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« Must Haves: Taylor Gourmet's Pattison Avenue Roast Pork Sandwich | Main | Half-Smokes on the Grill and 21A IPA in the Can »

Thu, May 06 2010 at 01:57 PM

Biergarten Haus: A Whole Lotta Deutschland on H Street

Posted by Drew Long, May 06, 2010

02470001
The word from Aaron McGovern is that Biergarten Haus will open this Friday, June 11.

Thirty-five hundred square feet of outdoor seating.  Thirty mahogany brown tables with bench seating to accommodate around 200 people ... outside. A kitchen cranking out the best of Germany's wurst, as well as locally baked pretzels and rolls. An upstairs bar and dining room with multiple flat-screen TVs airing live coverage of the 2010 World Cup. Three bars, 12 taps, 20 to 30 bottles all showcasing the brewing prowess of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires.

02480008 As cocktails and craft beer continue to dominate the D.C. drinking scene (not a bad thing), H Street's newest restaurant and bar is going to keep it simple by keeping it very German (not bad either).

There will be polka.

The Biergarten Haus is set to open May 14, and it will be big.

In fact, it's the size of the location that gave co-owner Aaron McGovern (pictured above) the idea to open a biergarten in the Atlas District. Aaron and his business partner Arturas Vorobjovas, who co-own the Russia House, have talked about opening a biergarten for years, but didn't have a location until they came across an old five and dime shop on H Street.

When Aaron saw the two-story building with its large patio space, he knew he had the ideal location for a biergarten, Germany's quintessential outdoor watering hole.

"As a young boy I grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, with three German families as neighbors," Aaron said via e-mail. "Having traditional family style meals every weekend opened my eyes and palate to this wonderful cuisine. The weisswurst, weinerschnitzle, sauerkraut, to name a few, were always my favorites."

02470015 While German cuisine will be on the menu, Aaron and Arturas don't plan to go too over the top with the theme. They are planning to have live polka music and are considering hiring an accordion player to come in from time to time, but don't expect to see the staff wearing dirndls and lederhosen.

Chris Chambers, regional director for the Russia House and Biergarten Haus, said the idea is to keep things simple so folks can enjoy themselves. So customers can come for the German food and beer (apparently they're working on a massive "King's Platter" of sausages and sides that is clearly aimed at the 'Skins offensive line), or to grab a beer and watch a soccer match on TV (they hope to be come a destination for D.C. soccer fans).

02470007 Chris also noted that the Biergarten Haus, near the corner of 13th and H streets, is a 10 minute cab ride from the Verizon Center, giving Capitals and Wizards fans a fairly close destination before and after games. For now, cabs and cars will be the means of transportation for most Biergarten Haus customers. The nearest Metro station, New York Avenue, is a long walk down H Street, and the trolley car line is at least a year away from completion. And until the trolley line is finished, H Street will remain a hot mess of construction crews and jersey barriers.

Aaron is taking the long view.

02470009 "We are only a year away from having DC's first European-style trolley, the road construction is rough but the construction crew are making progress daily," he said in his e-mail. "In the past seven months numerous new restaurants have opened, numerous abandoned buildings have been brought back to life. I find that the atlas/capital hill neighbors are very loyal to their business as well as very active the the continuing growth of the neighborhood."

Chris said the rent on the space is reasonable, which should help them get through their first year if the construction limits their customer traffic. In fact, the affordable rent led Aaron and Arturas to lease a space two doors down from the Biergarten Haus location where they plan to eventually open a European market that will offer a few things from the restaurant's menu, as well as sandwiches and other items.

02470023 As for those taps and bottles, Aaron has pulled in the Belgian beer knight himself, Bill Catron. The beer list is still be finalized, but expect a variety of beers from German stalwarts Spaten, Paulaner, Gaffel Kolsch and Eggenberg. However, Bill said he also plans to bring in some "gems," like Paulaner Pilsner, and is looking at ordering a few firkins.

"When you do go to drink beer, you want something a little bit extra," he said.

While the beers that Bill brings in will surely be good, the little bit extra most folks will be interested is the lot of outdoor space that will make the Biergarten a biergarten.

Well that and the beer. And the wurst. And the schnitzel. And maybe, just maybe, the polka.

Biergarten Haus
1355 H St., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002

Categories: Beer, Capitol Hill, Coming Soon, DC, H Street, Patio Dining, Restaurant Openings, Washington, DC
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washwords

Hey Drew, Matt was telling me about this one and it's definitely on our list. I didn't know it was coming so soon! Thanks for the head's up. I'm adding to dc blogs!

Drew

Sweet.

Jenny

What theeee!!! I LOVE IT!

Anyway, can anyone give me the exact location of it? hmm or maybe complete address =)

Cook in A Bar

I have been looking forward to this, thanks for the update!

okayavenue

Cars and cabs only? It's really easy to get to all the H Street bars and restaurants on Metrobus' X2. You can easily transfer to it from the Gallery Place or Union Station metro stations.

Drew

Agreed, okatavenue. As I said, cars and cabs will be the means of transportation for most customers, but I'm sure a lot of folks will be able to walk there or take a Metrobus. Thanks for the tip.

Lisa

There is also a free shuttle from the Chinatown Metro at 7th and H to Minnesota Ave Metro that make several stops on H Street, including near the Biergarten. Here is a link to the shuttle's schedule http://www.atlasarts.org/plan_shuttle.php

Lisa

Sorry for all of the typos, I was having problems getting your comment system to allow my post to go through so I had to keep changing it.

Drew

No worries, Lisa. Thanks for the tip.

Drew

I got an email from the Biergarten Haus folks this morning. Apparently they're pushing back their opening a couple weeks. We'll update their opening date once we have it.

BP

For the author: Union Station is the closest metro, not NY Ave (Union Station's parking lot abuts H St); Eggenberg is an Austrian beer, not German.

Drew

Thanks BP. You're right about Eggenberg. I should've been more clear about that (but really, who are we to let arbitrary borders get in the way of great German-style beer). However, according to Metro's Website, the NY Ave. station is a little closer than Union Station. Not much, but a little.

Drew

Just got word from Aaron that the Biergarten Haus will open this Friday, June 11. Let's hope he's right, because I'm thirsty.

Ben S

Went on the third day of it being open and I was not impressed. I've lived in Germany for 16 years and the Biergarten Haus reminds me more of a "Eurotrip" version of what a Biergarten should be like. The menu, despite being promising, is overpriced and half of the dishes were not available. The beer selection was not far from it. The best beers, those hard to find in DC, were not available. The food was half heartedly prepared and took a long time to be ordered, served and eaten. While trying to obtain some sweet mustard, a must for "Weisswurst", I was ignored by most of the staff who seemed to believe the ketchup served with it to be sufficient. Once the mustard finally came it was regular French's mustard. The pretzel bun served with the sausage, was soggy and tasteless; upon leaving a big trash bag of the pretzel buns was visible through one of the kitchen windows, which is probably where they should have stayed. A plate of Sauerkraut that was ordered didn't come and the waitress, busy with handing out Jagermeister shots was unable to deduct it from my bill.

In summary, if you are looking for a kitch place, look no further: The Biergarten House is open!

Drew

Thanks for the feedback, Ben S. It sounds like you encountered a mix of new restaurant glitches and oversights. Hopefully, Aaron and his staff will button things up once they get a better handle on things (read: once the World Cup is over). Otherwise, they risk losing a customers base that was excited to see them open.

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