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A seasonal bakeshop arrives at CityCenterDC. By Anna Spiegel
Rare Sweets debuts with seasonal breakfast items, ice creams, and beautiful cakes. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Cheddar biscuits. La Colombe coffee. Slices of ginger-lemon cake. You'll find all of this and more at Rare Sweets, the newest addition to CityCenterDC. The shop, now open, comes courtesy of Meredith Tomason, a former pastry chef at Tom Colicchio's Craft in New York City. This is her first brick-and-mortar business after a year of running a catering operation out of Union Kitchen.

The opening menu (see below) takes seasonal cues, with an emphasis on fresh fruit desserts, raw sugar, and spices. Guests can drop by in the morning for coffee or hot cocoa and a mix of sweet and savory items, such as buttermilk biscuits, glazed doughnuts, house-made granola, and "egg in a basket," an egg baked into a fresh brioche bun. Classic and seasonal cakes such as a beet-based red velvet or chocolate malt can be ordered whole or by the slice; there are also miniature cakes. Those not in the mood for a slice can grab cookies and bars, or opt for house frozen treats such as chocolate-spice ice cream or pomegranate-black pepper sorbet.

The pretty space boasts marble countertops, cook books from Tomason's large vintage collection, and an open kitchen where guests can watch cakes being iced. Seating is limited to a few tables and a standing bar by the window, so prepare to load up for sweets on the go. Note that there's also a special holiday menu with items like yule log cakes, breakfast baskets for Christmas morning, and more.

Rare Sweets. 963 Palmer Alley, NW; 202-499-0077. Open daily, 7 to 7.

Opening Menu


Breakfast

Buttermilk Biscuits, Cinnamon Rolls, Cheddar Chive Biscuits, Seasonal Coffee Cakes, English Muffins $3.60

Egg in a Basket: $3.75

Chocolate Cake Donuts, Seasonal Glazed Donuts $2.50

Granola & Milk or Yogurt $3.60

Cakes

Classic Cake Slices $5

Double Chocolate, Black & White, Red Velvet Beet, Black & Yellow

Seasonal Cake Slices $5.50

Ginger & Lemon, Vanilla & Eggnog, Apple Stack, Chocolate Malt

Mini Cakes $6

Classic Coconut, Chocolate Peppermint, Toasted Almond

Party Cakes (whole Cakes available for order)

Classic Flavors (6 inch $35, 8 inch $55, 9 inch $65)

Seasonal Flavors (6 inch $40, 8 Inch $60, 9 Inch $70)

Cookies & Bars

Oatmeal Raisin, Chewy Sugar Cookies, Gingersnaps, Cocoa Crinkles, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip/Walnut $2.00

Chocolate Brownie, Brown Butter Blondie $2.30

Ice Cream & Sorbet

Small $5.40 Large $6.40

Winter Spice, Vanilla, Mint Cocoa Nib, Milk Chocolate Spice, Oatmeal Raisin, Blood Orange Sherbet, Green Apple Sorbet, Pomegranate Black Pepper Sorbet

Beverages

La Colombe Coffee & Espresso Drinks $2.50-$4.00, Hot Chocolate $3.40, Running Byrd Sweet Tea $2.75

Posted at 11:13 AM/ET, 12/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus Merlot-infused pizza crust. By Anna Spiegel
Pizza Vinoteca opens in Ballston. Photographs courtesy of Pizza Vinoteca.

Ballston gets a new pizza joint on Thursday with the arrival of Pizza Vinoteca. The 100-seat join aims for an approachable price point—dishes under $19, wines at $10 and below—with a few fancy gadgets on the side, and special wine-infused pizza crusts. Here’s what you need to know.

The cooking method: Grilled to order, inspired by the Rhode Island tradition of making backyard pies. The restaurant needed a more high-tech device than a Weber to produce the thin-crust, rectangular pizzas—hence a custom-made contraption that employs 16 burners on the bottom to cook the crust, six infared versions above to melt the cheese, and three wood-smoking boxes filled with mesquite chips to impart a smoky flavor. The combination is intended to create a tasty balance of caramelization, char, and chew.

The crust: Wine-y. The 900-degree grilling method called for a heartier mix than the traditional flour and water, so the kitchen adds rye flour, barley malt, and a generous amount of Merlot to the mixture. The alcohol gets cooked off—so yes, the pies are kid-friendly—but leaves a reddish hue and a hint of flavor.

