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Garrison, Rob Weland's First Restaurant as Chef-Owner - on 8th Street SE, Barracks Row - Closed

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Despite having sworn off writing about restaurants, I have to write about Garrison. I was there for brunch and it was nearly empty, and I really don't want to see this place close due to lack of business. Granted it's a bad time of year, and the weather's making things worse, but still the waiter said that Saturday brunch hasn't been drawing a lot of customers.

Please go. Pleasepleaseplease.  We go every three months or so, and would go more often if we lived anywhere nearby.  I have been impressed by and enjoyed every dish we've ordered. They're conceptually interesting and very well executed, the ingredients impeccable.

And for those who like Scandinavian foods, there's always something Danish on the menu. (The chef's wife is Danish. Or maybe it's the owner's wife. Somebody's wife.) Today it was a smørrebrød of mushrooms in madeira cream on house-baked Danish rye, as well as æbleskiver.

Don't let this excellent restaurant die.

No connections to Garrison in any way, 

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Garrison has been fantastic every time we've gone, and I've been able to get reservations on short notice. The place isn't empty when I go for dinner, but it's not as packed as it should be for this very high quality food, cooked extremely well. They do magic with vegetables, in particular, but everything has been marvelous. And service is great, and the bartender makes lovely mocktails.

So I enthusiastically second porcupine's point. Go, eat, enjoy!

 

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Bob and I stopped by yesterday (Friday) evening for happy hour. We were the only customers in the place at just past 5:30. No one else showed up until about six, when one couple showed up for dinner, and before we left, one other man came for happy hour, waiting for a friend. Five people total on one of the busiest dining nights of the week (though Barracks Row was less busy than usual, it seemed). The cocktail special was a French 75 ($7), and we also ordered the (great) poppyseed gougeres, which didn't arrive until we were nearly finished with our drinks--about 25 minutes. The bartender wasn't unfriendly, but she didn't engage us in conversation or do anything to make us feel particularly welcome, so we went elsewhere for dinner. Sad to say, I really can't imagine returning.

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I'm pretty shocked it's lasted this long.  It's never particularly busy.  To me it's not a good value proposition compared to the competition. 

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Kudos to the chef at Garrison for taking fresh, seasonal ingredients and making them shine. After passing by the snaking line waiting to get in to Rose's Luxury, my friend and I nabbed seats at Garrison's bar. We started with drinks: for me, a glass of dry Rose, Tiburoune Clos Cibbone ($14), and my companion chose the Jungle Bird, made with a House rum blend, Campari, pineapple and lime ($15).

We split four dishes, and all were thoughtfully executed and delicious. Our first starter was one of the Tavern Specials--the pierogies ($12). These were some of the best I have had, a bit on the salty side, but not overly so.

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Our next dish was my favorite--the Warm Spring Blini, with local beets, figs and goat cheese ($15). This was perfection on a plate. It tasted as good as it looked, and it looked amazing! I highly recommend this dish, which is described on our receipt as a Beet Crepe.

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We shared two pastas, and both were fabulous. The Sheep's Milk Ricotta Ravioli, with stinging nettle pesto, toasted pine nuts and parmesan ($27), was fresh and delicious, with oh-so-light pasta and a delightful sauce. The standout pasta, however, was the Toasted Farro Corzetti ($28). This dish, featuring pasta made with sheets of farro dough, stamped into circles, was topped with fresh asparagus, peas and parmesan. Innovative, fresh, and tastes like Spring - I say get it while you can!

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17 hours ago, DIShGo said:

Kudos to the chef at Garrison for taking fresh, seasonal ingredients and making them shine. After passing by the snaking line waiting to get in to Rose's Luxury, my friend and I nabbed seats at Garrison's bar.

Some observations:

* The pierogis were exclusive to the chalkboard "Tavern Menu," and aren't available in the main dining room; the other three dishes are on the main menu.

* The drinks here are on the expensive side - expect to pay $15 for a cocktail or a glass of wine.

* For whatever reason, as good as both "stuffed" courses were, the two non-stuffed courses stole the show.

