The newly designed District Kitchen. Photographs by Jeff Martin
Ask any Washington restaurant-goer what he or she would like to see more of around here, and the answer almost always involves an affordable, casual neighborhood restaurant with great food and drinks. So it’s with some excitement that we’ve been anticipating District Kitchen—set to open in Woodley Park early next week—which aims to do just that.
The brains behind the 75-seat eatery belong to co-owners Jawad Saadaoui and chef Drew Trautmann, vets of Mendocino, Sonoma, and Redwood. The two men, who've worked closely together for more than ten years (Trautmann’s sous chef, Daniel Velasco, has been with him for 15), landed the former home of Jandara, a Thai restaurant, in a nearly 100-year-old building. Working with Alexandria design firm Yvette Irene, the restaurateurs (wisely) chose to strip the blue carpeting and pastels to create a vintage-industrial look. Exposed brick walls, Toledo drafting chair bar stools, and a 1920s porcelain stove that serves as a hostess stand may be oh so in, but Edison and Mason-jar bulbs give the smallish room more of a cozy glow than a hip edge.
Trautmann is still putting final tweaks on the menu, which is divided into snacks, small plates, vegetables, and entrées. You could start out with duck cracklings sprinkled with malt vinegar, or grilled bread spread with house-made ricotta, then move on to grilled baby beets and a whole roasted porgy with charred lemon and a simple drizzle of olive oil. Certain small plate portions can be doubled, like braised lamb “chili” over fusilli with goat cheddar, or mussels steamed in curry and hard cider. Menus are printed in house so they can change as often as the locally sourced ingredients. (Fine print: “local” will extend to the entire Mid-Atlantic region when necessary.)
The locavore, seasonal bent carries over to the drink selection, which will incorporate spirits from distilleries like Catoctin Creek in Loudoun County and Richmond’s Cirrus Vodka in $10 cocktails like the Kindness and Cruelty, featuring gin, Bénédictine, and absinthe. Wine will flow from four taps for glasses and carafes, including two whites and two reds. Among the opening keg-wine options will be Trenza Tinto and Tangent Albariño (a local keg producer is still in the works). Come spring, you may be able to sip and snack on a 30-seat outdoor patio.
Check back with us for an update as opening day approaches.
District Kitchen. 2606 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-238-9408. Open Monday to Thursday 5 to 10 PM, Saturday 5 to 11, and Sunday 5 to 10. Appetizers $4 to $10; salads and produce $7 to $12; mains $13 to $24.