We’re headed into prime outdoor drinking season, and now there’s a new place to do it: Dupont Circle’s latest bar, Rebellion DC. The American watering hole takes over the former Mum Mum space, revamping it for a tavern feel with reclaimed bourbon barrel accents and custom wood tables. Outdoors you’ll find two places to perch: a front patio and a rooftop bar.
Though it’s named for the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791, co-owners Brian Westiye and Lenny Codispot say they aren’t wholly focused on brown liquor. There’s an impressive collection of 100-plus whiskeys, along with other drinking options such as 60-odd American brews by the bottle and can, local drafts, and moderately priced cocktails in the $10-to-$12 range. Drinkers can pad the stomach with a no-frills menu of Southern-style bar food, including smoked wings, fried green tomatoes, and shrimp and grits.
A draw for the happy hour crowd: extended hours with specials like $3 beers, $5 rail drinks (the house whiskey is Jim Beam Black), and $6 wine from 3:30 to 8 Monday through Friday. The first day of the week also caters to locals in the 20009 Zip code, who’ll receive 10 percent off their entire check. Cigar fans can also find stogies on the wood-paneled roof deck; the front patio remains non-smoking.
The spot is currently only open in the evenings, but look for weekend brunch soon with more Southern eats and a Bloody Mary bar.
Rebellion DC. Open Monday through Thursday 3:30 to 2, Friday 3:30 to 3, Saturday 10 to 3, and Sunday 10 to 2.
The melding of French and Southern cuisines isn’t anything new; half the beloved Louisiana classics wouldn’t exist without the fusion. Still you won’t find crawfish étouffée or boudin balls on the menu at Macon Bistro & Larder, where chef/owner Tony Brown brings his own style of Franco-American cuisine to Chevy Chase. The two inspirations: Macon, Georgia, and Mâcon (pronounced Mah-con), France, both places he spent time growing up between his family’s Georgian heritage and father’s time in the military.
“Both cultures have agrarian roots, relying on what’s in season and raised in the community,” says Brown. “I wanted to bring together country-Southern and country-French.”
The result: hybrid dishes such as pimiento cheese on toasted brioche, scallops with beurre rouge and butter bean mash, or “mac-on cheese” bound with creamy cheddar Mornay. Brown and chef de cuisine Michael Matis—most recently from Miami’s Southern hotspot Yardbird—also create more traditional American and French items (check out the menu here). You might slather Essie’s biscuits with honey butter, a recipe from Brown’s grandmother, or order hanger steak frites. A section of daily changing blue-plate (a.k.a. plat du jour) specials also run classic, from beef bourguignon to buttermilk-brined fried chicken. Dessert brings extra tastes of the South, with more of grandma’s recipes for blackberry cobbler and coconut cake, and s’mores stacked with house-made graham crackers and marshmallows.
Dinner is the focus (for now) in the 60-seat bistro, but the “larder” isn’t just a colloquialism. Currently you’ll find take-home jams, jellies, cheddar biscuits, and cookies in the pantry section, with snacks like deviled eggs and heat-and-eat meals such as chicken pot pie and blanquette de veau to come. Brunch is also in the works for mid-June, as well as two patios for an extra 40 seats. Though the restaurant is geared toward an older crowd, a kids’ menu will also be available.
One can’t talk about French or Southern dining without drinks, and the bar stocks plenty. Former Blue Duck Tavern sommelier Gene Alexeyev curates a wine list wholly sourced from France, with a bountiful number of options by the glass. Beers run local and farther south, while cocktails straddle the continental divide: on the one, a French 75; for the other, the Southern Belle, mixed with vodka, pomegranate liqueur, and of course, sweet peach tea.
Macon Bistro & Larder. 5520 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-248-7807. Open for dinner daily at 5.
The newest and most anticipated bakery in town, Bread Furst, arrives from a veteran on the food scene: Mark Furstenberg, the master baker who helped bring artisan bread to Washington in the ’90s with Marvelous Market and Breadline.
