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Anticipation has been building since last fall when the trio of founders behind Michelin-starred Tail Up Goat let on that they would be opening a second restaurant in Adams Morgan. Reveler’s Hour will spotlight intriguing bowls of pasta from Chef Jon Sybert at a more affordable price point, and pair them with a robust list of 50 to 60 wines by the glass picked out by wine savant Bill Jensen. The third partner, Jill Tyler, oversees the dining room.
“You never know the restaurant you’re opening until the doors open,” she says, reflecting on the early days of Tail Up Goat in 2016. “We thought this place would be more casual than what it ended up being. We’re excited to have a place where we can take a few more risks and have a little more fun.”
Jensen concurs. “Tail Up Goat is very much a place where people bring their parents and celebrate anniversaries and birthdays, which is hugely gratifying,” he says. “Especially the parents one. It’s either because you want to show off the place or it’s a place you can’t afford to go to otherwise and your parents are footing the bill. We want Reveler’s Hour to be the place you go to escape your parents after dinner is over.”
So far Reveler’s Hour, now scheduled to open in December, has largely been billed as a bar, but Tyler wants people to know they’re serious about the food. “When people think wine bar, they don’t think of it as a place to grab a meal” she says. “It’s the best parts of a wine bar with what we would make at a pasta bar.”
Pasta is Sybert’s favorite thing to eat and cook. His corn and taleggio ravioli with habanada peppers, leeks, crispy caper berries, and chives has a following. While Tail Up Goat typically offers three pasta options, Reveler’s Hour will serve six to eight with the help of pasta maker Beatriz Caceres.
Sybert also looks forward to cooking with a wood burning grill for the first time. In addition to Mediterranean-inspired small plates that complement the pastas, Reveler’s Hour will run through a rotation of blue plate specials like baked lasagna night and big steak night. The chef plans to continue sourcing from local farms and bringing in whole animals, including dairy cows, which his “right hand man” Huntley Skinker deftly breaks down.
Sybert wants his menu to jive with what Jensen and co-beverage directors Zoë Nystrom and Sara Thomson are doing with wine. “Bill’s kind of irreverent and really fun attitude towards what he does is what brings a lot of the good energy to what the three of us do and I’m excited to have him taking the wheel a little bit,” he says. The wine list will be arranged into four sections that will change seasonally.
“Wine is not the only thing we’ll serve, but wine is definitely the first love,” Jensen says. Wines will be arranged around different themes that could range from personalities in the wine world to grape varietals or regions. “The idea is that you can explore each and come back and dive deeper,” Jensen says. A white board at the bar will display rarities that happen to be open. “We’re going to serve some ‘hipstery,’ avant-garde stuff, but also some stuff that’s wonderfully old fashioned and classic. My favorite wine programs are the ones that are able to appreciate both.”
Reveler’s Hour takes its name from a line in one of the Odes of Anacreon. The Greek poet wrote drinking songs that Irishman Thomas Moore translated. Jensen, a poetry admirer, can recite the verses on command. When staff members leave Tail Up Goat, Jensen reads them a poem on their last day. “It sounded like a good idea initially, now there’s a lot of pressure.”
Jensen, Sybert, and Tyler get creative when it comes work culture. In addition to offering employees healthcare and a 401(k) program, they also invest in employee education. “We have a cookbook club we do with the kitchen,” Tyler explains. “We buy all of our cooks a cookbook every month.” Then the team gathers to talk about each book and try recipes from it.
Reveler’s Hour will take reservations for the dining room that’s about the same size as Tail Up Goat’s with 66 seats. The bar will have about 30 seats, including some high-top tables. It will stay open later into the night and will be available to walk-in customers. Edit Lab at Streetsense is designing the space.
Jensen is particularly excited about the artwork they’re licensing for the bathroom. They’re going to display drawings by Maryse Chevriere, a James Beard Award winning illustrator, known for depicting wine tasting notes.
Reveler’s Hour, 1777 Columbia Road NW