|Review: Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant by: Bert English and Matt Witting October 24, 2001|
|Prior to the Capitals/Montreal tilt on Friday, October 19th, Washington Hockey (Sparky) and a friend (Bert) dropped by Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant at 900 F St., two blocks from the Phone Booth. Neither of us had ever had a chance to check out this hot spot, but decided to rectify our thoughtlessness by making it the first of the MCI neighborhood reviews.
Gordon Biersch is located in an elegant, old fashioned building. Like most of the brew pubs it has two floors and patrons can look in at the vats of beer around the sides and the back. Unlike most of the brew pubs, however, this one is not cramped and dark. The bar area has lots of open floor space as well as tables while the restaurant is spacious and well laid-out to preserve privacy at the tables. We were there during the beginning of a Friday Happy Hour and didnít need to yell across our table to each other even though we were only 30 feet from the very crowded bar and every table around us was full. All the pillars and brass and wood give the place a nice feel, if you care for that sort of thing.
If you donít care about ambiance, youíve still got nothing to worry about. Bert and I tried out four of their available home brews and were more than satisfied. Iím fairly easy to please when it comes to beer (ďSparky like beerĒ is what I wrote down), but Bert is a grade A beer snob and didn't complain, so this speaks well for the place. A couple of the brews are seasonal, so theyíll rotate throughout the season, but we got both the summer brew and the OctoberFest version and both were nice. If you like Heffeweizen, and I really do, their summer Heffe is a winner. Quite thick, unfiltered, and served (thank God) without a lemon that would have been redundant anyway. The Festbier was very rich although not as sweet as I would have expected. Bert enjoyed this one a lot. The Marzen, their most popular beer, was quite refreshing and went very well with the appetizers. In terms of liquid refreshment we both give this place a big thumbs up.
The food was, for the most part, equally satisfying. It is a combination of American cuisine with an Asian flavor. The best way to test this is to order the chicken skewers with sesame sauce to start. Perfectly cooked, just a hint of spiciness, and served with a small serving of tasty rice and some cucumbers. If you want a more traditional feel, try the garlic fries. You get a good sized serving that arenít toooo heavy on the garlic and are the perfect start to an evening of hockey with someone you wonít kiss goodnight (sorry, Bert). We got to see a number of the other appetizers and they all looked equally satisfying, so if you are in the mood for a snack and a drink, Gordon Biersch is the place to go.
The entrees varied wildly to accommodate any taste. They have a variety of pastas, stir fries, some very tasty looking thin pizzas, as well as the traditional entrees and salads. Bert liked the fire-roasted chicken he ordered (on the suggestion of our excellent waiter, Mike), particularly the garlic mashed potatoes on the side. It was, miracle of miracles, not cooked dry but stayed moist and flavorful. Most of the seasoning stayed on the skin, but thatís the standard way to do it. My roast pork medallions were equally well cooked and were much spicier than I expected. I didnít really like the bread pudding on the side, but thatís just me. The steaks smelled excellent, and the next time I go Iím trying one of the many seafood dishes on the menu.
For all you vegetarians out there, try the Hummus salad. It is huge and would do for a very large appetizer or a filling meal unto itself. Mike the Waiter also told us that the kitchen can accommodate many requests, so if you see something you like and want the meat taken out, just ask. There arenít many vegetarian entrees, so that might be important. Of course, filling up on Heffeweizen is just as effective and more fun than a vegetarian mealÖ
The service was excellent from the maitre dí to the waiter to the bartenders. Friendly, helpful and fast. The meal took a little longer overall than weíd hoped (just over an hour), but that was partially because we decided to stuff ourselves silly with fudge cake and a very interesting mandarin orange crŤme brulee. There were a fair number of Caps fans enjoying a leisurely, upscale dinner prior to the game, but the bar seemed to be mostly upscale professionals. For all you single guys out there, it seemed to be a target rich environment from where we sat.
In the end, Iíve gotta say that Bert and I will be going back to Gordon Biersch in the near future. Thereís a couple of appetizers I want to try out, as well as the Winter Bock beer coming soon. If you want a slightly more upscale dinner/drinking experience than the F Street bar or the Rock, or if canít get a spot at the ChopHouse then this is the place for you. On a side note, theyíve got a couple of large private rooms available on a first come, first serve basis at no charge, so if youíve got a group to entertain, Gordon Biersch is an excellent choice.
Brewery and Restaurant
900 F. St. NW
Prices: $3.95-$12.95 appetizers
$9.95 to $24.95 entrees
(back to neighorhood guide)