Though no longer affiliated with either business (coincidentally, the final Marvelous Market closed last week) Furstenberg is most enthusiastic about the new venture, calling it his “dream bakery.” The rustic space features white walls, marble countertops, and hardwood floors and shelving. Diners can watch bakers Ben Arnold and Jack Revelle—former pastry chefs at Restaurant Eve and the White House, respectively—through large glass windows. “It’s beautiful,” Furstenberg says of the space. “It’s planned just the way I wanted it to be—and I’ve had enough experience now to know what I wanted.”
What he wanted this time around was to create a communal place in the residential (and restaurant-scarce) Van Ness location. People can stop by for coffee and pastry on their morning commute, pick up deli-style entrées to take home, and drop by with their kids for frozen treats in the summertime. “Mostly I care about being really immersed in the neighborhood,” Furstenberg says.
Here’s what to look for when you stop by this weekend. Take note: Items have been selling out quickly and may not all be available.
New York expats (and the rest of us), rejoice: Furstenberg serves what he describes as “chewy, not bready” bagels from scratch. They’re made the old-fashioned way, boiled in malt-sweetened water to caramelize the crust, then baked on a hearth. On weekends you can try specialties such as bialys, the bagel’s lesser-known yet delicious cousin, and challah bread on Fridays.
Lunch and dinner to go
Guests can order lunch from a menu of light fare, such as roast beet, fennel, and avocado salads or harissa-spiced chicken sandwiches with chickpea spread. Dinner launches later this month (see a sample menu), with dishes that vary daily. Furstenberg says the offerings will skew Mediterranean and vegetarian, highlighting local produce and whole grains. Still, you may also find comfort dishes like chicken à la king and beef stroganoff.
Beverage director John Flemming is a man whose life, according to Furstenberg, “seems to revolve around coffee.” Order Madcap Coffee Company espresso drinks and drip brews alongside teas and house-made sodas. Don’t plan to linger with a laptop; Furstenberg opted against wi-fi. “I want people to come because they like our breads and our food so much,” he says. “I want people to come here and talk to each other.”
Bread, after all, is the main event. Staples include a country levain, the Palladin—a ciabatta-based recipe and ode to the legendary chef Jean-Louis Palladin—and French baguettes, baked fresh every four hours. You’ll also find ryes, ancient-grain breads, flatbreads, and rich brioche.
Sweets and a soda fountain
The pastry spread includes something for every sweet tooth, from dainty lemon-mint bundt cakes to orange-poppyseed muffins. Croissants, danishes, and doughnuts round out the morning menu, while classic American desserts including apple pies and chocolate chip cookies fill the case throughout the day. Soon the long marble counter will transform into an old-fashioned soda fountain, complete with house-made ice cream.
Though floats, shakes, and egg creams may seem like an odd fit for a serious bread operation, Furstenberg says the soda fountain made sense for the neighborhood. “I wanted to do a classic American bakery,” he says, and that meant doing it all.
Bread Furst. 4434 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-765-1200. Open Monday through Friday 7 to 8, Saturday 8 to 6, and Sunday 9 to 5.
“You either do what people want and hope they’re right,” says Dean Gold, “or do what you want and hope they like it.”
The Dino’s Grotto owner quotes his mentor, a saying that comes to mind on the eve of opening his new Shaw restaurant with wife/partner Kay Zimmerman. The original Dino operated in Cleveland Park for nearly nine years before closing in February. The cozy Italian spot was a local favorite—evidenced, in part, by the $21,000 the team was able to raise in a crowd-funding campaign essential to opening the new eatery. Gold envisions the Grotto as a truer incarnation of the restaurant he always wanted when it opens on May 15. While the original idea for Dino was to be more flexible and more Italian in the dining approach—sharing, snacking—he found patrons wanting a traditional three-course structure.
“We became a different restaurant than I wanted to be because of that,” says Gold.
That’s not to say Gold isn’t listening to customers. Half the menu (a sample, subject to change) is categorized as “Dino regulars,” with dishes such as meatballs in spicy tomato sauce, East Coast cioppino, wild-boar pappardelle, and Jewish-Italian mashups like the duck-schmaltz soup; dishes that regulars expressed sadness over losing, and happiness in regaining, when news came of Dino’s demise and reincarnation (“Social media really allows you to learn what people love,” says Gold). As for event regulars, you can also expect a return of major Jewish holiday celebrations/feasts with Gold’s house-made gefilte fish, Seder meals, and other specialties.