Toppings: “Classic” or “modern.” The menu, divided into those two categories, includes traditional pepperoni alongsides riffs such as nduja meatball (made with the spicy Calabrian spreadable salami), Brussels sprouts and ricotta, and mushrooms with goat cheese and leeks. A number of vegetarian varieties appear in both categories.

The 100-seat space includes a circular bar and a communal table.

Other stuff: Eggplant Parm, grilled salmon. Pizza is the focus, but diners who want to skip the pies can get by with a concise list of appetizers, entrées, and sides.

The vino: Abundant. All 36 wines are offered by the glass, in both full- and half-pours. An argon-gas dispenser is employed to keep the varietals fresh and at a regulated temperature. The list includes a variety of lesser-known labels in an effort to keep prices at $10 and under, so there’s plenty of opportunity to experiment around the 30-seat circular bar.

More gadgets?: The original Pizza Vinoteca opened in New York City as a high-wired concept employing iPads for ordering, but founder Ari Malcom says the process was a “nightmare” when it came to customizing dishes due to taste or allergies (that location has since closed). The Ballston eatery operates like a typical sit-down restaurant, though there’s a chance the iPads may reappear as wine lists so guests can have excess to extensive information about the vino.

In the future: Delivery, and more area locations for Pizza Vinoteca. Malcom says he’s looking around Washington for another space for a version of the restaurant that will focus on takeout. Stay tuned.

Pizza Vinoteca. 800 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington; 703-567-1056. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Posted at 11:40 AM/ET, 12/11/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Bangkok Golden team brings Laotian flair to the District. By Anna Spiegel
Popular Bangkok Golden dishes, such as grilled pork neck and crispy rice salad, carry over to the new Thip Khao.

One of fall's most anticipated openings has arrived: On Friday, chef Seng Luangrath of the popular Bangkok Golden in Falls Church opens Thip Khao, her first DC restaurant. While the Virginia eatery serves dishes from both Thailand and Laos, the 85-seat spot in Columbia Heights is geared solely toward the latter. Devotees of Thai cuisine will find some similar flavors, but if chef Seng's cooking here is on par with the original eatery, expect to be converted. Here's what to know before you go.

There’s a separate menu for adventurous eaters.

Heat-seekers and those on the hunt for exotic ingredients should start with the "let's go to the jungle!" menu. Here you'll find mouth-searing papaya salad with crab paste and chilies; spicy blood sausage; pounded snakehead fish with charred herbs; and laab siin dib, a Lao-style steak tartare with tripe. If the spice is overwhelming, try dipping into the basket of sticky rice accompanying each meal, which also gives the restaurant its name.

And options for those who like to customize.

Plenty of dishes play to tamer palates, and some come with a variety of options for proteins. Laab, a fragrant herb salad, can be ordered with minced chicken, duck, or tofu, while guests can pick between salmon, Chilean sea bass, and flounder for a dish of grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves with ginger and dill. One guaranteed table-pleaser: the crispy rice salad with sausage, served alongside lettuce wraps. Guests can also requests that plates come mild, medium, or "Lao hot."

Drinks get creative, and shareable.

Cocktails play on flavors from the kitchen, such as a Scotch Old Fashioned with tamarind or Thai rum with chilies. Anyone opting for the spicier dishes may want to skip the hard booze and go for large-format beers poured over ice.

You may need reservations.

Tables are first come, first served for the grand-opening weekend, but the restaurant is already taking reservations for dinner starting on Monday. If the crowds are similar to Bangkok Golden on a busy night, consider booking.

There will be carryout, eventually.

Like the couch better than crowds? Chef Seng says the restaurant will offer carryout soon. Still, the warm-hued space with large wooden tables is serene, and worth a wait.

Thip Khao. 3462 14th St., NW; 202-387-5426. Open Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10, and Friday and Saturday 5 to 11.

Posted at 02:21 PM/ET, 12/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Inside Bloomingdale’s anticipated Cal-Mex eatery, opening this week. By Anna Spiegel
El Camino brings California-style Mexican to Bloomingdale. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

One of the most anticipated fall openings is almost here. El Camino, a Mexican eatery and bar in Bloomingdale, is poised to debut this week. Owners Tony Lucca and Phil Rodriguez, who both live in the neighborhood, are adding tacos and margaritas to an increasingly lively restaurant/bar scene that includes the likes of Red Hen, Boundary Stone, and Showtime.

