Restaurant: Iron Gate

Debbie and I went to Iron Gate for brunch with Lea and Wayne at their suggestion. It turned out to be a great choice.

“Until 2010, the Iron Gate was the oldest continuously running restaurant in D.C. – open for 87 years. Over the past several decades, it’s been a debutante’s tearoom, a dimly lit Middle Eastern restaurant, a patio hangout for writer Tom Wolfe, a reception hall for family weddings, and even the setting of some ghost tales.” [Washington City Paper]

The restaurant was closed for three years and opened again in late 2013 by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group

There is a sign with the restaurant name on N Street but to get to the entry to the restaurant you walk along an open corridor that leads to the entrance. Once inside there is a greeter station where you have the option of eating inside or outside, we selected inside given the fact that it was about 40 degrees out. There are several 2 tops across from the greeters and then there is a bar with 10 high stools with backs.

When we arrived at the restaurant at 11:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning there were no bartenders or people at the bar. (When we left at about 1:30 p.m. there was a bartender and several people sitting at the bar including a couple with a baby in a stroller. Inside the restaurant there were several young people in strollers or moving about.)

As we headed into the restaurant we first went through the outdoor area, which even in the cold weather, was occupied by several groups of people at various size tables with a series of open-hearth fires providing heat. This area seats 75 to 80 people. We asked what happens in really inclement weather and were told that except in the worst storms, folks choose to sit there. It helps that every chair had a blanket available.

We then entered the back, wholly indoors room. There is a serving bar to the left and a roaring wall hearth and fire at the other end. There are a series of banquettes and upholstered chairs at 2, 4 and 6 top tables which can be combined in various ways. This room seats 40-45 folks depending on the configuration.

Including the three areas mentioned above, the restaurant can seat up to 140 people.

We shared the following: Crispy Yeast Doughnuts, orange blossom syrup; Cremini Mushroom Arancini, Grayson cheese, crispy rosemary, black garlic aioli (the dish as provided is intended for three people and our waiter Zach, said he would add a fourth serving); Iron Gate’s Ricotta Pancakes, granny smith apple, black walnut, cinnamon mascarpone; Roasted Brassicas, pecorino; 2 orders of Sourdough Toast, jam, chocolate tahini and Crispy Potatoes, harissa aioli.

The service was excellent. When we arrived, there were no other folks in our area. As the morning went on, the restaurant began to fill up, including a table for four behind us and a group of 6 with a young child to our right. It became louder but at our four-top in the corner we could readily hear one another.

When I asked directions to a restroom, I was directed to a unisex restroom on the way out of the main room. When Lea decided to go to the restroom, she was directed up a flight of stairs. (It could be that my cane may have suggested a problem with heading up a flight of stairs.)

The restroom is of reasonable size and has a lock that works. There is a white ceramic floor-standing commode with a white ceramic water tank behind it and appropriate handicapped bars behind it and to the right. On the other side of the room is a white ceramic floor standing square washbasin with a square mirror above the washbasin. Nearer to the washbasin there is a stand holding toilet paper. To the left of the commode there is a stand with 3 extra rolls of toilet paper. In the other corner there is a black cabinet to waist height.

To waist height the walls are covered in dark wood. The walls above the wood covering have a light green figured wallpaper. The floor is covered with rectangular reddish tiles in a pattern that is irregular.

There is no parking connected to this restaurant and no garage within eyesight. However, across the street, in front of the Tabard Inn there is a valet parking opportunity. It is $12 with validation (from the Tabard Inn) but $20 without validation.

Iron Gate
1734 N St. NW
Washington DC