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Three years into occupying one of D.C.’s most historic restaurant spaces, Iron Gate is making big changes. The food and drink will still be lean Greek and Italian, but the format is changing.
The Dupont Circle hideaway has operated dual concepts since its launch: a formal tasting menu restaurant in the fire-lit dining room, and a casual small-plates restaurant in The Secret Garden-like patio and carriageway. But starting Feb. 1 guests will have much greater flexibility.
An a la carte menu as well as a redesigned six-course tasting menu ($90 per person before tax and tip) will be available in all areas of the restaurant and guests can decide which menu they’d like upon arrival.
“Over the last three years we have had good customers in both areas, but the one thing we hear occasionally is confusion of where they can eat and what menus they can order off of,” explains Executive Chef Anthony Chittum. “Since we opened, I’ve wanted to serve the tasting menu on patio because on a nice night, it’s a good experience. This will make things easier for everyone.”
True, but complicating things is a third menu. Chittum calls the communal feast the “Family Table” because it comes with four courses meant to be shared ($55 per person before tax and tip). “It’s how we eat in Greece and in Italy,” he explains. The chef has traveled extensively in both regions and his wife is Greek.“You eat with a crowd of people, it’s about the experience and having fun, getting plates in the center and sharing everything.”
Since the Family Table menu is determined each day, Chittum can serve speciality dishes that feature ingredients he can only get in limited quantities.
The a la carte menu, save for the mixed grill, will look unfamiliar to regular diners as Chittum is rolling out new dishes. He points to three must-try mezze:
Almond-crusted graviera cheese with green apple and curried golden raisin chutney ($10)
To the tune of gooey saganaki, Chittum crusts Greek cheese with almonds before pan frying it so it oozes when you slice into it. The chutney it’s paired with also contains parsley, capers, and a little bit of heat.
Duck yourvarlakia with Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice, lots of dill, and Hollandaise ($16)
Yourvarlakia is Chittum’s wife’s favorite thing to eat, but the meatball dish isn’t traditionally made with ground duck. That’s Iron Gate’s twist.
House made cotechino with lentil tambouli (correct spelling in Cyprus), tahini, and pickled fennel ($14)
Cotechino is a rich, rustic pork sausage made from a mix of meat, fat, and skin. Chittum flavors it with baking spices like cinnamon and cloves.
Reservations will be taken for all areas of the restaurant, but note that they may be tough to get from Feb. 1-14 during the restaurant’s Valentine’s Day pop-up.
Iron Gate Restaurant, 1734 N St. NW; (202) 524-5202; irongaterestaurantdc.com