As DC restaurants prepare to partially reopen today, former Maydan and Compass Rose chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison will debut a new concept: Bammy’s, a bright Caribbean restaurant in Whaley’s former Navy Yard space. Though there’s outdoor room—including the waterfront stretch that was once the Rosé Garden—Bammy’s will open for carryout-only jerk chicken, painkillers, and other island-style fare. Delivery will start soon, and outdoor seating later.
Timing has been tricky for the co-chefs, who left their posts at Maydan soon after the wood-fired Middle Eastern restaurant earned its first Michelin star. They were in the midst of staff training for Bammy’s (then envisioned as a full-service concept) when the pandemic hit. But the two say the Caribbean restaurant has been a passion project six years in the making—and one they’re eager to introduce.
“We have no idea when this will end anyway, so we might as well start cooking and join the neighborhood,” says Addison.
Morgan grew up eating Caribbean food with his Jamaican aunt. The restaurant’s name comes from bammy, a crispy cassava flatbread she often made for family. “It’s delicious with just about anything, particularly fried fish or jerk chicken and pepper jelly. I don’t see it often in the states,” says Morgan. The idea for the restaurant started coming together years ago when Morgan worked at B-Side with Nico Leslie, a Jamaica-born cook who’s now Bammy’s chef de cuisine.
Curry goat with rice and peas, a specialty of Leslie’s, is on the opening menu (see below) alongside a vegan version. There’s also jerk chicken that’s lightly smoked with oak and allspice berries to recreate the dish’s traditional pimento wood-grilled flavor. The new Navy Yard space doesn’t have the kind of open flame cooking that won Morgan and Addison accolades at Maydan, but they’re experimenting with a few familiar things. A ton of delicious condiments, for one—to start, spicy jerk sauce, pickled chopped veggies, allspice mayo, and pepper jelly. Also homemade breads; that pepper jelly can be slathered on warm Parker House-style coco rolls with Trinidadian spicy cheese.
The opening menu is a significantly smaller, takeout-friendly version of what the team originally planned. Expect the offerings to grow over time, focusing on dishes and flavors from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Guyana alongside Jamaica. Bar manager Chad Henry is mixing up rum-spiked coconut-pineapple painkillers for two as well as “mix up,” a riff on a Kingston negroni with rum, Campari, grapefruit, and soda. Or you can always grab a cold Red Stripe.
Bammy’s will open Wednesday through Sunday, 2 to 9 PM. Orders can be placed for ready-to-eat hot food, or choose to have it packed cold with heating instructions for later.
Bammy’s. 301 Water St., SE