Chef and one-time Hell's Kitchen winner Rock Harper is working with Barracks Row Entertainment—the group behind Hawk 'n' Dove, Molly Malone's, and other Capitol Hill restaurants—to open Willie's Brew & Que in Navy Yard tonight. The debut comes after months of drama: Barracks Row Entertainment and its nine restaurant subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy in March and then subsequently sued the restaurants' original owner, Xavier Cervera, for allegedly "sabotaging" the businesses.
Regardless, it's here, and Harper signed on as chef and partner about a month ago. His brother Ed Howard is general manager.
The barbecue will take influences from styles around the county and the world. The menu will include St. Louis-style ribs, ancho-rubbed brisket, pulled pork, jerk chicken, Korean-style wings, and burgers plus mac and cheese, braised kale, slaw, and "all the fixin's." For dessert, expect things like banana pudding, cookies, and ice cream.
"It's our mission to have the best barbecue in D.C.," chef Harper says.
As for the "Brew" part of the restaurant, Howard knows they'll have some competition with Bluejacket brewery a few doors down. He's tried to bring in some unique offerings like Texan Ziegenbock, which is not so easy to find in D.C. The dozen taps plus bottles will also include things like PBR, DC Brau, and even ciders. Howard has also created some cocktails including the Potomac Tea martini with earl grey-infused vodka, honey liqueur, ginger liqueur, and a scoop of lemon sorbet. There's also a cherry sangria and a twist on an Old Fashioned with smoked ice.
Willie's has room for just over 100 people plus 14 TVs. "I made all the tables so that you can see at least four games from any seat in the house," Howard says. "At least."
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, Ed's last name was initially misidentified. It's Howard, not Harper.
Willie's Brew & Que, 300 Tingey St. SE; williesbrewnque.com
Photo courtesy Willie's Brew & Que