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Brookland Pint - Tavern in Monroe Street Market by the Owners of Meridian Pint and Smoke and Barrel

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I walked into Brookland Pint - the sibling restaurant to John Andrade's Meridian Pint and Smoke and Barrel - last night, not realizing just how much publicity it had gotten pre-opening. Well, it's safe to say, "The word got out." (#FunFacts)

The bar was a mob scene, and I walked through a completely full (but not at all raucous) dining area to wash my hands. Brookland Pint has a completely co-ed restroom area, with individual, private toilet rooms for either sex, and communal sinks and hand dryers 
(which is very European). There are only a handful of restaurants like this in DC, and every time I come across one, I'm taken out of my element for a brief moment - I like it! Walking back to the large bar area (with a patio that was also completely full), I couldn't get a seat, so I stood and waited for my drink order to be taken. Brookland Pint has draft beer only (save for two bottled, gluten free beers), and there are fully 24 of them, all in a row, and none of them had obvious labels on the taps last night - it was remarkable that the bartenders could tell them apart, but they did.

I ordered a Riot Rye (6.2% ABV, $6 for a nonic pint) by Monocacy Brewing Company in Frederick, and grabbed a stool at one of the tables near the bar. Sipping my beer, watching the Nats (who pulled out their third straight walk-off!), and waiting for a bar seat to open, I kicked myself for yet again ordering a "Rye P A," always thinking that the rye will somehow compensate for the IPA hoppiness, and it never does. I am just not a hophead, and am starting to think I have a character flaw for disliking hop-heavy beers as much as I do.  With this whole "American Craft Beer movement," there really isn't much for someone like me to drink - get me to Munich, London, or Prague, please. Personal foibles aside, the Riot Rye was well-stored, well-poured, and exactly what it should have been, with a wonderfully clean, refreshing aroma - I could have just sat there and whiffed the glass, but the Nats were doing enough whiffing for me, heh, heh.

Just as I finished my beer and was ready to order another, a bar seat opened up, and I nabbed it. Determined to find something malty, I ordered a 10-ounce tulip glass of 2012 Oxbow Oxtoberfest (5.5% ABV), a barrel-aged saison from Oxbow Brewing Company in Newcastle, Maine. At the same time, I ordered my dinner because I knew that the kitchen would be slammed, and things were going to be backed up (if someone told me that 750 people had walked through the door yesterday, I would believe them). Although I expected a hint of smoke from the beer, I wasn't prepared for what hit me - the beer smelled of aged ham, and although it was pleasant, I had to really work to get through the glass. I sipped, I watched the Nats go into extra innings, I sipped some more, I overheard bartenders warning customers that the kitchen was backed up with open tickets, and I sipped some more.

I was thoroughly enjoying just being there, in such a vibrant setting, but I could also see that the bartenders were under duress. That makes sense, I suppose, but I would hope that customers could see and understand just how crowded they were, and there was no way for the restaurant to know this was going to happen - you don't predict crowds like this, you just can't. My meaty, ham-like beer was growing wearisome, and just as I was about to choke down my last few sips and order an Apple! Cider!, something terrible happened: my bartender - as nice as could be - came over and apologized that the food was taking so long (it really wasn't taking that long - I hadn't even noticed!). He then placed a beer in front of me, and said, "This one's on us." 

"Oh, you didn't have to do that," I said, "but thank you very much. Which beer is it?"

"It's the one you just had."


My food arrived shortly thereafter, and it was a mixture of interesting and very good - very good especially considering that I guarantee the kitchen, from a distance, looked like everyone in it had been bitten by fire ants.

Some people I respect say that, while most Banh Mi in Falls Church aren't worth the trouble, the ones at Bí¡nh Mi DC Sandwich stand apart from the crowd (they don't; they're the same crap you get everywhere else). The best Banh Mi I've had in the area have been at Ba Bay (now closed) and Dickson Wine Bar, with a nod to the old Dino for their Tuscan Banh Mi which I respected, but ultimately didn't care for. 