* I don't recall ever having had Farro Pasta (although, who knows?) This course was incredible - the peas and asparagus were barely seasoned (to let their own qualities come through, although I've been spoiled lately by enjoying asparagus served with Organic Butcher's unearthly Ramp Butter) - the dish, enjoyed as a whole, was in complete harmony. The farro flour, btw, came from Anson Mills.

* DIShGo's quote nailed the Blini dish: "It tasted as good as it looked, and it looked amazing."

* Although Pineapple & Pearls is on another level entirely (it was the best meal I had in America in 2016, surpassed only by the unspeakably expensive, Michelin 3-Star Vague D'Or (and equaled in 2015 only by the Chef's Tasting menu at Elements (*))), I've never had a dish at Rose's Luxury that I felt was "better" than either the Blini or the Corzetti at Garrison last night. Rose's may be a better restaurant, but I may well prefer Garrison's food (I've been to Rose's and Garrison multiple times each, and have had a couple of minor disappointments at both - but not last night!)

(*) Full disclosure: Kinship is my favorite restaurant in DC - I'm not saying it's "the best," but it's my favorite due to its combination of greatness and accessibility - and I've *still* never dined at Métier, so that's not under consideration in this post. I've been to Minibar three times, but not recently - I can't come to terms with the cost ($500 all-in!) or the consumption (injury, time, focus, girth) for a fourth visit until I feel that I can fully enjoy it (refer to Métier).

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Oh, that is so sad!!!

We went in November for a celebration and it was as wonderful as ever, or better, in both food and service. We've been for a bunch of celebratory meals in the last few years and will very much miss it. It was always a special evening. And a lovely space as well.

If Rob Weland's new restaurant is in DC or NoVa, we will absolutely be there with some frequency. (If in MD, we'll get there sometimes, though it'll be harder.)  I hope he keeps the focus on fresh local vegetables, as that was my favorite thing about Garrison (and the lovely ethereal pastas).  But everything we had at Garrison was terrific and we will look forward to his cooking wherever he goes!

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We're not eating out that much and it's hard to spread the dining dollars around enough to do justice to the restaurants that deserve business. It's been a couple years since I last ate here, which seems impossible but the calendar doesn't lie. I wish Chef Weland well with whatever his next project is, after he gets some rest from what must have been a stressful last year here.

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Some of the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour folks tweeted in the fall about eating there and how terrific it was, and particularly how incredible the crispy stuffed sage leaves were.  Because of that, I ordered them when we went in November and they were fabulous. If anyone reading this goes to eat there tonight or tomorrow before closing, get the sage leaves.

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I am sad to hear this. The meal I had at Garrison last May was one of the best I have had since moving to DC a year and a half ago.

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What a pity.  Every time I went, I thought (1) this place is very good; (2) this place is not very full; I hope they're doing ok.  I hope that the chef sets up somewhere else.  

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Let me try this again.  The Capitol Hill. neighborhood supports dozens or more restaurants.  Perhaps Sir Rob Weland should reflect on his business plan instead of blaming the community.  Is that better Don?  I expect this post to be deleted and to be banned.

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5 hours ago, Finatic said:

Let me try this again.  The Capitol Hill. neighborhood supports dozens or more restaurants.  Perhaps Sir Rob Weland should reflect on his business plan instead of blaming the community.  Is that better Don?  I expect this post to be deleted and to be banned.

[Yes, that's better - there were no gratuitous insults, except perhaps at me, and I don't care.]

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[Since Finatic made a private (non-)issue public, here is the note I sent, along with a copy of the original post, which I moved to the Deleted Forum]:

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Would you mind reissuing this without the "Typical liberal" comment? Everyone is welcome here, regardless of political belief (Rob is a member).

Thank you 🙂

"That neighborhood supports dozens if not more restaurants!  Typical liberal blaming his demise on the community! Maybe he should look in the mirror and change his business plan! Yes, I have met him multiple times.  I was offered the opportunity to invest, but declined.  Good call!"

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