A swanky new speakeasy overflowing with dessert cocktails, candle-lit tables, and surf-and-turf bites quietly sauntered into town this month above Eastern Market’s year-old Harvest Tide.
Hyde (212 7th Street SE) comes from the Delaware-based team behind the lower-level steakhouse, which replaced Italian linchpin Acqua al 2 last October. Hyde reactivates the former home of sibling speakeasy Harold Black, which enjoyed a respected 10-year run atop a set of unmarked stairs. Hyde is open just Fridays and Saturdays (8 p.m. to 12 p.m.) to start.
The new owners originally planned to call the space “Side Door” — as an ode to the secret side door leading up to the second level — but quickly scrubbed that plan after learning D.C. already has a Side Door speakeasy tucked under Pub and the People in Eckington. Side Door is also the name of a tiny pizza takeout in Navy Yard.
Hyde takes extra measures to remain hush-hush, between a no-photography rule and strict password-required entry. Unlike original Prohibition-era speakeasies of the 1920s, when passwords were generally circulated by word of mouth, Hyde sends its out via email. There’s a different one for each night that’s blasted out to subscribers the day before.
“It just adds a little bit of mystery to it and make[s] it a little bit more exclusive,” Hyde’s director of operations Donna Serafini tells Eater.
But even a valid password doesn’t ensure entry. Serafini says the bar will impose a capacity limit to maintain an under-the-radar, private atmosphere. There are no reservations available, except for VIP members willing to drop a whopping $2,000 or more on-site per month.
Aesthetically, Hyde leans into the brick-framed building’s original roots. Striking gold curtains and flickering candles seek to elicit a sultry, moody vibe.
“This is a really old building and it has really good architectural characteristics to it, between the wood and the windows and just the feel of it in general,” says Serafini. “[Hyde] is cozy, dark and swanky.”
Hyde offers a pared-down version of chef Danio Somoza’s menu at Harvest Tide below. A section of starters — or “temptations” — include a charcuterie board, steak tartare punched up with both traditional mustard and unexpected chili oil, and dry-aged meatballs with potatoes and a sun dried tomato relish. For seafood, there’s P.E.I mussels swimming in a saffron chorizo broth and “Tidal Dip” showcasing lobster and blue crab. Hyde also imports a few pizzas from downstairs (around $30) and its top-selling butcher selections — a prime filet mignon, dry-aged ribeye, and a black Angus burger — for $22 to $65.
To drink, Hyde specializes in dessert cocktails and “Rimmers” — glasses of wine with chocolate or caramel-dipped rims. A dark chocolate rim pairs with a cabernet; white chocolate with a rose; and caramel with chardonnay and prosecco. Liquid finales — aka “Luscious Endings” — include a “S’mores Martini” (vanilla vodka, chocolate liqueur, torched marshmallow with a graham cracker rim), “Spanish Cherry” (Herradura Anejo, amaretto, chocolate liqueur), and “Call Me” (Woodford Bourbon, Grand Mariner, absinthe, Cherry Heering, egg white, lemon).
The speakeasy’s list of specialty cocktails (around $15 each) riff on classics. A “Fig & Blu,” is a sweet-and-salty martini; a gin and tonic adds cilantro, jalapeno, and ginger for a spicy kick, and “Kentucky Woods” reads like a fruity Old Fashioned. Tableside bottle service comes with a choice of juices and tonic, and the priciest bottle of the bunch is Don Julio 1942 ($455). Add-ons include agave, bitters, and blue cheese olives.
For dessert, sharable nibbles include chocolate-covered strawberries and a chocolate fondue “Divine Board,” as well as peanut butter and pumpkin pies and a ten-layer chocolate mascarpone cake.
“What we want is an intimate setting for couples, small groups of friends that are out to celebrate things, or just an intimate night for a couple to go out and share some wine and a great dessert,” says Serafini.
The family-run hospitality group, which operates a collection of Delaware restaurants in beach towns like Dewey, Lewes, and Rehoboth, also brought its modern Mexican eatery Zoca to Capitol Hill this year.
The Southeast neighborhood is also home to password-free, photo-friendly speakeasy the Wells, a gin-fueled respite nestled next to La Collina and Duck and the Peach.