29 Dec 2011

Boxcar Tavern Opens Doors to Eastern Market on Friday

Photo by María Helena Carey

To say that Xavier Cervera has been busy is an understatement.

On Friday, Cervera will open his fifth restaurant on Capitol Hill, Boxcar Tavern, located directly across the street from Eastern Market. The opening marks the end of a busy year for the Capitol Hill restaurateur, and it will usher in another busy one, filled with construction projects, closeout inspections and staff and kitchen preparations.

In approximately four months, Cervera will open Pacifico, serving Latin American tapas on Barracks Row. Meanwhile, at the Southeast Waterfront he is planning to open two new outposts, Park Tavern and Willie’s Brew and Que. Add to that the heavy construction and renovations taking place at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove, and you can already predict he won’t have much downtime in 2012. (We talked to Xavier back in September about some of those plans, and the comments got just a little out of hand.–ed)

But one day before the opening of Boxcar Tavern, a $1.1 million project completed in the last six months, Cervera appears to be calm, cool and collected.

Click on the jump to see a sneak peak tour of Boxcar Tavern

“This one went fairly smoothly. When we open tomorrow, we will be the first gastropub on the Hill serving affordable food to people,” he said

Whether you’re in the mood for a burger or some pâté, Cervera said he tried to put something on the menu for everyone, and the food is moderately priced. One of the higher priced items, a steak, will run a little more than $20.00.

Executive chef Brian Klein is running the kitchen. Klein helped Cervera open Senart’s Oyster and Chophouse earlier this year, and previously worked as executive sous-chef at Brasserie Beck. The menu includes salads and sandwiches, as well as entrée and dinner meals. Diners can expect a brunch menu and late night options too.

At the bar there are 12 beers on-tap, featuring a mix of local and premium drafts, like Flying Dog and Fat Tire, and there are 16 wines, offered by the glass. The bar will be open Fridays and Saturdays until 3 a.m. and until 2 a.m. all other days.

What makes Boxcar Tavern unique from some of Cervera’s other dining establishments on Capitol Hill, he says, is the location and concept.

“I live on this side of Pennsylvania Avenue and we’ve had very few choices for dining and drinking on this side of the Hill. A lot of people don’t want to walk far to grab a drink, so we are offering them a place to come, open at most times of the day.”

Diners who visit will immediately recognize some of the designs that went into the tavern. Two signs from the old Hawk ‘n’ Dove, including the storefront sign, hang in the rear of the restaurant. And, a sign from Finn Mac Cool’s, the former bar that is now Molly Malone’s on 8th Street, hangs by the front door.  Cervera also commissioned an artist to paint a large portrait of Eastern Market, and he has collected a number of tavern signs from historical pubs in Britain, Scotland and France.

The tavern’s name comes from the look and feel of the space, Cervera said. The tavern is housed within a former sandwich shop, Petit Gourmet, which was narrow and small. Cervera knocked out the back wall of the building and more than doubled the space, expanding back to the rear alley. But there was no way to get around the narrow layout. Instead, Cervera arranged tables in a row and created an elongated space that can hold 60 diners at any time.

“The feel of the place is long and narrow, like a boxcar, and the design work has Arts and Crafts trim and a Stickley design.”

The tavern is decorated in wood trim and rich fabrics. Cervera opted to use furniture instead of booths because it fit within the Arts and Crafts theme. He has also placed four flat-screen mirrored televisions for game watching. When the televisions are turned off, they blend into the restaurant and appear as barback mirrors, helping to make the space feel more open and wide. Cervera hopes the bar will attract crowds on game day.

“We are trying to appeal to as many people in the neighborhood as possible. And we’ve worked to offer them something unique to try.”

Boxcar Tavern opens tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 30th at 224 7th St, SE, across the street from Eastern Market.

Photo slideshow courtesy of Tim Ebner for TheHillisHome.com

Tags: , , , ,


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667153425 John Nugent

    Very much looking forward to trying this place!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667153425 John Nugent

    Very much looking forward to trying this place!

  • Andy McKinley

    Cervera and unique……there’s an oxymoron.

  • Andy McKinley

    Cervera and unique……there’s an oxymoron.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1039728089 Daniel Garry

    I’ll admit that I have not been a huge fan of Xavier’s restaurants – but his last one, Senart’s, is pretty good – so I’m hopeful that Boxcar will be great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1039728089 Daniel Garry

    I’ll admit that I have not been a huge fan of Xavier’s restaurants – but his last one, Senart’s, is pretty good – so I’m hopeful that Boxcar will be great.

  • Caroline Angelo

    I was hoping the menu would be a little more inventive– it’s pretty similar to Tuncliff’s next door. Still, it’s nice to have another option on 7th.

  • Caroline Angelo

    I was hoping the menu would be a little more inventive– it’s pretty similar to Tuncliff’s next door. Still, it’s nice to have another option on 7th.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KUULO52JSPQHAMHOMYDSEIWOSI Sarah

    Wow. Three fantastic meals. Great new option for my husband and I. We live close by but stopped eating at Tunnicliffs long ago because we got tired of the mediocre food. Chef Klien is great although we already knew this from his food when he was the chef at brasserie Beck. We have tried the Seafood lasangna, pate, charcuterie platter, baccala hummus, killer pastrami and unbelievable confit chicken wings! I was told that chef Klien came up with the idea to confit the wings. Well done chef! We cant wait to try the rest of the menu. Our neighbors had brunch there on Sunday and said it was awesome. Add the great music they play and its no wonder that everyone on the hill is talking about how cool this place is

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t been a huge fan of Cervera’s restaurants thus far, but BCT was a little better than average for this local empire.
    I had a steak salad. The meat was cooked almost as rare as ordered (tender enough, though not particularly flavorful). The whole salad sat on a bed of sliced roasted potatoes that didn’t add much to the dish. My dining partner had the French dip, which was decent, but very difficult to “dip” since it was open faced. The fries that accompanied it were excellent. The chili was spicy, but lacked a certain depth. Cocktails sounded interesting, but my gin based libation didn’t really impress (which is too bad because I had high hopes based on the brunch cocktails at Senart’s). Prices aren’t bad but they aren’t great either. It’s nearby so I am sure I will return, but I wouldn’t tell anyone to go out of their way to eat here.
    And a quick request. XC if you’re reading this can you please please serve fruit on a different plate when I order eggs in your restaurants so I can start doing that again? Runny yolk on grapes just isn’t tasty.