The menu’s other half, “market,” plays more to the idea of flexibility. Here you’ll find seasonal specialties such as a five-deep selection of local vegetable antipasto, morel risotto, and Chesapeake soft-shell crabs. More adventurous ingredients also dot the menu—pickled lamb tongue with salsa verde, bone-in goat pot roast—but you’ll also find several varieties of burgers on ciabatta, from beef to vegan. Offerings in both sections are fewer than at the flagship, making the menu easier to change and source locally, a longtime commitment Dean looks forward to continuing.
The space is also smaller—76-seats compared with 104—but has a larger, basement-level bar area for 24. While snacking and sharing is encouraged across the board, the den is the place to order cicchetti, cheeses, cured meats, and while away a few hours. Barmen Fabian Malone and John Dynan have a homemade focus when it comes to drinks, making Meyer lemon limoncello, infusing rum with peak-of-season blackberries, and sourcing a larger list of whiskeys and mezcals than you might expect for an Italian restaurant. Wine, of course, plays a large role, with a Coravin system that allows the bar to pour pricier and/or older Amarone and Brunello by the glass. In a few weeks look for a late-night menu with dishes such as Italian “pho” made with hearty chicken stock, loaded with meats and noodles, and topped with basil. Gold hopes the guests like it.
Dino’s Grotto. 1914 Ninth St., NW; 202-686-2966. Current hours (as of May 15): Open Monday through Thursday 5 to midnight, Friday and Saturday 5 to 1, and Sunday, 4 to 10.
The team behind Food Wine & Co. and Fish Taco are jumping into the fast-casual burger game with City Burger, a casual patty spot slated to open right on the Bethesda/Chevy Chase border on Wednesday, May 14. We spoke with chef Michael Harr about his plans for the rustic-designed space.
First, the good news (though there really isn’t bad): Most items on the menu run $7 and less. The burgers aren’t fancy like the truffle-accented offerings at Food Wine & Co., but they aren’t no-frills, either. The kitchen uses all-natural, antibiotic- and hormone-free Midwestern beef, and tops the griddled patties with everything from cheddar, bacon, and barbecue sauce in the “pit stop” to a Hawaiian riff with caramelized pineapple and ham. The straightforward Signature will run you $4, arriving with lettuce, onion, and tomato (in season), and a chili-mayo-esque “city sauce.”
If there’s a downside, it may be that the spot only holds 15-odd seats, but the menu is designed with carryout in mind. Other offerings fall in the neighborhood-burger-shack theme: fries dusted with sea salt and herbs, hot dogs produced by a Baltimore butchery including a half-smoke and a beef-pork bauernwurst spread with mustard sauce and cabbage chow-chow. For dessert, Harr makes ice cream and custard in house, spun into creative shakes like the Presley, mixed with caramelized bananas, peanut butter, and bacon.
City Burger. 7015 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase.
Thai food inspired by Bangkok’s night markets and creative cocktails land in Foggy Bottom on Monday with the opening of Soi 38. The golden-hued spot, outfitted with graffiti murals by artist Gaia, debuts for lunch and dinner.
We got an exclusive preview of the space and menu earlier this month. While staples such as satays and pad Thai dot the menu, the majority of dishes are lesser-known specialties from Thailand’s vibrant markets—think grilled pork neck or fried chicken with lemongrass—as well as dishes from chef Mitchai Pankham’s native northern region. Barman JP Caceres designed a cocktail menu with Asian flavors to match, including sips like whiskey-tamarind punch and spicy Singapore Slings on draft.
Reservations are accepted for the dining room, while a first-come, first-serve bar is the place to sip drinks or grab a place at the communal table. Once the restaurant is up and running, look for online ordering for carryout meals. A 52-seat patio is the place to savor house-made Thai ice creams over the summer.
Soi 38. 2101 L St., NW; 202-558-9215. Open Monday through Thursday and Sunday 11 to 10, and Thursday through Saturday 11 to 10:30.
Washington has plenty of steakhouses, but the first self-described “female-friendly” version opens its doors today. STK, an international chain from the One Group, brings its concept to the former Casa Nonna space in Dupont. Other branches exist in Las Vegas, New York, and London, among other cities.
