Monday night, GM attended a packed preview of the newly (almost) open Sovereign restaurant. And he can report that it’s going to be a top notch addition to the neighborhood.
It’s located down the alleyway between the old Benetton building and the Ambercrombie and Fitch:
It occupies the building that held Champions sports bar for many years in the 90’s and then Blue Gin for about five minutes in the mid 00’s (and then Champions again for about two minutes after that). It’s been empty for years.
The restaurant has a Belgian theme. That wouldn’t be particularly notable in a town with plenty of moules-frites joints. But the Sovereign promises to stand out, primarily based upon its beer menu. You can get Chimays and Hoegaardens practically anywhere, so Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s beer director Greg Engert dove deep into the heart of that tiny beer-rich country to deliver beers you rarely see on this side of the Atlantic:
This includes breweries like De Ranke or De Struise. And it has fifty taps to dispense those rare brews at a quality that you can expect at it’s sister establishments Churchkey and the Arsenal/Bluejacket. GM personally doesn’t have a deep knowledge of Belgian beers beyond the basics, so he is very much looking forward to many years of close study.
GM only got a small sampling of the food. But they promise traditional Belgian fare, with an added dose of authenticity. (Engert told the Post that the mussels will be “fuller, rounder” than what you find here.)
The space itself is rather dark. That might sound like a criticism, but it’s not. Too many restaurants are too bright, in GM’s opinion. There’s enough light to read the menu, but the rest sinks away into dark corners and lush twilight. (Consider as a contrast the great Coppi’s Organic, once of U St. now in Cleveland Park. At it’s old location is was very dark and had the atmosphere of a Milanese cafe hidden away. The new location has a brightness and feel of a cafeteria.)
What’s most exciting about this restaurant is that it represents a return to glory for Georgetown. Arguably the openings of Fiola Mare and Chez Billy Sud proved that purveyors of the city’s top restaurants were finally considering Georgetown again. But with NRG arriving–which is behind a constellation of top restaurants across DC and Alexandria, such a Birch and Barley, Vermillion, as Rustico–it no longer seems like a fluke. Georgetown will never again be the center of DC nightlife (thank god), but it can finally again be part of the culinary (and