Georgetown’s 200-seat Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill is ready to accommodate a range of diners’ tastes and adventure levels, via huge hunks of meat, salmon Cobb salads, and quirky boozy shooters paired with tinned fish imported from around the globe.
The diverse 13,000-square-foot restaurant (1054 31st Street NW), which just opened for dinner service on Wednesday, August 15 at 5 p.m., wants to transport customers to Europe upon entry at its seat-less marble raw bar, where bartenders are popping clams and preparing ceviches and maki rolls. Tin fish cans on display were originally only going to act as artwork — but as co-owner Donald Carlin studied more about their popularity throughout Spain, the Mediterranean, and Portugal, he was hooked on serving them as well.
“In Europe a working man eats his sardines at lunch, while others are all the way up to $150 for tins of oysters,” says Carlin, a hospitality vet who helped open mega Stephen Starr properties like Buddakan in New York City. “I’ve grown to fall in love with it.”
So he curated a roster of imported varieties, some of which were so hard to obtain they got held up in U.S. Customs, he says. Tins start at $18, served with a baguette and olive tapenade butter made on-site. He’s making postcards of each tin’s image so diners have mementos to look up the brand. The Spanish mussels marinated in red wine and olive oil are staff favorites so far.
The priciest in the bunch are the cockles in brine ($120). Diners rocking fat expense accounts or wallets can find them in the Land Baron ($250) seafood platter, which also includes three maki rolls, smoked fish, and orange-habanero lobster and shrimp ceviche.
Executive chef Neal Corman (former corporate director of the restaurant group behind RPM Italian) has other more approachable menu items in store, like beef filet, linguine and clams, and a seasonal “beetball” vegetable pot pie.
Beverage director and sommelier Andra Johnson (Macon Bistro & Larder) is serving a “martini shooter trio” — a multi-shot play off a traditional vodka martini. Instead of infusing vodka, she aromatizes wines like French Muscadet for each shot. There’s a riff on a “brinier dirty martini” featuring sage and thyme, as well as one with wasabi and pickled ginger. Each clear shooter gets even boozier via Grey Goose VX, finished with cognac.
As for the physical layout, Dyllan’s is a tale of multiple vibes. After walking past the bright and airy raw bar, lined by white paneling to mimic the look of a “cold refrigerator box,” notes Carlin, diners can saddle up to a dimly-lit central blue bar flanked by a 94-seat dining area accented by stone walls, salvaged fireplaces, and blue booths.
Carlin tells Eater he’s a huge fan of Georgetown’s architecture and is already open to opening “three to four” more restaurants in the neighborhood under the newly formed restaurant group he operates with his wife, Amy.
Dinner service is projected to run Tuesday to Thursday until 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until midnight. Brunch and weekday lunch are expected to join the mix in the coming weeks, as will its 100-seat private dining area in the back.
Status: Certified open. 1054 31st Street NW; website.