Themes have become more common among restaurants trying distinguish themselves from the ever-expanding pack. Whether the theme serves the restaurant well is another matter. Comet Ping-Pong effectively leveraged a theme that seemingly has nothing to do with pizza into both a clever design aesthetic and a fun distraction while you wait for your pizza. On the other hand, the Pennsylvania theme of Second State didn't make much sense vis-a-vis its not-very-Pennsylvanian menu.
Roofers Union, opened last year, continues the upward march of dining in Adams-Morgan. Once best known for the jumbo slice and the long line outside Pasta Mia, Adams-Morgan has always been stuffed with restaurants but finding really great ones was often challenging. In recent years, it's become easier with additions like Jack Rose Dining Saloon and the superlative Mintwood Place.
While naming your restaurant Roofers Union might draw association to D.C.'s actual roofers' union--the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers--the theme actually works great for this three-level space, a vertical union of food and drink as well as indoor and outdoor space. Here, they take you up to the roof and beyond.
|Top: view from the dining room. Bottom: view from the roof.|
Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley oversees the kitchen, as she also does at Ripple in Cleveland Park. If you've been to Ripple, you'll recognize Roofers Union's focus on quality fresh ingredients. Matching Roofers Union's more casual atmosphere, the food is also comparatively simpler, with a short menu of classics like steak frites, mussels and burgers. There's currently a seasonal vegetable risotto with peas, carrots and heirloom grains.
|Italian sausage on pretzel roll with fries|
Before indulging ourselves with sausage and fries, we tried to be a little responsible by starting our dinner with salads. Mixed greens with tart picked vegetables and honey-dijon vinaigrette is a good, solid starter. I love seeing pickled cauliflower on a salad. If you like cauliflower, there's also a roasted cauliflower salad served with fresh herbs and goat cheese.
Given that Roofers Union has three bars, you should expect a good bar program here. About 20 beers are offered on top, arranged on the menu by flavor profile. About that many choices are offered in cans. There are many local selections and few if any choices that I'd say are "big names," making this a great place to try new beers.
Craft cocktails are also a specialty, and the menu features a rotating array of creative drinks. I had a spicy/herbal concoction with made-in-D.C. Green Hat gin. Chris had a summery Old Fashioned that tasted like it was made with Aperol. Unfortunately I didn't write down exactly what we had, and Roofers Union's website does not keep its seasonal cocktails menu current, but we really liked both drinks.
With its big windows and rooftop, Roofers Union seems like a particularly great place to visit during the summer. We dropped by early before a Washington Improve Theater show at the nearby D.C. Arts Center and really enjoyed the food, ambiance and friendly service.
Roofers Union, 2446 18th Street NW (one block south of Columbia Road), Washington, D.C. (Adams-Morgan). (202) 232-7663. Reservations: Open Table.