While the past two years have spelled disaster for many restaurants struggling to get by, some in the industry have found ways to make lemonade. Chef Andrew Markert is among them. A 12-year veteran of the D.C. dining community, Markert has been best known as the force behind Beuchert’s Saloon, Capitol Hill’s cozy and approachable creative neighborhood “fancy pub.”
This spring, Markert’s long-time ambition to open a fine-dining restaurant came to fruition in Newland— described on the website as “whimsical journey unfolding through modern American food,” and located just around the corner from Beuchert’s, in the former Montmartre space.
“We stumbled into this space that now holds Newland and thought it would be a perfect location to expand and grow the company as well as going in a new direction for me, into the realm of fine dining that I’ve always…wanted to dive into but never really had the opportunity until this came about,” says Markert.
While leaving the Hill was never really a question, realizing the dream was not without hiccups and snags; Markert took over the lease to Newland’s home in August, and had originally planned to open in November or December. But Covid-related supply chain issues coupled with the challenges of renovating a 20 year-old restaurant space meant deferring that dream until this spring.
Newland opened on March 8 with a creative team of like-minded D.C. industry vets at Markert’s side, including chef de cuisine Ben Plyraharn (Reverie, Masseria, Maketto), sous chef Caroline Mettler (a fellow Johnson and Wales grad), and general manager Nalee Kim, formerly of the Daikaya group.
Markert is especially excited about beverage director Mackenzie Conway’s wine program. Conway likes to call his curation “a rose by any other name,” offering patrons who come to Newland looking for one thing something just a little different, or perhaps a wine that they might not see again or elsewhere.
As for the dining experience itself, patrons can expect to find two prix fixe menu options, each made of little tastes of Markert’s journey as a chef — like Filipino influences from his time spent traveling — along with the “nostalgia of cooking things that feel like you’re home again.” The name Newland itself pays homage to the chef’s childhood home in Baltimore, and a current pre-dessert is a play on summertime shaved ice with custard.
Fight Club, Markert’s take-out cocktails and sandwiches pandemic pivot, became such a fixture that it, too, will have its own permanent home later this spring in the former Hank’s Oyster Bar spot, also a stone’s-throw from Beuchert’s on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“I think it’s a good core base of restaurants to help us expand and offer the Hill area and beyond something for everyone, depending on what you’re looking for,” Markert says.
A group of regular Beuchert’s patrons recently joked with Markert that they are already strategizing for how best to approach their weekend once the whole trifecta of restaurants is open. The plan? Start at Beuchert’s on Saturday with a long brunch, then a happy hour, move on to Newland for a long dinner, then finish the night at Fight Club with drinks and punches.
Markert’s response? “Well yeah, that will be possible.”
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