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1905, French-Inspired Bistro in the Former Grape Legs Space on 9th and T Streets in Shaw - Closed

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Just an fyi, I wrote this up for BYT, but a new french-inspired place is opening on 9th Street. Here's a first look.

"Brought to us by Phil Rodriguez and Joey Belcher, of Sticky Rice on H Street, and Mick Mier and Joe Steger the design team responsible for Science Club, Napoleon and Sesto Senso, 1905 will offer French-inspired bistro fare. They hope 1905 will be a cozy addition to the neighborhood. The kind of place you want to eat, hang out, drink some wine, then come back the next night and do it again."

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Just an fyi, I wrote this up for BYT, but a new french-inspired place is opening on 9th Street. Here's a first look.

"Brought to us by Phil Rodriguez and Joey Belcher, of Sticky Rice on H Street, and Mick Mier and Joe Steger the design team responsible for Science Club, Napoleon and Sesto Senso, 1905 will offer French-inspired bistro fare. They hope 1905 will be a cozy addition to the neighborhood. The kind of place you want to eat, hang out, drink some wine, then come back the next night and do it again."

 
This is in the old Grape Legs spot, yeah? Are they using both the upstairs and downstairs for the cafe? I know he was building out the upstairs portion for that purpose before the place went under (it was basically complete from what I understand). Downstairs seems a bit too cramped for any dining activity, but maybe with all of the wine racks removed it's more spacious than it seemed.

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Daily Candy seemed to like it -- anyone been?

fair warning: i've been known to throw more than a few back with one of the owners, so this likely won't be the most objective take.

overall, methinks it's a very nice addition to the 'hood. it's a gorgeously appointed space.

can certainly recommend the fried oysters over ratatouille (although i would've preferred a few additional shakes of salt in the batter) and cream of tomato soup with roasted crawfish. to be fair, the panzanella was awful -- a deconstructed bowl of whole romaine and basil leaves, bland tomatoes, and even "blander" bread. barely a whiff of olive oil. bad enough i'd almost argue that the kitchen forgot to dress and season the salad.

slightly stunned that there are no bubbles (bottles or btg) on the wine list; seems real estate is limited behind the bar.

i'd return to try the white bean veloute and gnocchi. both were 86'd by the time of our late-evening seating.

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I stopped by for a quick dinner at the bar of 1905 tonight after work. Got to speaking with Mick, one of the owners, who was manning the bar tonight. Really nice guy, and I hope they do great here. All indications are this is going to be a nice addition to the neighborhood.

I had the cream of tomato soup with fried onions and crawfish, the roasted gnocchi with wilted greens and duck confit, and a plate of the beignets.

The soup didn't wow me, but the gnocchi was fantastic. I loved that they were roasted - I subscribe to the "everything's better with some caramelization" theory and the gnocchi were no exception. I was a bit surprised by the (high) ratio of duck to pasta...the dish felt a little unbalanced in so far as the gnocchi felt more like an accompaniment to the duck, but everything was very tasty, with the wilted greens adding just the right touch of bitterness to a dish that had a great, meaty, umami sense to it. The beignets were guilt-inducing if just ever so slightly over-fried.

Menu is small but inventive. If I heard correctly, Mick said there's a cornbread tiramisu coming, which I have no idea if it will be good, but is the sort of thing you just have to try 'cause it could be amazing.

Really wishing these guys well, and I'll definitely be back to try some other dishes from the menu.

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I ate at 1905 for the first time on this past Thursday evening.

I chose a good night to dine here, it was not crowded and starting at 10pm there is live jazz (every Thursday according to their web site). I had very good timing, I was able to finish my meal and as I lingered over my French Press of reasonably good coffee and chocolate pannacotta with sour cherry coulis (more on the food later) I was able to take in the sounds of a Jazz Trio, trumpet, drums and stand up bass. They were very good and was a really nice way to round out my experience in a very well appointed space with reasonably good food to match.

