The mod-chic space near Barracks Row centers around a vast open kitchen, and seats 158 between the dining room, a communal table, and bar/lounge areas (an 80-seat patio is opening later). A portion of the chef’s creations will be delivered via carts that weave through the tables, dim-sum-style, delivering seasonal New American plates—think freshly shucked oysters, homemade breads and butters, grab-and-eat dishes like fresh tofu, or house ferments and sauces to accompany the meal.
Tien, a Louisiana native of Vietnamese descent, has shied away from pigeonholing the restaurant’s cuisine, which features a wide range of influences under the vast “New American” umbrella. The traveling carts will be accompanied by a print menu that includes family-style platters and small share plates like ricotta cavatelli with vegetable ‘nduja, mustard greens, and citrus breadcrumbs; or grilled sweet potatoes with Mexican-style pipian rojo (a nutty red chili sauce) and candied pepitas. Given Tien’s delicious chicken sandwiches at Hot Lola’s, we have our eye on the the ranch-fried chicken platter, with bread-and-butter zucchini pickles, caviar, and Texas toast.
Pastry chef Willa Pelini (previously at Pineapple and Pearls) helped dream up creative desserts like a mala sundae with three types of ice cream in “magic shell,” festooned with chili crunch, sesame caramel, peanuts, and candied cocoa nibs. In addition to Pelini, Tien has assembled an impressive cast of rising DC hospitality stars, including former Rappahannock Oyster Bar head chef Autumn Cline; ex-Del Mar sommelier Alaina Dyne; Himitsu barman Nick Gripp; and general manager Elizabeth Schnettler (another Pineapple alum who most recently worked at Le Diplomate).
Tien teamed up with several new business partners for the project, including local Jinya restaurateur Sam Shoja, hospitality vet Arris Noble, and Prequel/inKind (formerly EquityEats) owner Johann Moonesinghe. As he did with Himitsu, Tien is using the crowd sourcing platform to help launch the restaurant.
Reservations just went online.
Emilie’s. 1101 Pennsylvania Ave., SE. Open Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 1o PM; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 PM. Lunch and brunch will be added later.