Mug Shots: Granville Moore’s Looks to Be a Happy Departure

Posted July 25, 2007 at 5:35pm

Something completely different is coming to H Street Northeast: a “gastropub” with no TVs that specializes in Belgian fare and beer. [IMGCAP(1)]

It doesn’t exactly fall in with the rest of H Street’s new watering holes — a New Orleans-voodoo-themed bar, a rock ‘n’ roll haven, a sideshow wonderland and a Caribbean-style bar are its neighbors. But the reasons Dr. Granville Moore’s Brickyard (1238 H St. NE) doesn’t fit in with the hipster joints in the neighborhood are the same reasons it’s sure to be a cure for the up-and-coming neighborhood’s lack of culinary delights.

When it opens Aug. 3 (that’s still tentative), patrons will have a bar experience like no other in town (read: unpretentious).

Upon entering the nondescript building with minimal signage (Dr. Moore’s original sign is still hanging over the door; more on that later), the effect of the minimalist (read: nothing hanging on the walls) decor is striking.

Exposed beams and brick, some of which is masked with horsehair plaster, is all original. The downstairs and upstairs bars were bought in upstate New York and the hardwood floors were salvaged from an old farmhouse in Frederick, Md.

Proprietor Chris Surrusco, who knows his way around a barrel of beer, did this on purpose.

“It’s a place for conversation, with no distractions,” he said of the intimate seating and candlelit tables. “The walls speak for themselves.”

Behind the downstairs bar, you’ll find an old-fashioned icebox running the length of the wall. This has been refurbished to house the 80-plus Belgian beers the bar plans to offer.

The basement of Granville Moore’s is the perfect beer-storage area, too. With a constant temperature of around 50 degrees, the beers stay nice and cozy until they’re ready for the cooler.

And because the bar is solely dedicated to Belgian beverages, expect the cheapest Stella Artois draft in town, at just $4 a glass. And instead of domestic beer happy hours, Surrusco says patrons can look forward to Chimay happy hours.

Check out the bathrooms with beautiful marble floors and original water boxes above the latrines on the way to the back patio biergarten, where a few wrought iron benches surround antique wooden tables — a perfect atmosphere for al fresco dining.

And you can expect the dining to be excellent.

Surrusco, a six-and-a-half-year veteran brewer who once ran brewing operations at a D.C. Capital City Brewing Company as well as breweries in Baltimore and North Carolina, has an A-team service staff.

The three types of patrons he expects to frequent his establishment include neighborhood regulars, foodies and beer connoisseurs. And he’s going to great lengths to make sure each group is satisfied.

On hand, he’s got brewers, beer experts and experienced servers. Also in his arsenal of employees are two bartenders who are fluent in American Sign Language, and a weekly Gallaudet University night is in the works at the bar to cater to patrons from the nearby college for the hearing-impaired.

Surrusco took such lengths to please his customers because he believes in the “pioneering spirit” of H Street.

“I want people to come in here and be able to have an appetizer, dinner and a Belgian beer for under $35,” he said, “including tip.”

Most of the upstairs bar is salvaged from auctions and estate sales by owner and H Street developer extraordinaire Joe Englert.

The chairs accompanying the tables upstairs were found at a church and include little boxes on their back for holding Bibles. This will serve a similar function of holding the Belgian-themed menus. The menu will include mussels, or moules, and frites, or Belgian fries, with seven different types of dipping sauce.

The brand-new kitchen is small, but Surrusco says looks can be deceptive.

“People are going to be amazed by what comes out of this kitchen,” he said, as he points out that everything on the menu will be fresh, so deep-freeze storage isn’t needed.

Named for the benevolent black doctor of eras past who did pro bono work for the neighborhood’s poor residents, the bar’s subtlety and humility will certainly let its extensive libations and delicious foods speak for themselves.

And Capitol Hill will be listening intently.