Four-year-old hipster haven Bar Charley is beginning to mature a bit, now offering Dupont Circle diners a handful of steaks that won’t break the bank.
“Bar Charley originally opened with small plates that worked to go along with drinking, but missed the mark for guests looking to dine at the restaurant,” admits Gordon Banks, co-founder of Goodbar Management Group, the company that also operates Little Coco's, Quarry House Tavern, El Chucho, and Slash Run.
Bar Charley (1825 18th Street NW) is now entering a “new era,” he says, starting with the addition of additional offerings for carnivores. There’s an 8-ounce bavette steak ($19.95); 14-ounce New York strip ($34.95); and 5-ounce A5 Kobe striploin ($59.95).
“Sixty bucks is a lot for a small steak — but that steak would cost you $100 to $200 if you go a few more blocks downtown,” claims Banks.
Weekend warriors are welcome: orders of red meat are half-off Sunday nights with the purchase of a bottle or four-person tiki bowl.
Another new addition under chef Adam Harvey’s watch is a pupu platter ($36.95) composed of pit-beef style wagyu skewers with tiger sauce, Maryland blue crab tater tots, Old Bay-lime wings with spicy citrus honey, seared pork belly skewers with Korean barbecue sauce, and half-smoke pierogies with stout mustard.
“The only thing that would keep me from fussing around at Chinese restaurants as a kid was burning skewers of meat over sterno,” Banks says of the inspiration behind the D.C.-themed dish. Seasonal cocktails include Holy Shisito (blistered shishitos, Silver Tequila, yuzu, lime, agave) and Quack Quackerac (bourbon, rye, rum, duck fat St Germain, Burlesque bitters) that’s poured from a comical glass duck dubbed Mallory.
And small design changes are likely coming soon, like matching the iconic green banana leaf print on its new menus with fresh wallpaper throughout.
Other things are staying put — such as the 80s Old Fashioned, featuring Bulleit bourbon, orange soda, bitters, and cherry ice; it’s an ode to Banks’ early days learning how to bartend while attending James Madison University.
“They taught me to make an Old Fashioned by muddling the shit out of an orange slice, maraschino cherry, and topping that with whiskey and soda water. I asked if that was really how to make it and the answer was ‘don’t care,’” he says.