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Le Grenier Brings Modern French Cuisine to H Street
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Le Grenier Brings Modern French Cuisine to H Street

August 16th, 2012 by Tim Ebner · 1 Comment · Capitol Hill, DC, H Street

Le Grenier opens Sunday/photo courtesy Tim Ebner

Is it just me or is H Street growing up before our very own eyes?

The neighborhood, long known for late night bars and entertainment, has more recently matured, establishing itself as a dining destination.

In the last few years, outposts like Boundary Road, Shawafel, The Atlas Room, and Ethiopic, have given the street some serious culinary credibility.

And if you hear about the sights, sounds, and smells of France any time soon, it’s probably because Le Grenier, a new French restaurant, will open on Sunday, serving up modern French cuisine.

“It a twisted version of the French classics.” said Le Grenier’s co-owner Samuel Ziar.

Le Grenier, which is a French word meaning “the attic,” is traditionally the place where farms kept and stored grains, and for many French homes it’s where you store household treasures and other random assortments.

The restaurant, decorated by wife and co-owner Marie Ziar, is a gathering of those items. Oversized trunks, rusted bicycles, ornate wall frames, and distressed wooden headboards give the sense that you’re eating in an antique collector’s holy grail.

There’s also a piece of H Street leftover from the past.

When the couple started construction on the restaurant more than a year ago, they tore down a side wall and discovered exposed brick with a Coca Cola sign painted. The faded advertisement is now one of the main focal points as you enter the two story, vaulted space.

It’s fitting that a piece of the old was found, Mr. Ziar said.

“When we decided on H Street, we also decided to pay significant respect to the neighborhood’s tradition and feel,” he said. “We looked all around Washington, but it was hard to find the local, friendly place.”

The couple also owns and manages Le Chat Noir, a seven-year-old, classic French restaurant in Tenleytown. But, they said they expect their second restaurant to look and feel different because it’s located in a completely different neighborhood.

“The idea was to come here because it has a friendly, simple feel,” Mr. Ziar said. “There’s a real focus on quality, while also offering a valued dining experience.”

Most plates are in the mid-range, approximately $15-$22 for entreés, and the menu will rotate on a seasonal, three month schedule.

Current items include appetizers like frog legs, onion soup, and a trilogy of tomatoes: tomato confit , gazpacho, and tomato sorbet. Main dishes reflect the traditional and modern. There’s Beef Occitan, a stew commonly served in south France, hanger steak with shallots, and pork seasoned with tamarind.

And for dessert the kitchen serves up banana chocolate style crêpes and crème brûlée. Le Chat Noir’s executive chef, Thierry Sanchez, will oversee kitchen operations both at Le Grenier and Le Chat Noir.

For the most part wine labels read French. There’s also a handful of bottled beers imported from France, including a Fischer Amber, Keller Pils Blonde, and Columbia White.  And the cocktail menu features drinks with a number of bitters, syrups, and spices that also rotate by season.

“We have very high hopes and have put a lot of investment into this,” Mr. Ziar said. “We hope it will pay off and people will recognize us for a quality experience.”

Le Grenier opens on Sunday night for dinner. The restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday. Kitchen open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on weekends. Drinks until 2 a.m. on weekends.

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  • Vincent J Mareino

    Le Grenier’s chocolate crepes reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to ask THIH:

    Where can you get a good hot chocolate around the Hill? A lot of coffee shops and cafes don’t seem to have it on their menus. Is Starbucks really my best bet?