Eighth Street’s newest restaurant, Garrison, may be good enough to pose competition for neighbor and longtime favorite Rose’s Luxury. Rob Weland, a well-known D.C. restaurateur and chef, opened the doors to this chic eatery on Barracks Row in July. He chose the name Garrison because of the restaurant’s close proximity to the Washington Navy Yard. The chic new eatery is in good company, surrounded by D.C. foodie favorites such as the nationally acclaimed Belga Cafe and many more.
In order to keep with the farm-to-table trend, Weland opened Garrison in collaboration with Mike Protas of One Acre Farm, based in Maryland. The restaurant only serves local, seasonal ingredients. In fact, nearly a third of the menu is strictly devoted to vegetables. You’re bound to try something new each time you go, as the menu changes daily based on the quality of the produce available. Even the elaborate cocktail menu, created by Gina Chersevani, rotates seasonally.
My advice is to go as soon as possible while they’re still serving summer crops such as heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn. That being said, I don’t doubt that chef Weland will have a brilliant fall menu to offer in the coming months.
Inside, the eatery boasts a sleek décor. The wooden booths, accompanied by various patterned pillows and jars of house-pickled vegetables give Garrison a casual, “homey” feel. However, with every table in the house full and a bustling bar scene on a Tuesday night, this eatery is definitely more exciting than a quiet dinner at home. I’ve never been to any restaurant that makes veggies taste so good.
We got a little carried away while ordering, but it all sounded too delicious to miss. The crowd favorite was the squash blossoms, which were lightly fried and were served with smoked provolone and romesco sauce ($12). The cauliflower was also well worth the stiff price for vegetables ($11). Roasted and served with pine nuts, mint and parmesan, this dish was definitely one of my personal favorites. However, beware that the dish has a bit of an unexpected kick of spice. Two other dishes that aren’t to be missed are the pasta courses. There are only two choices: sweet corn tortellini with Stracchino cheese and chives ($23) and house-made ricotta ravioli with chanterelles mushrooms, spinach and soft herbs ($26). I was partial to the ravioli even though, I’ll admit, the sweet corn tortellini sounded more appealing when we ordered. Everyone at the table concluded that these were some of the best pasta dishes we’d ever had, as well as the most expensive.
Don’t worry if you’re not a vegetarian, because Garrison has a lot to offer its carnivorous diners ,too. The most memorable dish of the evening by far was the bison hanger ($30), served with heirloom tomatoes, grilled onions and bleu cheese. I was a bit skeptical at first. as it was my first time eating bison, but words cannot describe how delectable it was. Paired with the vine-ripe tomatoes and a giant chunk of aged bleu cheese, it’s an unmissable treat.
We also ordered the crispy skin Arctic char, served with dill and cucumbers ($27). This dish was also very good but fell a bit flat compared to the bison. Ironically, in a restaurant known for its vegetables, the meat dish alone proves that Weland’s Garrison is well worth the hype.
Finally, what meal is complete without dessert? We ordered the stone fruit papillote ($9) and the chocolate terrine served with raspberries ($10). The terrine was quite good; decadent and rich. However, the papillotte was my favorite. It was a true end-of-summer treat: chef-baked stone fruit, a fancy name for peaches, in a parchment paper bag, as one would usually cook fish. The waiter cut the bag open at the table and poured a ricotta cream sauce on top. It was the perfect dessert to top off our highly seasonal meal.
Garrison is definitely an exciting new addition to the D.C. food scene. The staff was incredibly friendly and our waiter made great suggestions. Ultimately, we had a wonderfully delicious meal that was well worth the high prices. With parents’ weekend on the horizon, I highly suggest you give Garrison a try. Definitely book now, though, as its exponentially growing reputation is making it the hippest and most coveted reservation in town.