Chef Alex McCoy made it to the Food Network Star final four and is working on an ambitious Southeast Asian restaurant in Petworth, but that doesn’t mean he overlooks the simpler foods in life.
“The whole idea behind this menu was to take things back a couple notches,” says McCoy of Crisp Kitchen + Bar, a diner-inspired eatery opening in Bloomingdale tonight. “I grew up in DC, and we don’t have enough simple diners that serve good, homestyle food—yellow mustard, Hellman’s mayo, fried chicken.”
You’ll find all of the above and more on the menu at Crisp, which opens at 5 pm in the former Costa Brava space. McCoy teamed up with Jamie Hess, formerly of Ivy & Coney, for the 45-seat venture, as well as fellow Duke’s Grocery alum Akiem Brooker, who’ll helm the kitchen.
Nashville-style “hot” chicken stars on the menu: brined, soaked in buttermilk, and fried to-order in lard, served spicy or extra-hot. The crispy birds are served with pickles, shaved onions, and homemade ranch atop white toast for soaking up all the juices. Pescatarians can opt for hot fish, cornmeal-fried catfish dressed with a spicy rub. Diner staples include griddled burger patties and fries, while other comfort fare runs Southern (homemade baked beans, collard kale) or further afield, such as poutine smothered in a rich duck gravy.
Barman Eddie Lopez designed the cocktails, which go for $5 during daily happy hour and under $10 otherwise. Local drafts can tame the heat of the fiery chicken, as well as a selection of canned brews that range from fancy-ish Three Stars to good ol’ Natty Boh and PBR. Though the kitchen wraps up at 10 during the opening phase—with brunch to come on weekends—the bar will remain active until late for neighborhood drinking.
Crisp Kitchen + Bar. 1837 First St., NW; 202-713-5011. Open daily for dinner, 5 to 11; bar open until 1 am. Happy hour daily, 5 to 8.