Restaurateur Hakan Ilhan is delivering on his promise to make his incoming brasserie in Georgetown a French-themed magnet for millennials, naming a 25-year-old as executive chef in an announcement today.
Jaryd Hearn will lead the kitchen at Brasserie Liberté. He notably spent two years cooking in the modernist kitchen at Alinea, Chicago’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars, and has relocated to D.C. from his most recent gig at the now-shuttered Polo Grill & Bar in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
Liberté (3251 Prospect Street NW) is expected to open in mid-October with capacity for 250. The anticipated restaurant slides into the 6,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Morton’s The Steakhouse.
Hearn’s menu will cover appetizers, flatbreads, salads, and entrées that top out around $35. There will be core classics like French onion soup or steak frites made with marinated hanger steak. Earlier this summer, Ilhan said the staff had tested a whopping 77 French fry recipes to get the spuds right.
Also expect cured salmon rillette with crème fraiche and herbs and escargot a la Bourguignon with parsley butter and mushroom. Heartier orders call for a crispy leg of duck confit with seasonal greens, duck-fat smashed potatoes, and mustard cream sauce or a vegetable cassoulet with white beans and wild mushrooms.
A climate-controlled, glass-enclosed wine wall will house 150 labels by the bottle (starting at $28 and soaring to $2,000) and over 20 by the glass ($8 to $23). Cocktails come with a French bent ($11-$13), playing up ingredients and traditional elixirs from Paris to Dejon and the New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Along with weekday lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner, a limited late-night menu will run until 1 a.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
According to today’s announcement, Hearn started developing whimsical dishes at Alinea when he was 21, and chef Grant Achatz promoted him to a management position in three months. Hearn also worked at Alinea’s pop-up restaurants in Madrid and Miami.
This marks the second time in recent memory that Ilhan has used Alinea as a pipeline for talent. Keith Bombaugh, Ilhan’s pick to replace Frank Ruta at Mirabelle last year, also worked at the top-rated Chicago restaurant. Ruta is now on the payroll at Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group in a to-be-determined role.
Ilhan is wrapping up a multi-million dollar renovation of Morton’s, completely gutting the space and raising the ceilings. The owner went with Swatchroom, saying the D.C. designers behind Morris American Bar in Shaw and Wilson Hardware in Clarendon are in tune with Liberté’s younger target market.
lhan, who also runs Turkish-inspired Ottoman Taverna and Italian eatery Al Dente, thinks Georgetown needs a new brasserie. He’s said he misses the days he used to frequent now-shuttered Bistro Francais for late-night drinks and bites.