The focus here is a little different from most Mexican spots in Washington. Chef Dot Steck, formerly with Taqueria Nacional, takes inspiration from the lighter—and at times more traditional—cooking of Southern California as opposed to heavier Tex-Mex dishes (think Chuy’s cheese-laden platters). A large bar area is set for sipping local and Mexican beers or margaritas with snacks such as chorizo tostadas, tequila-spiked shrimp cocktail, or albondigas (meatballs) with salsa roja and quail eggs. While the tequila and mezcal selection varies in style and price point, the lineup is meant to be more accessible than encyclopedic.

Tacos follow suit, and aren't overly complicated. Expect fresh corn tortillas filled with chorizo and potatoes, beef tongue, or chicken tinga, priced between $2.50 and $3.50. Heartier plates come in the form of braised pork shoulder with chichilo mole and barley-mushroom “risotto,” stewed chicken, or seasonal fish. Desserts also run traditional, with flan and abuelita’s rice pudding (see a full sample menu below).

Design firm Edit Lab at Streetsense, which is also behind the look of neighbors including Red Hen, matches the menu’s homey notes with some added edge. Tables fashioned from old car rims, red crushed-velvet booths, and chain light fixtures evoke a grittier LA vibe, as well as the restaurant’s namesake, the Chevy El Camino. Other elements are meant to be more grandmotherly, such as brightly painted walls and flowery vintage china plates.

One thing Grandma might not approve of: late hours. The full kitchen is open until midnight Friday and Saturday, and until 11 other nights. A smaller late-night menu will run until 1 on weekends and 12 otherwise. Good news, given that tacos and tequila taste even better around the witching hour.

El Camino. 108 Rhode Island Ave., NW; 202-847-0419. Dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 to 11, late-night menu until midnight; Friday and Saturday 5 to midnight, late-night menu until 3.


Sample Menu

ANTOJITOS

Chips & house made salsas (v/gf) - $2.50

Table made guacamole (v/gf) - $9

Seasonal empanaditas, salsa roja - $5

Tostada, black beans, rajas, lettuce, pico de gallo, onion, cilantro, house made salsas and crema (vt/gf) - $3.50

Add meat (gf): picadillo, chicken tinga, chorizo, carnitas - $4.50

Esquites - warm roasted corn salad (vt/gf) - $5

Cóctel de camarones - house made saltines, splash of tequila - $10

Albondigas, salsa roja, quail egg - $9

Scallop ceviche, lime, grapefruit, pomegranate (gf) - $11

Sopa del dia - $6

Seasonal mixed greens salad (vt) - $6

DE LA CALLE

TACOS (gf) - $2.50 each

chicken tinga; chorizo & potato; rajas de poblano, potato & squash (vt)

TACOS (gf) - $3.50 each

carnitas, lengua, camarones

TORTAS - $9

Chorizo, potatoes, caramelized onions, queso fresco, lettuce, tomato, house made crema, guajillo sauce

Carnitas, onions, cilantro, lettuce, salsa verde, pickled onions

TRADICIONAL

Chilaquiles, rajas, salsa verde, caramelized onions, smoked Gouda, house made crema (vt/gf) - $11

Add chorizo (gf) - $13

Fish of the day, seasonal preparation - market

Chicken estofado, fried potatoes, pickled green beans (gf) - $14

Braised pork shoulder, barley-huitlacoche “risotto”, organic mushrooms, chichilo mole - $16

Beef short rib, manchamanteles mole, corn cake, jicama and chayote slaw (gf) - $16

Chile relleno, barley, raisins, almonds, queso fresco, house made crema (vt) - $11

GUARNICIÓN - $4

Barley-huitlacoche “risotto” (vt)

Black beans (v)

Lodo del rio (gf)

Jicama and chayote slaw (v/gf)

POSTRES - $7

Fried plantains, house made crema, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream (vt)

Flan del dia (vt/gf)

Abuelita’s rice pudding (vt/gf)

v = vegan

vt = vegetarian

gf = gluten free

Posted at 02:09 PM/ET, 11/04/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fully reclining chairs, in-theater caviar, and pints of punch. By Anna Spiegel
The first Washington location for iPic Theaters opens with reclining seats and a full in-theater menu. Photograph courtesy of iPic.

