The partners behind dormant Capitol Hill pub Beuchert’s Saloon and pandemic-driven sandwich pop-up Fight Club plan to open another restaurant nearby that will allow chef Andrew Markert to take more of a fine dining approach with the New American style he’s developed over the past eight years.
Newland, named after the Baltimore road where Markert lived as a child, will take over the space at 327 Seventh Street SE that housed French bistro Montmartre for two decades. Markert says he just picked up the keys to the space this week, and after some renovations, he hope to debut the new restaurant by mid-December. The food at Newland will be more “elegant” and “refined” than Beuchert’s, Markert says, but the goal is to retain a casual atmosphere.
“Sure, shirt required, but we don’t want you to feel like you have to dress up,” Markert says.
Markert plans to follow a similar format as Beuchert’s, with menu sections that highlight Mid-Atlantic produce and homemade pasta alongside rice and other grains. His Maryland roots will play a role, so people can expect to see crab dishes and beef cooked over charcoal. He plans to weave in other global flavors and says he has already reached out to two other chef friends, Johnny Spero at Reverie and Brad Deboy at Ellē, to see if he can spend some time mining their kitchens for inspiration. Markert also references a trip he took to the Philippines with Pogiboy chef Tom Cunanan a few years back as an experience that could influence the new restaurant.
“I’m one of those weird people who doesn’t like to repeat dishes,” Markert says. “And if I’m opening a new restaurant, I’m kind of like, nah, I don’t want to do anything I’ve necessarily done at Beuchert’s before.”
Markert got his start in D.C. working for Michel Richard at Citronelle and was the chef de cuisine at modern American PS 7’s in Penn Quarter. Since opening Beuchert’s on Pennsylvania Avenue SE eight years ago, Markert has felt a little haunted by the historic bar building’s past, dating back to its original incarnation as a late-19th century pub and Prohibition-era speakeasy. At a place that has “saloon” stenciled on the front glass window and buffalo heads hanging behind the bar, Markert always felt people came in for cocktails, and it was his job to win them over with rotating seasonal dishes like ceviches, white gazpacho, saag with soft turnips subbing in for paneer, bison tartare with sweet onion jam, or a fried cauliflower dish with lime zest, miso caramel, puffed quinoa, and fermented chili powder.
“I really do think people came in because of the drinks but came back because of the food,” says Beuchert’s beverage director Mackenzie Conway, who will pick the wine list at Newland.
While cocktails play a large part at Beuchert’s and Fight Club, Conway says he expects to serve a short list of six to eight at Newland. Some will fold in modern techniques to manipulate fruits and veggies from Markert’s kitchen, and others will be versions of classics he’s been tweaking for years. So there might be a clarified caprese cocktail, one of Conway’s obsessions for a while now, alongside a refreshing, New Orleans-style roffignac built with a raspberry shrub.
There aren’t any draft lines on the property, so Conway will stock cans and bottles starting with Hamm’s, the “dad beer” of choice at Beuchert’s, and maybe a “higher-end amber or stout by the bottle or something really playful.” Conway is excited to have more room to properly store vintage wines, and wants to show off some lesser-known Bulgarian and Chilean grapes, as well as Idaho producers near the Columbia Valley.
Back on Pennsylvania Avenue, Markert expects Beuchert’s will come back one day. Fight Club has done well during the pandemic, getting a nod from the Washington Post for its pistachio butter and kitchen-cured bacon BLT, and could move into its own dedicated space once the chef and his partners find the right space.