A quick scan of the new Barcode
To those of us who work a few blocks away, the opening of Barcode, in the former Fourth Estate Grille space near 17th and L streets NW, qualifies as big, huge, stop-the-presses news (at least as far as our happy hour options are concerned).
Gone is the casual bar-and-grill vibe of the old place; in its place comes LED lighting, brushed steel surfaces, dark-wood paneling, lounge seating and communal banquettes. A set of turntables stand by the front door, as if waiting for a passing DJ to set them in motion. It makes sense to see them, because the bar is run by the DC Hospitality Group, which also oversees Lima and UltraBar.
While the vibe is totally different from the ways of old, the beer menu picks up -- and even improves upon -- where the old Fourth left off. There's something for any taste and budget, from $3 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and $5 Porkslaps up to big-name microbrews like Dogfish Head's 90-minute IPA and Orval's Trappist Ale, plus more standard offerings of Stella, Peroni and Leffe. A sophisticated-sounding cocktail menu calls for attention on a future visit, but good luck finding a Rose Kennedy or Apricot Fizz anywhere else in this part of town. There's even bottle service.
The restaurant was still filling out its menu during a recent lunch visit, but the margherita pizza ($9.75) had a thin Neapolitan crust with just the right balance of crunch and chewiness. My dining companion's veal ragout ($16) also earned high marks.
Barcode's most appealing characteristic, so far, is its versatility. I'm most interested in seeing two things: how quickly the Golden Triangle clientele takes to the lounge vibe for happy hour and how popular a destination Barcode becomes on weekends, when foot traffic on the nearby streets falls dramatically without 9-to-5ers around.
| November 5, 2010; 1:45 PM ET
Categories: Bars and Clubs
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