One of the swankiest movie destinations in Washington opens Friday: iPic Theaters at North Bethesda's Pike & Rose development, which combines luxury touches like fully reclining leather seats and free popcorn with in-theater menus and an adjoining restaurant, City Perch Kitchen + Bar. Here's what to look for at the 782-seat, eight-screen mega-cinema.

If you're: Premium-Plus Seating ($22)

Expect to relax in a fully reclining micro-suede seat, which comes with perks such as a pillow, a blanket, and free popcorn. The best part: iPad touchscreens allow you to order food and boozy drinks from the in-cinema menu. Dishes are designed by longtime Wolfgang Puck pastry chef Sherry Yard, and include snacks such as braised pork belly empanadas and warm ham-and-cheese biscuits, as well as heartier fare like fish tacos, barbecue chicken pizza, and lobster rolls. All can be washed down with beer, wine, and specialty cocktails, including margaritas and sangria. Groups can order pints of boozy punch that serve four, such as the "roll in the hay" with apple-infused vodka, applejack, and cran-apple tea.

If you're: Premium Seating ($13)

You can still relax in a large leather chair, but you'll have to fetch your own food and drinks from the grab-and-go Tanzy Express. Still, don't expect just slushies and pretzels—guests can order sliders, thin-crust pizzas, bottles of wine, and more.

If you're: eating before the show (or skipping the movie altogether)

Yard's first independent restaurant, City Perch Kitchen + Bar, is set above the theater. Local toque Matt Baker, most recently of Occidental Grill and Brasserie Beck, helms the modern American kitchen. The eatery is set to open in November, and will serve small plates like smoked salmon-topped "everything" waffles and bratwurst in a blanket, rotisserie-grilled meats, sandwiches, and decadent items "for two" such as a whole roast duck with Southern-style sides.

If you're: hoping to impress a date

The in-theater menu boasts some pretty fancy items, which, like the seats, come at a price. Grab premium-plus tickets to Casablanca and order up smoked salmon "potato boats" topped with caviar ($25), and a bottle of Cristal bubbly ($395).

If you're: in bad-date crisis mode

Order an Irish coffee, and sneak out to "use the bathroom"/never return. At least the scorned would-be lover will have a boozy coffee and a micro-suede chair.

iPic Theaters. 11830 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 10/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The historic eatery brings American fare and a slide pole to Bloomingdale. By Anna Spiegel
The Washington Firehouse Restaurant serves American fare in a historic building. Photography by Andrew Propp.

The District will be home to not one, but two eateries operating in historic firehouses when Bloomingdale's Washington Firehouse Restaurant debuts Friday evening. The sister eatery to Shaw's Tavern sprawls across three floors of a Spanish Colonial-style building that was occupied by Old Engine Company 12 from 1897 to the early 1990s. Here's what to look for at the American bar and restaurant.

The food: Homey, with some unusual quirks; think shrimp deviled eggs tinted black with squid ink, or brunchtime “breakfast lasagna” layered with sausage gravy and eggs. Chef Peter Prime most recently held a sous chef position at Equinox, and built an American menu with an emphasis on pots of mussels, steaks—including several Wagyu options—pizzas, and lasagna. A few Southern items also dot the lineup, including St. Louis-style pork ribs, and fried chicken with bacon and maple jus.

Groups can gather for weekday happy hour or Sunday football specials.

The fireman pole: Unfortunately not open for guests to slide between floors, but you can grab drinks around it in the bar area. The shiny gold fixture extends through the second floor, which formerly served as living space for the firemen. Now the room has been transformed into a party/banquet area with room for 200 (though the original brick walls remain throughout the structure). A third level may be turned into private event space in the future. There’s also a outdoor courtyard—formerly stables—for sipping beers in warmer weather.

The happy hour: Offered on Sunday. During football season you’ll find half-price draft beers and a $9 pound of wings coated with traditional Buffalo sauce, five-alarm spice, or ginger glaze. Weekday happy hour runs from 4 to 6, including opening night, with $2 off all drafts, house wines, and rail drinks. Tuesdays bring half-price pizzas.

An upstairs room, formerly living quarters, can hold a party of 200.

The fun fact: A spiral staircase was originally built in the 1800s to keep horses from climbing to the second-floor living quarters, which was kept warm during cold winter months. A replica now stands next to a piano in the banquet room.

