Last week we heard that The Hilltop, the bar and restaurant from Sam Jahabeen of the Saloon, had an opening date: Nov. 11 with a soft opening the day before. I've been looking forward to the spot for some time and Sam invited me to check it out last week. I was really impressed, it looks great.
The inside is a lot of warm wood and seats about 30, with about 30 more outside, at the bar and at some tables. There's also an upstairs area but that won't be open until later.
The original idea was that the spot would focus on German and Belgian beers, but Jahabeen said after he met with beer distributors and tasted a lot of really delicious local beers, he decided to go with mostly those. Some of the beers on draft when I visited were RAR's Nanticoke Nectar, an IPA, and one from Berley Oak, a sour-beer focused brewery from Maryland. There was also one from Victory, plus Erdinger, a German hefeweiss, plus more in cans and bottles like Striped Bass Pale Ale from Virginia's Devil's Backbone.
As for the food, chef Angel Franco, who formerly worked at Compass Rose and Minibar, has a wide-ranging menu with small plates like homemade cheese puffs and boquerones (fish similar to anchovies) and bigger dishes like a grilled cheese sandwich that Jahabeen raved over, duck confit, a brat, salmon pastrami and more. The prices were moderate, about $12-17 for entrees.
To begin with they'll be open for dinner every day except Tuesdays, opening at 5 pm and plan to start a brunch in the winter.
Jahabeen had some neat plans too, like finishing out the upstairs into a lounge and event space and holding block party type events on the patio in spring and summer -- he mentioning bringing out a smoker.
As for the long wait, Jahabeen said it was a combination of permit frustrations (a common theme in the city) and other management delays. He was formerly in a partnership with Kaleabe Getaneh, also of the Saloon, but now it's just Jahabeen.
The inside itself is really beautiful too -- sadly my pictures don't do it justice, but I really liked it. It looks like a good spot for a relaxed drink with a friend or date and a nice, but not too fancy, meal.
Their Instagram is @thehilltopdc. The first two pictures here are from there, the rest for me.