Image: Eggplant Involtini with bacon and feta.
Last Updated: 7/24/2020
Current Status: As of 7/23, Iron Gate is trying out Thursday – Sunday dining on the patio. They are calling it a pop-up, but it looks like a reopening for sit-down. It also has combined forces with other elements of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group to create a single outlet for take-out and delivery drawing from many of the restaurants and most importantly making Bluejacket beer available. You can also dip into Churchkey’s collection.
Gift Cards – redeemable at all NRG restaurants.
Before Times Review:
Last Visited: September 2019
Iron Gate serves delicious food. It has an interesting wine list that focuses on Mediterranean regions. The cocktails are delicious and reflect a pro’s touch. The staff is friendly, hustling, and knowledgeable. Despite all that, it will be the space that you remember. There is an actual iron gate. A remnant of a time when the current bar space was a carriage way to the residence in the back. Now in the back is a lovely patio and an interior space with a fireplace that is exactly the kind of warm space meant for winter. These three linked and distinct spaces are exemplars of design serving function without losing beauty. They also leverage the refuge-like environment carved out of urban Washington. Even if you just go once for the setting, we suggest that you go. It is a good bet that once you do go, the food, beverages, and service will prompt a second trip.
The menu changes with the season and is good from top to bottom. Some things are exceptionally good. Pastas consistently shine. Whatever the focaccia is, try it. For the first few years, the main dining room was prix fixe, tasting menu only. Now they have loosened to à la carte in the dining room and serve the tasting menu outside. This development is to their benefit and yours. The dishes can include pleasant surprises like a pomegranate note in the pasta stuffing, pickled shrimp on a salad, snap peas and chanterelles as supporting cast to beef loin. On the last visit, grilled cucumber and dill was a highlight along with a classic eggplant involtini with smoked bacon, feta, cherry tomato pomodoro. With a changing menu across multiple settings there can be missteps. On a recent visit, the bruschetta was on stale bread that did not soften with its topping. It should also be noted that the kitchen has never been light with salt shaker.
The beverage service is loyal to the original vision. It is heavy on Italian and Greek wines. The beer list is not short or obvious. The cocktail list changes and the bartenders take them seriously. Iron Gate is part of a larger restaurant group that can tap resources and talent. It is a rare thing to sustain a level of service and quality since opening – at least in D.C. Iron Gate does that. It is great for treating yourself at lunch or after work and for treating someone else on a special occasion.
Other Guidance: The multiple settings mean there is no standard of dress, though something a little sharper is appropriate for the dining room. The small plate format means there are lots of vegetable options and GF can do well.
Lori: From 2013.