Service Bar, nearing its one-year anniversary of slinging drinks and fried chicken, is now bringing both the beach and France to U Street.
Every Sunday, the bar will transform into a summertime oasis—complete with huge blow-up pool toys, squirt guns, a DJ spinning tropical house music, and pails of beer. The atypical brunch service, dubbed “Beach Vibes,” purposely starts at 2 p.m. to appease the lazy and hungover masses, explains co-owner Chad Spangler.
“We want it to be super relaxed and casual,” he said.
Slushy pina coladas and That Dewey Beach Crush Thing, served in what resembles a Solo party cup, leave more options on the table: At its first crack at brunch service on July 16, “we didn’t sell a single mimosa until 9 p.m.,” he said.
Bites include chilaquiles (tortillas cooked in guajillo salsa and served with salsa verde, queso fresco, and a sunny side up egg), ricotta toast, and churros. This weekend, the team will test out the idea of serving brunch until close.
There’s also a French focus with its new regional menu, which rotates every two months (a Mexican theme just wrapped up). Co-owner Glendon Hartley has some extensive intel from his travels there, and cocktails like the Blanc Swizzle (Lillet Blanc, green chartreuse, lemon) come in upscale glassware. (See cocktail menu below.)
Manning the food is chef Jerry Zawacki, who hails from Hazel and plans to expand on Service Bar’s lineup of mostly fried chicken and fries. He’s encouraging a zero-waste kitchen, and many ingredients star in both food and drinks (chicken liver mousse pate features in-house fruit preserves made from the same fruits used in seasonal cocktails). Other new additions under his watch include duck confit sandwiches and buffalo chicken dip.
The team hits farmers markets up to four times a week to load up on seasonal fare (“cherries are phenomenal right now,” said Spangler). Find sweet and sour varieties in the Parisian Cherry Fizz, alongside lemon and Armagnac. Peaches are next to pop, said Spangler.
An additional hyper-seasonal section of the cocktail menu celebrates prime time ingredients (find an Apricot iced tea with Teeling Irish Whiskey, lemon and black tea from Capital Teas).
Its menus are constantly changing, says the team, but some cocktails aren’t going anywhere. Since opening, Spangler reports the Suffering Bastard, inspired by one he had at the late Sasha Petraske’s NYC bar, has been a best seller (bourbon, gin, spicy ginger beer, mint, lime, angostura). Another mainstay is the Baked Apple & Pear Gin & Tonic, as apples and pears are easy to find year round.
And its OG food item, fried chicken, is also staying put—with a new recipe from Zawacki. Find it a la carte and integrated in fun food-and-drink packages like the What The Cluck? ($60 for eight-piece fried chicken and eight pony beers).