At Brookland Pint, The Banh Mi ($13) with roasted pork, chicken liver páté, pickled veggies, cilantro, and chiles on a baguette, was not very authentic. Then again, neither were the ones I've had at Dickson Wine Bar or Dino, but they were honorable ... and so is this. In fact, it's not just "honorable"; it's very good, with roast pork you would actually look at (when's the last time you've dared to have a face-off with the meats in an Eden Center Banh Mi? You just don't. You eat it with the bread closed, and say to yourself, 'this is really tasty!' (And then you finish it and begin your next one - to quote Jake Parrott, "The only filling banh mi, is a second banh mi.")) The chicken liver páté is house-made, and works well in this sandwich (it's also available as an appetizer, and based on this, I would certainly recommend getting it). That said, it's something of a dominator because they spread a generous portion, and it finished longer than even the chiles did - if you like chicken liver páté, and don't mind it being at the forefront, you'll like this sandwich. The roast pork was quite fatty, but at least it wasn't processed (there's that "authenticity" thing again).

With any sandwich, the diner can choose from fries, sweet potato wedges, coleslaw, or side salad, and based on my one experience, I would urge everyone to get the sweet potato wedges. They arrived at room temperature (remember, the kitchen was backed up), but the quality was clearly there, and I would be shocked to find out these weren't fresh. In fact, if these are frozen, I want to know the source so I can buy some for myself (the vast majority of sweet potato fries (not wedges; fries) you get in this area are frozen). Serve these hotter, and you have a $13 meal that I can heartily recommend to everyone except Banh Mi purists. The baguette, I believe, comes from Gold Crust Baking Company, and is not a hindrance in the least.

This would have been plenty of food, but I also ordered some Deviled Eggs ($7), primarily because I was intrigued by the toppings of garam masala [NB: check menu spelling] and toasted coconut flakes. These added a kick, but not a kick in the nuts - the deviled eggs were zingy, but still within acceptable parameters. The only criticism I have (and it's one that can be easily addressed) is that they were most likely taken from the refrigerator, and hadn't thrown off their chill, but they did throw off some condensation in the form of water on the plate. I am quite certain this will not be a long-term problem.

Congratulations to Brookland Pint for what was surely one of the busiest opening nights in Washington, DC history. Apparently, they hit capacity at 7 PM, and God only knows what time the crowds began to thin.

At one point, late in the meal, I looked up to my bartender - busy, frazzled, and without time to even think - and said to him, "You're going to be tired when this night's over."

"I'm already tired," he said.

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We were there for the soft opening on Friday night. 3 of us, so we had 3 apps (pimento cheese, chicken liver, pretzels) and 3 entrees (fried green tomato sandwich, Mofongo, Mussels) All tasty, although we were not thrilled with the bread for the pimento cheese. As it was the soft opening, it may not have been the real bread. The food here is strong.

We also had a selection of beers, all pleasant. Don, talk to the bartenders about what you want in a beer when you are there on a slower day. They are really good at telling me what I will like (why yes, they all know me far too well, as we spend a decent amount of time at Meridian Pint and there seems to be some overlap in staff). I am NOT a hophead, SO not a hophead. They always find beers that please me. Oh, and as for rye, try the 3 Stars Pheonix, a rye saison. I like it.

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This was the second weekend of serving brunch, and we wandered in after walking through the Farmer's Market midday on Saturday.

The space is nice I think. Large patio that's interior facing (i.e. not right on the street), with roll up windows from the inside bar area. The main dining area is also light-filled with an open feeling space.

We haven't yet been for lunch or dinner, but enjoyed brunch (with our 16 month old daughter).

Irresistible Fried Dough Coated in Powdered Sugar 5

Garlicky Mashed Green Plantains, Black Beans, Fried Eggs, Avocado, With Bacon 13 (can be Vegan or Veg)

Open-Faced Ham Sandwich Topped with Gruyere Sauce and a Fried Egg 14

The beignets were good, and came out hot and coated with sugar. I haven't been to New Orleans in probably 7-8 years, but I thought they were quite tasty. Our waiter also offered to bring out some jam of the day for dipping (this was the waffle of the day topping - blueberry with lemon - and was really a good addition).

The Mofongo was pretty great. Again, a caveat that I've never had actual mofongo. But I really liked this version. It was a large portion, and was basically very garlicky plantains (not dissimilar from mashed potatoes), along side black beans, with two fried eggs on top, a few slices of avocado, and some bacon sprinkled on top. Our toddler liked the beans and plantains especially.

The bites I had of my +1's Croque Madame was good, but very rich. The potatoes had some nice flavor though.

