Walking out into the back patio at Pound The Hill, it hits you: this is the slice of the outdoors that every Washingtonian wishes they had in their backyard. Even better than having it in your own backyard, is the fact that The Bistro at Pound has plenty of good food and wine to serve you, so you don’t have to be in charge of cooking for yourself. They launched the concept (coffee shop becomes bistro for dinner service) earlier this year and now that’s it’s off the ground running, I headed to Eastern Market to check out it out for the first time and see what they have to offer on their new summer menu, launching today.
The Bistro was born out of the owners’ desire to feature a menu that pulled from the group’s international inspirations. You’ll see dishes with a French influence, due to executive chef Jon Taub’s background, but also some Latin and Asian influences highlighted in the menu as well. Taub was previously the sous-chef at Station 4 and Art & Soul. While you’ll only find The Bistro in Eastern Market for now, owner Karl Johnson hints at future expansion, saying that they branded themselves with the father concept of “Pound [insert neighborhood]” on purpose.
The Bistro boasts an affordable 4-4-4 happy hour from 5 to 7 PM everyday–four appetizers, four wines, four beers to choose from all at $4 each, and there’s none of that sugary two-buck chuck stuff. There are 22 wines by the glass from small wineries and distributors such as Tannic Tongue, all ranging from $8 to $12 per glass after happy hour. As Johnson summarizes the wine list, all of the them are meant to be “accessible, nothing pretentious.”
On their summer menu, chef Taub shines in spite of working in a “tiny kitchen, the size of a closet,” as Johnson describes it. Pound’s summer menu includes dishes like the crispy duck confit with an orange glaze, Valrhona chocolate shavings and a pistachio hazelnut butter. You don’t normally think of putting chocolate and duck together, but trust me, it works. The crispy skin of the duck and rich, melt-in-your-mouth layer of fat underneath on their own are great, but the chocolate and pistachio hazelnut butter takes the dish to the next level.
Another highlight from the summer menu is the BBQ sweetbreads–really tender with a crispy breading and flavorful Korean BBQ sauce that Taub once won a golden pig for at Safeway’s National Capitol Barbecue Battle when he entered on a whim. Don’t overlook the pickled pepper hash on the dish which packs a little bit of a spicy kick. If sweetbreads and duck sound too heavy for a hot summer day, go with the creative heirloom tomato ceviche or the chilled English pea soup. Cooked just the way you’d do a seafood ceviche with lots of citrus, the tomato ceviche is a creamy and zesty. Little bits of bacon and truffles make the foamy, refreshing pea soup richer. As for the dish that chef Taub is most excited for? That would be the blueberries and boursin, which has a a neat balance of sweet and savory–you might not know if you should be eating it for dessert or for a starter.
So next time you’re getting your morning cup of coffee or that nutella latte, head back to Pound in the evening for a great dinner. Their outdoor patio is the perfect date spot or locale for an intimate but casual dinner with friends (read: there are string lights, and we girls tend to like that. Oh come on, who doesn’t love string lights on a balmy summer’s evening?!) and seats up to 20.
The Bistro is open seven days a week starting at 5 PM. Pound is located at 621 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC.
Full disclosure: Pound The Hill owner, Karl Johnson, was a former writer for We Love DC. I do not know Karl personally.