Valor Brewpub, which will for a while be known as The Ugly Mug downstairs until it takes off like a delicious and luminous star, had its soft opening last week but now they are officially now open for business. If you’re a tl;dr kind of person, I’m just going to tell you this: PLEASE EAT A VALOR BURGER IF YOU CAN. Make it work: If you have dietary restrictions, take out the bacon, hold the cheese or eat around the (pillowy, soft, delicious, soaks-up-all-the-juices) bun. If you’re a vegetarian, inhale the aroma, maybe? It really is as good as it looks.
Chef Ryan Hackney told me he wanted to fill the menu at Valor with food that felt both “like the kinds of things I’d want to serve my friends,” as well as an homage to his hometown of DC. During the soft opening, there was a table with most of the menu items on display and each one looked amazing. The beautifully plated chicken with mambo sauce and the Korean BBQ pork butt both managed to look gorgeous on a plate while still being dishes that you can approach without fear of knowing which end to tackle. (You know, when things get fancy and you stare at a dish, unsure of whether to use a fork, a knife, a spoon, or maybe just attempt to eat it with your hands and look gauche? Right.) The Valor Burger –a colossal patty topped with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, pickles and a spicy dipping sauce– felt, looked and tasted like the kind of burger you eat on cheat day, or perhaps the kind of burger you deserve when you’ve made a big sacrifice for home and country (Honestly, this burger should be consumed by all mothers at least once. There’s my semi-controversial $0.02.)
The sides are also pretty great. My older son took one bite of the carrots roasted in duck fat and fragrant with rosemary and said, “What kind of witchcraft is this? They taste like french fries!”
For the record, if you’re into actual fries, the boardwalk fries taste pretty good too. Crispy and delicious, they strike that delicate balance of salty and crunchy that is so crucial to a good fry. A special thank you to our server, Mitchie, who was kind and patient with me and my children. Mitchie, like the rest of the staff at Valor, is a veteran. Thank you all for your service!
We will be back to try the rest of the menu, but especially the french-press cocktails– infusions made stronger by “brewing” them cold in a french press. The colors and aromas looked beautiful and intriguing. We’re also looking forward to trying the beers when the brew- part of the brewpub starts up later in the season.
If you go:
WHAT: Valor Brewpub, a new American pub-style restaurant on Barracks Row
WHERE: 723 8th Street SE, downstairs from The Ugly Mug.
WHEN: Open every day, starting at 11 a.m. The kitchen closes before the bar. For exact times, visit their website.