Part coffee bar, part wine bistro, part lounge spot, part sophisticated date night, Pound The Hill, one of DC’s most noteworthy coffee house located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Capitol Hill, and widely known for their decadent Nutella Lattes and welcoming ambiance, is shedding its skin to re-emerge a bigger, better, tastier version of itself with Pound Bistro & Wine Bar.
Located at 621 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, just steps from the Eastern Market train stop, Pound The Hill has spent the last year making its mark in DC serving seriously delicious coffee, tea and fresh breakfast and lunch bites. The only restaurant on the East Coast to serve Kickapoo Coffee, a 100 percent hand crafted, fair trade, organically grown coffee roaster from Wisconsin (and 2010 Micro Roaster of the Year), Pound doesn’t mess around when it comes to their lattes, cappuccinos and espressos – or anything else for that matter. With a focus on sustainable ingredients, careful preparation and expert craftsmanship, stopping by Pound for your morning latte is guaranteed a coffee that is anything but ordinary. And now, the coffee you’ve come to love and crave is being complemented by an equally as delicious dedication to great food, and delicious wine.
In late January, Pound debuted their wine bar and bistro concept. Serving a rustic menu of sophisticated comfort foods such as Lentil Soup, Cordon Bleu Croquettes (in a word, yum!), Tuscan Bread Salad, Pan Seared Diver Scallops, Braised Brisket on Papas, and Coq Au Vin Dumplings, the offerings at Pound are robust and delicate all at once. Stopping by recently to visit with some friends after work, one of whom is one of the owners, I was able to learn a bit more about Pounds new concept, as well as try some of the remarkable food.
Getting their start in the neighborhood as a coffee shop, Pound The Hill is still fiercely committed to maintaining a welcoming neighborhood ambiance, and even during dinner service, a portion of the restaurant space is reserved for casual meetings on a first-come, first-served basis. And that’s a very good thing as Pound’s happy hour runs Monday through Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. when house wines are $5, and craft-brewed beer is $4. From opening until 4 p.m., Pound will serve their artisanal coffee and tea drinks, as well as café breakfast and lunch fare. Then at 4 p.m., the restaurant will transition into dinner service.
Set inside a bright, trim townhouse space on Pennsylvania Avenue, my friend Frank explained that Pound is dedicated to growing the space sustainably and with an eye towards the neighborhood. Stretching out gracefully through the back of the restaurant, the dining room offers plentiful space for either larger parties or a more intimate dinner for two, and plans are underway to transform a large, lush outdoors space into a patio, perfect for hot summer days in DC. With a dense overhang of tree foliage, the patio at Pound promises to be not just a welcome respite during warm weather, but a cool, shady one, as well – sometimes hard to come by here in DC.
But let’s get back to the food. Drawing upon the rich heritage of multi-cultural comfort food, the dinner menu at Pound is not yet very expansive, but it is very comprehensive. Offerings are available for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike, and food is prepared using sustainable, organic fruits, meat and seafood from local producers and farmers whenever possible. Italian, Asian, American, and French cuisines mingle happily on the menu, which will change and rotate seasonally. As the weather is still (somewhat) cold outside – did we ever really get a winter here in DC? – the current menu features a delightful mix of hearty, robust flavors along with lighter fare. I was lucky enough to sample not just the Cordon Bleu Croquettes, which are as delicious as they sound, but also the cheese plate which that night was served with a trio of sharp pungent cheeses offset by a spicy fruit compote as well as the Caramelized Mushroom Tart. Now, I’ve never pretended to care for mushrooms because anyone who knows me will tell you I emphatically don’t, but I want to like mushrooms because I know so many people who swoon when in their presence. So, I keep trying them. And this time, I was glad I did for the Mushroom Tart was light and savory – small triangles of puff pastry crowned with a well-seasoned mushroom and goat cheese blend that even to this avowed mushroom disliker was delicious.
Like the starters, main courses at Pound are well thought-out and flavorful. Whether it was the meltingly soft Beef Brisket served with crushed red bliss potatoes and a Dijon aioli or Coq Au Vin Dumplings kissed with a light bacon and red wine reduction or the hearty Eggplant Ratatouille served with a fresh basil broth, entrees at Pound The Hill are as delicious as the coffee, and I imagine they will quickly form as much of a cult following as the Nutella Latte. And leave room for dessert! Selections rotate fairly regularly depending upon the season or the chef’s inspiration, and on my visit, Pound was serving Key Lime Custard and Affogato (caramel chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso). But perhaps most importantly, Pound The Hill brews their amazing coffee all day long so if it’s a traveler you need to get you to work, get you through the 3pm slump, or see you home on the Metro, you are in the right place for coffee and so much more.
Pound The Hill is open Monday – Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. And stay tuned – in Spring, Pound will also start serving an internationally-inspired brunch outside in the garden. For more information or to see current menus, please visit their website at: www.poundthehill.com, or call: 202-621-6765.