Days after the grand opening weekend of Slate Wine Bar + Bistro, Mark Krieger contacted @GloverPark by Twitter with a hard-to-refuse offer: visit him and the team for an informal lunch. As the informal social media volunteer for the neighborhood, I don’t receive many lunch invitations. How could I turn down the offer?
Krieger, Slate’s GM and journeyman chef, greeted me (and my family) and gave us a quick tour. And, by the way, all this happened on his “day off” – as Slate is closed on Mondays. The décor of the former Austin Grill and Kitchen location has a simple, welcoming feel with a woodsy touch. It, well, makes you want to have a glass of wine or a beer.
Krieger explained that he deliberately put a modest number of tables on the first floor. He wants diners to have a spacious and open area to enjoy their dining. In addition to the main bar downstairs, the upstairs has a second bar and tables to enjoy some drinks. For now, meals are only served on the main level.
We snacked on a plate of sun-dried tomato focaccia topped with olive oil and a dish of honey with black pepper for dipping.
Krieger then progressed onto Asparagus and Leek Soup. The menu description is perfect – a touch of crème. The taste is all leek and some garlic. If you’re not a leek soup fan yet, you will be. My wife suggested that there should be a “take-out” option. It was that tasty.
During the opening weekend, Steak Frites (certified Angus hanger steak) was the most popular dish. “No steak knives needed here,” said Krieger. Not when you can easily cut the steak with a butter knife. Cajun Chicken and Chorizo Pasta came in a close second.
Slate’s popular sandwich will clearly become the Crispy Shrimp and Pancetta Club. Krieger proudly explained the benefits of using U-8 Colossal Shrimp. Even on a large roll, the shrimp peeks out the sides. He also pointed out that most chefs overcook shrimp and make it rubbery. Perfectly cooked shrimp is his passion.
Caprese Pasta has impossibly fresh roma tomatoes and mozzarella that stands on its own.
The dishes all seem to be large, large, large. “Too much food,” my wife jokingly noted as she acknowledged that her appetite is larger than typical. For the dishes served with shoestring cut fries, you will welcome a Mount Rushmore-sized pile of deliciousness.
Elizabeth Banker, Slate’s owner and wine director, offered a glass of Rosé and gave us her philosophy on wine selection. She looks at regional themes, such as Greek wines during the opening weekend. Patrons can choose individual wines by the bottle or glass. For more adventurous types, there is also a flight of wines for a fixed price. She and bar manager, Noah Naft, “talk all day long and share their thoughts on wine.”
Banker explained that Slate was in the plans for a year. Krieger and Banker are clearly detail-oriented people. It was only six weeks from signing the lease until the grand opening.
The fascinating fact of the whole experience is that Glover Park now has a fully operational dessert bakery hidden inside Slate. What other modest sized restaurant has its own dessert chef on site?
Lester B. Wallace III, DC’s Pie King (that seems to be his official name), prepares outstanding desserts from scratch in Slate’s kitchen and even sells his delicacies to other restaurants in the area. Krieger said he was so excited about what Wallace makes that he invited him to “camp out” at Slate full time.
A mountain of Southern Rum Cake supported the rationale for having Wallace join Slate. Yum, yum, yum.
With a rotating selection of wines and a packed-full food selection that fills a mini-poster board menu, Slate is a welcome addition to Glover Park’s broad restaurant and beverage scene. Check it out six days a week (closed Mondays) anytime after 4 p.m. The selection of wines, beers and food may require a few trips in order to really savor what Slate has to offer.