We didn’t see this one coming. Chef Frederik de Pue, chef/owner of Table and Azur, announced today that he’ll close the latter Penn Quarter seafood spot this Friday. The space will undergo a “brief revamp,” according to the press release, and will reopen as a market, cafe, restaurant, and wine bar called Menu come January.
Unlike many restaurateurs who alter their concepts within a year of opening—Azur lasted about six months—de Pue’s gained critical success for his ode to the ocean, earning two stars in our September issue and two and a half from the Post. Still, he says the idea wasn’t right for the size of the three-story space, formerly Café Atlántico.
“I want to build something that this neighborhood is lacking, and that is also more warm and welcoming—something that reflects my passion for clean, uncomplicated comfort food,” said de Pue in a statement. “The Penn Quarter area doesn’t have an active market where customers can gather to shop, meet, and eat, and that’s exactly what I am trying to create with Menu.”
After the remodel, you’ll find a sidewalk-level market with cooking ingredients like sauces and cured fish and meats, as well as quick-grab lunch and dinner items such as rotisserie offerings, sandwiches, and packaged meals, bottled wine, and a coffee bar featuring local roasters. Lunch patrons can take their fare to the second-floor dining room, which will convert into a wine bar with light snacks in the evenings. The 42-seat floor above will act as a sit-down restaurant, serving a Table-esque lunch and dinner menu each day of the week.
If Mario Batali is still planning to possibly bring Eataly to Washington, it looks like de Pue has beat him to the market/restaurant/wine bar concept, at least in the Penn Quarter. Stay tuned for more details.