Food

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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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.