Coming Soon: Proof

I often hear Washington wine fans bemoan the lack of wine bars in town. Oenophiles will have another spot to sip and swirl when Proof opens in Penn Quarter at 701 Eighth St. NW this spring. It's the brainchild of local lawyer Mark Kuller, who hopes to have the doors open in March.

On the wine front, a state-of-the-art Enomatic serving system will offer measured pours, including a tasting-sized serving, of 16 white and 16 red wines. And my favorite part: a champagne trolley will greet diners when they sit down, carrying five sparkling wines on ice, at the ready to get your evening started. A reserve wine list will showcase some of Kuller's extensive personal collection.

Fans of former Rasika sommelier Sebastian Zutant will be pleased to hear that he'll serve as the new restaurant's wine director. (I got to catch up with a tan and grape-covered Zutant in California last month, where he has been working at two wineries.)

And Kuller has plucked chef Haidar Karoum of Asia Nora to head the kitchen. On the menu: about 15 or so Mediterranean-inspired small plates, a handful of large plates and flatbreads. Cheese and charcuterie selections will be on display, along with the antique Berkel slicer Kuller found.

The design plans, which are in the capable hands of GrizForm Design, call for a wall of 1,000 or so illuminated bottles of white, antiques blended with contemporary touches, and a 23-foot custom pewter bar. Bare wood tables will keep the vibe casual. (Kuller also promises a few surprises for the restrooms.)

The restaurant will seat about 84 people in the dining room, with an additional 35 in the bar area and future plans for a roomy patio. Plans also call for weekend brunch and a late-night menu.