Mt. Vernon Triangle just got a year-round ode to Munich’s legendary Oktoberfest with the arrival of Prost DC, a festive new destination for German beers by the boot, schnitzels, sausages, hand-rolled pretzels, and mulled wine.
Prost DC permanently replaces Silo, the brick-lined American bistro that restaurateur Eric Heidenberger and his partners bought over two years ago at 919 5th Street NW. The plan was always to rebrand the bar down the line, he says.
“We wanted to do a fresh start, opening during this environment as a German/Bavarian concept — it’s something our family has been eager to try out,” says Heidenberger, whose restaurant group also runs Dupont Circle’s Northside Tavern, Madhatter, and Bottom Line.
Prost’s opening hours are Thursday and Friday, 3 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Prost plans to add delivery via third-party services, as well as offer packaged cocktails and beers for carryout. Lunch and daily operating hours will also join the mix soon.
Hand-rolled pretzels and pretzel buns housing bratwurst, burgers, or schnitzel sandwiches come from a German wholesaler in Bethesda. Egg noodles from the same source help build a traditional spaetzle, topped with tender beef short rib and finished with a gravy-and-beef stock.
Silo regulars missing its crispy Brussels sprouts can reunite with the popular app in a veggie spaetzle version. To stay authentic, however, a large bulk of the menu targets carnivores.
“There’s not a lot of vegetarian options in Germany,” he says. “After that trip, you’ve had a lot of sausage.”
The team has cred when it comes to bringing a German beer hall to D.C. Heidenberger’s dad and grandparents were born in Munich, Germany, and cousins still live in the area. Prost’s partners include his brother Alex Heidenberger, Dick Heidenberger, Frank Wilson, and Michael Tobin.
A trip to Cologne years back inspired Wilson to bring the German city’s beloved “two-liter” tasting board to D.C. The lengthy conversation starter features ten, 200-ml. glasses lined up and filled to the top with a different beer ($30).
“One table got one [during soft opening] last week and then people started wanting them,” says Heidenberger.
Alex Heidenberger lent his woodworking stills to craft each board, which enables patrons to sample the entire draft list at any given time. Unlike potent domestic IPAs, notes Wilson, most German beers hover around 5-percent ABV.
Traditional Hofbräuhaus-branded glassware is largely filled with German pours to start. More Austrian and European labels are expected to join the rotating lineup down the road.
Prost is also shooting to get harder-to-find German brews on the list. Heidenberger’s grandfather was one of the first sales reps for Dortmunder Union Beer, which originally brewed the pale lager in Dortmund, Germany back in 1873.
“I haven’t found a distributor in the states yet but we really want to bring it on because it would be a full-circle story,” says Wilson.
Vet bartender Jenny Feldt is Prost’s beverage director. Her Prostini is a small, but strong, glass of Grey Goose, St. Germain, pomegranate, lemon, and amaro. Warm cocktails are also big at Prost, with a homemade mulled wine (glühwein) and cider with whiskey, apples, and cinnamon to start. Eight new picnic tables planted right outside add 48 outdoor seats to the venue.
“If you’re going to be sitting outside in 40-degree weather you want to have a hot cocktail,” says Heidenberger.
Brunch debuts Saturday, October 24 with opening dishes like an avocado toast on German rye, which will likely switch over to homemade pumpernickel. A Bavarian hash features two sunny-side up eggs, bratwurst, peppers, and onions. An omelette with Black Forest ham, onion, and a shredded Emmental/gruyere blend comes with potato pancakes.
The team applied for a rooftop addition last fall, but the pandemic put those plans on the back burner for now. Silo tried out takeout during the early days of COVID-19 in May but opted to go dark to reboot as Prost.
Heidenberger says there wasn’t a dry seat in the house during a neighborhood test run last Saturday, suggesting that Prost fills a neighborhood void. D.C.’s German beer hall circuit currently includes Sauf Haus in Dupont Circle, Biergarten Haus on H Street NE, and Dacha in Shaw.
The redesign of the soaring, industrial-styled space takes note of the world-renowned Hofbräuhaus München via lots of blue-and-white checkered pendants hanging on the walls. Ceiling streamers of the same colors are reminiscent of those soaring above drinkers in Oktoberfest tents.
As the holiday season approaches, the beer hall will transform into a European Christmas market of sorts, complete with evergreen trees, string lights, and an expanded assortment of hot cocktails.
“We’re trying to capture that festive, jovial neighborhood feel,” he says.
Live entertainment remains off limits during the pandemic, but an authentic German dance troupe is waiting in the wings once the temporary law lifts.