Unless you’ve been off gallivanting around the world, you, dear Borderstan reader, know that 14th Street is about to experience a veritable onslaught of new restaurants in the coming months. We popped into Drafting Table, the first of this wave, to see if it stacks up to its new neighbors.
If you knew that Drafting Table took over the old ACKC space on the corner of 14th and Q NW, you will recognize some of the pieces: the ramp leading down from the front door, the bar to the restaurant’s right side, the generally open layout. But gone is the red and gold color scheme with fanciful embellishments. That has been replaced with a much more modern charcoal gray and slate and honey brown that is displayed everywhere, from the aforementioned 15-seat bar, to the bright wood paneling that charmingly lines part of the walls, to dark brick tile flooring.
Seating follows the open layout: to one side are three communal bar tables, a 14-seat one with numbered-cube light fixtures above it, the others six/seven-seat tables lying perpendicular. The rest of the space takes its cue from the restaurant’s namesake, with the eponymous drafting tables making up the rest of the tables.
In all, the space is nothing if not cool. The aforementioned cubed light fixtures are balanced out with gaslight incandescent bulbs that provide an orange flow to the dim space. Framed blueprints (reminiscent of Meridian Pint’s downstairs) hang on the walls, as do black and white portraits, while two flat screens play playoff baseball at the bar. There’s a sizable buzz, and you can’t escape the feeling that this place fits in very well with what it aims to be: a neighborhood hangout place. Borderstan food editrix Alejandra described it as nice for a first date, nice place to sit and wait for friends. Stole the words out of mouth.
The food offerings fit in very nicely with the gastropub description. Or at the very least, fancied-up diner. On this trip, we go for the server’s recommendation and the most-interesting-thing-on-the-menu, the kaya toast. It’s apparently a Singaporean/Malaysian thing, which makes it an odd blend at first glance given the rest of the dishes. The snack, toast sandwiches of coconut jam meant to be dipped in fried eggs and soy sauce, was very reminiscent of a breakfast of French toast and eggs. Sweet and salty and fun.
Our fried chicken and pickles, and draftsman burger entrees were much of the same. The former eschews the traditional, battering its chicken much like you would fish and chips, encasing it in a solid crisp rather than say melding it directly onto the skin. The portion is also surprisingly generous: a leg, a thigh and a breast. The draftsman burger (a blended patty of beef and beer braised brisket, crispy blue cheese, apricot chutney, bacon-onion jam) and fries was well-cooked, juicy, and punched with decent flavor, with no one ingredient overwhelming any of the others. With the brisket intermixed, the whole patty had a much more grounded, gamey, earthy flavor to it, augmented by the tang of chutney and the onions.
For dessert, the homemade snickers pie is enjoyable, sweet without being overly heavy.
Overall, Drafting Table projects very much like what it’s ostensibly aiming for: a nice place for friends to hang out, a relaxed spot for the game or a first date, a reliable restaurant for a late night brew and bite.