The team behind Barrel opens a second Capitol Hill watering hole tonight, introducing a glossy wine bar called the Eastern that complements 40 varieties of wine with a menu full of dips, charcuterie boards, seafood, and sandwiches.
The anticipated summer arrival (360 7th Street SE), named after its Eastern Market neighborhood, occupies a corner of the new mixed-use complex dubbed 700 Penn.
Despite boasting a wine list curated by multiple sommeliers on-site, the new drinking destination doesn’t take itself too seriously. “Champagne service” — a 750-milliliter bottle of Miller High Life ($10) — is presented table-side in fancy glassware like it’s Dom Perignon.
“Even thought this is more of a grown-up little sister and we may be more sophisticated, we still have to bring our cheekiness into it,” co-owner Matt Weiss told Eater this month.
Weiss also runs dressed-down watering hole Union Pub nearby, as well as McClellan’s Retreat in Dupont Circle and Truxton Inn in Bloomingdale. Each is known for its playful promotions around pop culture (think Beetlejuice, Willy Wonka, and Tax Day-themed cocktails).
Pours by the glass start at $9 for a Portuguese Vinho Verde and rise to $40 for a Cabernet Sauvignon from Heitz Cellars.
The food menu represents new territory for chef Walfer Hernandez, whose lineup at the Southern-centric Barrel features filling pastas, fried chicken, and crab rangoons.
The Eastern’s menu features a substantial charcuterie and cheese section. The “Beastern” ($48) option piles on all of its cured meats (like sopressata, jagerwurst, bresaola, duck prosciutto) alongside cheese (Humbolt Fog, camembert). Accoutrements like peach marmalade make the most of peak seasonal produce.
Hernandez dips into his Guatemalan background by including moronga, a Latin American blood sausage served with pickled carrots, mild and creamy fontal cheese, and crostini.
“It reminds me of home,” he says. “I grew up eating that kind of sausage.”
There’s also a moutabal dip, similar to baba ghanoush, that’s made with eggplant, tomatoes, onions, tahini, olive oil, and parsley. It’s served with house-fired pita. A small seafood section includes a sea bass ceviche with ginger, scallion, garlic, and fish sauce.
Hours are daily starting at 4 p.m. until late, with brunch kicking off some time in September.