An Early Look at Eola

A cozy, seasonally driven restaurant takes over the old Mark and Orlando's space off Dupont Circle.

By: Gwendolyn Purdom

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer
It’s only fitting that leaves play a decorative role in chef Daniel Singhofen’s rustic Dupont Circle dining room, Eola. The foliage that twists around light fixtures and tabletop candles is right in line with the restaurant’s fresh-picked ethos and ever-changing menu. It’s a familiar formula: The restaurant works closely with local co-ops, and as the available produce shifts, so do Eola’s dishes.

The eatery is situated on a stretch of P Street, Northwest, just off Dupont Circle. Sounds prime, but it’s a risky spot where restaurants seemingly open and close with the seasons—Eola’s home is the renovated rowhouse that until this summer held Mark and Orlando’s, and the street has said goodbye to Café Tropé and Montsouris. Still, Singhofen, a Florida native, has high hopes for his first restaurant.

Before he opened his own place, Singhofen honed his skills working as a sous chef in Orlando and briefly in the kitchen of the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. Here, he’s teaming up with sous chef Brian Wilson, who polished his resume at Palena and 2941.

“We try to make our menu as vague as possible so we have a little license to play,” Singhofen says. The bitter greens that went with a Saturday entrée of agnolotti with sunflower seeds, garlic confit, aged pecorino, and brioche are reworked into the nettle ravioli on Tuesday’s menu. Saturday’s duo of Duroc pork with fingerlings, summer squash, and smoky jus is tweaked on Tuesday to include a summer-squash-and-truffle gratin. Desserts include chocolate crunch cake with hazelnut and a trio of apple tartlets with a red-wine-poached pear and apple-cider granité.

The restaurant offers about 100 labels of wine, a cocktail menu, and an eclectic list of a dozen bottled beers such as North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner and Founders Dragonmilk Stout.

The dark oak tables in the cozy, yellow-painted first-floor dining room seat 26 and are reservation-only. Upstairs has a homier feel with long communal tables and photographs by Singhofen’s father. One series depicts the maple-syrup bottling process at a Pennsylvania farm. A mosaic of photos shows the road from Key West to DC—“where I come from and where I am,” Singhofen says.

Eola, 2020 P St., NW; 202-466-4441; eoladc.com. Starters $ 9 to $12, entrées $24 to $32. Open Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 to 10:30.


More>> Best Bites Blog | Food & Dining | Restaurant Finder 

Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter at twitter.com/bestbitesblog