The fruit cup we ordered for the kid was decent (esp for $4) - a good-sized bowl of grapes, canteloupe, apple, and orange slices. My biggest problem in this regard is that kid's meals are $8. They do come with a main and a side (and include some decent, non-fried, options). But $8 is what I think I should be paying for an entree (don't get me started on $13-14 brunch dishes), so I'm not appreciating this aspect of Brookland being a cool place to eat.

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Hit up Brookland Pint for brunch again yesterday with the in-laws. Once again everyone liked their food a lot. I had the burger with bacon, blue cheese, and caramelized onions that was juicy and cooked correctly to order. The sweet potato wedges alongside were good and were like crack to our 17 month old (I swear she ate half a sweet potato easily). The chilaquiles my +1 had were also awesome. Great salsa verde flavor along with egg, chorizo, and black beans. My MIL's frittata of the day looked good (she liked it) and was served with a small green salad and breakfast potatoes. And FIL's waffle of the day (sourdough waffle with strawberry topping) was also devoured quickly.

Now we just need to make it back for dinner to try some other stuff on the menu.

(They also have lots of options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Pretty wide selection for all.)

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Since my two brunch visits mentioned above, I've now been back for dinner at least 3 times, and had good experiences for each of those. Two of the trips were with our daughter and 2 other families (so 6 adults and 3 kids under 2 each time), and they've always been super accommodating. They usually stick us in the back of the back room, which is perfect because it gives the kids a little space without feeling like we're bothering other patrons.

It looks like they are changing the menu at least quarterly (my guess since the dinner menu was the same for both visits this fall and was very different last night). I've enjoyed the chicken fried rabbit and mofongo (neither of which are on the current menu) and last night had a good "burger" (I got chicken) with brie, roasted apples, and caramelized onions. Still liking the sweet potato wedges as well. The pozole two friends got last night looked and smelled great and may be my order next time.

I've gone with celiac friends and vegetarians, and all have been pleased with the variety they can choose from (not just one item they're stuck with).

Of the 5 (5!) new sit-down restaurants that have opened in Brookland in the last half a year, this one is close to the top for us.

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Me again! :P

So, recently BP has instituted some daily specials/deals. I'm not sure if this was always in the cards or is a sign they weren't doing enough business and are trying to drum something up. Late night HH, kids eat free, 1/2 price wine, neighborhood night, etc. As a mom to a toddler, I love an option to get the $8 kids meal for free on Tuesdays! And some of the other deals are appealing as well.

In terms of food, we're still fans. I won't detail everything we had on this trip, but I ordered the Pozole this time as I suggested I might above, and I REALLY liked it. I don't know that it is authentic anything, but it tasted good! It comes out as a soup with the pork or tempeh on top, and a side dish of avocado, cabbage, chiles, and lime alongside to add as you see fit. Thick, spicy (even without adding the extra chilies), and very filling.

Hominy & Tomatillo Soup, Avocado, Cabbage, Chiles
Served With Smoked Tempeh "“ 13 / With Coriander Pork "“ 13

On the other hand, the yucca was a miss. Way too tough and dry.

Chimchurri, Citrus Aioli  -6

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My boyfriend and I stopped by Brookland Pint for brunch after a short Sunday morning run. Unfortunately, the meal was disappointing. We came for the breakfast burrito of the week but when we sat down saw that the kitchen was offering a version consisting of chicken, spinach, and Havarti cheese. That seemed more like a wrap than a burrito and both my boyfriend and I passed. I ended up ordering the American Breakfast Platter and a cup of coffee. My boyfriend ordered the chilaquiles. The one word to describe the meal is "warm." The coffee was warm, not hot. I'm not sure how long our plates sat under a lamp before being brought out to us but both of our food was warm. That was especially true when it came to my breakfast potatoes which would have been quite good if they were hot. My boyfriend's chilaquiles were good and could have been very good if it was served hot and plated differently. The ones at Brookland Pint had the eggs and chorizo underneath a pile of tortilla chips smothered in tomatillo sauce. That required him to dig through a lot of tortillas before getting to the eggs, which he did not enjoy doing. Other versions I've had elsewhere had the eggs and chorizo on top of tortilla strips. The black bean paste was the best part of his entrée. Service was pleasant as our server and a runner made sure the warm coffee refills kept coming and our glasses were always full of water.

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