Hidden in an alley off Wisconsin Avenue, The Sovereign is local chef Peter Smith’s newest culinary creation. Opened two weeks ago, the gastropub is the District’s newest go-to spot for authentic Belgian brews and traditional European fare. With over 500 different types of bottles and 50 drafts from which to choose, the chic eatery impresses with a wide selection of Belgian dishes and beverages.
Despite its hidden location, one cannot miss the illuminated path lit by a wonderful array of lanterns. Dining at The Sovereign immediately transports you to Europe. The underground restaurant is dimly lit, and both the bar and restaurant sections are beautifully finished with dark wood, which gives the impression of a sophisticated pub. The large communal table, which sits just beside the bar, was completely full at 9 p.m. on a Thursday.
While we waited for our table, we perused the beverage selection. The Sovereign boasts an innovative cocktail list, which includes a mixed drink that uses absinthe. The vast beer list was impressive even to my German roommate, who accompanied me. With a selection that includes cherry beer, the beverage list at The Sovereign is any college student’s dream. However, compared to the average Natural Light, the beers served at the restaurant come with quite a steep price tag.
After a 20 minute wait, we were seated in a cozy back booth and greeted by our waitress.
While I had little previous exposure to Belgian cuisine, the menu — which consists solely of meat, cheese and potatoes — was very appealing. Of the dishes we ordered, the moules, or mussels ($20), were the most delicious. The mussels were served mariner-style, with white wine, garlic, lemon and parsley; they were accompanied by frites, or fries, as per traditional Dutch style. However, the fully loaded fries ($9) that we ordered were relatively less memorable.
Next, we ordered the bitterballen ($6), which are balls of crispy, fried beef. This dish was one of the highlights from the restaurant, and paired excellently with Dijon mustard. For the table, we ordered a traditional flame cake ($10), which is similar to flatbread and topped with creme fraiche and bacon. My roommate appreciated the dish’s authenticity. For dessert, we ordered numerous Belgian waffles for the table, smothered in Nutella and Speculoos ice cream, ending the meal on a sweet note.
Prior to visiting the restaurant, I expected The Sovereign — which is managed by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group — to be similar to Birch and Barley, a New American eatery in Logan Circle that also has an extensive beer list. With an immersive European decor and ambience, the restaurant definitely met my expectations, and is a much-needed addition to the Georgetown neighborhood — especially after the closing of student-favorite Rhino. Its lively and hip atmosphere is sure to attract students who desire a hearty meal and a nice glass of beer close to campus.
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