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First Look: Tour the New Iron Gate in Dupont

By Rina Rapuano
November 14, 2013
Photo by: Rina Rapuano

Right on the heels of opening Bluejacket brewery and its restaurant, The Arsenal, Neighborhood Restaurant Group is at it again. This time, the group has ambitiously resurrected the beloved Iron Gate restaurant space, which started out as stables but had served as a dining venue since the 1920s before closing a few years ago. The pet project of former Vermilion chef Anthony Chittum, Iron Gate 2.0 is set to open Tuesday.

Amid the excitement of preparing to open, the restaurant group also announced a big cocktail coup today: celebrated mixologist Jeff Faile has defected from Fiola and Casa Luca to helm the cocktail program for NRG.

Chittum honed his Italian-cooking skills at Notti Bianche and has spent considerable time traveling in Greece. Here, the chef is able to continue his focus on locally sourced ingredients but apply it to Mediterranean flavors. (A few ingredients are supplied by his Greek wife, however, including the amazingly aromatic wild fennel seed, the dried oregano and some capers.)

The restaurant is broken into three distinct spaces: the inside dining room, the terrace and the carriageway bar. The dining room will offer two tasting-menu options, while the terrace and the carriageway will serve an a la carte menu. If you want to make a reservation now, you'll have to do it the old-fashioned way by picking up a phone until the restaurant's online reservation system is up and running.

In the meantime, we took a tour to show you what to expect.

1734 N St. NW; 202-524-5202

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    If you entered the hidden front entrance and turned around toward the door, this would be the view. Local lighting artist Rick Singleton, who has designed at least one light fixture for each of NRG's properties, evokes a carriage wheel with his latest creation. Gas lamps add to the classic feel of this historic space. 

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    The carriageway is a heated area just inside the entrance that seats 10 at the bar and 16 at tables. It's a large covered space that carriages used to access the building.

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    In line with the Mediterranean dishes coming from the kitchen, the bar has an extensive collection of ouzos and grappas. There is also an emphasis on Greek and Southern Italian wines, and the restaurant group's Bluejacket brewery has created a saison spiked with an intense Greek liquor called mastika.

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    The intimate dining room is cozy and traditional, but the culinary experience will be very modern. Diners can choose from a four-course tasting ($50) or a six-course tasting ($75); both options will include seasonal sharing plates to start and and dessert as another course. Then diners can round out their meals with choices from the Garden, Water, Pasture or Cheese sections of the menu.

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    Family photos from Chittum, his Greek wife, Dominique, and NRG co-owner Michael Babin line the walls of the dining room, which seats 48 and features a working fireplace original to the space. 

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    One thing Chittum is particularly excited about is the bread, such as the sourdough made from an Asian pear starter and the seasonal focaccia.

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    Grape focaccia is nearly ready for the oven.

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    Chef Tony Chittum did a lot of pickling while he waited for the old stable-turned-restaurant to receive its updates. 

  • Photo by: Rina Rapuano

    Hundred-year-old grape and wisteria vines grace the new awning, which makes the terrace a year-round dining room. (Heaters and blankets help, too.) The terrace will have a separate a la carte menu featuring a "whole animal rotisserie of the night" accompanied by bread and pickled vegetables, housemade yogurt and mixed olives. Pastas and an extensive roster of appetizers will also be available al fresco, as well as in the heated carriageway bar. The chef made a syrup from the grapes and pickled the grape leaves over the summer.

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Places Mentioned

Vermilion

American • Alexandria

Food26 Decor22 Service24 Cost$51
 
 
 
Fiola

Italian • Penn Quarter/Chinatown

Food27 Decor25 Service26 Cost$68
 
 
 
Casa Luca

Mount Vernon Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Notti Bianche

Italian • Foggy Bottom

Food22 Decor17 Service22 Cost$43
 
 
 
The Arsenal

American • Navy Yard

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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