The Alexandria-based company, Neighborhood Restaurant Group, opened a Belgian-inspired beer bar and restaurant, the Sovereign, in Georgetown on Feb. 4.
Located at 1206 Wisconsin Ave., the 4120-square-foot restaurant features dark wood interiors, dim lights and heavy brass chandeliers with two levels of cozy seating and space for up to 121 patrons.
With 50 draft and over 300 bottled beers handpicked by the NRG Beer Director Greg Engert, the new eatery and bar will serve high-quality craft Belgian or Belgian-inspired beers. The bar’s website boasts a 35-page beer list with draft beers starting at 3.50 dollars per bottle and rare bottled beers like Cantillon costing up to 70 dollars per bottle. For some rare beers, customers are restricted to one bottle per group per visit.
According to NRG Director of Public Relations Megan Bailey, the restaurant’s beer selection will include some of the rarest and most coveted beers in the world.
“From Trappist Monastic producers whose brewing history dates back hundreds of years to the new generation of innovative Belgian brewers as well as international and domestic producers of exceptional Belgian-style ales, the Sovereign offers an expansive breadth of selections that illuminate the flavor-driven, craft-brewed complexity that is the trademark of the best Belgian beers,” Bailey wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Though marketed as a “bar and bistro,” the Sovereign distances itself from the simplicity and price range of other neighborhood bars, like The Tombs and RiRa. Appetizers like Belgian meatballs or cream of endive soup range from 6 to 12 dollars each. Entrees such as braised Rabbit, mushroom vol-au-vent and smoked scallops range from 18 to 28 dollars each. Staying true to Belgian cuisine, the Sovereign serves meat and cheese plates as well as a variety of mussel dishes sourced exclusively from a fifth-generation Dutch mussel farmer in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Prior to the opening of the restaurant and bar, NRG owner Michael Babin (LAW ’99) and Engert traveled and researched in Belgium to bring Belgian cuisine and beer to the District. According to the Washington City Paper, the pair — along with the Sovereign’s Executive Chef Peter Smith and NRG Director of Operations Erik Bergman — spent three weeks traveling through Belgium in January 2015, testing two to three breweries a day to inspire the menu.
With so many restaurant openings, Jake Maxmin (COL ’17) said he is not particularly surprised by the introduction of the Belgian bar and restaurant in Georgetown.
“I think this restaurant opening is not anything special because there are already so many places to eat in Georgetown,” Maxmin said.
However, Maxim said that he does plan to visit because of the reasonable pricing.
“I think Georgetown needs more sit-down places that can provide a healthy and filling meal at an affordable price,” he said.
Alex Scheidemann (COL ’17), however, said he thought the new eatery was too pricey.
“I think that I’d visit at least once to check it out, but the prices are too high for the restaurant to expect college students to be frequent customers,” Scheidemann said. “While Georgetown probably doesn’t need this restaurant, it seems different and could be a good addition.”
The Sovereign is not the first of its kind; other Belgian restaurants in the District include Brassier Beck, Belga Cafe, Marcel’s and St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar, each of which fall into an upscale price range. However, the Sovereign is the first member of the famed NRG to come to Georgetown.
In addition to the Sovereign, the NRG also oversees other D.C. dining favorites such as Golden Brown Delicious, Churchkey and Birch and Barley.