It’s happy hour from 4-7, with draft beers and wines (they have four draft wines) all $5. My gregarious bartender, Fred, took care of me as I was an early bird, and one of the few people there when I arrived (it was packed when I left).
Woodward Table, despite its huge bar, has a very disappointing wine list, featuring lots of mass-produced, easy-to-source names at something slightly over double-retail. I could not find a single glass of wine I wanted to order, so I went instead with a happy-hour draft special, NxNW Riesling by Horse Heaven Hills in Washington State ($5, usually $9) which was decent, but without enough acidity to support its noticeable residual sugar. A second glass later into the meal was also a draft from Washington State, the Millbrandt Chardonnay ($5, usually $9), relatively pleasant for a cheap Chardonnay. About all I can say for these wines is that they were cheap at happy hour, and easily identifiable as Riesling and Chardonnay (which is better than you can say about some). I couldn’t quite finish my Chardonnay, and ended up surrendering to a Bombay and Tonic ($7.50). Ahhhh, crap. I just dug out my bill to find out the price of the drink, and now I realize I was undercharged for an item.
Sometimes as a gesture of respect, I will immediately put my credit card on top of the bill when it arrives, without checking it. In this instance, I wish I had looked at the itemized charges. My apologies to the restaurant, and also my outstanding bartender, Fred, for not noticing this and therefore shorting them both on the bill and the tip. I will remedy this the next time I go in.
I wanted to get the drinks out of the way so I could focus on one particularly outstanding item. In fact, it may be the single best bagel-based dish I’ve ever eaten. On the bar menu, the most expensive item (except for the burger) is The Fishmonger’s Board ($15.50). If you like bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon, this is the platter of your dreams. Enough for two people to split, this wooden plank is a bounty of smoked, marinated, and house-cured fish and shellfish including two types of salmon, two types of scallops, two types of spreads, smoked trout, an array of wonderful pickled vegetables, and four mini-bagels, conveniently split. It is nothing short of astounding, wonderful, and I hope and pray for everyone that Woodward Table is featuring this on their new Brunch menu – they began serving brunch on March 31st. Do yourself a favor and get this, and be hungry when you do. It’s fantastic! And I finished every single crumb.
After this magnificent platter, I was pretty full even though I hadn’t eaten all day long, but it was early, and I knew I’d be hungry at midnight if I didn’t get something else. So I ordered off the regular menu, which had a little list of daily specials attached to it. How do you not order the Benton’s Own Flatbread ($12.50) with smoked ham hock, country ham, bacon marmalade, and aged cheddar? As good as it sounds, with deep flavors of country ham and baked, aged cheddar, it’s softened by a little arugula (I think it was arugula) and a squirt of balsamic, the sweetness of which counters the saltiness of the ham. It’s a wonderful flatbread, and although I couldn’t finish it, I made sure to rip off the toppings and not deny myself any ham or cheese. If this is on the specials menu, I highly recommend it as well.
On the way out, I realized that – wine list aside – I was going to be writing a glowing report of what is essentially “bagels and cream cheese” and “a pizza.” Such is the drift of DC-area dining in recent years, and as unfortunate as I find that, at least Woodward Table does it well. There are plenty of standard items here also (rockfish, arctic char, pork, etc.), but these two had hypnotized me with their siren song.
With the exceptionally talented Joe Harran as Chef de Cuisine, presumably while Woodward Table continues to get up and running, the time to go here is now, before he has a chance to go back to Bistro Bis.