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An Early Look at Unum (Pictures)

A neighborhood restaurant takes over the Mendocino Grille space at 2917 M Street in Georgetown.

Unum hopes to unite Georgetowners over a menu of diversely inspired dishes. Photographs by Erik Uecke.

Slideshow: An Early Look at Unum 

Washington is filled with restaurants whose names reflect their home in the nation’s capital—1789, Lincoln, Policy—and as of next week there’ll be another: Unum, primed to open in the old Mendocino Grille space in Georgetown.         

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The 60-seat eatery takes its title from e pluribus unum, the words on the Seal of the United States meaning “out of many, one.” Co-owner Phillip Blane, a former Equinox sous chef, says the name alludes to the menu, which embraces a variety of international culinary traditions and ingredients that’ve become part of the American repertoire. As a result, cod and chorizo “tater tots” with smoked-pepper aioli are offered alongside a burger at the L-shaped front bar, where you could sip a craft brew or a cocktail like the “Manhattan love story:” bourbon, dry sake, ginger liqueur, and Peychaud’s bitters. The dining room at the back boasts equally eclectic items: Hanger steak with jalapeño-crawfish grits, crispy onions, and a vinegary barbecue sauce shares menu space with a take on bouillabaisse with clams, mussels, and local rockfish. With entrées hitting between $14 and $24, it’ll be one of the most modestly priced finer-dining spots on M Street.

The political nods don’t carry over to the decor, handled by GrizForm Designs, the talent behind Proof, Estadio, and BlackSalt, among others. The interior calls to mind a cozy urban cabin with soft lighting, stained-wood floors, stone walls, and a light-up tree carved from sheet metal. For guests hanging solo at the bar, there’s a bookshelf lined with modern classics like Everything Is Illuminated and Blood, Bones & Butter. It all plays into the vibe Blane says he and wife/co-owner Laura Schiller want to achieve with Unum: a neighborhood place for all.

Check back with us for information on the opening (which should happen within a week) and the yet-to-come weekend brunch service, slated to begin in February.

Unum. 2917 M St., NW; 202-621-6959; unumdc.com

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