Bloody Marys or mimosas, and when I went last weekend, the bartender was quick about refilling an empty glass.
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It’s clear that the owners didn’t drop the ball when it came to the menu. The main menu stays the same, but I love that there are at least ten specials every day. When I went on Sunday, I had a tough time deciding between Welsh rarebit, a short rib sandwich with roasted peppers and fontina, steak frites, lettuce wraps, and tomato fennel soup.
I ended up with the 13th Street Meats chorizo, over easy egg, Chihuahua cheese, and roasted tomatillo salsa breakfast sandwich on a buttery sesame bun, which came with a side of home fries. The chorizo was spicy and porky, egg was perfectly custardy and runny, and the tomatillo salsa gave the sandwich a zingy freshness. Awesomely messy. The home fries were pretty great, though a few of the bigger potato cubes were a little bit undercooked.
If you don’t like beets, get the Bleu Burger. As much as I want to like them, they usually taste like dirt to me–except on this burger. The pickled beets lend an earthiness that’s tempered by the blue cheese and balsamic caramelized onions, so that it’s more about a hint of flavor and a unique texture than the overpowering and disgusting taste of the red devils. If I have to eat beets, I’m ordering this burger.
The arancini are made with “seasonal vegetables,” so they change often. On Sunday, the “vegetable” was roast beef and crème fraiche. As a carnivore, I love this. I’ve also seen butternut squash, though. The bruschetta are incredibly light and perfectly toasted, and last week, the toasts were topped with a whipped ricotta and artichoke mixture, then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with micro greens.
I am a big fan of buffalo wings, and I’m disappointed in most of the wings I’ve had here in DC. When I saw that Boundary Stone’s menu had honey hot wings, I did not have hope. I am a buffalo wing purist–nothing but Frank’s, in my opinion. But the honey actually mellows out the heat, allowing you to actually eat a wing and not blow out spicy air and gulp down half of your water. If you’re looking for a wing that’s more flavor than heat (but still has some of that, too), you’ve come to the right place.
Here is one thing that I don’t like about Boundary Stone: their homemade ketchup. I appreciate that they’re creative with their dishes and use fresh, local ingredients when they can. But their ketchup goes a bridge too far for me. When you expect the taste of Heinz and get the taste of slightly spiced tomato sauce…well, it’s not ketchup to me. Hey, if you like their version, that’s great, but I was glad to know that you can ask for Heinz on the side and they’ll bring it over.
That being said, Boundary Stone may be the best neighborhood bar in the city. Most people seem to know each other, and the bartenders are often chatting with regulars. This is the kind of place where no one’s going to judge you if you sit at the bar on a Sunday and drink bottomless mimosas all day, and that’s what I plan to do next weekend.