An Early Look at the Reserve (With Menus)

What used to be the divey Ollie's Trolley is now a candlelit restaurant and wine lounge.

By: Eliot Stein

>> To see more photos of the Reserve, visit our photo slideshow 

It’s easy to walk past the Reserve and not even realize it. Its two nine-foot-tall, unmarked castle doors are fringed by the scruffy Post Pub and a makeshift sign advertising “$5 palm readings by Ms. Alexis.”

Pushing past the doors and onto the lounge’s mahogany floor, patrons will find black leather love seats surrounding candlelit tables and an oak-paneled bar topped with marble. A carpeted staircase leads to the upstairs wine room, where some 250 bottles of reds are stacked in a floor-to-ceiling cantina and another 250 bottles of whites chill in a refrigerator.


“I’m going after professionals,” says owner Moe Hamdan. “I’m tired of going out and seeing people dancing on tables. This is what a true lounge should be.”

Between the mixture of brass and brick flickering in the dim lights, waitresses in slick cocktail dresses, and a wine list reading like an encyclopedia of world varietals, this lounge feels more like a plush, intimate dungeon.

The concept behind the Reserve came to Hamdan three months ago when he spotted a Craigslist ad selling the space formerly occupied by Ollie’s Trolley. “When I first walked in, the place looked very, very bad,” Hamdan says. “Lets just say I wouldn’t have let my pregnant wife eat there.” So Hamdan, a Northern Virginia native who has been promoting bars and clubs in Washington since he was 17, gutted the lot, hired French-trained executive chef Frederik De Pue to dream up an eclectic tapas menu, and designed the lounge’s layout himself.

“We’re a wine-based restaurant, so we designed our menu to be light on the stomach,” Hamdan says. “Both the wine and tapas menus are seasonal and change every three months.” For now, the Reserve’s clientele can choose from duck-confit pancakes, black-sesame-crusted tuna, or skewers of tiger shrimp—among other international-inspired dishes—as they jive to live jazz on Wednesdays or groove to live trumpet and congo tunes other weeknights from 7 to 9.

The Reserve, 1426 L St. NW; 202-628-8900, reserveonl.com. Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner; late-night lounge open Monday through Thursday until 2 AM, Friday and Saturday until 3.


Lunch menu

Sandwiches

Chicken curry on whole-grain baguette $8
Gravlax of salmon with Boston lettuce and mustard/dill cream $9
Grilled eggplant and bell pepper topped with a thyme-oregano dressing $7
Grilled focaccia topped with Brie cheese and papaya chutney $7
BLT $8
Roasted chicken on a baguette with Thai-basil leaves and fresh corn $8
Grilled New York strip with baby arugula and blue-cheese/Dijon mayonnaise $10

Panini

Prosciutto-and-basil with fresh mozzarella and basil pesto $9
Teriyaki chicken with queso blanco and fresh tomatoes $8
Warm tuna with fresh spinach $10
Flatbread with smoked ham and honey mustard $9

Salads

Arugula with shaved Parmesan and tomagrette dressing $10
Caesar salad with roasted-garlic crouton and chopped hard-boiled eggs $9
Fennel-and-goat-cheese salad served with a lime-and-honey dressing $10
Farfalle pasta salad with mâche, roasted walnuts, and blue cheese $9

Dessert

Lemon tart $6
Almond/pear tart $6
Fruit salad topped with fresh mint and toasted almond $6
Assorted macaroons (4) $6


Dinner menu


From the slicer

Charcuterie platter one for $7, three for $18, five $26

Cheese Platter

Five daily cheese selections with toasted walnuts and grilled baguette $16

Vegetarian

Grilled-tomato bruschetta salad $9
Risotto cakes with peas and sautéed black-trumpet mushrooms $10
Grilled hearts of palm with chimichurri sauce $11
Tarte tatin with tomato confit and fresh mozzarella $11
Tequeños of queso blanco with avocado dip $9

Fish and shellfish

Farfalle pasta with smoked salmon and dill/caper sauce $11
Crusted black-sesame tuna, poached leek, and mustard-ginger-miso sauce $14
Skewers of tiger shrimp in a coconut-curry marinade with romaine lettuce $13
Meunière of swordfish with fresh sage and sliced almonds $13
Roasted scallops and fennel with a pineapple, yuzu, and star-anise juice $14

Meat

Grilled beef medallion, black cardamom, caramelized shallots, gaufrette potatoes $15
Duck-confit pancakes, sliced scallions, and red-cabbage julienne $15
Beef tartare with Belgian fries $15
Lamb kebab, tzatziki sauce, steamed spinach $15
Guinea hen Jalousie, shallot jus/mizuna salad $14

Dessert

Passionfruit/dark-chocolate mousse, raspberry coulis $6
Mojito chocolate cake $6
Chocolate-caramel-and-hazelnut dome $7
Assorted macaroons (5) $7

 

 

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