The space is very welcoming, dark woods, accented by the warm glow of chandeliers and low cocktail tables. It's a very narrow space, but efficiently laid out with one large communaly table in the center for large parties and then smaller individual tables along the walls. Very homey and welcoming and the space (along with the jazz trio) was the best part of 1905. I would come here again to grab a drink and conversion with a friend.

The food on the other hand was good not great. There were many parts of my meal that were perfect, but others especially in the uniting of the separate ingredients of a dish to from a whole, needed some work.

For instance I had, as my main course, the Pan roasted gnocchi with wilted greens and duck confit.
The gnocchi themselves were wonderful (made with Chou Paste, instead of potato) and as the menu description said they were pan roasted to a nice toasty brown. The gnocchi were accompanied by a good quantity of confit with wilted greens that gave the dish that necessary bitter edge to the dish and all moistened with a good dose of stock to bring all of these ingredients together. What was lacking in this dish was the addition of salt. The ingredients all would have been wonderfully united together if bit of finishing salt (fleur de sel or sel de gris) was added just as the dish went through the pass to the dining room. Also the confit was not cured long enough. Well. This dish did not wow me but it did satisfy me quite well.

I drank a very nice Côes du Rhí´ne which went superbly well with the gnocchi.

For dessert I had the chocolate Pannacotta with Sour Cherries
The Pannacotta used a coluis instead of whole cherries. The Pannocotta used too much gelatin so it was a little too firm for my liking. A great pannacotta should have just enough gelatin to hold the cream together in a ramekin or half dome shape, no more or you risk the dessert being too rubbery. So the dish was tasty--on flavor, good rich chocolate balanced by sour cherries and flue de sel on top as a finish. But the texture was off. Use a little less gelatin and use whole cherries for the sauce, and bam, a very nice dish with contrasting flavor and texture.

I liked 1905, the space is great, the food is good, but no wow from me. DC just got another solid place to hang out, get good drinks, and some tasty eats but noting that will amaze.
I would happily go back on Thursday evening and partake in the jazz and good conversation and a glass of wine (or two).

.hobbes

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I agree with a lot of the posts above. The space is warm, stylish, and romantic, and I can't think of another place in DC quite like it. The service was friendly and efficient. I also loved the mellow music, though it was on too short a loop (we heard The Girl from Ipanema three times).

Cibo Matto -- Are you sure no sparkling wines were offered? I thought I remembered considering starting with a glass of sparkling wine before I settled on the Van Gogh, a cocktail made with absinthe and I don't know what else -- it was very strong and liquoricy.

I wish I'd seen Cibo Matto's post before I ordered the panzanella (or even looked more carefully at the menu before making my choice). Mine was mostly large croutons on big pieces of lettuce. For my main course I had the gnocchi with wilted greens and duck confit. As other posters have said the gnocchi itself were delicious, but I wasn't crazy about the duck. I agree with Rhone1998's comment about the high duck-to-gnocchi ratio (though one of my friends who also ordered it complained hers had less duck than mine, so we did some duck/gnocchi swapping). For some reason I was expecting more of a duck ragu, even though the menu clearly said confit (note the aforementioned cocktail). To me the components didn't quite come together. My friends had profiteroles for dessert and raved about them.

Even though I wasn't thrilled by what I ordered, I look forward to going back and trying more things (including the chocolate panna cotta). You really can't beat the atmosphere.

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My wife and I had a pretty good meal here last night. We were on the early side, but it was still nice to be able to walk in without a reservation and be seated immediately, which is becoming next to impossible on a Friday night anywhere along the U St. or 14th St. corridors. My wife (with much better design taste than me) was very impressed with the interior space. Intricate details, lots of little touches without being overdone.

