A new modern American restaurant with a “Swiss-French twist” called Silo is preparing to open in the Mount Vernon Square area sometime before the end of the year. (UPDATE: Silo will open Jan. 4.) So what exactly does a Swiss-French twist mean? “Lots of cheese,” says chef George Vetsch, who previously worked at C.F. Folk’s for about four years.
This restaurant is owned by Reza Akhavan, who was previously general manager at Shaw’s Tavern. Akhavan, who was born and raised in Iran, has a degree in mechanical engineering but has always been tangentially involved in the food business because his family ran a sheet metal manufacturer that made cans and containers for food companies.
Meanwhile, Vetsch was born in the German part of Switzerland but was schooled in French cuisine. Before his time at C.F. Folk’s, he was executive chef at Oval Room, Circle Bistro, and the now-closed Etrusco Trattoria. Vetsch says the reason he initially went to work at C.F. Folk’s was to escape fine dining. “It followed me…We got all these awards, so I couldn’t really escape it,” he says, referencing the restaurant’s America’s Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation this year. “So I said, ‘Well, I may as well do this one.'”
The appetizer menu at Silo will include items like a kohlrabi soup with Gruyere cheese and fennel oil, vanilla-braised frog legs with garlic risotto, and salmon tartar in potato foam with jellied tomato consommé. Among the entrees: pork stew in a paprika sour cream sauce with grilled rapine and pepper tagliatelle as well as monk fish with savory egg sauce on herb toast with sautéed Swiss chard and anchovy-chervil chips. At least one dish has been transferred over from C.F. Folk’s: a seared chicken breast on Jasmine rice with mango chutney coconut sauce, pineapple salsa, and fried spinach. Eventually, Silo will introduce a bar menu with more small bites.
The wine list features small domestic and western European producers who do no more than 3,000 cases per year. Manager Charlotte Devilliers is putting together a list of varietals that most people probably haven’t heard of before. “It’s good for [diners] to taste outside of their comfort zones. A lot of people tend to drink things that they’re used to,” says Devilliers. “When you present them with unusual choices, they end up broadening their palates.”
For beer, look for a dozen craft beers and cider on tap, plus some larger bottles of Belgian ales and sour ales, which Devilliers says will go really well with the food. A seasonal cocktail list is still in the works, but one offering will include whiskey with liquid-smoke-apple-cider ice and bacon garnish.
Akhavan says the building had long been abandoned before Silo moved in. And aside from the bar area and dining room, he hopes to eventually add a roof deck.
The look is—surprise, surprise—industrial chic, with a long concrete bar and tables made with reclaimed wood and old pipes. The walls, partially covered in exposed brick and partially in plaster, look like they’re strewn with bullet holes. “They might be,” Akhavan says when I ask if they are, in fact, bullet holes. “I can promise you we’re not going to have any new ones in there.”
Check out the full menu below.
Silo, 919 5th St. NW; (202) 309-0073; silodc.com
Photo by Jessica Sidman