Chef Nicholas Stefanelli Opens a Vintage-Style Brasserie in NoMa

Le Clou, the first of three splashy venues, debuts inside the Morrow Hotel.

Photograph courtesy of Veronika Sabir-Idrissi.

About Restaurant Openings Around DC

A guide to the newest places to eat and drink.

Seafood towers, sweetbreads, escargots, and a variety of other French delicacies are on the menu at Le Clou, the latest splashy venture from Michelin-starred Masseria chef Nicholas Stefanelli (also behind Officina and temporarily closed Philotimo). The chic, 75-seat restaurant—equipped with a massive bar and extended lobby lounge—just debuted inside NoMa’s brand new Morrow Hotel.

While best-known for upscale Italian cooking, Stefanelli was trained in French culinary arts at the now-closed L’Académie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, and looks to highlight some of his Francophile roots. One of Le Clou’s inspirations: the 1914 recipe and reference cook book Le Répertoire de la Cuisine—designed as an accompaniment to Escoffier’s classic tome, Le Guide Culinaire.

“We’re using that as kind of the building blocks and the foundation of what we’re bringing to the menu,” he says. Old World delicacies on the opening menu include frogs legs in brown butter with Parisian gnocchi; twice-baked Roquefort souffle; lobster Thermidor; and a buttery French omelette with creme fraiche, chives, and caviar.

The menu features modern musings on foundational French dishes like this beef short rib Bourguignon. Photograph courtesy of Veronika Sabir-Idrissi.

Dishes will be served a la carte alongside a robust selection of wines, spirits, and cocktails. The French-focused wine list boasts 600 labels and is growing. Stefanelli hand-picked many of the wines and says they will serve ten bottles of Champagne by the glass on their incoming Champagne trolley (supply chain issues strike once again). In the meantime, guests can be on the lookout for a roving Moët & Chandon Champagne vending machine in the hotel.

Visitors to the lobby lounge will also eventually be able to sample fresh juices, artisanal coffee, sandwiches, and salads during the day. For now, they will serve Champagne, cocktails, and light refreshments from the kitchen during the evening. For dessert, look for a large selection of teas, rotating cheeses served with accoutrements, and classic French treats like Paris-Brest or fruit tarts. There’s also a ten-seat, private dining room available for bookings.

The exposed concept will give diners a view into the kitchen and wine cellar. Photograph courtesy of Veronika Sabir-Idrissi.

Le Clou is just the start. Coming in 2023, the hotel will open a rooftop bar and music venue with panoramic views of the city and an upscale cocktail bar with caviar service (also available at Le Clou)—all under Stefanelli’s direction. Reservations are available on Tock.

Le Clou 222 M St., NE

A sample opening dinner menu:

Peter Njoroge
Editorial Fellow