The best thing I ate all night was definitely the Merguez sausage, piquillo pepper and polenta starter. The polenta was very creamy and flavorful and I easily cleaned my plate of the not-insubstantial portion, followed by briefly considering whether to order another plate of the same. My wife's beet salad was also excellent. I can't quite say the same of the entrees. My plate of gnocchi with duck confit was clearly superior to my wife's chicken breast with chorizo over paella. I agree with the poster above who appreciated the gnocchi - it was certainly the highlight of the dish. However, I didn't feel like the gnocchi and the confit meshed all that well. Each was good on its own (especially the gnocchi), but I didn't think they really tied together in the dish. A bit more seasoning may also have helped. Regardless, I enjoyed the dish even if not quite to the level of the sausage and polenta. My wife's chicken and paella was just plain bland. It looked very nice on the plate but totally lacked flavor. The chicken breast was cooked fine and remained juicy but didn't inspire any interest. The paella rice was very meh. Dessert perked up with a beignet dish easily big enough to share. I would order it again in a flash.

Between the gorgeous space and most of the dishes we tried, I'm sure we'll be back again. The wine store downstairs (Boston Wine Company) was also pretty cool with a very friendly and engaging owner.

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One thing I observed at 1905 tonight, while sitting at the bar for a couple hours, as the dining room went from zero people to a good two-dozen: The people who work at this restaurant like each other. That might sound like a small thing, but from my perspective, it showed up in various places - from the meticulously spot-free stemware, to the wonderful beer list, to the outstanding sausage in the Grilled Merguez ($9) with polenta and piquillo peppers.

About our bartender, Pascal: What a friendly, charismatic person - a pescatarian who nevertheless genuinely raved about the merguez (refer to Ferhat going up-and-down about a good Burgundy), regaling us with tales of Paris and Africa, subtly hinting that I might not like the Kona Wailua Wheat Beer brewed with passion fruit (and by the way, he was wrong - this is a good beer!), and diving into why Gustav Klimt was a major influence in his fervent love of oil painting.

1905 is not a culinary destination, but it sure is a good neighborhood spot.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I need to give a completely biased shout-out and bump to 1905. Biased, because one of the owners, Tony, is a friend. Bump, because we rented the restaurant out for three hours for my rehearsal dinner a few weeks ago, and it was outstanding - food, service, atmosphere, everything.

We worked with Tony for a number of months ahead of time to set up the event. I was hoping to hold it here as it has always been a favorite neighborhood spot of mine, but our concern was size. The main (only) dining room seats just 50 people, but we were able to whittle the guest list down to make them fit.

When our guests entered, we had three different wines pre-poured, a pre-mixed cocktail available, as well as beer and a full bar if any of the pre-selected items were not of interest to our guests. Garlicky, creamy deviled eggs were being passed, along with hot quinoa crayfish hushpuppies, as hors d'oeuvres.

For the first course once we sat down, we had an arugula and wheatberry salad, grilled green tomatoes and homemade parkerhouse rolls and black eyed pea hummus served family style.  The rolls and tomatoes were the standouts for the guests, and I devoured my fair share of hummus.

Guests could pick one of four entrees: pepper braised short ribs, smoked and grilled pork chops, shrimp and grits and grilled chicken breast. I had tested them all over the previous months and decided on the short rib for my entree, and it was as tender and flavorful as it had been when I ordered it previously. Although they were serving over 40 guests simultanaeously, all of the entrees came out within 10 minutes from first to last, hot and cooked perfectly. We had zero complaints on the food. Dessert was 4 flavors of specialty cupcakes.

Again, it my biased opinion, 1905 is a true gem in the Shaw/U St neighborhood. The food is consistent and filling. The service attentive without being obtrusive. Also, it's small size is unique for restaurants of that price point.  Add on to that one of the best roof decks in the city (which is heated in the winter) and you have a top neighborhood spot.  Tony and his business partner (also owners of El Camino in Bloomingdale) have worked incredibly hard since they took over 1905 to make it a well-deserved success. Stop in and see for yourself.

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