One-hundred and thirty years later, Beuchert’s Saloon doesn’t look a day over one-hundred. Restored to its former glory, this one-time speakeasy that operated as a series of fronts through Prohibition, looks like the movie set of The Untouchables. Ladies, leave your Granny-panties at home in case Kevin Costner shows up.
Original owner John J. Beuchart and his son Theodore kept the saloon open through Prohibition under the guise of Gramophola’s, one of the first gramophone stores in DC. To get to the speakeasy, you had to go upstairs, across the floor and down a circular staircase. The speakers covered up all the partying going on in the back. An unmarried Beuchart sister managed the store.
“It was very much a family effort to screw the government for screwing the entrepreneur,” says co-owner Nathan Berger. “And it all worked out swimmingly.” (The family never did get caught.)
Every last detail has been meticulously recreated to be period appropriate by co-owner and designer August Paro, from turn-of-the-century swan neck soda fountains, to tiled bathrooms and frosted-glass exit lights to the antique amber glass chandeliers. You’ll see old Beuchart family photos and journals from John J. himself. Even the walls have all been painstakingly brushed by hand. The only thing missing is the lead paint.
A handcrafted walnut bar seats 25, including 6 at the Chef’s Table. A large button-tufted, dark green leather C-shaped banquette accommodates large groups in the 20-seat dining room. There are plans to create 20 more seats on a heated outdoor patio under a wrought iron English greenhouse roof.
Executive Chef Andrew Markert’s “farm-to-‘Merican” menu adds whimsical tweaks to all-American fare, with most produce and meats sourced from co-owner Brendan McMahon’s East Oaks Organics Farm. Look for roasted East Oaks organic chicken ($24) with bacon butter, gravy and roasted Brussels sprouts; roasted lobster on Anson Mills golden rice with carrots and breakfast radishes ($16); housemade charcuterie, paté and cheeses served on refurbished floorboards (don’t worry–they’re clean!); Rosetta Farms bone marrow with pickled pistachios and parsley salad ($12); and Bananas Foster Twankies–also what we call hairless gay men from Kentucky. See the complete menu here.
The vegetarian-friendly Markert’s Market menu focuses on locally sourced vegetables, with 6 options rotating weekly depending on availability. Reserve a seat at the Chef’s Table Thursday through Saturday, with 5- and 7-course tasting menus for up to 6 guests.
There will be a heavy draft menu with 10 beers and Prosecco on tap from those beautiful swan-neck handles, plus craft sodas and wine. The beverage program is created to complement the cuisine, which is decidedly modern, and farm-fresh by default.
“The history of DC residents eating, drinking and congregating in this space felt too honest and authentic to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” says co-owner Nathan Berger.
You’re safe this time, kid. Beuchert’s Saloon soft-opens with dinner service tonight with a grand opening celebration planned next week.
Photo courtesy of Beuchert’s Saloon.
623 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Mary was born and raised in New York City where her family owned restaurants. Instead of eating dirt on the playground, she ate duck blood, beef tripe and pork belly. She cut her teeth at The Mandarin Oriental and The Ritz-Carlton hotels, working with Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams, Michael Stipe, LeVar Burton, Jane Krakowski and others. Mary founded Girl Meets Food in 2009 as a cover for her debilitating addiction to fried chicken and was named Washington Post’s “Favorite Local Foodie.” After 13 years in hospitality, she started freelance writing for USA Today, The Washington Post, Eater, Washington City Paper, and more. Today, she provides digital marketing for hospitality clients as a content creator who’s contently creating content.