The Dabney’s Basement Wine Bar Is Making a Comeback in Shaw

The Dabney Cellar returns with oysters, hams, and cheeses on February 4.

The Dabney Cellar returns in the same form they left it at the start of the pandemic. Photograph by Andrew Cebulka.

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The Dabney Cellar. 1222 Ninth St., NW. 

The Dabney chef Jeremiah Langhorn truly did not expect to bring back his Shaw restaurant’s basement wine bar, the Dabney Cellar, in its original location after its pandemic closure. He figured people would no longer want to drink in cramped subterranean spaces, plus he thought he’d need it for storage after recent upgrades to the Dabney. He and co-owner Alex Zink started to look for new locations for the wine den.

“It was really hard to find something that had that vibe. In the meantime, we didn’t start using it for anything else either,” Langhorne says. “I don’t know what exactly happened, but it was almost just a feeling where it was like, ‘I think we can bring this thing back.'”

And so, here it is again: the Dabney Cellar, opening Sunday, February 4 in pretty much the same form Langhorne and Zink left it. Just as before, you can expect regional oysters, cheeses, and country hams, plus a handful of simple dishes like deviled eggs or scallop crudo.  To drink, there are 20 wines by the glass and a handful of cocktails, plus visitors will have access to the Dabney’s bottle list. The brick-walled, low-lit 24-seat space looks about the same.

The bar will only be open on Sundays and Mondays for now. “It was kind of always meant to be an industry den and hang out,” Langhorne says. “We figured if we wanted to ease back into it, the best time to do it would be on the days that all of our brethren have off already.”

Meanwhile, nearby sister French restaurant Petite Cerise (1027 Seventh St., NW) has replaced its full-service weekday breakfast with a more casual coffee counter. From 8 to 11 AM Tuesday through Friday, you’ll find coffees, pastries, and a rotating breakfast sandwich.

Pastry chef Carmelo Gil will offer classic croissants, including a ham-and-cheese and pain au chocolate, as well as viral spiral-shaped “New York croissants” in flavors like pistachio or strawberry-white chocolate. Kouign-amann pastries will be both traditional and infused with North African spices.

Langhorne also boasts that his barista Julian Cordero makes the best macchiato he ever had. “His salted caramel latte’s insane. His vanilla latte is crazy good. He does like special stuff like toast the vanilla a certain way just to really bring out some of the aromatics,” Langhorne says.

While everything is available to-go, the restaurant has free wi-fi if you want to hang out with your laptop for a while.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.