Washington Firehouse Restaurant. 1626 North Capitol St., NW; 202-299-9128. Open daily for dinner 5 to 11, Saturday and Sunday brunch 10 to 3; weekday happy hour 4 to 6; limited bar menu available 11 to close.

An American menu includes mussel pots, steaks, and hearty lasagnas.

Much of the original firehouse structure remains, including the pole.


Posted at 10:28 AM/ET, 10/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Booze, brews, and pork belly toast for 14th Street. By Anna Spiegel
Slipstream brings MadCap coffee, craft cocktails, and pork belly toast to 14th Street. Photography by Andrew Propp.

If there are two things hard-working Washingtonians can't get enough of, it's coffee to start the day and cocktails to finish. Slipstream, opening Monday on 14th Street, brings them both together. Owners Ryan Fleming and Miranda Mirabella want to create a service-oriented space for both brews and booze that takes stresses such as big crowds and pretentiousness out of the equation.

"Slipstream is the area of resistance between two objects, " says Fleming. "We want to reduce that resistance. Every guest has their space, the attention of a bartender or server."


Here are five things to look for at the sleek cafe.

All dine/drink-in guests will be seated at the bar and tables, no standing.

The service: Personalized, but not precious. The goal is engaging, one-on-one interactions, but not the kind where staff spends ten minutes in a corner perfecting their latte art. To this end, all the equipment is minimalist or located under the seating counter, so bartenders can interact with guests without a giant espresso machine blocking the way. Those grabbing a coffee or meal to go can order in a designated area, while the rest of the 48-seat space operates like a sit-down restaurant/speakeasy, meaning no standing three-deep for beverages at the bar.

The caffeinated drinks: Courtesy of MadCap Coffee. Slipstream will have the largest selection of coffees from the Michigan-based brewer outside the company's own inventory. Customized machines like automated pour-over systems make cups to order, while iced-coffee fans will find chilled brews on tap. Jazzed-up cups include concoctions such as espresso with house-made almond milk and a refreshing espresso tonic. Coffee nerds can go for limited-release brews, such as the Wilson Medina, named after the 24-year-old Colombian farmer who produces the coffee.

Dishes like beet-pickled eggs with nasturtium-butter toast (left) can be paired with creative cocktails.


The inebriating drinks: Customizable. Barkeep JB Knapp oversees the bar program, which attempts to take some of the pretentiousness out of craft cocktails while still using small-batch spirits and interesting liqueurs. The menu starts with base liquors like gin or whiskey, and leads guests to various cocktails based on personal taste. Those looking for a less boozy sip can pick from a concise list of American and Japanese beers and grower wines (meaning the grapes are sourced from the estate that produces the bottle, not a plethora of vineyards).

The food: Eclectic. Chef Jonathan Bisagni, most recently of the shuttered Taan, created a cafe-style menu with several Asian influences (the toque also worked at Toki Underground and Doi Moi). Mornings bring fresh pastries like croissants and Japanese milk bread, alongside dishes such as thick-cut toast with braised pork belly and eggs or breakfast bowls with shaved asparagus, eggs, and radishes over rice. Bento boxes and sandwiches are served at lunch, while a small menu of bar snacks and dinner entrées includes beet-brined deviled eggs with nasturtium-butter toast, and tuna with butter ponzu and pickled mushrooms. Instead of mimosas at brunch, guests can sip creative cocktails like a bourbon julep spiked with Thai chilies.

MadCap coffees take center stage during the day, with rare brews and creative concoctions.

The wi-fi?: "We're going to be friendly, but we're not going to have wi-fi," says Fleming. Guests are more than welcome to linger with a paper—or their phone/tablet—but the goal for customers is to be engaged with the experience instead of their e-mail.

Slipstream. 1333 14th St., NW. Open Monday to Thursday and Sunday 7 to 11, Friday and Saturday 7 to midnight. The bar opens daily at 5.

Posted at 11:54 AM/ET, 10/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The brothers behind Marvin and the Brixton make their Georgetown debut. By Anna Spiegel
Chez Billy Sud debuts in Georgetown with a chic look and a Southern-French menu. Photography by Jeff Elkins.

