Some More Details on R.J. Cooper’s Mosaic District Restaurant

Plus: The chef debuts a new menu at Rogue tonight.

RJ Cooper at Rogue 24. Photograph by Kyle Gustafson.

Fall is off to a busy start, and there may be no one busier than R.J. Cooper. Both Eater DC and the Washington Business Journal reported in the past two weeks on the launch of new menus and a “gastro-bar” at Rogue 24, as well as an entirely new restaurant in Merrifield’s Mosaic District. We caught up with Cooper by phone to procure a few more details.

The 5,200-square-foot eatery and rooftop won’t be a Rogue clone, but
rather something “very seasonal, very fresh, and very familiar,” says
the chef. “It’ll be very similar in style to the food I used to do [at Vidalia], but not like Vidalia. It’ll be fun. It will not be a bar, but it also will not be L’Espinasse.”

Other things it won’t be, according to Cooper: sushi, Mexican, a
steakhouse, vegan, Italian, small-plates, or seafood. We’re guessing
something Pigtails-ian,
but the chef declined to comment on that, saying they’re flipping the
restaurant-building concept around for this particular project, working
on design and buildout first and concept second.

In more immediately relevant news, today marks the launch of new menus at Rogue. Despite earlier plans to cut the 16-course “progression” menu, it’s here to stay (for now), along with the 24-course “journey.” Added tonight is a $75, four-course lineup with larger plates such as sea urchin with squid-ink bread; Japanese butterfish with chilies, ginger, rice, and coconut; poached and grilled octopus with avocado purée and chicharones; and yakitori-grilled rabbit. 

As with the other offerings, there are two grades of pairings that include wine, beer, and cocktails. To that end, there’s also “cheftender” Bryan Tetorakis’s three-course cocktails-and-bar-bites menu launching later this week—an abbreviated preview of the current RogueSpirits bar project, opening next door in 2013. The $55 combination includes drinks like the gin-based Concrete Blonde and riffs on bar food such as fried chicken skins stuffed with blue cheese and coated in Buffalo sauce, and Funyun-style onion chips with a creamy potato dip. Reservations—available for 6, 7:45, or 9:30 PM—can be made over the phone.

So what’s next after the Mosaic, the bar, and the Rogue revamp?

“We’re going to do something cool in the city,” says Cooper, who recently pulled out of a potential space in Brookland. “I want to find something that’s 4,500 to 5,300 square feet, that’s old, that’s historic, that we can rehab and turn into a place that’s super-cool.”

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.