It’s tough to tell whether STK is any more attractive to ladies than, say, Bourbon Steak or BLT, given that the days of smoke-filled men’s clubs have long past. Regardless of your gender, the loungey spot outfitted in black-and-cream decor gears toward younger crowds looking for a “vibe-driven” (read: party) atmosphere. Expect a high untz-factor later in the evenings, with deejays spinning nightly and guests sipping cocktails such as a vodka-based Cucumber Stiletto, mixed with St. Germain and muddled cucumber.
On the food menu, steakhouse classics like a raw bar and a wedge salad join more modern offerings such as foie gras French toast and local bass with browned scallion butter. One element that differentiates the offerings: Steaks are divided into small (dare we say ladylike?), medium, and large sizes, though it’s really a matter of wording. Most steak joints offer more modest eight- and ten-ounce portions, though here you’ll find smaller-than-average six-ounce filet mignons and ten-ounce New York strips, which are cuts typically served in slightly larger sizes. Hearty eaters (and big spenders) can still splurge on a two-pound porterhouse for $89, topped with extras like foie gras butter or king crab.
STK. 1250 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-296-1880. Open for dinner Monday through Wednesday 5 to 11 and Thursday through Saturday 5 to midnight.
Last month we brought you details on Parts & Labor, a new butchery/restaurant from Woodberry Kitchen owners Spike and Amy Gjerde. As of Thursday, both the butcher shop and the sit-down restaurant are open, offering everything from the traditional—tri-tip steaks, pork chops—to more unusual fare such as pickled pigs’ feet and blood sausage with pepper jam, with meats available for takeout from the butcher shop daily from 11 to 7. Take a look at the full menu.
Parts & Labor. 2600 N. Howard St., Baltimore. Butcher shop open 11 to 7 daily. Restaurant open 5 to 10 daily.
More Details on Parts & Labor
Plenty of new pre-flight dining options are heading to Reagan National Airport. In addition to local chains including Ben’s Chili Bowl and Taylor Gourmet, big-name chefs such as Carla Hall are planning to establish their presence. The most recent: Robert Wiedmaier, who’s signed on for a restaurant in Terminal A. The veteran toque, who owns Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, and Mussel Bar, among others, has teamed up with concessions company OTG for a French bistro, according to a news release.
“The menu will feature the flavors and textures of simple French country cooking with a focus on regionally sourced meats, fish, and produce that has become Chef Wiedmaier’s signature style,” says a representative for the project.
In addition to the menu, travelers can relax over iPads and power outlets built into each seat. The technology guests to track their flight without running to the departures board, or just browse the Web during their meal. Looks like Vino Volo will have some stiff competition for the Meet at the Airport member crowd. Stay tuned for more information closer to the opening.
Good news for pizza fans: Casey Patten and David Mazza, the owners of recently crowned Sandwich Smackdown champ Taylor Gourmet, are jumping into the pie game at their former H Street steak-and-cheese spot, Taylor Charles Steak & Ice. Taking over: Pizza Parts & Service*, which opens (surprise!) today at 11.
A YouTube video released by the team shows thin-crust rounds, which, according to the menu, can also be ordered “Nonna”-style: 18-inch rectangles reminiscent of Philly-style tomato pie. Specialty toppings on the red and white varieties range from local Logan’s sausage to house-made meatballs, Buffalo chicken and ranch, and vegetarian options topped with mushrooms and truffle oil or artichoke and spinach. Rounding out the lineup are six varieties of wings—including a Bon Chon-esque Sriracha-honey—as well as salads, calzones, and garlic knots. Coming soon: beer and wine by the glass and pitcher, and delivery for the carryout crowd.
In Taylor tradition, the shop plans to stay open late on the weekends, serving the H Street post-bar crowds until 3:30 on Friday and Saturday.
Pizza Parts & Service. 1320 H St., NE; 202-388-6880. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 to 10, and Friday and Saturday 11 to 3:30.
*Restaurant-name fun fact: There’s an official “Parts &” trend going on between Spike Gjerde’s newly opened Parts & Labor in Baltimore, and Michael Babin’s Partisan (initially also called Parts & Labor) in Penn Quarter.