Brothers Eric and Ian Hilton have been pioneers of the U Street scene, creating hotspots such as the Gibson, Marvin, and Brixton. Now they're taking on new territory with the opening of Chez Billy Sud, their first Georgetown venture. The sleek French eatery is a spinoff of the popular Chez Billy in Petworth, and takes the place of Cafe La Ruche, which closed in July after 40 years. Here's what you need to know about the sleek spot.

The look: Tres chic. Though meant to be a casual neighborhood eatery, gone are the yellow walls and dark bistro decor, swapped for an airy interior with gold-leaf accents and gilded mirrors. Thankfully, the spacious outdoor patio remains intact for sipping bottles of rosé and brunching in warmer weather.

In warmer weather, the adjoining outdoor patio is the place to sip rosé.


The cuisine:
Southern French. While this is the Hilton's first duplicate restaurant, the menu leans more sud. Classics like steak or moules frites, beef bourguignon, and profiteroles join new dishes from chef Brendan L'Etoile. A few we have our eyes on: red wine-poached duck eggs with roasted-garlic toast and chanterelles; scallops with braised leeks and mushrooms sauced with chive beurre blanc; and an apple tart with chai ice cream.

The drinks: Concise and classy. While the Petworth original has a large bar, the drinking space here is smaller, which the menu reflects. Five cocktails, all $12, include a tasty-sounding "Death of a Frenchman" with calvados, lemon, Champagne, and anise-flavored liqueur. Wines hail, naturally, from France, as do aperitifs and some beers.

The restaurant takes the place of Cafe La Ruche, and maintains a similar facade.

The rooster's name: Guillaume (pronounced "ghee-ome"), the restaurant's mascot. He's very busy right now.

The future: Lunch and brunch, which start later this autumn. Drop by now for dinner, with reservations available by calling the restaurant and OpenTable.

Chez Billy Sud. 1039 31st St., NW; 202-965-2606. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday 5 to 10.

Dishes include classics like duck confit, and new creations such as apple tart with chai ice cream. Photography courtesy of Chez Billy.


Look for lunch and brunch to start later this fall.

Posted at 03:50 PM/ET, 10/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Rolling Rock ponies, pierogies, and oyster happy hour at the former Mighty Pint. By Anna Spiegel
The Pennsylvania-themed Second State brings a tavern-style restaurant to Dupont. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

Even regulars won’t recognize the former Mighty Pint when it reopens as Second State on October 21.

The grungy, college hangout has been transformed by owner Reese Gardner into an attractive, Pennsylvania-inspired restaurant. Raw-bar happy hour replaces discount pitchers, truffle mac and cheese takes the place of standard fries, and that treacherous staircase to the second floor is now pleasantly lit by a dangling chandelier. Designer Maggie O’Neill completely revamped the look, brightening the basement with whitewashed brick, a marble bar, and flickering candles.

Thankfully, Gardner, a Pennsylvania native, kept the pierogies on the menu and gave a sense of character to the place. Here are five things to look for on opening day.

Designer Maggie O'Neill is behind the elevated look, while the bar swapped pitchers for craft cocktails.


The best order for homesick Pennsylvanians: Bacon-cheddar pierogies with brown butter and Rolling Rock pony bottles. The Pennsylvania brewery was the first to conceive the miniature beers for thrifty Depression-era drinkers, so points for originality. Other specialties from the Keystone State include roasted pheasant with cider jus, scrapple at brunch, and several Philadelphia spirits, such as Shine LiberTea whiskey and Bluecoat gin.


The best tried-and-true orders: Chef Allan Javery brings over several of his most popular dishes from Copperwood Tavern and Irish Whiskey, including oysters with grilled lemon, root beer-braised short ribs, and roast chicken with a beer-butter pan sauce. Meats are mostly sourced from Virginia and Pennsylvania in keeping with a local-whenever-possible menu. Shareable sides are ordered steakhouse-style (separately) with options such as five-cheese truffle mac and fried Brussels sprouts.

Homey dishes include cheddar-bacon pierogies, steaks, and roast chicken with beer-butter sauce.



The conversation piece: A wise wall mural stating “Enjoy your food not your phone.” Ironically, it makes an excellent picture on Instagram.

The return program: Barkeep Boris Stojkovic will not refill your Dutch Mule—a riff on the Moscow with rye and ginger-lime cordial—unless you return the shiny, very-tempting-to-steal copper mug it’s served in. Lucky for the bar staff, most drinks are more alluring than their vessels. The menu blends spins on classics like whiskey punch with lavender bitters with straightforward Manhattans, martinis, and Sazeracs.

