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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ Drafting Table / 1529 14th St., NW

 

One of the newest, busiest restaurants along the 14th Street corridor in Logan Circle is Drafting Table, a very small restaurant that can comfortably squeeze in maybe — a guess — 75 patrons, not including the bar. Its diminutive size contributes to a sense of closeness, true, but it can also mean that the acoustics may muffle conversations. Well, since it’s a gastropub, serious talk doesn’t really fit in, just light-hearted banter, please.

The executive chef overseeing the kitchen and the menus is a diminutive young woman who at one point baked cupcakes for the company’s Reston location, Red Velvet Cupcakery. Today, she faces a very different set of kitchen tasks, among which is coming up with savory recipes to capture the young and hungry who patiently line up for a seat.

Apparently the restaurant’s biggest seller is its draftsman burger, composed of braised brisket, crispy blue cheese and an apricot chutney, among other goodies. But for my palate and money, I’d bet that the stand-alone beer braised brisket should take top honors. Truly fork tender, the various long cuts of tender beef perched on the plate next to assorted cut-up veggies makes for a winning dish.

Not quite on the same par is the Allen Davis fish n’ chips offering. This should come wrapped in a steamy paper bag to be authentically British, commented a purist friend. And the staff should be careful about providing both sets of dipping sauces: a tartar sauce and the then-absent savory lemon curd. The fries also missed that British mark for crunchiness.

Of course, any meal should start with a tempting appetizer, and here that would be a bowl of the cornmeal-crusted fried pickles. These are all the rage recently, and it is surprising the number of local eateries that have jumped on the fried-pickle bandwagon. At Drafting Table, these come with a mild remoulade, a pleasing companion to the sourish, crunchy discs.

If you are a falafel fan, you might not warm up to the restaurant’s version, which were balls deep-fried until dark and quite crunchy. The accompanying hummus is the chef’s take on a Middle Eastern classic, and has a nubbly consistency that the smoother, more classic version does not have. It helps that the accompanying pita bread is made in house.

The dessert offerings consist of only three choices. Among these is a not-very-orangey grilled pound cake with an unusual and delicious pecan-cranberry caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream — sweet freaks could probably end up eating bowls of the caramel sauce, it was that good. Another, not quite chocolatey enough for an old-fashioned palate, was the old-fashion chocolate pudding, especially for that very person who remembers grandma’s deeply, densely chocolate pudding — a true comfort food.

Drafting Table (1529 14th St., NW; 202-621-7475. Hours: Mon.-Wed. 4-11pm; Thu. to midnight & Fri. to 2am; Sat. 11am-2am; Sun. 10am- midnight. Entrée price range: $12-$16.

 

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.