An Early Look at BlackByrd Warehouse—With Menus (Pictures)

The Hilton brothers, who own a number of U Street nightlife venues, are back at it with a seafood-focused joint.

A shellfish plateau with a whole lobster, nine oysters, five shrimp, five clams, and Snow Crab legs; the ground floor. Photographs by Emma Patti

Slideshow: BlackByrd Warehouse Opens on U Street  

When it comes to U Street nightspots, brothers Eric and Ian Hilton know how to create a popular venue: their current inventory—Marvin, the Gibson, American Ice Co., to name a few—have all been bumping since day one. So it's surprising that the July 14 opening of BlackByrd Warehouse, the latest Hilton venture at 14th and U streets, has been comparatively low-key: there's no Web site, and there was no opening event or a press release sent to media.

"We want [BlackByrd] to develop organically," says manager Sheldon Scott. "Marvin, Patty Boom Boom, they both had a fixed identity starting out. Now we want the neighborhood to take ownership and develop the space as they see fit."

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The bi-level spot has the signature Hilton warehouse-chic decor with exposed brick, bare lightbulbs, mismatched furniture, nautical prints, and old art-studio stools.

Chef James Claudio's small menu includes a raw bar that ranges from budget (early and late-night $1 oyster happy hours) to splurge-worthy (a three-tiered seafood plateau) as well as offerings such as a Maine-style lobster roll and Gouda-and-Parmesan-thickened crab dip. The cocktail list contains classics such as a Margarita and Old Fashioned, in addition to house drinks; the eponymous BlackByrd has Plymouth gin, Manzanilla sherry, vermouth, and orange bitters.

There's a definite artistic theme, starting with the name—it comes from Donald "Black" Byrd, a musician who taught at Howard University in the 1970s and recorded the hit "Rock Creek Park" while in DC. A large movie screen upstairs shows black-and-white films, and there's space for video installations and spoken-word performances.

Talking about the Chesapeake-inspired raw bar and the local musicians who will play nightly, Scott says, "We're merging the best of all worlds that we have here."

BlackByrd Warehouse. 2005 14th St., NW; no phone. Open Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 PM to 2 AM; Friday and Saturday until 3 AM. 

Click the menu to view at full size.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.