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The bartenders at Irish Whiskey Public House have poured their last drams of Jameson. Restaurateur Reese Gardner closed the pub housed in a Dupont Circle rowhouse last week after five years to transform it into a restaurant called Tulips by early October.
“Those little townhouses in D.C., they take a beating, especially in Dupont,” he says. “It’s time for a concept change.” With the name “Tulips,” Gardner refers to both the bulbous plant and a signature shape of barware. “The theme is going to be cocktails and beers in all of these different shapes and sizes of tulip glasses, and there will be tulips throughout the restaurant,” he explains.
Tulips, like Irish Whiskey, will utilize all three floors of the space, but at the heart of the operation is the 28-seat first floor dining room where a four-course, prix-fixe menu will be served with beverage pairings for under $100.
Chef James Duke of both of Virginia’s Copperwood Taverns (also operated by Gardner) will lead the kitchen. Duke has also cooked at Provision No. 14 on 14th Street NW. Gardner says there will likely be a few choices for each course and above all, he wants you to leave dinner feeling full. (Remember when Tom Sietsema craved pizza after sampling the tasting menu at The Shaw Bijou?)
“I want them to say, the protein was a good size, the amuse [bouche] from the chef was really unique, and the other courses were cool,” Gardner says. “Is there going to be a 12-oz. rib-eye? No. But it’ll be decent size proteins.”
At the conclusion of dinner, a server will deliver each guest a wooden nickel to be redeemed for a free drink on the restaurant’s top-floor lounge. The goal is for guests to mingle and discuss dinner with other diners, and maybe do a meet-and-greet with the chef. “We want the menu to be a conversation piece,” Gardner says. “I saw a concept like it in Germany.”
Gardner calls the middle floor of the restaurant a “staging ground” for customers waiting to dine. It will also be a place where people can pop-in for a cocktail and a snack, since the dining room will be reservations-only.
Tulips won’t be open for lunch, but eventually they’ll launch Sunday brunch, which will also follow a three- or four-course, prix-fixe format. “Something in the $40-$50 range with Champagne,” Gardner predicts.
The space is getting a lipstick renovation—fresh upholstery, a new color palette, fresh flooring, light fixtures, and other decor—putting it on track for an October re-opening.
Tulips, 1207 19th St. NW, tulipsdc.com