During weekday happy hour you can order $1 oysters throughout the restaurant.


The happy hour: Gone are the Mighty Pint days of discount pitchers and taco nights. Still, the bar is located in a happy-hour hot zone, so expect classed-up deals. Special sips are still in the works, but you can bet on $1 oysters all throughout the restaurant from 5 to 6 on weekdays.

Second State. 1813 M St., NW; 202-466-3010. Open for lunch 11 to 5, dinner 5 to 11; Saturday and Sunday brunch 10 to 5. Bar hours: Monday through Thursday 11 to 1, Friday and Saturday 10 to 2, Sunday 10 to 1.

A cozy second-floor room replaces Mighty Pint's bar.

Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 10/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The essentials of DC’s first “pop-uppery.” By Anna Spiegel
EatsPlace, a pop-up-centric restaurant, debuts with DC Born & Raised and Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. (above). Photograph by Space Division Photography.

Fall has brought a bounty of restaurant openings, but few concepts are as unusual as EatsPlace from Katy Chang. The self-titled “pop-uppery” in Park View mixes qualities of a food incubator like Union Kitchen—a commercial space for startup businesses such as Capital Kombucha and Chaia—with a supper club and bar. The result is a creative mix that gives chefs and producers space to create menus, restaurant concepts, and foodstuffs, while allowing the public to discover up-and-coming talent and new projects. Here’s what you need to know.

The space: A circa-1919 rowhouse. The multi-story building was refurbished with commercial kitchens in mind so that chefs could produce food for in-house guests, as well as make products like kimchee or jams for sale. Still, there are touches of the former home, including a 40-seat dining room, and back and front patios for lounging. Space is currently walk-in only for all meals, except for larger parties.

A circa-1919 townhouse was converted into a commercial kitchen and dining room. Photograph courtesy of EatsPlace.


The breakfast and lunch: Courtesy of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., opening Thursday. Pastry chef Jason Gehring’s Southern-style biscuits have drawn major crowds at every pop-up so far, so expect more of the same for this menu. The rounds come in a variety of flavors, from classic buttermilk to jazzed-up ham-jalapeño. Service starts for the early birds at 7, with both takeout-friendly options like egg sandwiches and spreads such as pork-rind butter, as well as sit-down platters (we have our eye on sausage or vegetarian mushroom gravy with eggs). Lunchtime brings stacked creations with fried chicken, lobster Newburg, and more.

The dinner and brunch: Brought to you by DC Born & Raised, starting dinner on Wednesday. District native Charles Lyons drew from his family’s local and Southern recipes for dishes such as shrimp and grits with sausage-seafood broth, a smoked rib eye, and bar bites like crab mac and cheese. The homey fare continues during Saturday and Sunday brunch, with skillet platters, buttermilk pancakes, and bottomless mimosas.

The booze: Infused. Chang will change the drink menu to match the cuisine of chefs in residence, so it’s currently locally focused. Cocktails are fashioned out of house-infused spirits and homemade bitters, while DC breweries take over the taps. There’s also Natty Boh and Pabst for less high-minded drinking.

Locally made products like Baba's Cooking School black-bean hot sauce line the shelves.


On the shelves: What else? Artisanal products. EatsPlace is part of the Good Food Merchants Guild and sells an array of local and national finds. Guests can pick up organic German Vivani chocolates or Qualia Coffee from just down the street. Chang also sells her own line of Baba’s Cooking School hot sauces, inspired by her father, in flavors such as black bean.

In the future: More pop-ups. The first round will likely last four months, but you may see chefs and vendors coming in for a week, a weekend, or months-long stretches. Chang says possibilities include a preview of chef Nick Pimentel’s upcoming Columbia Heights Filipino restaurant, a farm-to-table menu from Bev Eggleston of EcoFriendly Foods, and Schmear Bagels.

EatsPlace. 3607 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-882-3287. Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. open Monday through Friday 7 to 2. DC Born & Raised open Monday through Friday 5 to 10, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner 10 to 10. Bar open Monday through Thursday 7 to 2 and 5 to midnight, Friday and Saturday 7 to 2 and 5 to 1, Sunday 10 to midnight. No reservations. Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 03:10 PM/ET, 10/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()