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Tuesday
Sep072010

Meridian Pint

*Post by Angela.

I love discovering new places with my friends. Last weekend, I met with some of my nearest and dearest (including Annie and Ross, who are enthusiastic eating adventure companions, and the famed Calypso) at Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights to celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite Washingtonians, my good friend Dan. Only open for about 2 months, Meridian Pint was "founded on the premise of environmental sustainability," with a focus on American craft beers. The establishment's commitment to the environment seems to be more than just lip service, as its energy source comes from wind mill farms in the way of green energy credits. Meridian Pint also offers vegan food and drink options.

 

 

The interior is interesting, with an industrial theme - exposed pipe, brick walls,  heavy wood, tables inlaid with blueprints, and cogs and gears everywhere. The website explains that much of the equipment, furniture, construction materials and design elements have been recycled or reclaimed. I spent a little time with Calypso in the basement level bar, which sports a couple of pool tables, a wide open space,  two booths at which patrons can pour their own beers, and a very casual atmosphere, before heading upstairs to meet with my friends for dinner in the dining area (below). The dining area is lit mostly by natural light streaming through the big panel windows; this meant that as it got later, the dining area got dimmer and dimmer until it became almost too dark to see down to the end of the table to where the birthday boy was seated.

 

 

It took some time for our group of 10 to get settled and order, so we started out with an order of fries with rarebit sauce (cheese, beer, and mustard) for the table. The fries were fine, nothing special, but the sauce was really tasty - the slight bitterness from the beer paired well with the tanginess of the mustard and the oh-so-yummy cheesiness.

 

 

In fact, the sauce was so good that we used it to dip our order of onion rings (below). Annie and I thought that they were some of the best rings we'd ever had, thick-cut, meaty with a perfect golden and crispy exterior. Ross thought there was a little too much batter, but still liked them. We loved them with the rarebit sauce, but they were served with a horseradish aioli, which was also great.

 

 

Annie and Ross opted for the cauliflower curry soup special, served warm (below). While Ross was a little unsettled by the temperature, they both appreciated the subtleness of the curry and really enjoyed it. Ross, who is a fairly particular eater, was impressed at our friendly and knowledgable server's efforts to accommodate his requests (no cilantro or yogurt on top), and she made sure to ask whether he was allergic to these ingredients. In fact, we were all pretty impressed with the way she deftly managed our big group.

 

 

I got an order of deviled eggs (below), which were okay, but lacked the textural contrast and bite that I've loved with more creative versions of this classic.

 

 

Ross got the pulled beef short rib sandwich (below), which he liked but didn't think was amazingly great - the meat could have been more tender, which is what I generally expect from a pulled meat dish.

 

 

I also opted for the short ribs, albeit in entree form. The meat was braised in porter, and served with macaroni and cheese and wilted spinach (below). The beer braise brought out a nice, rich and deep flavor in the meat, although I agreed with Ross that it was not as tender as I would have liked. The sides, however, had little to recommend them - both were in dire need of seasoning.

 

 

Annie got the double-cut brined pork chop with a rhubarb hard-cider sauce, served with roasted sweet potatoes and braised kale (below). The server warned us that it was a big portion, but we were not prepared for the MONSTER cut that soon arrived. If you're a hungry bug, this is the dish for you. The pork was very nice, having benefitted greatly from the brining, juicy and well-seasoned. The sweet potato wedges were okay, but the kale suffered the same defect as my sides - bland and a little bitter.

 

 

I think Meridian Pint has what it takes to be a neighborhood fixture for years to come - the food needs some work (mostly seasoning-wise), but they've got time, and I really like the fun atmosphere, great service, and sense of social responsibility that the newbie brings to the table. And any place that puts up with our merry band of miscreants is fine by me.

Meridian Pint on Urbanspoon

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Reader Comments (7)

As always, Angela's review is spot on. The food was good for the price, but they definitely have a little room to improve. Our server was fantastic, and she definitely tipped the scale in favor of going back again (if I was already up in Columbia Heights).

September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRoss

Meridian Pint is a great space and a great addition to the neighborhood. I just wish they would tinker with the menu a little bit so I wanted to eat there more often.

I've been five times since they opened and the problem is, if you aren't a vegetarian, and you don't feel like bar food, the options are extremely limited. I appreciate their desire to cater to the crunchy folks, but if you are someone who will never order "seitan" or a polenta entree or a veggie platter, the remaining entree options are too narrow in focus.

We were there Monday and they were actually out of their only non-veggie, non-super-heavy entree: the smoked trout. So the entree options were then: a steak, short ribs, the huge pork chop, fish and chips, chicken, and turkey hash (ugh). I was fine with the pork chop, but my wife wanted something lighter. Without the fish, that really left her with nothing she wanted from the menu. She ended up with a burger.

They really should add a couple more options that will appeal to people who aren't veggies and aren't greasy or gut busting. How about a more interesting chicken dish, or a pasta, or another fish option? Really just one or two lighter non-veggie entrees would make a huge difference.

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Ross-
Heh, well, you did help me out quite a bit with it, so...and you hit on it exactly. If I was already in Columbia Heights, it would definitely be on my shortlist for places to go.

Jamie-
Actually, now that I think about it, the menu does skew really heavy for non-veggie dishes, especially in this kind of weather - a light-ish pasta dish or another fish/seafood dish is a great suggestion. Maybe as the restaurant matures a little they can start to expand the menu.

September 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

The food is okay but the service is terrible there. Both times I went it was bad, the second time we waited over an hour only to discover that the waitress had forgotten to put our order in. Terrible, terrible, terrible!

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhomeimprovementninja

homeimprovementninja-
Oh, no! I'm so sorry to hear you had such a bad experience! We had a really fantastic server...maybe that was an anomaly? I sure hope not, I like this place and would like it to have the chance to improve. But I understand how you feel - to get bad service not once but twice? I probably wouldn't give anyplace another shot after that.

September 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

I give this place a "meh." I want to like it, I really do, especially as it's so close to me. Every time I've been there and ordered food, though, it's been a letdown. At the prices they charge, it should be several notches above the dressed-up bar food they serve. And the service has been friendly but ineffective each time.

They've got a great beer menu, but when I'm hungry I'm going to stick to the neighborhood's other restaurants.

September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel Hawthorne

NH-
I completely agree, but maybe the food will improve - if it's still around in a few months (and I hope it is), I would go back and try it again to see if the kitchen has learned. Until then, yeah, strictly a happy hour/drinking place for me.

September 16, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

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