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Cafe St. Ex and Bar Pilar vets bring Pennyroyal Station to Mount Rainier

3310 Rhode Island Avenue, Maryland “The exterior and Patio of Pennyroyal Station // Photo by Amanda Hoey”

From a press release:

“Pennyroyal Station, Mount Rainier’s highly anticipated neighborhood bar and restaurant, is opening its doors for indoor and patio dining as well as carryout on December 1, 2020. In 2016, co-owner Erin Edwards was looking for her own house in Mount Rainier, she was shown a space in the historic Singer Building, originally the home of The First National Bank of Maryland in the early 1900s.

A light went off that this would be the perfect space for a new restaurant to serve as a cornerstone of the community she now calls home. Edwards teamed up with industry vet Garrick Lumsden and Chef Jesse Miller, whom she worked with at Cafe St. Ex and Bar Pilar, a neighborhood bar and restaurant that made their home on DC’s 14th Street in 2003, to bring Pennyroyal to life.

“We took the experience of working with the original ownership team of Pilar/St.Ex and being the first in that area back in 2003, and we saw the same potential in Mount Rainier. We were all really looking to get back to that neighborhood vibe”, says Erin Edwards, co-owner of Pennyroyal Station.

The tireless team hit many of the opening permitting and construction delays those in the restaurant industry are all too familiar with. Fast forward nearly three years and the coronavirus pandemic hit just as the Pennyroyal team was- at long last- reaching the final phases of opening for dine-in service.

“”It has been a long journey to get here and we are so grateful to be able to open our doors and welcome guests”, says Garrick Lumsden, co-owner of Pennyroyal Station. “We know the Mount Rainier neighborhood has been patiently awaiting our arrival, and it means so much to us to officially join this vibrant community. In a time where connection is more important than ever, it remains our hope that Pennyroyal will be a place where family can safely gather at our table, those who have been apart for too long can reunite over a good meal and neighbors can become friends.”

“On a personal level, it is important to me that Pennyroyal reflects back the diversity of this neighborhood in our team and stands as a place where all are welcome and celebrated”, he continues. ” We are honored to join our fellow BIPOC- and women- owned businesses in Mt. Rainier who came before us and are doing the same.”

The Space

The original doors of the First National Bank will welcome guests to the 1700 square foot restaurant located in the heart of the Route 1 corridor. Natural light floods from large windows into the space outfitted with marble and tile and flanked by walls with their original materials left exposed or accented with shades of teal. Built-in shelves are filled with personal touches including the team’s favorite cookbooks and the space is accented by hanging plants and herbs growing in the windows to be used for the kitchen and bar programs. The front room is centered around a large, marble bar seating 16, envisioned as a meeting place for guests and neighbors-turned-friends when bar seating reopens. Around the bar is additional seating, which is currently composed of traditional tables, but will be replaced with high tops and crescent moon booths made by Miller’s friend and former executive chef at Bar Pilar, Justin Bittner, to accommodate 30 post-coronavirus. A thruway leads to the back dining room with tables and cozy corner booth seating found at Baltimore’s Second Chance, Inc. and refurbished by the team, accommodating an additional 30 guests. Indoor occupancy will be limited to 25% capacity and the bar seating will remain closed per the Prince George’s County COVID-19 guidelines.

“The bar and front room at Pennyroyal Station // Photo by Amanda Hoey”

The space was designed by the Pennyroyal team itself, all the way down to the paintings adorning the walls honoring Mount Rainier’s Washington state namesake as well as the historic streetcar that embarked from a station located across the street in the early 1900s, all created by Pennyroyal’s own Chef Jesse Miller.

Onlookers from Rhode Island Avenue will enjoy a colorful mural by artist Yulia Avgustinovich, which stretches across the exterior of Pennyroyal’s home in the Singer Building. The outdoor art, made possible by the Mount Rainier Arts Commission, depicts flowers and birds native to Mount Rainier, the distinct architecture of the community and a nod to the historic DC Transit 82 streetcar that once connected the area to downtown DC.

A large patio with a partially-covered pergola is situated under the mural, seating 40 with tables spaced six-feet apart in accordance with Prince George’s County’s COVID-19 guidelines for outdoor dining. In the future, communal picnic tables will take their place. Live greenery and flowers surrounding the al fresco seating accent the artwork and bring its inspiration alive. During cold weather, guests can cozy up next to heaters or under blankets that will be sold for $5.

“Slow-Roasted Pork Biscuit at Pennyroyal Station // Photo by Amanda Hoey”

The Food

Chef Jesse Miller, who turned out the upscale bar fare beloved by many at Bar Pilar and Cafe St. Ex, created a menu of contemporary American comfort food with Mount Rainier in mind. The dining program is designed to accommodate the important and varied role of a neighborhood restaurant. Miller took care to provide offerings for friends reuniting over a long-overdue dinner, couples looking for a special night out, co-workers commiserating over a drink with snacks and families spending quality time at Pennyroyal’s table alike.

“When I was developing the menu, I thought about the community and the dining options they currently have but, more importantly, what they don’t have. I really wanted to fill that void by making sure we have a little something for everyone while still maintaining a cohesive menu at a price point that is accessible”, said Chef Jesse Miller, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Pennyroyal Station

Comfort food reimagined by Miller, always a centerpiece of his concept, finds a place of new importance on the Pennyroyal menu. Options include Truffled Potato Croquettes with a French onion soup broth topped with aged white cheddar; Slow-Roasted Suckling Pig with pumpkin, ham, country beans and pumpkin romesco; a P.L.T. that swaps bacon for house made pimento cheese and a traditional slice of tomato for a fried green tomato in the classic sandwich; and a Warm Buttermilk Cake Donut Stack with chocolate glaze and sprinkles for dessert.

Family style meals are another focus, bringing guests together at the table while also being ideal for carry out. Communal meals include Smokey Brisket served with horseradish, collard greens with smoked ham and biscuits; All Day Basted Pork Shoulder Taco Time starring savory pulled pork, house made tortillas, Carolina rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, lime and radish; and Grilled and Roasted Winter Vegetables featuring an assortment of marinated and grilled fall vegetables fresh from Pennyroyal’s local farm partners served with toasted farro salad, ricotta and avocado hummus.

Careful attention is paid to vegetarian and vegan guests with thoughtful offerings including Early Fall Squash and Taleggio Cheese Lasagna layered with miso-ginger and rosemary cream and hazelnut-lemongrass picada and a Farmers Market Salad full of fresh baby kale, roasted broccoli, thinly-sliced pumpkin, radish, tofu queso, ricotta and smoked garlic, all served with sesame dressing. A veggies section boasts seasonal produce with inventive preparations including Herb-Roasted Baby Carrots with Maple and Lime, Avocado Hummus served with chickpea crackers and Grilled Kabocha Squash with garlic and chili.

Miller will be carrying over one main philosophy from his time at Bar Pilar and St.Ex: make as much in-house as possible. This mantra will shine through house made items including the restaurant’s signature Parker House Buns, biscuits that sandwich crispy fried chicken in a Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sammie with house made slaw and pickles as well as serves as the base of the Slow Roasted Pork Biscuit served with pickles and hots as a snack and Buttermilk-Fried Chicken Skins with Maple Sriracha.

“Cocktail in vintage glassware at Pennyroyal Station // Photo by Amanda Hoey”

The Drinks

Beverage consultant and longtime barman in the area Christopher Martino crafted Pennyroyal’s cocktail list, which features classic drinks with a twist, designed to give guests a bit of nostalgia with a dose of fun. Illustrating this philosophy are the Seattle Sour made using gin, Bonal Gentian, honey and lemon; a Hanky Panky with gin, vermouth, carmelized sweet onion and fernet; and a Catch Me If You Can made with barrel-aged rum, armagnac, sherry and ginger-spiced red vermouth.

Additional offerings including The Vashion with rye whiskey, American brandy, coffee and barley liqueur, Alpine liqueur and bitters and The Meditating Bull featuring tequila, matcha tea, vanilla, lime, lemon and soda water, which harkens back to the bartending era of using teas as natural bitters. The Green Goddess utilizes herbs grown in Pennyroyal’s windows with Cachaça, lime, thyme, basil, green peppercorn, tarragon and soda water while The Honeycrisp with applejack brandy, apple-infused syrup, lemon, egg white and soda water speaks to seasonal produce. All cocktails will be served in vintage glassware unearthed by the team in local consignment shops and thrift stores they visited during their travels prior to opening.

Beers, available on draft and by the can/bottle, will rotate and feature notable national breweries among a large selection of local labels. The opening menu includes out-of-state picks from Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing and Austin East Cider out of Texas as well as selection from regional favorites DuClaw Brewing (Rosedale, MD) and Milkhouse Brewery’s (Mt Airy, MD) “Black is Beautiful”, proceeds from which will be donated to the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP.

Sparkling, red and white wines from makers out of South Africa, Spain, Italy, Portugal and beyond as well as Washington and Oregon on our own shores will be available by the glass and bottle. For those looking for recommendations, Pennyroyal’s current favorite labels will be called out in a “Staff Picks” section of the menu.

A favorite from the Bar Pilar days, boozy frozen slushees will round out the beverage menu and lend playfulness to the drink list with creations including a nod to Maryland’s home football team, The Raven’s Crush Slush, featuring silver tequila, orange liqueur, blackberry purée and fresh lime juice as well as a seasonal offering that will rotate regularly.

Pennyroyal guests can expect a roll out of brunch and all-day menus in the future.

Pennyroyal Station will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 4 PM- 12 AM ; Friday and Saturday from 4 PM- 1 AM; and Sunday from 4 PM-11 PM. Reservations can be made via Resy. Carryout orders can be placed online through the website and delivery is available via DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Note: Due to Prince George’s County COVID-19 regulations, Pennyroyal’s operating hours will conclude at 10 PM until further notice.

Pennyroyal Station is located at 3310 Rhode Island Avenue, Maryland 20712. For more information, please visit or call (240) 770-8579.”

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